I started training on August 4 for my first (official) half-marathon, the Valparaiso Half-Marathon on November 9, 2014. I am terribly picky when it comes to training plans. I used the Hal Hidgon 10-K Intermediate Program back in early spring when I trained for the Ringing in Spring 10K. It worked well for me considering everything that limited how much I could run: that awful Polar Vortex weather, driving back and forth weekly between Dayton and Valparaiso (which is about a four hour drive one way), and finishing up my last semester of graduate school. I averaged about 24-27 miles per week on that plan, and I completed one speed or tempo workout per week. When I finished the race in 50:15, I knew that with more mileage I could have raced faster and finished with a time under 50:00.
Mileage thus was important for me in choosing a half-marathon. Since my wedding and honeymoon occur right in the middle of a training plan, I did not want to rack up too much mileage – which for me would be anything above 40 miles per week. I wanted my mileage spread across five days of running per week. The frustrating thing was that most plans either featured high-mileage with running six days a week, or lower mileage than I wanted with running only three or four days per week.
I also wanted a half marathon training plan that emphasized long runs. I was already running 7-8 miles at least once a week, so I wanted to start there and build up to 13 or 14 miles before the race. I also required a mixture of speedwork and tempo training (at goal pace) – I thrive both mentally and physiologically on speed and tempo training that is specific to the race distance.
My search for the ideal training plan quickly frustrated me. Not enough speedwork, too few or too many miles, not enough long runs, too far on long runs (one plan went up to 16 miles!). I was like Goldilocks and the thirteen point one miles.
Thankfully, as usual, Runner’s World came to the rescue. My August 2014 issue arrived, all shiny and pretty, and featured a half-marathon training plan that emphasized getting faster. Even though it featured six runs per week, it offered fartlek-style speedwork (my favorite!) and goal-pace tempo runs. The long runs built up to 13 miles, and every other long run included 3-6 miles at goal pace – this totally excited me, since I have developed an odd love for progression runs.
The best training plan allows you to modify based on your life – after all, running and race training should supplement our lives, not rule them. I added an off week for the honeymoon and repeated a week to make up for the off week, so the 12 week plan lengthened to 14 weeks. I only included five runs per week with one day devoted to strength and flexibility work. Per the suggestions in the plan, I also upped the long runs to starting with 8 miles, since I was already comfortably running that distance. My mileage then started at 29 miles per week and peaked around 38-39 miles per week. I read once on the Running Times website that weekly training mileage should peak at least at 3 times the distance of the race, which mine does (3×13.1=39.3).
All speedwork (done on Mondays) includes a 2 mile warm-up, 4-5 strides, and a 1 mile cooldown. All goal-pace tempo work (Wednesdays) includes a one mile warm-up and one mile cool-down.
Valparaiso Half-Marathon 2014 Training Plan
I’ll be adding a rest week in for Ryan’s and my honeymoon trip, and then repeating a week in the middle to make up for missed workouts. I’m very excited to start this plan – I’ll provide weekly updates on my training progress for anyone who wants to follow.