Saturday, June 29, 2013

Training for a half marathon: How far do you run before the race?

I made the decision to sign up for another half marathon—the Indianapolis Women's Half Marathon on August 31. I'll be down there all weekend for a wedding, and I'm pretty sure that I would have severe medal envy at the sight of a post-race runner. So I'm running. Plus, I just ran one. So I've already built up the endurance. I just have to maintain it. But as I sat down yesterday to write out my training plan, I couldn't help but wonder if I should do things a little differently this time around. Here's what my last two weeks of training looked like, for the most part:

The first time I ran a half marathon, my longest distance was only ten miles, which I ran a week out from race day—and the last three miles of that race sucked. Bad. So for the Chicago Women's Half Marathon last weekend, I trained to 12 miles a week out. But I'm not sure that gave me enough of a taper for race day. Or maybe it did. I could be over-thinking this. So I did what any runner would do: I consulted the Internet, otherwise known as Hal Higdon.

I mean, don't we all turn to Hal Higdon?
Here's what the final two weeks look like in a few of his half marathon training plans:

For the most part, he seems to advocate running 12 miles the weekend before race weekend. But I was curious  to see if this is what people were doing, so I consulted a group that I knew would educate me with their experience. Here's what some of my SweatPink sisters had to say:

Four great thoughts, and many more left within the Facebook thread I started. Generally speaking, it seems as if...

1) Most people take it to 12 miles. 
2) People like to go above 12 miles if they're working on speed.
3) Some taper for two weeks, others only one. 
4) Those that taper for two weeks run six to nine miles the weekend before the race.

What does this mean?

If you like to run but have never done a half marathon before, published plans like those of Hal Higdon are a great place to start. As you train for additional half marathons, personal tweaks to these training plans start to occur—mostly because you learn more about your body and how it responds to running. Or, your schedule changes and you need to adjust. Like so many other things in life, there is no hard and fast right and wrong. The grey area exists, and it's within that grey area that you get to know yourself. And in the case of running, your body.

What does this mean for my next half?

Lots to think about right now. Running to 12 miles worked for me, but I've never done two half marathons so close together. Does that matter? I don't know. I took most of this week off because A) I needed to recover, B) I got sick, and C) I just needed a break. I have the intention of picking up again on Monday, so I have another day to decide what approach I'll take this time around.

Food for thought on my plate right now, that's for sure.

Question: How far do you run before a half marathon race? How many taper weeks do you build into your plan?

1 comment:

Tammy said...

I think I like the idea of training to 12, but doing it two weekends before the half. Then running a 9-miler the weekend before and tapering from there. There's something to be said for fresh legs the day of the race. Gonna try that for my September half.

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