Half Marathon Training Plan

I am done with my ‘off season’ and I am excited to be back to some specific training.  I like having a training plan to work from.  It helps me to know that I am doing what I need to do to reach my goals.  Typically, when I put together a training plan for a race, I will scour the internet and pick and choose what I like from different plans.  Then I’ll look at my schedule and figure out to adapt the pan to what I need. 

I am training for the Oshkosh Half Marathon on April 13th (my birthday!) and I am hoping for a new PR.  My current PR is around 1:52:49 (last year at Garry Bjorklund).  I am really hoping for a 1:48:00 and I think I can do it.  I am taking the training pretty seriously.  I’ve looked into the paces I need to run to finish the race at my goal.  I have researched what my training paces should be and what types of workouts I should be doing.  I have decided to follow the Hal Higdon half marathon advanced program.  His plans include several different types of workouts, so I thought I would go over what the different workouts are so that you guys have a point of reference when I am obsessively talking about them over then next couple months.

I still have to rearrange the program a little bit.  Most training programs have Sundays as the long run day.  My schedule just doesn’t allow that, so I bump everything by a day and have Saturday as my long run day.  To that extent, Sundays will usually be a short easy run, followed by some strength work.  I don’t typically do any strength work.  I think my plan is going to include some push ups, sit ups, upper body work and lunges.  I’m planning on 15-20 minutes of strength work, but I don’t want to do too much with my legs.  The plan suggests light weights and high repetitions.  The ‘easy’ pace should be conversational which for me is around a 9:30 pace.  The second easy run of the week is paired with ab work.

Mondays will alternate between hill workouts and interval sessions for the first month and a half of the plan.  After that, Mondays will be dedicated to intervals only.  I love interval sessions, but I really don’t run hills…ever.  This is bad and I need to change.  And I don’t really have any excuse to skip the hills.  I do most of my running on a treadmill, so inclines are easy.  I can set the % grade and the duration.  I am going to commit to the hill work during this training plan.

The hill workout is supposed to include an incline of 200-400 meters and a flat recovery of the same distance.  Hills are good to improve strength and I like to feel strong.  I’m really hoping that I can pull out some successful hill workouts.

The intervals are probably my favorite.  This plan includes 400 meter, 800 meter and 1600 meter interval sessions.  The 400 meter intervals are at 5K race pace (7:40-7:45), the 800 meter intervals are at 10K race pace (8:10-8:20), the 1600 meter intervals at goal half race pace (8:18).  I have to admit that those speeds seem slow for interval work and I may increase the speed on some of them.  (In the past, I’ve started my intervals at slightly faster than 10K pace and increased each interval until I am running faster than 5K pace—up to a sub-7:00 pace.)

The plan also calls for a tempo run each week.  These workouts are based on time, not mileage.  The tempo run starts with 10-20 minutes of easy running (around 9:30 for me).  Then I’ll spend the next 10-20 minutes building to just shy of 10K pace.  I will hold that pace for 3-6 minutes before ending with 5-10 minutes of easy running.  The ranges are included to accommodate tempo runs from 40 minutes up to an hour.  These workouts will require some thought and concentration. 

There are a few race pace workouts scheduled.  These are typically low mileage runs, designed to get me used to the pace I want to run the race.  This workout will usually start with a few minutes of warm up before I work up to race pace (8:18).

The long runs are my other favorite workouts. The long runs are also prescribed according to time, rather than mileage and start at 90 minutes.  My off season long runs have been around 70 minutes, so the time on my feet will only be a little bit longer.  The long runs should be at an easy, conversational pace…for me that is about a 9:30 pace.  The long runs alternate between the run-of-the-mill long runs and something that is referred to as ‘3/1.’  This means that the first 3/4 of the run is at the easy, conversational pace and the last 1/4 is run near race pace (8:18).  I have never done my long runs this way and I am excited to give it a try.

That is the basics of the Hal Higdon plan.  Has anyone else used one of his plans?  What did you think of it?


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