With so many half marathon training plans out there, how does a person know which one to choose? You can answer that by thinking through a few questions:
- Time or miles – Do you want to run in buckets of time, or by buckets of miles? Time plans set training in lengths of time. Distance plans have you run for a set number of miles. One isn’t any better than the other.
- Schedule – When choosing a plan, you will want to consider which days you have the most time to commit to your training plan. You can easily move days around within the plan, but if you can find one that matches your schedule, the easier things will be for you.
- Race distance – Most plans don’t include a 13-mile training run before your race. Personally, I like covering the race distance during training. This way my brain, legs, and lungs know that I can do it. You can either ensure you pick a plan that has a 13-mile run or switch your longest run (usually 11 miles) with a 13 miler.
- Varied Workouts – Successful training, and injury prevention includes varying your workouts. You should have at least one cross-training day, one strength training day; and a mixture of hill workouts, intervals, easy, and long runs each week. Each workout will work toward making your half marathon successful. Look for a plan that includes exercises other than running.
- Length of Plan – Pick a plan gives you enough time to reach your race day without injury or burnout. It is recommended that a runner have a good base of miles before they start a half marathon plan. Once you have that, find out how many weeks until your race. There are plans that go from 8 weeks to 20 weeks.
- Fitness Level – Are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced runner? Beginners need to start slower and will benefit from a longer plan. Intermediate and advanced runners will do fine with a shorter plan that ramps up quickly.
Some training plan resources:
Jeff Galloway – The penguin has a great many plans listed on his website. He also has many great books to help you through your training. Galloway believes in the walk/run philosophy. Great for beginners and pros.
Hal Higdon – A huge name in running, Higdon has plans listed on his website for varying fitness levels.
Another Mother Runner – AMR is a group of amazing women runners. One of the founders resides in Portland. They offer entertaining and informative podcasts and articles on their website. They also offer training programs. These are not free, but they come with a lot of perks that other plans don’t offer. If you lack motivation and support, you can find all of that here.
Nike – Even if you don’t choose Nike’s half marathon training plan, their training packet includes some great information. From what pace you can expect to run a half, to tips by training week. A lot of time and attention was put into this plan.
Don’t choose the first plan that pops up in your search. The plan should fit you – your personality, your running style, your schedule. If you aren’t successful with one plan, don’t hesitate to drop it and try something else. The training plan is a tool to make your race as easy as possible. Put in all of the hard work during your training so you can enjoy the race.