My hobby, sport, and way of keeping in shape is running. I’m a fan of the half marathon distance. I ran my first half marathon just over 10 years ago and have enjoyed many others since. My husband’s first half marathon race pic just popped up in my Facebook feed as a memory from 10 years ago, which was funny since he was 100% in the friend zone at that time and I kicked his butt in that race!
Half Marathon: The Perfect Distance
I find half marathons the perfect distance since it is far enough that you can’t skip your long runs, but not too far that your training runs take over your life. With a 10 kilometre (km) race, I could rest on my laurels and while it might be painful, I could jump into a 10km race and survive it without adequate training. However, in a half marathon, the level of discomfort and risk of injury is much higher if you don’t complete your training runs.
My longest training run for a half marathon would be under 2.5 hours long. If I started my run at 6 AM, I could be home in time to eat breakfast with my family.
My 3 Tips for Successful Half Marathon Training
- Find a plan and routine that works for you.
- Be realistic when making your plan. For me, I can’t commit to more than 3 days a week.
- Also plan out your runs; determine what time of day works for you and make a routine out of it.
- Find a race and register for it to keep you motivated.
- Having a goal to work towards will keep you motivated. I tell lots of people about my upcoming race far in advance so I feel accountable.
- Find a training partner or run club.
- While I enjoy running on my own, I couldn’t imagine all of my long runs by myself. Having someone with you can make your long runs fly by. Running is a form of therapy for me since I talk through problems, vent, share memories with my running partner.
Running After Baby
After having a baby, running was a major challenge for me. The motivation to loose weight was certainly there, but my body wasn’t ready for that kind of intensity. My body had changed; I was nursing and had major nursing boobs that could not be tamed. Running wasn’t comfortable so my plan to run 6 months after giving birth and to start half marathon training went out the window.
I tried once more to run when my baby was 13 months and I had been back at work for a few weeks. While my body cooperated with running this time, I found it difficult to stay committed. Part of the problem was that I ran alone at 7:45 PM, after the baby was nursed and in bed. I was exhausted, it was dark out, and Netflix was calling me.
Third time was the charm! I survived a busy August at work and I knew the fall was going to be busy at work so if I didn’t get running soon I’d never maintain my fitness during the winter. Baby was now 18 months old and I was daydreaming about Disney vacations and it struck me: why not run a Disney race!?! My timing could not have been better as the Tinker Bell Half Marathon’s registration was coming up in mid-September. I laced up my runners and tried to run and this time, with the right motivation and a better fitness level than the other two attempts I kept up my training and ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon last month.
Baby Steps: Initial Running Plan
Starting my half marathon training in September for a May half marathon gave me ample time to build a foundation before I had to start logging long miles. September, October, and November focused on a run/walk program. This meant each week I’d run 1 minute, walk 1 minute until I’d reached 12 to 15 minutes of total run time. Then the next week I’d bump up my run time. After a few weeks I was running 10 minutes and walking 1 minute. From this, I switched to distance based training with 3 to 4 km runs during the week and a 5 km on the weekend. Each long run (weekend run), I’d increase by 1 km. I also listened to my body and decreased every few weeks to let my body have a break.
While I was focused on this training and really happy with my progress, I should note that I was nowhere close to the times I once ran. I don’t blame pregnancy on this as I had a health scare in the years leading up to pregnancy that I think took its tole on me. I’m a highly competitive person, but I took this slower pace in stride (pun intended). Now that I’m a mom, I’ve chilled out a lot more and having time to run and pursue my own fitness makes me happy. I’m not longer focused on my splits, although slow or not, I always aim for a negative split.
My mantra for running post pregnancy is: No expectations, no limitations.
Find a Training Plan that Works for You
A quick Google search can turn up dozens of half marathon training plans. In some you have to run 5 days a week, in others only 3 days. Some have steep build ups in long run mileage, while others are more gradual. I suggest you open a spreadsheet, take what you like from multiple plans that you’ve reviewed and plug that into your own plan.
For me I have a simple long run build up that I don’t mess with in the 7 weeks leading to the race, which is as follows:
- 16, 16, 12, 18, 18, 20, 8 km.
While this builds my last several weeks, most training plans should cover a minimum of 18 weeks with a minimum distance of 10 km to begin. Keep this in mind as you set your sights on your goal race and plan accordingly.
Plan Your Runs
Plan out when you are going to run, then make it happen. I nurse my daughter to sleep at 7 PM daily and I only have an hour with her before bedtime so I know during the week I need to run later that I’d prefer. Running at 7:30 PM means most of the year it is dark so I have a reflective vest and my husband knows my route.
For my weekend long runs, I aim to be home by 8 AM. This means I may need to be up before 6 AM or for a shorter run, closer to 6:45 AM. Yes, it is early, but I’m committed to my training and I find running enjoyable.
Importance of a Training Partner
I’ve got an amazing training partner that happily runs at my odd ball times. She supports me, loves me, and let’s me talk on and on about whatever is bothering me. You won’t find a training partner better than mine, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and find one. I forgot to mention, my training partner is my mom – my IRONMAN, marathoner, more energy than I’ll ever have, MOTHER!
Let Me Know…
Let me know if you have questions – I’m passionate about running and happy to help you figure out how to juggle it into your busy life.
Related posts: Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race Report