How to: Train for a Half-Marathon

running
Image: Sandy Dover Creative



Running a race is incredible; the energy and excitement on race day is contagious and you can’t help but feel unstoppable. Getting to race day, however, is a bit of work. Not everyone gets out of bed, laces up their shoes and bounds out the door. Training is a mental game and if you can convince yourself to get out the door, the rest is easy.

It’s easy to say running is awful. It takes a long time and makes you exert all kinds of energy that should not humanly exist—but the results, the accomplishment, the pride, the endorphins, the “runner’s high”—in our instant, pleasure-seeking world, there is no replacement. Two things to keep in mind about running, or any intense cardio for that matter, is that it takes time and it is somewhat of a mental feat.

It takes time: Do you have some 5Ks, 10Ks or high school cross-country titles under your belt? You probably had an amazing race pace once upon a time, but suddenly school, jobs, marriage, kids, pets and other priorities kept you from lacing up and hitting the pavement. Suddenly, you’re tired after five-minutes of jogging. How can this be? Just like those miles you logged long ago prepared you for your success then, you’ll need to take the time to log miles before you get (back) into shape. Be patient and know that even 15 minutes of a walk/jog session is better than 15 more minutes at the desk, in front of the TV or at the computer.

It’s all mental: Running any distance is a mind game; if you’re new to running, there’s a good chance your body is going to creak, groan and want you to stop. Pinpoint your motivation, and then rule out the obvious obstacles that may deter you from your running routine. In her article, “A Beginner’s Guide to Running,” running coach and author, Jenny Hadfield advises runners to start out easy: “Don’t make it any harder than necessary when you’re starting out. For the first few months, stick to flat paths or run on a treadmill keeping the incline low.”

Find a reason to stay motivated to help you on those “I-don’t-want-to-take-another-step” days.

A great incentive to stick to a running plan is to sign up for a race. Sometimes the reminder that you spent money on the entry fee is incentive enough to stick to a plan! There are hundreds of races all around the region happening each weekend, and from one closet running-hater to the next, running a race is amazing and incredibly worth the preparation. Who knows, you may even get to experience that mysterious runner’s high and want to sign up for Suffolk County’s inaugural marathon or half-marathon next year.

Upcoming Races
November 17: North Shore Turkey Trot 5K, Glen Head
November 23: Duck Trot 8K, East Meadow
November 23: Pete McArdle Cross Country 15K, Bronx
November 27: Oyster Bay Turkey Trot 5K, Oyster Bay

Procrastinator’s Guide to Running a Half-Marathon
This plan is created to help slowly ease into running by giving plenty of walking breaks. Be patient and take each day as it comes.

Week 1: 2 days run(R) /walk(W) 25 min; 2 days x-train(XT) 30 min; 1 R/W endurance run of 2 miles
Week 2: 2 days R/W 25 min; 2 days XT 30 min; 1 R/W end. run of 3 miles
Week 3: 2 days R/W 30 min; 2 days XT 30 min; 1 R/W end. run of 4 miles (or 5K race)
Week 4: 2 days R/W 30 min; 2 days XT 30 min; 1 R/W end. run of 5 miles
Week 5: 2 days R/W 35-40 min; 2 days XT 40 min; 1 R/W end. run of 6 miles
Week 6: 2 days R/W 35-40 min; 2 days XT 40 min; 1 R/W end. run of 7 miles (or 10K race)
Week 7: 2 days R/W 40-45 min; 2 days XT 40 min; 1 R/W end. run of 8 miles
Week 8: 2 days R/W 40-45 min; 2 days XT 45 min; 1 R/W end. run of 9 miles
Week 9: 2 days R/W 45-50 min; 2 days XT 50 min; 1 R/W end. run of 10 miles
Week 10: 2 days R/W 45-50 min; 2 days XT 50 min; 1 R/W end. run of 11 miles
Week 11: 2 days R/W 50-55 min; 2 days XT 55 min; 1 R/W end. run of 12 miles
Week 12: 2 days R/W 50-55 min; 2 days XT 55 min; 1 R/W end. run of 8 miles
Week 13: 3 days R/W 45-50 min; RACE!

The 2 run/walks each week should be at a moderate pace (conversing is difficult). Start small–run 1 minute/walk 1 minute for 2 weeks, then increase running to R2/W1, R3/W2, R3/W1, etc.
Cross-training: a cardio based alternative to running (swimming, biking, elliptical, cardio fitness class)
The endurance run should be relaxed (able to converse) and you should incorporate the same running/walking patterns from that week.