How I trained for 13.1

A few people before now have asked me about my 0-13.1 ‘training plan’ – how I got started in reaching Half Marathon Pace. They usually follow by adding ‘..and are you sure you can do 100k?’

The only concern I had running 13.1 was that I would be too slow within the time allowed. Because of my funky lungs, it kind of hurts when I push too hard, so I’m not a quick runner. I am however a stubborn runner. So it wasn’t so much endurance, as hitting a 10-minute mile mark.

Elitist, I hear you cry, and scuttle away from your laptop or phone. Every runner is a runner! 10 minute miles aren’t for everyone! Well hang on – I didn’t disagree. The reason I aimed for 10 minute miles was because, for me, my cut off time was 3 hours. If I hadn’t finished by then, I wouldn’t finish. So if I had a target pace, I had a decent target time, and I knew I could carry on and finish on my own terms (and without throwing up). I’m running a faster pace now, so it’s not such a concern – as always, endurance is key.

if you want to see my running schedule here is the link to the one I followed! Although it’s looking slightly fancier than when I followed it *grumble* Bupa Beginner Half Marathon Training Schedule (PDF)

The Bupa schedule is great, and you can swap and switch however you like to suit your own running needs. It does say you should be able to run 5k in under 40 minutes – I disagree. I couldn’t run 5k if I were chased by dogs when I started, but if I can do it now, you can do it.

There are essentially four types of training, I’ve outlined what I did below:


Easy Run

What it says on the tin. If you can talk, sing, or shout obscenities at passers by (please don’t), this is an easy run. This will keep you recovered after your weekend Long Run, and build up your strength.

Tempo Run
Also known as your ‘race pace’ – you should be pushing this one to hit the speed you want to do your 13.1 at. Or even a little harder. So essentially – not like you want to be sick, but like you kind of want to slow down.

Cross Train/Speed Train

Okay maybe this is a two for one. You can train purely by running, in which case I suggest you do a Speed Run on this day. I did this with intervals – hill or flat depending on what kind of race you’ll be doing. If it’s a flat race, try flat intervals – running flat out for 2 minutes, normal for 1, seeing how you get on. If you’re doing a hilly race (like I was), you’re going to have to learn how – so run up some hills. Find one that takes about 2/3 minutes to run up, and gun it to the top. Take a gentle jog down, and do it all again. You will hate it. It will be good for you. It’s a broccoli run.

You can also use this day to cross train. If you’re having knee problems, you might want to work your legs and glutes – find a workout video, hit the gym, go swimming. If you’re going for overall fitness try something aerobic. Or do some Yoga – this is amazing for runners. Don’t down dog too hard though, you got another run coming up, which is…

Long Run

Self explanatory. These are where you build your endurance levels, find out where your wall is, and how long you need between pee breaks. You should be able to chat or sing, but it should be hard going still. Think ‘not quite easy, not a tempo run’


Disclaimer – this is a 12 week schedule. I started training in Mid-June, so I had 4 months, not 3. I gave myself the extra time for emergencies, and I needed it – I took two or three seperate weeks out. Once for calf injury, as I discovered running up stairs was all well and good for Rocky, not so much for an overweight Mum of two. And once for a holiday (shocking!). I found coming back to it really quite hard for the first few days. But don’t panic if you have to take a week off and don’t have time to make it up –  you’ll get back into it quickly!

Happy running!

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3 thoughts on “How I trained for 13.1

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