Advanced Half Marathon Training Plan For Competitive Runners

 

By Rick Morris

 

The half marathon, while not as popular as its big brother, the full marathon, has gained in participation numbers. The race is a good stepping-stone to the full marathon and is also a good training tool and measure of fitness.

 

 

 

12 Week training cycle

 

This is a 12-week cycle that designed to prepare an advanced competitor to peak for a half marathon. This program assumes that you are currently at a base of at least a 6 mile long run and at least 15 total miles per week. If you are not currently at that level, gradually build up with a period of base building before beginning this program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An advanced competitor is an athlete that has been racing for at least two seasons and has been following a structured training program for at least two seasons. At this level, the athlete should have built up a good strength base and will be able to move on to advanced and intense strength training and explosive strength training. The advanced level does not necessarily relate to finishing time or position. It is more of a state of mind and a state of fitness.

 

This program is general in nature. Feel free to make adjustments in order to accommodate scheduling conflicts and individual goals and rate of improvement.

 

The Workouts

 

This program contains rest days, easy runs, long runs, speed training workouts, lactate threshold workouts, form drills and strength training. This training program is designed to build speed, improve speed endurance and increase both general and functional strength.

 

Easy Runs

 

Easy runs should be run at a pace that feels fairly comfortable. You should be breathing hard, but should be able to carry on a conversation. If you are breathing so hard that you cannot talk, you are running too hard. If you can sing, you are running too easily.

 

Rest

 

Rest is a very important part of any training program. Without proper rest, your muscles and connective tissues will not have an opportunity to recover and strengthen properly. On the days calling for complete rest, do no strenuous activity. On the days calling for rest or cross training, you can rest totally or do some cross training. Cross training can be any activity other than running. You could go for a walk, swim, bicycle or do nothing. It is up to you.

 

Long Runs

 

The long runs used in this program are run at two different paces. The first portion of the workout is run at an easy pace. The last portion is run at goal race pace. This will train you to run at goal pace when fatigued.

 

Speed Training

 

Speed training is short to medium length repeats that are run at paces that range from race pace to an all out effort. The goal of this type of workout is to improve overall speed and the ability to maintain a quality pace for long distances.

 

Lactate Threshold Workouts

 

Lactic acid is a natural by-product of energy production. Normally, excess lactic acid is converted to energy. When the intensity of your running reaches a certain point, more lactic acid is produced than your body can process. This causes a decrease in the efficiency of your muscles. The point at which lactic acid begins to accumulate in your muscles is your lactate threshold. The goal of these workouts is to raise your lactate threshold level.

 

Strength Training

 

A proper strength training program will improve your speed, power, running economy and help prevent injuries. Strength training should be performed two or three times per week.

 

During the initial stages of your program, you should perform your strength training with a high number of repetitions and at a lower level of intensity. As your running program progresses, so should your strength training. Gradually increase the level of intensity and decrease the repetitions.

 

There are three types of strength training exercises that you should complete: General strength exercises; running specific exercises; and plyometric exercises. General strength exercises will improve your overall upper and lower body strength and will provide a base for the more intense exercises to follow. Running specific exercises will strengthen the motions and muscles specific to running. Plyometric exercises are explosive strength exercises that will improve your running specific strength, power and economy.

 

For more information, see the strength training section and the additional articles in the various race-training sections.

 

Form Drills

 

Form drills are designed to improve your running form, technique and economy. Running economy is a measure of the efficiency of your running. The goal is to run efficiently with the least amount of effort.

 

Standard Warm Up

 

The following routine should be followed whenever a warm up is called for: Run easy for 10 minutes or until you feel loose, stretch, run 4 x 100 meter acceleration strides, perform 5 minutes of form drills.

 

Week 1

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – 45-minute fartlek run. Fartlek is a Swedish word for speed play. This is a non-structured workout in which you run at a steady pace and add in short surges of faster running. For this workout, alternate running for 5 minutes at a moderate pace with 1 minute at 5K pace.

 

Wednesday – Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday – Standard warm up. Run 6 x 800 meter repeats at 5 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Friday – Run 5 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday – Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday – Standard warm up. Run 8 miles. Run the first 6 miles at an easy pace and the last 2 miles at goal half marathon pace.

 

Week 2

 

Monday – Rest

 

Tuesday – Standard warm up. Run 4 x 1600 meter repeats at 10K pace. Jog easy for 800 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday – Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday – Standard warm up. Run 7 x 800 meter repeats at 5 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Run 6 x 400 meter repeats at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Jog for 400 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Friday – Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday – Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday – Standard warm up. Run 45 minutes at 15 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace.

 

Week 3

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x 400/800/1200 meter supersets. Run 400 meters at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace, 800 meters at 5K pace and 1200 meters at goal half marathon pace. Do not rest between the distances. Recover between the sets with 800 meters at an easy pace. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 8 x 800 meter repeats at 5 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace. Recover between the repeats with 400 meters at an easy pace. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 10 miles. Run the first 8 miles at an easy pace. Run the last 2 miles at your goal half marathon pace.

 

Week 4

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 1 mile at an easy pace, the speed up to goal half marathon pace for 6 miles. Run one more mile at an easy pace to cool down.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 10 x hill repeats. Find a hill that is fairly steep and at least 100 meters in length. Run up the hill at a pace that feels like 5K pace. Run 20 meters past the top of the hill. Jog back down to recover. Repeat this 10 times.

 

Friday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 4 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 60 minutes at about 20 seconds per mile slower than your 10K pace.

 

Week 5

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up, run 6 x 1600 meter repeats at 10K pace or 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace. Jog for 800 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 20 minutes alternating between 30 seconds at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace and 30 seconds at an easy pace. Cool down with 5 minutes at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 12 miles. Run the first 9 miles at an easy pace and the last 3 miles at goal half marathon pace.

 

Week 6

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 4 x 1200 meter repeats at 5K pace. Recover between the repeats with 800 meters at an easy pace. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 5 miles on a hill that is gradually and consistently uphill. Run at a pace that feels like 10K pace. Your actual pace will be slower due to the incline. If you do not have an uphill trail in your area, you can do this workout on a treadmill that is elevated 3 to 5 degrees.

 

Friday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x 20 minute repeats at 10K pace. Jog for 5 minutes between repeats.

 

Week 7

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 7 x 1600 meter repeats at 10K pace or 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace. Jog for 800 meters between repeats. Jog for 800 meters to cool down.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x 400/800/2400 meter supersets. Run 400 meters at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace, 800 meters at 5K pace and 2400 meters at goal half marathon pace. Do not rest between the distances. Recover between the sets with 800 meters at an easy pace. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 14 miles. Run the first 10 miles at an easy pace. Run the last 4 miles at goal half marathon pace.

 

 

 

Week 8

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 2 miles at 10K pace, then slow down to goal half marathon pace for 5 miles. After the 5 miles at goal pace, speed up to 5K pace for 800 meters. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 30 minutes alternating between 30 seconds at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace and 30 seconds at an easy pace. Cool down with 5 minutes at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run a 10K race or a 10K time trial. Run the race or time trial in your best possible time.

 

 

 

Week 9

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 4 x 2400 meter repeats at 10K pace. Jog for 800 meters between repeats. Cool down with 800 meters of easy jogging.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 3 x 400/800/1600 meter repeats. Run 400 meters at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace, 800 meters at 5K pace and 1600 meters at goal half marathon pace. Take no rest between the distances. Recover between the sets with 800 meters at an easy pace. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 16 miles. Run the first 11 miles at an easy pace. Run the last 5 miles at goal half marathon pace.

 

 

 

Week 10

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 3 miles at an easy pace, then speed up to goal half marathon pace for 7 miles. Run one more mile at an easy pace to cool down.

 

Wednesday - Run 6 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 2 x 800/1200/3200 meter supersets. Run 800 meters at 5K pace, 1200 meters at 10K pace and 3200 meters at goal half marathon pace. Do not rest between the distances. Recover between the sets with 800 meters at an easy pace. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 8 miles at goal half marathon pace.

 

 

 

Week 11

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 6 x 1600 meter repeats at 10K pace. Recover between the repeats with 400 meters at an easy pace. Cool down with 800 meters at an easy pace.

 

Wednesday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Standard warm up. Run 20 minutes alternating between 30 seconds at 20 seconds per mile faster than 5K pace and 30 seconds at goal half marathon pace. Cool down with 5 minutes at an easy pace.

 

Friday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Saturday - Run 4 miles easy. Run 5 acceleration strides.

 

Sunday - Standard warm up. Run 4 miles at an easy pace, the speed up to goal half marathon pace for 6 miles. Cool down with 1 mile at an easy pace.

 

 

 

Week 12

 

Monday - Rest

 

Tuesday - Standard warm up. Run 6 miles at goal half marathon pace.

 

Wednesday - Run 3 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Thursday - Run 3 miles easy. Run 3 acceleration strides.

 

Friday - Rest.

 

Saturday - Rest

 

Sunday - RACE DAY!!

 

 

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