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Half marathon running training

kjg's picture

I have decided to run my first 1/2 marathon at the Martian Marathon on April 1st. This is a big decision and undertaking but one that I am quite excited about.

I have been a casual runner for several years - mostly in the skate off-season. Mostly running 5 and 10k's with various times and various frequencies of training!

I am going to use a training plan from Runner's World developed by FIRST. http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-238-244-258-9369-0,00.html It is made up of three prescribed runs per week - one speed session (super fast), one tempo run (faster than race pace) and one long run (slower than race pace with the longest run being 12 miles.) It prescribes two other cross training sessions per week and at least one rest day.

All the paces are set by your recent race pace which is where my first dilemna begins. My last 5K race was Thanksgiving morning (note extreme dedication!) my time was 28ish minutes. However this was with very little training, and I was not sure how well the course was measured. Anyway thinking conservatism was the better part of whatever I based  all my calculations off this time.

The actual training plan does not start for another week so I have been using the time to ease in by working out how to complete the sessions and repeating the first week a couple of times. However, I overachieved on the first speed session and was not able to run slow enough for the time that they specified. Then came the tempo run, again I was running about 30 secs per mile faster than they specified. So I reran a measured 5k distance and found my pace was about 30 secs faster per mile than at thanksgiving (8:23/mile). So I have recalculated all my paces based on this - a decision I hope that I will not live to regret!!!

My next dilemna is that the program specifies cross training on non-running days. I am already training for a stair climbing event and although this training for these two events will be transferable I am spending one day running stairs (sort of cross training but not entirely) on another day I am freestyle skating, slow but quite muscular (especially when trying to learn new moves!) more like cross training but still "leg dominated!) So I am concerned that I may be overtraining with this schedule:

Sat     Long run

Sun    Stairs

Mon    Tempo run

Tues   rest

Wed    freestyle skate (cones)

Thurs  speed

Friday  rest

I would appreciate all of your support and any advice from runners and skaters alike - especially those of you who know my armchair overachiever mentality!!!


eebee's picture

Get Enough Sleep. Listen to Your Body.

Speaking from my armchair...and I'm hardly the authority on this...what always worked for me was making sure I got at least 7.5 (or whatever your magic number is) hours of sleep the same night after a muscle-breakdown type workout. I've learned that this is essential to rebuilding that muscle within time to hit it with the next strenuous workout. That'll help you avoid over-training. Obviously if you're feeling sluggish, or have weird pains anywhere, those are signs of overtraining, too. Yeah, you've done A2A, you know all this :-)


Your training schedule looks positively euphoric, endorphinly-speaking :-) 


I see what you mean about the x-training days. Low impact would help, and other than running back down the stairs, it looks ok. The latter part of the week looks fine to me, and not too stressful. The first part of the week looks a little hairy. Maybe your muscles could get more out of it if you could split up the Long Run, Stairs, and Tempo Run. I have no idea what your social and work schedule requirements are, and you may need to put your longest workouts on Sat & Sun, but here's probably how I'd try it first, based on my past skate marathon training findings. 


Sat: Long Run

Sun: Stairs

Mon: Rest

Tue: Speed

Wed: Rest or Freestyle (interchange w/Fri)

Thu: Tempo

Fri: Rest or Freestyle (interch. w/Wed)


If any body sees anything glaringly wrong with what I've put here, please enlighten me.


Happy training and stay safe!

timv's picture

Run faster, climb higher

It looks like you're in for a busy winter there, Katherine!


I was mainly a runner from the age of 16 until 40 or so and never really caught the Marathon Bug, but I did a half dozen or so half-marathons and one full marathon (Grandfather Mountain) plus a fair number of 20+-mile training runs along the way. And with your distance skating experience I think you be fine in the event no matter how the training goes. You won't have any problem with the thing that causes the most trouble for other first-timers, which is just being out on the road and on your feet for one and a half or two hours, sticking to a pace and keeping your head together.


With a max long run of 12 miles, you'll might just be hanging on complete the distance of the last few miles. Running at race pace actually uses muscle fibers that you won't use during your long slow distance training runs, and I suspect the gap between 5k and 13.1 pace will be more than the 35 seconds per mile that they're suggesting. For my last half (coincidentally at Kiawah Island, where the FIRST folks do their tests) I went basically just as a social outing to see some Internet running pals, and my longest run in the prior six months was 10 miles. The race actually went better than I expected (pr) but my upper legs tied up quite a bit in the last couple of miles and I was almost a minute per mile slower than my 5k race pace at that time. Which won't matter if your goal is just to do the distance. And on the other hand, if you could cut 30 seconds per mile off your last 5k race during a solo run, then you're probably really even faster than that.


As for the conflicting demands of the different kinds of training, there's a saying among athletes--a Chinese proverb or so they say: Chase two rabbits, catch none. if you're looking for objective results, you'll have to appreciate that most of your half-marathon competitors won't be working on stair-climbing or artistic skating on top of training for the race, so you're giving yourself a real handicap there. I've done stuff like that and found that fatigue from long training runs took away some of the bounce and the fine muscle control needed for balance (ballet in my case) and that the high-impact leaping and jumping left my legs feeling pretty tired and heavy during runs. But it's OK if you understand and accept that.


And yeah, you'll probably feel pretty mopey and tired while that's all going on, and you might find that you need to cut way back on the non-athletic stuff in your life. But effective training is about stress and adaptation, so that's kinda the point. As long as you aren't getting really sick (mild colds are normal since you always lose some immune system function during hard training) and missing workouts, you should be good.


So anyway, lots of skatey-runner-climbing-love and encouragment your way. I'm sure you'll be able to do the distance no matter how the training goes. Just hang in there, and be ready for some amount of setbacks and changes of plan along the way. Try to have fun and let us know how it goes. Good luck!


kjg's picture

Thank you both for your

Thank you both for your advice and encouragement - you know me too well!

I will keep you posted on my progress...

roadskater's picture

Lazy Man Says Too Far Too Fast Too Much Too Soon

These 2 guys used to come hear me play and they had a band called 2 Far 2 Fast I think it was. As I may have said before, I appreciated them coming out and I went to hear them too, and I seem to recall timv being at both shows and more. Anyway thanks for bringing up a memory (perhaps again). I'm not always sure what I've thought hard about posting and what I've posted or where! Ha!


To your schedule, I think you'll know what is a hard day and an easy day, and that you should shoot for hard-easy-hard-easy-hard-easy-rest or easy-hard-easy-hard-easy-hard-rest. It has been a long time since I worked out that way, or that hard, but any more than that leads to injury in my world. The other thing that leads to injury is too little then lots in a hurry (I managed that along with failed equipment in Miami last year and still feel it as I write).


I think running stairs counts for hard. I don't know if your freestyle does, but knowing you like to push things a bit (which is good of course), I'd bet it is on the lower end of a hard day, which gives you five hard days? Methinks this is too much.


As timv pointed toward, most in the know seem to say training is specific, but I'm guessing you know that and want to be great at many things rather than greater at one. If running is the main thing for spring, I'd say hard days at running and only 3, and let 1 of those be stairs then pick a hilly half marathon! Easy days I'd skate or jog but only if you can keep your heart rate low enough to be recovery pace. This will be tough. Cycling or stationary cycling might do that? Anything that uses the same muscle groups in a warm up mode while keeping the heart rate low. Hmmm. Walking?!


These are the thoughts of a marshmallow man who is mostly dreaming of the next food item and hoping for snow tomorrow to frosted-mini-wheat the grass outside at least. Thanks for sharing your schedule and enthusiasm, and let us know what happens.


Oh...I made it out to Country Park the other day but so did more people than I've ever seen there, so I went back home to work on some things that needed attention there...and actually did them...nice weather. The only good of not skating is leaving my ankle alone for awhile, which may be lots of good. We'll see!

kjg's picture

Finished in good time!

I wanted to share with you all the results of my 10 weeks of training on the Furman institute plan. I really feel that the combination of the track workouts, tempo runs and long runs with swimming, stairclimbing etc. as cross training was really powerful in building strength whilst avoiding injury and too much mental fatigue.

My half marathon was last Sunday and I finished in 1:46, 8:06 min/mile which was faster than my original objective based on my 5K times!

I am now going to continue this training plan for a full marathon at the end of May and hope to continue the theme of the training into my summer skating (if summer ever comes!!!)

roadskater's picture

Congratulations on a Great Half-Marathon Run

Wow. That is a very impressive time and it sounds like the Furman plan was good. Please teach us what you learn (without violating their copyrights or whatever) and keep us posted on what workouts seem to be working to help your skating. Anything about training is pretty interesting to most of us, I'd say, even if what works for you would not work for everyone, and we obviously all have different goals, desires, abilities and so on. Thanks for following up and congratulations once again. It sounds like you may have a plan in mind for crushing Athens to Atlanta this year! Which running marathon are you planning to attempt? I've never done a marathon, just the 17-Mile Shut-In Ridge Trail Run (elevation gain 3000 feet I think; three times, once being a DNF at mile 12). I wish I had done this while I was in shape for it.
eebee's picture


Well that's wonderful news! Oh my goodness. You'll have calves of steel.

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