In case I haven’t mentioned it enough lately: I’m running a half marathon in the spring! I started training at the end of January, and this is week 5 already! I’m using Hal Higdon’s Intermediate training plan. Sort of. I’ve made a bunch of modifications. I had a really hard time setting up my training plan this time around, and in the end I totally scrapped the one that I’ve thought for months I was going to try.
The one I was going to try was Jeff Galloway’s Half Marathon plan for a time goal. Jeff uses the Run-Walk method in all his plans, and claims that taking walk breaks allows you to finish faster and stronger than without. I have never completely followed one of his plans before, but I’ve used regular walk breaks in races, and I definitely think that they work. I normally walk in longer runs at water stops or while having a gu, but Galloway walk breaks are actual timed walk breaks at specific intervals based on pace. In one half marathon, I did a 2:1 ratio (run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute). I was coming off an injury so I wanted to be cautious. I ended up finishing the race significantly faster than I thought I would. Then while training for my marathon last year, I did a one minute walk break after each song on my iPod (ends up at about a 3.5:1 ratio). I used this on long runs, a half marathon, and in the marathon. I definitely think that walk breaks are useful, and I’m sold on the Galloway method. I opted out for another reason entirely.
I’ve learned that what works for me is to build up to race distance VERY slowly, and to get as close to race distance as possible. In the Galloway plan, long runs alternate with speedwork, so you’ll have a long run weekend then a speed work weekend. This is fine, except that it ends up that you are increasing by 2 miles every time you increase your long run. And, honestly, I just don’t think that would work for me. I looked at drawing out the plan so that I was increasing by less each time, but another feature of the Galloway method is that you increase beyond race distance (in this plan, 17 miles), so this plan was already on the lengthy side. So after a lot of thought, I decided not to go with this one.
Instead, I set up my long run schedule:
- 1/25: 7 miles
- 2/01: 8 miles
- 2/08: 8 miles
- 2/15: 9 miles
- 2/22: 9 miles
- 3/01: 10 miles
- 3/08: 10 miles
- 3/15: 11 miles
- 3/22: 11 miles
- 3/29: 12 miles
- 4/05: 12 miles
- 4/12: 13 miles
- 4/19: 5 miles
- 4/27: RACE!
Then I looked up Hal Higdon’s plan and added in the rest of the weekly workouts. I shuffled it up quite a bit to fit my schedule (I prefer long runs on Saturday and rest days on Fridays). I moved the pace runs to Sundays so they would follow the long runs. I had done this during Marathon training and really liked the idea of running at pace on tired legs. So this is what my weeks look like:
- Monday: Rest
- Tuesday: Speed – alternating weeks between 400m intervals and tempo runs
- Wednesday: 3 miles – easy
- Thursday: 3 to 5 miles – medium intensity (hills if I can)
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: Long Run
- Sunday: 3 to 5 mile – race pace (rest every 3rd week)
So far, I’ve been getting in 4 runs per week, not the 5 listed above. I’d obviously love to do exactly what the schedule says, but I’m not too upset about missing one per week. I’ve been doing the long runs and also I haven’t missed a speed work out yet. Those are the 2 most important days on the schedule to me, so I make sure to keep them in the mix. I think things are going well so far. I’ve been feeling good in the speed workouts and strong in the long runs. The real test will be when I move off the treadmill and back outside and see how the transition goes. I think it’s possible that I’ll be able to run my long run outside this week, so I might get to find that out really soon.
A few questions for you all: Do you make your own training plan or follow a pre-made one? Do you stick to it EXACTLY or give yourself some wiggle room? Or maybe you just wing it entirely?