Advanced training schedules for a half-marathon include track workouts.
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A half-marathon is a lofty goal for runners of all capabilities. Dozens of training plans are available for this 13.1 mile distance, but you often have to pay for them or they don't quite fit your schedule. When you build your own half-marathon plan, you can tailor it to meet your goals and to correspond with other workouts or life commitments. Follow general principles of training common to most plans, such as running a minimum of three times per week and performing a long run at least one day per week, to be fully prepared to cross the finish line successfully and without injury or excessive soreness.1.
Find a race that is at least 10 to 16 weeks away from when you can commit to regular training. Count backward from the race date to determine the week you need to begin training.
Determine your goals for the race. Ask yourself if you just want to finish or if you have a time goal. Time goals require a more aggressive training schedule.3.
Schedule runs for a minimum of three days per week. Run four to six times per week if you are aiming for a time goal.4.
Allocate two days of running 30 to 40 minutes, or 3 to 5 miles, and one day for a long run. Make these running days fit your schedule. For example, most training plans schedule the long run for a weekend day, but if you work weekends, you might prefer to fit all your runs in during the week.5.
Start the long run with a modest distance of about 3 miles. Increase the distance gradually each week until you top out at 10 to 12 miles in the week or two before the race. Do not increase your total running distance more than 10 percent any given week or risk burn out or injury.6.
Plan for speed work and tempo runs if you are aiming for a time goal. Make one of the 30- to 40- minute workouts per week consist of drills lasting 400 to 800 meters at a very fast pace with equal-distance jogs between them. Designate a second 30- to 40-minute workout to a tempo run, a run that gradually builds in speed until you are going at least 20 minutes at a very uncomfortable pace. Use these workouts to improve your leg turnover rate and build stamina.7.
Leave a day between your hardest runs. Make that day consist of cross training, easy jogging or rest. Allow at least one day per week for rest from all formal exercise.8.
Use the last week of training leading up to the race for tapering. Limit your long run the weekend prior to the race to 8 or 10 miles at the most. Plan to go just half your usual weekly distance in the days leading up to the race. For example, if you usually run two days per week for 40 minutes, go for just 20 minutes instead. Rest from all formal exercise one or two days before the race so your legs are fresh for race day.
- Daily planner or calendar
- Do some of your training at the time you'll actually be running the race. If your half-marathon begins early in the morning, schedule your training runs for this time so you are familiar with how your body feels at that hour. Your training plan should also include provisions for fueling. Test out what hydration and food supplements work best for you on the run. For runs lasting longer than 90 minutes, you'll need electrolyte replacement and some type of carbohydrates in the form of chews, sports drinks or gels for optimal energy.
- Be flexible with your training schedule. Do your best to rearrange your training plans to accommodate for unforeseen scheduling conflicts. Missing one or two workouts will not make or break your performance, but missing several weeks may mean you need to postpone your race.
- If you feel pain or are injured during training, do not push through to meet your goals. Be willing to postpone your race to avoid doing further damage to your body.