Guest Post: Half Marathon Training

Deep Random Thoughts from a Half-Marathoner-in-Training

This post is written by the elusive third running sister.

I sometimes write guest posts for this blog to give the “newbie” perspective on running. Today I am writing about being a newbie to half-marathon training.

I am currently in the 10th week of my 12-week training plan. That means my first half marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis, is in less than three weeks. I can honestly say I am starting to get excited about running the race. I am also excited about traveling to a different state and having a long girls’ weekend with my mom and sisters that will include the race. For this blog post, I thought I would discuss my training plan and how it has played out in practice—the downs and (to end on all the positives) the ups.

Training Plan

I am using the Hal Higdon Novice 2 training schedule (chosen because I am a novice with respect to half marathons but not to running in general). The plan includes three shorter runs during the week, which are never more than 5 miles at a time, and a long run on the weekend. It also recommends one day of cross-training, but I haven’t done that component of the plan because scheduling four runs a week is already a big time commitment for me. The long runs start at 4 miles and increase by one mile per week, with the exception of two weeks that are supposed to be used to run a 5K race and a 10K race.

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Before I started training, the longest distance I’d ever run was 6.2 miles (a 10K). So when I printed and studied the training plan back in July, the weekday runs seemed reassuringly easy. On the other hand, it was hard to imagine I’d actually get to a point of running 8, 9, or 10 miles at a time on the weekend.

The Downs

The good news is that the “downs” of half-marathon training have been few, but they have been different from what I expected. It boils down to the fact that it’s been challenging for me to fit in three runs on the weekdays, even if the distances are short(er). Between work, and kids, and kid activities, and kid homework, and more work, and work events, I’m definitely short on time. Then add in a cold I was fighting back in weeks 4 and 5, and shorter periods of daylight that make it almost impossible to run outside on weekdays, and the fact that my husband does work in the evening right by our treadmill, so I have to displace him because I feel self-conscious when he’s right there… Ugh. I’m tired and would rather sleep or watch TV.

As my meticulously crossed-off training plan shows, I have missed some weekday runs along the way.

The Ups

This is the fun part! I am about to admit something crazy.

I have enjoyed the long weekend runs.

First, running longer distances has forced me find places where I can do that without having to wait at stoplights, or repeating the old 5K route three times. So I have found some local trails and depended on the kindness of those who will run with me to take me on their long-run routes. These places, alongside rivers or creeks, have flowers and plants and prairie dogs and views of the mountains. And they’re only a short drive from my house. While I feel a little crazy getting up early on a weekend morning, it’s a lot easier to get motivated for a run along a scenic route on a Sunday morning than it is to get motivated for the treadmill on a Wednesday evening.

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Solo 9-mile run on the Big Dry Creek Trail in Westminster

Second, it has been fun to run with others. Erin has accompanied me three times. This past weekend, Elissa came as well, and we ran with a local running club that, for $10 per person, provides aid stations along the way and food at the end. I’m not sure what benefit Erin and Elissa get out of running with a slow poke, but I get to listen to them talk while I huff and puff. And it’s easier to wake up before sunrise if you know someone’s counting on you to show up.

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7 a.m., no-makeup selfie before attacking 10 miles

Third, every week after my long run, my running app informs me of all the previous records of mine I’ve broken—longest distance! longest duration! most miles in a week! most calories burned! If I ever do this again, I’m going to miss the novelty of each long run being the literal longest I have ever run. To date, that longest run is 10 miles. It was not as hard as I thought it would be back in Week 1.

My other “ups” were the Run for Hope 5K race I did in August with Matt’s family, where I PR’d with a time of 28:51, and the Prairie Dog Westminster 10K race I did this month by myself, where I PR’d with a time of 1:01:39. The 10K race was small enough that I actually got second place in my age group, which I didn’t realize until later and, therefore, missed out on receiving my award. The extra training is obviously making a difference in my speed, even if the training itself has been more about distance.

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Basically my look crossing the finish line at the 10k

On to the Race

My hope is that I will be writing Part 2 in several weeks, with a recap of my first half marathon and the good times of our St. Louis trip. In the meantime, I have to complete the training plan and enjoy some carb-loading.

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