For the first time in years I used a pre-made training plan. Previously, after a few HM's under my belt I was taking bits and pieces of different plan and piecing them together to make my own. Take it all with a grain of salt, since I am in no way a qualified professional, just an avid runner, who can't seem to just follow
I had already mis-mashed together a plan to train for the Boston Trail Half Marathon - which isn't really a trail, but rather an old RR bed turned into a crushed limestone path. But, then I found Kara's plan and tossed mine right out the window.
You can find Kara Goucher's Half Marathon Training Plan here. It's 10 weeks long, with options for higher or lower mileage each week. As we all know, I can't leave well enough alone, so I actually cut this plan down to 3 days of running each week, leaving the heart of the plan intact, with 1 easy run, 1 speed workout and 1 long run.
I can truly say, that even though I did not hit my goal, I know I have it in me. This is far and away the most physically ready I've felt to run a PR race in a long time, and I attribute it all to this plan. I want to talk a little bit about the positives in this plan, and of course, a bit about the negatives as well.
Shorter training cycle : In training cycles past, I have felt burned out by the end, after 12+ weeks of training, I am ready to be finished, and I am ready to take a break from structured running. Kara's plan is only 10 weeks long, which is the perfect length of time. I started the plan with a good base of running (for me) and I do believe that is necessary in order to succeed with her plan, however, the unstructured mileage and days of the week kept me from feeling burned out.
Speed workout done at HM pace : I'm going to be running a half marathon. That's 13.1 miles at or around a specific pace, why would I want to focus on paces that aren't that pace? Speed workouts often seem to focus on fast paces and short distances, 400's & 800's. And that's nice, but a half marathon is 26 x 800, and I really don't want to break my race down that way. Instead, Kara's plan focuses on spending time at your goal pace, as well as slightly faster and slightly slower paces per mile to get you comfortable with the inevitable variation race day paces will bring.
Variety of speed work : The speed work in this plan is done at or around race pace - but don't let that fool you, you won't spend each week running just one more mile at race pace. The workouts in this plan are varied, including the distance, the pace, and the rest (or lack thereof) in between sets. In plans past I've felt like each week I just increased the number of 400's or 800's I was doing, and for what purpose? Each workout this go-round felt like it made me stronger.
Long runs not long enough : This may just be me, but I feel more comfortable with one or two 12 mile runs under my belt, but the highest this training plan gets is 1 x 10 mile + 1 x 11 mile. When I use this plan next time I'll tweak it to up my long run distances slightly to include a few longer runs.
Does not include cross training : While the plan does give an option to add strength training in one day per week, I've found that is not enough for me. Hence why I had to tinker with the plan. Many folks who know I only run 3 days per week think that I take 4 rest days. Quite the contrary, I'm actively strength training and cross training, I'm not doing nothing, I'm simply not running.
Overall, I think this plan was a good fit for me, and I think with a few more tweaks it will be the perfect plan for me. I'll definitely be using this while training for my fall half, and for other, future HM's.
I was all set to talk about my plans for the next few weeks and whether or not I plan to race Pittsburgh, but I'm just not quite ready, and still not quite sure what my plans are. I'm writing this Tuesday, and haven't run yet post race, but do think I'll venture to the gym tomorrow, maybe for a run, maybe not. But at least some activity since I've pretty much been a toad since Saturday.
Anyone else used this plan before?
What's your favorite training plan to use for a HM - or do you make your own?
Linking with Amanda to share.