Training for a Half vs. Full Marathon

A Half Marathon Training Plan where you run on average 3-4 miles a day - with one extra long weekend run! Doesn't seem so daunting, does it?

I was talking to my friend Cheryl the other day, who now lives in San Francisco. Cheryl is a runner. She and her husband Barry run marathons, half marathons, 10ks, 5ks, etc. around the country – depending on where they are living and/or traveling. Cheryl had posted on Facebook about how she was starting her marathon training for the upcoming Twin Cities marathon in October. And I asked what training plan she was using. (Interested in getting your own personalized plan, click here.) Cheryl told me she was utilizing an individually designed plan for the marathon. She also mentioned that unfortunately she didn’t have one for half marathons – because she instead keeps a base of about 6 miles – and when a half marathon race is coming up, she’ll add a couple of longer runs in. And in all honesty, the last half marathon I ran (Latin Rock & Roll Half Marathon in Miami Beach), I did exactly that…I was in fact following the same training plan (running the same mileage) as the kids on my high school cross country team – who were running 3.1 mile races…and then adding a longer Sunday run (between 7 and 9 miles).

Now – in all honesty – I needed to up my mileage and it hurt me after mile 10 of my half marathon…but I did okay. So the question is – does this work for others? And how often do runners keep their base mileage at a consistent rate and then add a few longer runs to bump them up to “half marathon ready.”

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As a side note, here is a good article on the importance of base training and how you can be getting ready for that upcoming half marathon that you don’t even know about — from Runners World:

“Rob Wiley never worried much about how he began a new training cycle. He figured it was enough just to stay fit, running the same few miles just about every day at about the same easy pace. Then the 32-year-old project manager of Gurnee, Illinois, started working with a coach, Jenny Spangler. She had Wiley run hills and tempo runs in his base weeks, that six- to nine-week period of time before a formal training plan begins. “I thought, Why am I running hard stuff right out of the gate?” he says. The reason became apparent two months later, when he began stepping up his workouts. “I was strong,” says Wiley–stronger than he had ever been entering a training season.

The experience was a revelation for Wiley. Proper base building isn’t simply a matter of logging a decent number of miles, he realized. Instead, it serves as a bridge between the off-season’s maintenance runs and a race-specific training program. “The purpose of base training is to prepare you for your next phase of harder, faster running,” says Spangler, the 1996 U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials champion. If you transition too quickly into the rigors of a training program, your ability to perform and, therefore, benefit from the work decreases while your risk of injury increases.

Because base training comes before you actually begin a training plan, it’s often overlooked, says Spangler. In fact, quality work during this early phase is no less important than during your peak weeks. Faster-paced miles and the inclusion of a weekly long run increase endurance and strengthen your muscles, bones, and connective tissues. The improved fitness not only readies your body for the more intense running to come, it also allows you to safely handle tougher workouts, which increases the overall effectiveness of your entire training cycle.”

Read the full article here.

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