Starting So Soon? Why, Yes I Am!

Posted: June 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Would you believe me when I tell you that my half marathon looms on the calendar just shy of 20 weeks away? You may call me a crazy person for saying “just 20 weeks away”, but have you seen how this year has flown by already?! I have and I know that 20 weeks will pass before I know it. I also know that I like having a plan of attack. So, this crazy person signed on to Runner’s World this past weekend to see what training plan their Smart Coach would spit out at me.

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I liked what I saw. Each week includes the following runs:

  • 2 shorter, easy runs (2-3 miles through entire plan)
  • 1 speed work OR tempo run (starting at 4 miles and building to 6 at the end)
  • 1 long, steady-state run (starting at 6 miles and building to 12 at the end)

I like the look of this plan for a variety of reasons. When training (aka doing whatever) for my 10K, I had been fitting in two 4-5 mile runs during the week. I prefer the idea of splitting one of those into two shorter runs. It will keep my mileage in the same range, but feel more manageable for my time and my body. Score.

Secondly, I knew I wanted to take a slow and steady approach to preparing myself for the half-marathon. I’ve been looking into training plans for awhile now to have an idea of what I will need to commit to for adequate training. I figured I would go with a standard 12 week program from Hal Higdon or something similar. Yet, I found I like the look of the longer training plan. Why? This plan builds in lower mileage recovery weeks every fourth week, so I can slowly build up over time. I prefer a longer plan that can fit in recovery time rather than 10+ weeks of straight-on mileage increases and intense training. I don’t know if that is the “best” way to do it, but it sounds like a good fit for me. I would already plan on running regularly similar to this plan anyways, so this keeps me in check with caring for my body as I prep for my race.

Lastly, I kind of love speed work and tempo runs. Sure they build endurance at a faster pace, but they also give me a little thrill at pushing myself in new ways and allow me to mix up my running. For this self-proclaimed exercise ADD gal, that makes me happy. And I completed my first one today!

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I found a public track close to where I live to hit up for speed workouts. Fabulous! I loathe the treadmill so it thrills me to have a track for these runs. You would think running around in circles would bore me as much as the treadmill, but it didn’t. How can boredom set in when my mind runs wild with visions of hosting boot camp classes there and the crazy workouts I could use to torture whip clients into shape. ;)

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But back to the workout. The plan called for a one mile warm-up, then 1600 meters (4 laps) in 8:00 minutes, followed by 800 meters (2 laps) of a recovery jog, then another 1600 meters (4 laps) in 8:00 minutes before cooling down and rounding out my 4 miles. Well…I get an A for effort! I did the first speed interval just fine, then crapped out after one lap of the second interval and decided to just finish up my 4 miles at a steady pace. No biggie! I still ended up with a great run covering 4 miles in 35:56 for 8:59 average pace:

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That’s another great thing about this plan. Having twenty weeks allows me to feel more flexible with my runs. I know what to shoot for, but I also know that if my body tells me to adjust some things I will still end up with ample training. I didn’t have to worry about completing only one speed work interval today because I have many other chances to challenge myself with such a workout. And I will accept that challenge you betcha! I can already tell track workouts will be the workout I love to hate!

  • Do you like having workout and/or training plans? I do, as long as I can build in some flexibility to keep me sane.
  • Of Possible Interest: 4all by Jofit (the AWESOME fitness apparel brand I work with) has a special contest going on right now to provide a makeover to four women’s golf or tennis teams. Check it out!!

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50 Comments to “Starting So Soon? Why, Yes I Am!”
  1. I like having a plan, and i like the slow steady approach. I trained for about that long for my half in May, and when I took two weeks off, it wasn’t hard tovget back on track.

  2. Tina, love this post! My first half-marathon is on October 2nd and I like the longer training approach, so I am starting to train now as well. I need to go over to Runners World and do the same thing!
    Is the half you’re currently training for in the Atlanta area?
    PS – Thank you for commenting on my blog, cool to see people are reading :-)

    • Tina says:

      I’m doing the Rock N Roll half in Savannah…so about 4 hours away from Atlanta. It’s going to be a fun little weekend trip. I can’t wait!

  3. I’m more of a spontaneous exerciser–as in, I like to do whatever feels right that day :P and I totally relate to your last post Tina! I just feel so refreshed and energized when I’m active and consistently working out, and that’s why I love it so much :)

  4. I would say I have to keep it flexible…if there’s no room for fun in there then I can’t stick with it!

  5. lindsay says:

    i think this is a great idea. sometimes its just nice to have a plan, ya know? and I like the track, its a weird addiction. Fast mommy tina!
    ;)

  6. Melodie says:

    I have a question for you :) I am also training for a 1/2 marathon in September. I am not as “seasoned” with strength training as you, but do ST for about90 minutes a week at home with DVD’s. Are you going to back off of your ST a bit while you are training? I see you will be running 4 days, so will you be ST the other 3, or taking a rest day, or ST on some of the days you run? Sorry! It may be a weird question, but I am having a hard time incorporating my ST with my plan :)

    • Tina says:

      Not at all a weird question! I still plan to strength train 3 days out of the week, on the two days I have the short/easy runs and then another day. I will ALWAYS make sure to have one full rest day a week. I think that is so so so important. I update my Fitness page with my workouts so you can see what it ends up looking like. I do plan on taking it easier with my leg weights. I still will incorporate the leg work because I think its important for a well balanced fitness routine, but I don’t want to be sore and hobbling for months on end either. ;)

  7. i live for training plans! :) my current one is a whopping 22 weeks of gradual build-up for a half marathon, and is kind of modeled after the “smart coach” guide.

  8. Definitely no hard in spending a longer amount of time training for something! I love following training plans but they have to be flexible because I like to adapt based on how my body feels that day!

  9. Morgan says:

    Tina,
    Good thing you are starting early. I am running Savannah RNR as well, but with me traveling so much in July. I am starting the 12 week program August 1. Also, with classes starting back up, I need a rigid program to keep me sane.

    Still really nervous about my first half, but hopefully once I get into the routine of training regularly the confidence will begin to build. Running all I can now to keep up!

    Good luck girl!!

    • Tina says:

      I bet you will do GREAT! And how cool you are doing the same race. Keep me posted on how it all goes with your training. We can motivate each other and then maybe get the chance to meet up when there!

      • Morgan says:

        Thanks! I will. I would love to meet :) I’m running with my aunt who is a seasoned marathoner, so I am sure she will keep me in line!!

        I live in Athens (student at UGA)….maybe we could even meet to tackle a long run??? I know it sounds crazy, but I already feel like I know you?!

        • Tina says:

          Ah, my alma mater! :)

          And we should definitely try to work something out. I’m always game for meeting friends through blogging!

  10. Your training plan looks very smart – long runs to get your body to adapt to proper glycogen usage/storage, and speedwork to increase your power. I agree that a longer training plan is better – I never understood the mentality of not running/biking/swimming/etc *until* week 1 of the shortest training plan around. Build yourself up! And if you are trying to do as little as possible, why race?

  11. Amy Lauren says:

    I roughly followed a plan when I trained for mine (over a shorter period of time)… never ran more than 4 times a week, and my weekly mileage never got too high… the plan I followed sounds a lot like yours except my longest run was 11 miles instead of 12. The first ten miles are the hardest, once I got to mile 10 I was like it’s just a 5K from here on out, so that made it easier, to think about it that way.

    Your workout was awesome :) . Especially because of this heat, even running one mile at an 8 minute pace is super hard with the humidity lately!

  12. Way to go on getting a head start! I am running Savannah RNR as well, would love to get to meet you there! :)

    • Tina says:

      We will have to have a huge blogger/reader meet up. So many awesome blog friends doing this race and I want to meet and see you all!

  13. Kirsten says:

    When I did the half marathon last year (I walked), I used a 16 week program and will probably do the same this year. I am also doing Savannah so that puts my training start at July 17th. I love the longer training period and felt that it left me room to still have a life. Since I’m going only for completion and not for time, I will stick to 3 runs per week.

    I love the recovery runs, they truly helped.

    It has been really cool to watch your running evolution over the last few months.

  14. I like the sound of the longer plan too. I wish I had a track nearby that wouldn’t kick me off it! Last time I got yelled at for using it. I was pretty sure that’s why I pay taxes and all to get to use those school amenities but apparently not?

  15. Brittany says:

    This is awesome! You’re going to do great!

  16. I love plans for days when I don’t feel motivated, but sometimes I just feel too boxed in and don’t want to follow a plan. So, I hae it there just in case for backup!

  17. I always have mixed feelings about being “in training” or not. I get tired of it at times, but it definitely helps me stay on track better… And I enjoy the longer plans! I usually add on a week or two extra to the 12-week plan to give myself some “cushion” for when weeks don’t happen the way they’re supposed to.

  18. Avery says:

    Crazy! I’m definitely running this half marathon ANDDD using the Smart Coach training plan! I have it taped on my wall.. you know, cuz I’m classy. I feel like I find out every week about another lovely blogger running this race. Love it. Definitely hope to run into you! :)

  19. I do love training plans, but like you, I tweak them when necessary. I definitely like having a plan to follow, though.

  20. Lauren says:

    20 weeks will be here before you know it but you’ll be ready! Girls you rock. 4 miles in 35 min, that’s awesome!

  21. Dawn says:

    I love working out at the track I can get so creative with my workouts there.

  22. I have to have a solid plan if I’m signing up for a race. I like your approach with 20 weeks instead of the standard 12. I may just copy you the next time I train for a half!

  23. jobo says:

    This is an awesome approach!! My sis and I aren’t going overly planned this time around but we are aiming for 2 longer runs and 2 shorter runs per week. I think it’s a good balance for us, just as you have a good balance with this plan! Good luck!!

  24. Mac says:

    I love having some sort of plan, but I don’t really like writing it myself. I agree with you about treadmills with speed training. I feel like it’s better to do interval/speed work on a track because you really have to listen and push your body. With a treadmill you can set a speed and just go, I kind of feel like I’m cheating lol

  25. Best of luck! I’m sure you’ll be awesome :)

  26. wow we are reading minds tonight! I am looking at the smart coach right this minute!! I have 8 weeks until my next half.. what I didn’t like and was confused about was that it had my 2 miles at a 12:30 pace. ?? When I run about a 10 min pace average. So, maybe I will just ignore that pace thing except for tempo runs. I thought that was a little weird though!

    • Tina says:

      Yea. That’s what I do too. I ignore the pace except for the speed work ad just focus on keeping it a lighter, easier for me, steady pace.

  27. Your plan looks great! Sometimes I do like following a plan, it helps me achieve my goals.

    Good luck! :)

  28. I like having a plan to when I workout, it helps to stay focused. I wanted to do a half marathon but decided to wait until next year, after having my third baby (1st c-section) I didn’t realize how much muscle you loose in your core. So now I’m focusing on stregnth and slowing working up to running, I finally can run upt to 5 to 6 miles and then my knee and hip hurts if I run any longer than that. Maybe next year. Your blog definitely is inspiring to me and other moms.Look forward to more of your training plans!

    • Tina says:

      I think its so great you’re not pushing your body and focusing on the areas that need the most right now. I imagine if I had to have a C-section my fitness approach and path would be MUCH different than it is. Kudos to you for taking care of yourself. That will undoubtedly lead to success in your plans! :)

  29. I’m always amazed by how quickly the training period FLIES by for races– good for you for giving yourself enough time!!

  30. Jess says:

    This is a great approach Tina – slow and steady increases will leave your body saying “thank you” in 20 weeks AND you’ll be so ready and confident come race day. I am so excited for you!

  31. I love love love having a training plan (I probably made that pretty obvious on my blog when I frequently link to my crazy color coded google spreadsheet of a plan). I started the “official” plan with 13 weeks but am still using “flexibility” as my plan theme. I think it’s important for me to have fun while training AND make sure I don’t get hurt. If I’m tired I can cross train. If I am feeling great and I want to throw in an extra fast run I can. I want to be healthy and happy on race day and following a plan really helps with that :)

    • Tina says:

      Pretty sure I’ve said before how much I love your fancy spreadsheet. It rocks and I would totally make one of my own if I had the time…or remembered. LOL

      • Do you want me to email you the Excel file for mine? I find it to be a little easier to edit in Excel than in google docs (though really feel free to save the Google docs file as your own and use that if you want :) )

        • Tina says:

          I have something set up with a calendar, but you can go ahead and shoot it my way as a google doc (don’t have excel on my netbook so always use google docs). always fun to play around with spreadsheets and things. hehehe

  32. That plan sounds SO great! I think I like it because of all the variety and clear cut goals. Executing it will be a challenge I’m sure though.

  33. Rachel says:

    love the training plan! u inspired me to get my training plan started for my fall ultra! woo hoo–thank you for sharing your journey and for all the inspiration!

  34. [...] on the Body After Baby progress. Those four weeks included quite a lot of excitement – picking up half marathon training, a week long vacation to the beach, and officially stepping out to begin personal training [...]

  35. [...] focused on taking one rest day a week, but never regular entire weeks to lighten the load. For half marathon training, though, I certainly see the benefits of recovery weeks. Already so glad I opted for the longer [...]

  36. [...] only managed one speed mile before wanting to keel over and die in misery right then and [...]

  37. [...] began my workout yesterday with my short, steady 2 mile run from my training plan. That run where I sorely missed my revamped workout playlist? Yea, that one. While completing my [...]

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