How I Trained For A Half Marathon

After the half marathon:  Cara, me & Jaime

A few months ago, I wrote "A History of Running: My Story".  Now I want to write about how I trained for the half marathon.  My friend Jaime had her second daughter around this time last year & wanted to train for a half marathon to get back into shape.  Although Jaime is a seasoned runner, after having a baby, you basically have to go back to the beginning stages of running.  Because of this & because of my propensity to over do it & sustain injury, we stretched out a typical 12 week training program to 23 weeks.

Weeks 1 - 16 (September - December)

I decided to track our runs with the free iPhone app, RunKeeper.  We started with short, 2-3 mile runs in September & slowly built up to 5 miles.  Once we were comfortable at 5 miles, we ran the Boulevard Bolt on Thanksgiving Day.  From November to December, we stayed at 5 miles.  After Christmas, we got serious & decided to start adding a mile a week to our Sunday long runs.  Also, our friend Cara joined us & the three of us became a team.  We were running three times a week:  a 5-11 mile long run on Sunday, a 3-6 mile run on Wednesday (ENFL!), & a 3-4 mile Pancake Run on Friday.  Cara & I were doing yoga on our off days & I believe Jaime was doing Zumba.  I was also swimming some on the weeks when my knee felt over-worked.

Week 17:  6 miles

At this point, we were 8 weeks from the race.  Below are the stats from our first long run.  We ran 6 miles at an average pace of 11:51.  Side note:  these were city runs, i.e. lots of stopping at red lights, waiting at crosswalks, etc.

Week 18:  7 miles

We ran 7 miles at an 11:30 pace.  I believe this is our actual pace, so this must have been on a greenway, or somewhere without red lights & crosswalks.

Week 19:  8 miles

It was raining the day we ran 8 miles, so I didn't take my phone, thus, no run results.  But rest assured, we did run 8 miles.

Week 20:  9 miles

We ran 9 miles at a 12:19 pace.  We ran the course with a group of East Nasties who were training for a half in New Orleans the weekend before ours.  We stopped at the halfway mark & talked for a minute before turning around & running back, which I think is what skewed our time.

Week 21:  10 miles

Ahh, 10 sweet miles.  This was huge milestone for me.  My goal for years has been to run the 10 mile "Bongo to Bongo" route.  Because this is a popular route, we had a fairly large group on this day.  Also, it was 21 degrees, windchill of 12.  It was, by far, the coldest day of our training.  I actually had icicles form on my face.  Truth.

Frozen, post 10 mile run face.

Week 22:  11 miles

This was our last long run.  This was actually my worst run.  I overdressed for the weather & couldn't take anything off, so I was hot, slow & uncomfortable for 2 hours & 16 minutes.  It sucked.  For the last few miles, I was so miserable that Jaime started singing old school rap songs to keep me going.  It worked.  Barely.  We did 11 miles at a 12:23 pace.  This one was ROUGH.

Screenshot of how many miles I ran in the last few weeks leading up to the race.

Week 23:  13.1 miles

Race day!  As you can see, we trained up to 11 miles.  We also ran the course.  We were ready.  The weather was gorgeous & we ran a great race.  I didn't care about my time.  I just wanted to run the entire race, which I did.  Cara wore her Garmin, so she kept us at a steady pace.  We were constantly going too fast & had to slow down, which is really common on race day.  It's hard to maintain your pace when you're surrounded by other runners.

We ran it just like it was another training run.  We started slow, talked off & on & ran the whole thing.  The last two miles were my hardest.  I was super over it at this point & just wanted to finish.  You hear people say that running is mental.  This is what they mean.  I basically had to override my brain & will myself to finish those last two miles.  Luckily the East Nasty water stop was at Mile 12, so that pepped me up & carried me through to the finish.

Finishing the race on the Titan's field was awesome.  They put us up on the jumbotron as we came around the field & announced us as we crossed the finish line.  It was the exact amount of fan fare you want after running for 13+ miles.

I had said that I would only run one half marathon, just to see if I could, but I've already got the bug to run another one.  Jaime wants to do one in another city.  I think she had a tropic, beach locale in mind, but I found one in Austin, TX.  Actually, I found two.  There's one in late January & another one in mid February.  We're still working out which date/race to go with, but it looks like my next half will be in Austin in early 2013, which means we'll start training again in the fall.  Yahoo!

Full Tom King Half Marathon photostream on Flickr.

Bar Cart!

Weekend Wrap Up: Mother's Day Edition