Today, I started the hard work towards completing a major goal, and I’m kind of excited to begin the process. I’m feeling a mixture of optimism and determination.
Two months ago, I decided on my running goal for the next two years: break 1:45:00 in the Half Marathon by the end of 2020. You can read about why I set this goal here.
The Adelaide Marathon Festival – which incorporates a Half Marathon, 10K and 5K – is in eight weeks, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to see where I am currently at. I haven’t run a half-marathon in 18 months, so I want to build back up to the distance and get a bit of a base-line. Once I know what my base-line is, I can determine my long-term training plan. But, for the next two months, I’m going to work on plan I’ve cobbled together from previous training programs. I’ve worked with the basics I’ve learned over the years and worked it into what I can stick to with my schedule.
What I’ve come up with is a six-day plan that has four days of running – two easy, two hard; one day cycling or swimming; and one day on weights. I’m really going to focus on making sure my easy days are EASY and SLOW. I’ve read more and more lately on the benefits of going slower on the long days. In particular, I’ve read recently in Runner’s World (Australia & New Zealand Edition) March 2019 that this is especially important for athletes as they get older. (To be clear, I don’t think I’m old. But, I also recognise that I am no longer 16 and that I cannot push my body – or recover – the way that I used to. If I want to get the most out of my body and run for as long as possible I think it is important to acknowledge this reality.)
I’ve chosen four days to run because I have learnt that my body performs best with at least four or five days of aerobic activity each week. And, that five or six days of running is now too much – I’ve gotten several overuse injuries in the past few years.
So, this is essentially what my next eight weeks will look like:
Cycle or Swim
Which I’ll do is mostly dependent on the weather, however my idea is to build back up to where I can ride to work again.
By having a day cycling or swimming, I get in an additional cardio day, while limiting the impact on my joints from running. Also, cycling and swimming use different muscles than running so hopefully, this helps keep me stronger overall and limit my injuries.
Run – speed or tempo run.
Tuesday’s will be a hard day and I plan to rotate between speed intervals, tempo runs and hills.
Through some trial and error, I’ve settled on a circuit that I vary a little every week, and can finish in about 30 minutes. I do a cycle through arm, leg, and ab exercises, doing through three different lifts for each body part then repeat the whole circuit a second time. This keeps me moving, gives each body part a slight rest between exercises and gets me done in a time frame that works with my schedule.
I plan to keep this easy and slow, and between 6 to 10 km. This will let me clock up the KMs and recover from the previous two days. Historically, I would probably have made this a medium day, but my aim is to have only hard or easy days and see how this strategy works out come race day.
I’ve rarely had any true rest days (where I do nothing instead of just something light) unless I was on a taper week. I’ve decided that it’s time to listen to my body and take a full day off each week.
ParkRun; possibly followed by a second weights session.
This will be my second hard day each week. The plan is to try and improve my time each week. I realise there will probably be weeks where this won’t happen, but hopefully I will be rested from an easy day and rest day prior so that I will feel fresh and can really push.
Depending on what else I have planned for the weekend, I’ll try to get a second quick weights circuit in. I’ve read recently that it’s best to do weights just after a hard run, this way you can still lift more and give your body the time it needs to recover without sabotaging another hard run.
Again, the idea is to really keep this EASY and SLOW. I think one of my biggest downfalls the past few years has been pushing the long runs too fast and I’m going to put that theory to the test. Also, I will be fatigued from the previous day, so it’s really just about getting the time and distance under my legs. I will also use these runs to slowly build my endurance back up, increasing my distance each week.
So, that’s my half-marathon training plan for Adelaide Half Marathon. Ideally, I’d like to complete it in under 1:50:00 which will be about my average Half Marathon reasonable position to mount the attack on my long-term goal. My back up would be to finish better than 1:55:00, which was what I finished my last Half in.
I will keep you updated with how the training is coming along and how the race goes.