Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year, New Goal- Half Marathon!

I officially signed up for my first half marathon! Yes the training is going to be tough and yes I will have some sore muscles for the next couple months, but in the end I'm really excited! I know I already posted about how I never thought I could get into running, but I figured I'd devote sometime to outlining how I'm prepping for my first half in case anyone else was thinking about doing one as well. So here are the basics- a half marathon is equal to 13.1 miles (or 21.1km). At a 10 mile/minute pace, that will take just over 2 hours. My goal is to run under 2 and 1/2 hours, but ultimately when running your first half all you want to do is finish within the allotted time.

As for the event, I signed up for the Nike Women's Half Marathon in DC. While it was a bit more expensive than some other half marathons ($175), I figured I mines well go big for my first half. It's a random drawing, so if you want to do a Nike Women's Half, make sure you plan a few months in advance so you can enter for a spot. It will be a ton of fun, especially since I know a couple of my colleagues who are doing it AND it's all about Nike and women power. Sounds good to me! The course is also really cool because you get to run past a few monuments, which I'm really excited for. One of my best friends from college lives in DC, so I'm going a few days early so I can spend some time with her and prep for the race. Race day is April 27th, so I have plenty of time to train.

Here's a cool shot of the start line last year!

Alright, so now that I have the logistics planned out, how am I going to train? I've been looking up some different training programs and I've been talking to some people who have done half marathons before. The most common theme I've seen for training is a 12 week programs that has you running 3 times a week, with 2 short runs and one long run. This helps make the schedule manageable, since you only have to run 3 to 4 miles at a time during the week and can run your long run on the weekend. Plus you can add in a day of yoga/pilates (optional but recommended) to help build more strength for your runs. 

Mon Tue Wed Thu   Fri  Sat  Sun
Week 1 Yoga/Pilates 3 miles   3 miles  3 miles
Week 2 Yoga/Pilates 3 miles   3 miles  4 miles
Week 3 Yoga/Pilates 3 miles   3 miles  5 miles
Week 4 Yoga/Pilates 3 miles   3 miles  6 miles
Week 5 Yoga/Pilates 3 miles   3 miles  7 miles
Week 6 Yoga/Pilates 4 miles   4 miles  8 miles
Week 7 Yoga/Pilates 4 miles   4 miles  9 miles
Week 8 Yoga/Pilates 4 miles   4 miles  10 mi
Week 9 Yoga/Pilates 4 miles   4 miles  11 mi
Week 10 Yoga/Pilates 4 miles   4 miles  13 mi
Week 11 Yoga/Pilates 3 miles   3 miles  9 miles
Week 12 Yoga/Pilates 3 miles   2-3 miles  Half!!!!

As you can see, the 2 short runs stay relatively consistent, while the long run increases by a mile each week (except week 10). It is important to ease into the distance to avoid injury. You can obviously switch it up (do yoga on Tuesday or run a short run on Thursday instead of Wednesday), but this gives me a good guide line on how I'm going to break up my training. I counted back 12 weeks from race day, and I put a big note on my calendar to remind my self when I should start training. It's obviously good to have a good base upon which to build, so by all means keep running even if the event is further than 12 weeks away. 

Since I'm not too concerned with time (except for the fact that I have to finish within the 4 hour time limit, which could honestly be done with a healthy power walk), I am not putting any time restrictions on myself for the run. I want to take some walking breaks, but I'm going to space them out every couple kms or so, depending on how I'm feeling. This can be done easily if you use an app that tells you how far/long you have run, or if you are on a treadmill that calculates those things. I personally use Nike + on my phone or on my iPod, which tracks your distance and time while playing your music. All in all I'm really excited to run a half! I'll most likely post after the race describing how my training went as well as the actual race.

A half marathon may sound scary, but with time and preparation you can do it too! I used to be scared of running a 5k, and now I'm running over four times that distance! If you are interested in looking for a race in your area, checking out