Every week it seems that there is another run, themed family jog, marathon or half marathon just around the corner. Constantly we have patients asking us about the best way to train and how to build up the stamina to make it through their first run.
It’s easy to understand why so many people are attracted to the concept of the half-marathon, it represents a true endurance challenge without the demanding constraints on life of a full marathon. The half-marathon also becomes the natural stepping stone to the full marathon. Distance running is very much the tortoise versus the hare, and in the Marathon case – the tortoise always wins.
The daily/weekly plan is important – you need it to gradually increase until you are ready for the half marathon. It doesn’t matter in the beginning how slow you approach your training, what is more important is the distance that you cover. You don’t need to have multiple degrees in exercise to make a training plan – you only need to run. Run often and run long enough to get in shape for the distance.
Week 1 – 5
When training it is good to get into a habit – train the same days each week and your body and your life will work around those commitments. Get your plan together, get out the door and get running. It makes sense to train on alternate days; 1/3/5 or 2/4/6. It doesn’t matter what you pick, just plan to stick as closely to it as possible, everyone has a slip up here and there – and you might miss a day or two, just focus to get back on with your plan as soon as you can.
Week 6 -10
On the last 5 weeks of training – the plan usually suggests for a mid week tempo run, that is to say – take it easy for the first 1/4, run at a moderate faster pace for the middle 1/2 and finish up taking it easier for the last 1/4. Tempo run is not a scientific pace – but a level of effort. it is faster than your normal run – but slower than race pace, think “hard” but “controlled.”
The final furlong before the race is the taper – that is a time for recovery, to catch up on any lost sleep and to focus on healthy and good nutrition. Usually for the half marathon – 1 week prior to the race is a good time frame for this. During this week you will still run, but less – and just to maintain fitness.
Adapted from a post by Amby Burfoot – world champion runner: http://www.ambyburfoot.com/
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