The Long Branch Half Marathon, part of the New Jersey Marathon Festival, will take place on May 6. Among the over 6,000 half-marathoners there will be, like usual, many first timers. For many amateur runners, a Half Marathon is their biggest challenge, and it’s an easily attainable goal. Here are a few tips on how to train for it, and how to have a great experience at your first Half Marathon.
But first of all, I want to mention that I’ll be running this race for Kick Cancer Overboard. KCO is a local charity whose mission is to give a free cruise to people that have been affected by cancer, offering them a break for a few days, where the most important question is not how to pay for the next medical bill, but whether to play bingo, get a massage or sing karaoke. Planning a vacation is among the least priorities for someone undergoing cancer treatment. But with your help, they can get this reward. You can really make a difference in someone’s life!
The beneficiary of my fundraising campaign will be “Miracle” Mya, a 9-year old girl from Long Branch who has already survived three cancers, and who really needs this break: a cruise to Bermuda. Read her story here
If interested to donate to Kick Cancer Overboard and help Mya, please contact Chris F. Any amount is appreciated, even $10 or $20. You can event make a donation online! Also, contact me if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to start a workout program, and want to run a Half Marathon while raising money for cancer patients!
And now, back to training.
Before you start training for an endurance race:
- Make sure you’re in good health and ask your doctor is you’re ready for something like this!
- Start running consistently, at least once or twice a week, and try to run at least 3 miles at a time.
- When you do a long run, don’t worry about your speed. The goal is to prepare to be on your feet for that distance. Go as slow as you need, and even take walking breaks if it gets too hard.
- The long run means you have to run that distance all at once. Splitting it into two runs (like morning and evening) doesn’t count.
- Many beginners are stuck to the treadmill, but to train for a race, you have to run outside! At least the long run (or most of them) should be done on the road. It’s OK to do the other workouts on the treadmill, but try to get outside as much as possible!
- If you feel any pain or fear you got injured, stop running and training until everything is alright. There’s nothing wrong with missing a few runs. Missing a week of training is not as bad as missing your big race.
- When doing a Half Marathon for the first time, you have to build up to a 10-mile run. You won’t win any prizes, but this will help you cover the distance. The adrenaline and excitement of the race will carry you over the last few miles.
- The week of the race you have to rest! It’s called taper, and you just have to do 2 easy short runs.
From my own experience, I know you can train for the HM while running 3 days a week. If you can do more, that’s better. If you’re tired or in pain, don’t hesitate to cut it down for a week or two. Now here are the key workouts in a week:
- The Long Run: the key workout of the week. Building this up is the only way you can do the Half Marathon! Then weekly plan below only mentioned the distance of the long run. Due to working schedules, most people do that on the weekend. Some also do the long run early morning before getting to work. Personally, I’ve done them a lot at night in the dark, but that’s because I live in a safe neighborhood and I’m a big guy.
- Medium Run: every week, do another run which is about half the distance of the long run. So when your long run is 7 or 8 miles, do a 4 miles run during the week. When you get to 9-10 miles, do a 5 miles run. This run should be harder than the long run, try to go at a strong consistent speed.
- Short/Recovery run: easy relaxing run of about 3 miles. If you feel you’re getting stronger, try to do it as speedwork, otherwise keep it easy.
- Additional runs: If you can run more than 3 times a week, do another run, with the distance between the short and medium. You can try some speed work too.
- Cross training: additionally, or instead of the 4th weekly run, do another workout, which can be swimming, elyptical, cycling, weights or any other workout that you like to do.
Now since I mentioned speedwork, here’s some easy stuff you can do: Run very hard (as hard as you can) for 1 minute, and then easy/walk for 2 minutes. Increase the duration of the hard part to 1:30, then 2 minutes, all the way to 5 minutes.
Finally, here’s the weekly plan. As mentioned before, it only mentions the distance of the long run. You adjust the other runs accordingly:
- Week 1 (Feb 13): 4 miles
- Week 2 (Feb 20): 5 miles
- Week 3 (Feb 27): 5 miles
- Week 4 (Mar 5): 6 miles
- Week 5 (Mar 12): 4 miles
- Week 6 (Mar 19): 7 miles
- Week 7 (Mar 26): 8 miles
- Week 8 (Apr 2): 6 miles
- Week 9 (Apr 9): 9 miles
- Week 10 (Apr 16): 10 miles
- Week 11 (Apr 23): 8 miles
- Race Week! (Apr 30): rest and get ready for the Half Marathon! Just short easy runs
This is a very basic plan. If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to ask! And please support KICK CANCER OVERBOARD!
Chris Fotache is an amateur runner from Middletown, NJ. He’s run a few marathons and Half Ironman triathlons, as well as countless Half Marathons. Chris is not a coach, and these are just training guidelines. If you’re unsure of your capabilities or medical issues, you have to talk to a professional! But if you want to do this on your own and have fun, feel free to ask Chris anything!