Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Half Marathon Training Plan Review

This was a 15 week training schedule. I designed this training plan based on reading various blogs and training plans. I also read the book Hansons Marathon Method. I was not ready to fully embrace the Hansons method, but I wanted to run more often and run more consistently.

So I designed a plan that would ease me into running more days a week and more miles a week. I started out by running 3 days the first week, 4 days the second, 5 days the third week. Then repeat the cycle. By the middle of my training cycle, I dropped the 3-day week and was running 4 or 5 days a week.

My paces were the same, just the distance got longer. I ran a tempo pace run every week and a hill run every week. 2 out of 3 weeks, I ran a long run. The rest of my runs were easy paced runs. Most of my runs were run/walk, except my tempo runs, which I ran at marathon pace straight through without walking.

There were so many good things about this training cycle.
  • I learned to control my pace on my tempo runs and began to feel when I sped up or slowed down too much.
  • My hills runs had no pace target. So while I tried to better my performance with every run, I didn't feel too much pressure to run a certain pace and that was freeing.
  • I learned I need to stay at the same distance for a tempo run or a long run for 3 weeks in most cases before moving on to a longer distance. Pushing forward with the next distance just because that's what the schedule says can be detrimental.
  • Easy runs aren't easy mentally sometimes, but they're easy on my body and serve as a great bridge between harder workouts and a way to get more miles in without trashing my body. Some people feel these are "filler" miles and not necessary, but I think the easy miles made me a better runner this cycle.

I started using SportTracks online this training cycle for the reports and I'm glad I did. While it costs $59/year, it is really worth it to me to analyze my performance and keep me accountable to my plan.

This is one such report. This shows me that I ran 60 runs and 312.64 miles to prepare for the Iron Horse Half Marathon. This does include warm up and cool down miles. The elevation gain number is interesting to me as well, since I specifically added elevation to my training.

When I contrast these numbers with my report for training for my first marathon, I'm a bit appalled at the numbers! For my marathon, I ran only 40 runs over 16 weeks for a total of 299.58 miles and only 4,500 feet of elevation gain. For the marathon, I had longer runs, but I struggled mightily with any run over 16 miles. Except for the long run, I'm probably in better running shape today than I was for my marathon.

I really like this chart. This shows the numbers of miles per week I ran during my half marathon training cycle. That last tiny little week was my taper week of 3 miles. I like that 7 of my 9 weeks prior to my taper week were over 20 miles each week and 3 of them were at or over 30 miles. The September 18 week was my taper for the 100 mile ride that didn't happen, so I don't really care about  that. The August 14 week was a step back week and my last specific 3-day week. The only thing I would like better is if this chart was active miles only. But because of the way I track my runs, this includes warm up and cool down.

Mile 10 of the Iron Horse Half Marathon
Photo Credit: Good Times Event Services
This was a successful training cycle for me and I will use this as a good base to begin training for the 2017 Chattanooga Marathon.

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