Monday, April 19, 2010

Training for my first half marathon

When I decided back in December that I wanted to run a half marathon in April, I knew I would need a little expert advice in devising a training plan that would help me to build up my milage safely. At this point the farthest I had ever run was only 4 miles, so the 13.1 that a half marathon entailed felt a bit ambitious.

I decided to create a training plan through Runner's World, which allows you to input race times and other factors and then produces a somewhat personalized plan based on those variables. My plan was 14 weeks long. It started slowly with just running shorter distances 3 times a week. But those 8-9 mile long runs, even though they didn't start for several weeks, sure seemed daunting on paper.

I decided to just trust the plan and go for it. The nice thing about having a training plan was that it definitely helped to keep me accountable. On days when I didn't want to run, I knew I needed to so I could get an adequate amount of miles in for the week. I didn't follow the plan exactly; I made my own modifications as needed, and there were a few weeks when I was sick and unable to run that threw me off a bit. Doing so much of my training in the winter was really hard too. I hate the treadmill, so the majority of my runs were outside. There were days I ran in 4 degree weather or in the snow, which was crazy and added a whole additional challenge to the run. I did, however, feel pretty hardcore after those runs.

Somehow in those 14 weeks, 5 miles became an easy run, 8 miles not so bad, 10 miles tough, but doable. The farthest I ran before the race was 10 miles. In hindsight I wish that I had run the full distance before the race, but I'll talk about that later when I do a race recap.

For an simple and free training plan, I would totally recommend the Runner's World site. The plans are easy to mold to your schedule, and they provide different types of workouts to help with speed and things like that. Having a well-designed plan is important, especially to prevent injury.

Stay tuned for a recap of the race in my next entry!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I thought I would start out my first blog entry by giving a little bit of my history with running.

In high school I was involved with a number of sports including field hockey, soccer, cheerleading, and even track, so of course running was a regular workout that I had to do with my teams. It was never something I enjoyed though. I always found it very difficult and just thought of it as something I had to do to get better at something else - to be quicker on the field or to have better endurance and stamina.

So once I left for college and was no longer involved in sports teams, I found different ways to stay in shape; I used the elliptical and stationary bikes at the gym and started adding in a strength training regimen. 

When I was home last summer however, my mom suggested we join a group of people who were starting the "Couch to 5K" training program, which is designed to ease people who have never run before towards being able to run a 5K race or about 3 miles. It started off very slowly using short intervals of running and walking to create a strong foundation to build upon. The plan was a little easy for me, but it was also nice to take a step back and build more cardio strength, instead of just trying to push too hard too soon. So we met this group three times a week to complete the workouts and at the end of the summer we ran a 5K race.

After that race I was hooked. I loved the adrenaline and excitement of the crowds cheering as we ran by. It was such a cool and fun experience and I couldn't wait to start training for my next race.

When I returned to school in the fall, my running faltered a bit as I became busy again so I searched for a new race that I could train for and run as a way to keep myself motivated. At the end of the semester I found the perfect one: The Skunk Cabbage Half Marathon, located right here in Ithaca in mid April.

Next time, I'll talk about how I trained for the half marathon and the race itself, which took place last weekend.

Thanks for reading,