Alright, here is the Half Marathon Plan in a nutshell. You will run 5 days a week. Sunday and Friday you have off (how great is a plan that starts you off with a day off?!). Monday, Tuesday, Thursday are easy days (my defintion of easy might be different than yours if you are beginning runner, but they will become easier as you acclimate to the training). Wedenesday is a Tempo or Speed Workout. Saturday is your long run.
A couple of items to point out. Your easy and long run days are run at 70% of your HRM (see yesterdays blog on how to figure this out if you need a reference point). But I want to stress that while reaching this running might seem easy, stayin below it will be the real challenge. If you are a Type A (like I am) when it comes to training, it is very difficult to not go above that number. But I ask you to please follow this for the 12 weeks and see if it doesn't make a difference in your Half Marathon results.
To give you a personal example of the struggle, after running the Walt Disney Marathon four weeks ago, I gave myself a couple of weeks to receover and then got back on the treadmill. I set the speed to a 10:32 minutes per mile (5.7 on the treadmill). I felt I needed this to slowly get back into training. After a mile and a half, I couldn't keep my heart rate under 146 if my life depended on it. Every couple of minutes, I would lower it... 5.6, 5.5, 5.4, 5.3, etc. until I finally got down to 4.8 (that's a pedestrian 12:30 minutes per mile!). I wasn't crazy about running that slow (my average pace is usually a 10:30 in easy training) but I knew the run would be worthless if I didn't keep my HR to under 146.
So what caused me to be so out of shape? Well, it could be I took too long off from training or made it too easy the last couple of weeks. Could be me getting older. Could be the pounds I picked up on the vacation that we took in Hawaii. The point is that they body doesn't lie. You can lie to yourself but you must train in the right heart rate zones or you will never truly get better in future training. You need to check the ego at the door going into the health club before going in. It's better to train smart than just train.
The good news, is that from running for over 25 years, I have learned that my heart rate average will get better. I know that soon, as the pounds melt off, my body gets back into training mode. Soon, I will be back closer on my easy days to the 10:30 mpm that I was running a couple of months ago. The key is patience and persistence. I know that this will be hard for a lot of you (as it is for me) but remember my goal is to keep you running. And if you don't follow the under 70% rule for you easy/long runs, you will not run your potential. You will either injure yourself or show up to your half marathon tired on race day.
So here's the first week's plan:
Sunday, Friday - off
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - 4 miles easy (under 70% HRM)
Wednesday - 5 miles Tempo (80-88% HRM)
Saturday - 9 miles (under 70% first 7 miles, 70-80% last two miles)
-I will check in during the week with more on the Tempo run and Long run descriptions.