Welcome to your official training program for a half-marathon from the New York Road Runners! Whether your goal is beating some time or just to finish, this program was designed to educate and inspire you to complete a half-marathon. Running can be so much more than an exercise mode, and over the next 10 weeks, you get 50-60 opportunities to experience this. (Follow @AliOnTheRun1, Shape's race-training writer, as she uses this plan to train for the Brooklyn Half!)
This moderate plan was designed for the sensible runner juggling life, kids, etc., with a desire to do something for themselves (Frequent runners may want to try this 12-Week Half-Marathon Training Plan instead.) We realize you are not willing to drop all things in your life to get in a run or workout, so this schedule was designed with this in mind. Note that your major emphasis in this first week of training is learning your training paces and your different levels of effort. Running at the correct effort is critical for smart training and to avoid injury.
About the runs:
Regular runs will make up a large percentage of your overall running towards the half-marathon, so do not think of these runs as a waste of time. They serve a purpose just like the workout days. Running at the correct pace is key for getting some aerobic stimulus and not too much fatigue. For the first few weeks of training, our suggestion is to run in the slower range of your prescribed paces, and as you become more fit during this program, you will begin to run in the faster range of the prescribed paces. That is why we have created the pace ranges. Your paces will also slightly change from week to week depending on the training goal for that week. It is best to stay within these pace ranges because they have been customized based upon your training and racing history! As you get going in this program, try to determine the best fit of pace from the range given. These runs should be a 6 out of 10 on your perceived effort scale.
In the Regular Run AYF (As You Feel), you leave the watch and stress behind and run because you enjoy running, not because you're training.
Fartlek Runs are specifically designed to inject a speed workout into a distance run. This allows you to work on speed work while still focusing on endurance specific to the half marathon. This workout is challenging because your body has to recover between the faster sections while still running. It is important to teach the body to recover at an easier running pace. This will allow your body to become more efficient, which will make half marathon pace seem easier and allow you to maintain for longer.
Flex Days replace your run with a cross-training session or a day off. Cross-training sessions are aerobic workouts too, which means that those sessions on the bike can help your half marathon time. Everyone responds differently, so it's difficult to determine the effect, if any, that your choice of what to do on Flex Days will have on your half marathon time. Don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to take two days off (especially since you have been running less than 6 days a week presently; our recommendation is to take off)! If you're cross training, go for 56-60 minutes at about the same intensity level. If you elect to take off, then do not make up the missed running in your remaining running days. You will now run 37 miles this week.
Long runs: throughout the course of this training program, we will be incorporating faster-paced running within your Long Runs. (Soundtrack your runs with these 10 Marathon Training Songs to Set Your Pace.)
Tempo workouts are steady-state continuous runs—just like the half marathon. Steady-state means that we want to be smooth with our pacing and our effort. If you complete your tempo portion of the workout and feel like you could not run another step, then you have definitely run too hard.
Easy runs are just that, nice and relaxed. Keep this run on soft surfaces if possible and keep the pace relaxed! One of the more common error of runners is not going easy on these runs. This is known as a training error. Training errors are the major reason behind many running injuries. Every run has a purpose and today it is to aid your leg recovery by increasing blood flow to your muscles. Be smart and keep it easy. (Prevent injuries by building a supportive lower-body with this Strength Workout for Runners.)
On race day, you have many things in your control. You can be prepared, you can know the course and its terrain, you can know your paces, you can know your strategy, you can wear the correct clothing for the weather, the list goes on and on. But what you will not know is what you will feel during the next 13.1 miles. That is the excitement and the reason for those butterflies on race morning. We hope that with this plan, you will stride to the starting line confident that you are a smarter and fitter athlete than 10 weeks ago.