I’ve had a couple of questions about my half marathon training plan, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain it in a bit more detail.
There are lots of running plans that can help you start running, keep running, run further and run up to a marathon and beyond. If you’re starting out then a couch to 5k plan is a good way to get going, challenge yourself and track your progress.
For a half marathon (13.1 miles) like I’m doing, there are also plenty of free plans available online. My plan was specially put together for me by my trainer from Inspire Fitness.
Like most running plans, mine has a mixture of different kinds of run throughout the week. I run 3 or 4 times a week, gradually increasing the distance I cover on my ‘long run’ and doing a couple of other shorter distance runs that focus on speed, or help me build a cumulative distance throughout the week.
Speed focused runs help me get used to running at a slightly faster pace than I normally would. This means that even on a ‘short’ run, I get a good workout.
What does it all mean?
Runs where you focus on speed or pace rather than distance sometimes get funny names like tempo, fartlek or interval. Here’s what the terms mean in simple language:
Tempo run – a run in which you try to run at a target pace for part or all of that session. You may target a pace of so many minutes a mile for the whole or part of the run, or you could choose to start slowly and increase your speed each mile (known as a progressive run).
Fartlek – yeah that’s a funny name. It translates from Swedish as speed play. Basically a fartlek run is one where you deliberately play around with your speed, running faster over short distances and then slowing down again. I often use lampposts or other markers in the landscape to mark out fast sections on a fartlek run.
Interval – this is a more structured session where you run at pace for a set amount of time or distance, then slow down a little, recover and repeat. For example, I might run for 3 minutes fast and then slow down for 1 minute of recovery and repeat that 6 or 7 times.
I use a GPS watch (mine is a Garmin Forerunner XT) to help me track time, distance and pace on all my runs and I log all of my training on Fetcheveryone. This is a really friendly and accessible online community that allows you to log any kind of activity including running, cycling, swimming, weight training and much more. It allows me to see stats from all my training in all sorts of different ways, compare individual sessions and tot up how many miles I’ve logged in a week/month/year. As well as all the statistical stuff it’s also a great place to chat to other people who run, cycle, swim and get advice and support.
This week my half marathon training plan included 3 run sessions and a strength training session. I’ll also add a yoga class which I enjoy for a bit of peaceful stretching and recovery after a busy week of training and work.
This week’s run training sessions were:
- Run intervals: Warm up, then run 3 mins fast, 1 min recovery x 6. Cool down
- 8k run over a flattish route
- 12k run over a flattish route
You really don’t need any fancy kit other than a pair of trainers to go out and get running, but over time I’ve invested in some kit that really helps me track my progress, stay motivated and feel good when I run. More of that next time…