Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Next Training Plan Conundrum

After the Chesebro Half Marathon this Saturday I'll pick back up with an official training plan for my next half marathon which will be 12 weeks later.

A couple weeks ago I signed up for a teeny tiny FLAT half marathon along the ocean in Ventura, CA that was recommended to me by a fellow running club member who ran it last year. It's reasonably priced by half marathon standards (though not by my husband's standards, as he feels I should pay nothing to run) and it supports a non-profit organization.   I thought a June half marathon would be out of the question, but apparently it will be cooler with the breeze coming off the ocean and the 7am start should mean it's not too hot out yet.

My goal? Break 2 hours.
I think this is a reasonable goal. Please tell me if you disagree.

Let's take a walk down Half Marathon Memory Lane.

April 2010, my first half marathon:  2:21:10
Sept 2010, aka "The Suck": 2:30ish.

April 2011: 2:19ish
May 2011: 2:15:32
Sept 2011: 2:12:01
Nov 2011: 2:06:49

If I could shave 5:12 off a half marathon in 9 weeks, I'd like to think I can work to shave 6:50 off in 12 weeks.  Why not.

Now my question is, which training plan to use.  As previously mentioned, I am a fan of the Run Less Run Faster/FIRST Training plan and felt I saw great progress with it in the fall, using it only for a short period of time.  However, the RLRF plan calls for only 3 quality runs a week, with 2 days of cross training.

Until either the State of California fixes its disaster of a budget and positions magically appear OR I find myself a new line of work, I will likely have plenty of time on my hands for lots of running, not to mention nice weather most of the time.  3 "quality" days of running was great so I could be picky with when I ran in NJ where it rained often enough. 

Regarding the cross-training, while I enjoyed my old gym's group classes, I would prefer to not spend money I myself am not earning on a gym membership here.  I do have a bike and if I grow some muscle so I can lift that thing, I could start carting my bike around in the back of my car to bring it to a nearby mostly-hill-free bike path for some cross training.

It kinda defeats the purpose of using Run Less Run Faster if you add in 2 more days of running, huh?

(Re)enter Hal Higdon

I used his plans last Spring.  I'm now considering the Advanced or the Intermediate.  For both, you should be capable of running 30-60 minutes a day, 5-7 days a week.

The advanced plan includes speed on Tuesdays, tempo on Thursdays, and long runs on Sundays just like my running group, with shorter easier runs 2-3 additional days a week.

Regardless of which plan I use, I hope to/expect to keep up with our weekend hikes we've been doing every weekend since we moved here. I think that can count as cross-training, or at least counts for not using my muscles the exact same way running uses them.

1. Thoughts on my time goal for June- Ambitious? Reasonable?
2. Do you use an official training plan?
3. Cross-training: yay or nay


  1. You've improved so much, you can absolutely break two hours in June! I love Hal's plans, so I say go with that. They seem to work pretty well. You could get a bike trainer pretty cheaply and cross train with that (I think mine was like in the $50-$70 range). I don't know how people survive without cross training - I get completely burnt out on running.

  2. I'm currently used a modified version of Hal's Intermediate plan for a Half, where I've shaved off the short run that comes directly before the long run. I'm pretty satisfied with it at the moment, but I think if I wanted to PR (which I do this year, just not at this race most likely), I would need to do the full version of his plan. OR I've also considered the training plans in "The Competitive Runner's Handbook" by the Glovers -- they seem to have a slightly different approach than Hal, including long runs above 13 miles and doing significantly more tapering. So many choices! But maybe that also means there are a lot different ways to train for a fast race. :)

  3. i think you should stick with RLRF. i have never only ran 3 days a week using it. i always, always add in 2 easy days to bump up my mileage. i think sticking with what has given you the best results in the past is the way to go!!

  4. YES you can absolutely do it!! I think you and I are pretty close in speed - I've done 2 half marathons - my first was last September and I ran 2:22 and some change, and my second was a few weeks ago and I ran 2:06:18. My big goal is to break 2 hours too. I design my own training plans based on the massive amount of reading I've done on the subject, and they're working well for me!

    My next half (where I WILL break 2 hours!) is also in June - let's make a deal. We both stick to a training plan and in June we're both running half marathons in under 2 hours!! Keep me posted on how you're doing!! :) :)

  5. Totally do-able!

    I haven't used a training plan since couch to 5k, I'm more of the "run by feel, but try to fit in a few fartleks" style. That being said, I have absolutely no time goals and am well aware that I'll never be a front of the pack runner and I'm OK with that.

    Cross training is key for me, some days I don't have time to run for an hour or more and would rather just do some intervals on the elliptical and watch Veronica Mars and lift some weights!

  6. I use Hal's intermediate. I love it. I do change a couple things..after 4 days in a row I take a rest instead of taking the rest day on the same day always. 3 days of running per week is not enough for me.

  7. I think high mileage = speed increases, so just run a lot. Who needs a plan? A sub 2 is totally in your grasp!

  8. I definitely agree with Kara. More miles = more speed. I was amazed how much my HM time improved when I was marathon training. Even though I was doing long runs as "slow" as 11:30/mile, my half marathon time went from 2:10+ to 2:03 (and that was with NO speedwork). I think the theory is longer runs build your endurance, so you can actually keep the faster pace up for longer.

    Sub 2 is definitely within your ability!! I say go for it!!

  9. You are doing awesome! Sub 2, you got it! I can't wait to hear about it. I think after my half-ironman, I may do some run focused work to start getting faster, I don't have the time with my plan to focus and feel like it gets pushed aside. I am interested to see how you like this new plan! And also reading all these comments is so interesting! You can do it!


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