Training for a Half-Marathon (first eight weeks!)


Today, I wanted to blog about my first eight weeks of training for a half-marathon/potential full marathon!

When I first started training, I decided I wouldn’t tell anyone in case everything went to pieces and I couldn’t stick to my goal after all. But as the first few weeks went by, I got more elated and decided I could definitely do this, for sure! I even kept records of my runs on my trusty Runkeeper app,  occasionally adding notes about how a particular run went and even adding pictures. In fact, the pictures that form the collage above came from pictures taken with my phone in the first eight weeks of running.

As mentioned in my earlier post, I’m currently following the Hal Higdon Half Marathon Novice 1 plan, albeit with some modifications to suit my preferences. Also, because I only ran one long run a week supplemented by a few fitness classes (usually Les Mills Body Attack, Body Combat and Body Pump classes), I wanted to give myself a full month of training ahead of actually starting on the plan to get used to running three to four times a week.

Having a plan really, really suited me. I have trained before with an end-goal in mind – a 12km race – but I never had a plan that completely laid out what I needed to do each week. It really helped to have these goals to hit each week so that I always knew what to do, and it also helped to restrict me – like all rookie runners, I always try to push too hard and run too far in the beginning and end up injuring myself or burning out. So it was nice to be able to do a 2km run in the beginning and not feel guilty about it or tempted to go further because I knew this was part of the plan and this would help me build up my endurance and muscle strength for later on.

So my first four weeks actually looked something like this:

January 6-12:

Monday: 2km walk.
Tuesday: Body Pump Class and 2km run on treadmill.
Wednesday: Body Combat class, followed by half-hour KettleWorx class.
Thursday: Stretching and 2km walk.
Friday: 2km run.
Saturday: 6.5km run
Sunday: Rest.

January 13-19:

Monday: 2km run.
Tuesday: 2km run in the morning; Jacob’s ladder climb x5 in the evening.
Wednesday: 2.3 km run/walk in the morning.
Thursday: 6.5km run in the morning.
Friday: Body Pump class plus 2km walk on the treadmill.
Saturday: Body Combat class plus KettleWorx resistance class.
Sunday: Rest.

 January 20-26

Monday: 3km run.
Tuesday: 3km run.
Wednesday: 3km walk (rest day).
Thursday: 2km run.
Friday: 8km run.
Saturday: Nothing (rest day).
Sunday: 2km walk.

 January 27-February 2nd

Monday: 3km run.
Tuesday: Body Pump plus 20min run/walk on treadmill.
Wednesday: 3km run.
Thursday: 8km run.
Friday: Nothing (rest day).
Saturday: 3km run.
Sunday: Half-hour CxWorx class plus 3km walk on treadmill.

As you can see, my goal was to get in at least two short runs of 2km each and a 6.5km long run in the first two weeks. I then upped that to two short runs (3km each) and an 8km long run in the next two weeks. I also had the option of doing cross-training on two other days but if I felt like it, I could also swap one of the cross-training days for another short run. I also tried to get in at least one Body Pump class per week for strength training (because strength training is great for improving your runs!) and if I wanted to, I’d up the strength training ante with some half-hour KettleWorx or CxWorx classes. I think there was just one week where I didn’t do any strength training in that particular month which is progress for me because I always struggle to motivate myself to get to strength training class!

You might also notice that my running is a little all over the place. It’s preferable to get your short runs done first, with maybe a day of rest or cross-training in between each run to give your legs a rest, and then have the long run on the weekend. But I decided to change it up as I know I get pretty busy on the weekends and might not be able to do a long run then. So I made it easy for myself and put in a run any time I could possibly get. Better to be running than not at all!

Then I went on to start the Hal Higdon Training Plan (with modifications) in the following week, which looked something like this:

February 3rd to 9th:

Monday: 5km run.
Tuesday: Body Pump.
Wednesday: 5km run.
Thursday: 7km run.
Friday: Rest.
Saturday: 3km run.
Sunday: Rest.

February 10th to 16th:

Monday: 6km run
Tuesday: 3km run
Wednesday: Rest day. (2km recovery walk).
Thursday: 6km run
Friday: Body Pump & 3km walk
Saturday: 8km run
Sunday: 45 minute swim

In these first two weeks, we upped the ante with longer runs. This was when I began to cut back on Body Combat and concentrate instead on a short 3km run. In my last week, I also ended up incorporating a swim – mainly because Sunday is now my swimming class day as a gift from a couple of friends! I love adding a swim as part of my cross-training and I really hope I can get better at swimming soon! I’m so bad at it!

Despite the fact that it was summer (over here in Australia where the seasons are upside-down), the days were still relatively nice and cool enough to make running a breeze, plus I was still in my honeymoon half-marathon training phase so everything still felt exciting and easy enough to commit to. The runs were getting longer but not that long that they didn’t feel like an impossible challenge.  Occasionally, I did get a bit tired but nothing a day of rest couldn’t cure.

Then the weather got hot – and the last remaining two weeks of my first eight-week phase looked like this:

February 17th to 23rd

Monday: 3km run
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 6km run
Thursday: 6km run
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 45 minute swim

 February 24th to March 2nd:

Monday: 6km run
Tuesday: Rest (Knee hurt!)
Wednesday: 3km run
Thursday: 8km run
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 5.8km run/walk
Sunday: 45 minute swim

It was a terrible two weeks! I started cutting out on most other workouts except my running and I got pretty lazy about doing Body Pump, cutting out the strength training completely, which I feel totally guilty about! It definitely made quite a bit of difference to my running –  my upper body didn’t feel as strong as usual! Plus, I didn’t even make it to my long run on the seventh week because the weather has been so hot and making me feel so weary. To cap it all off, I strained my knee doing my first short run in the eight week so I had to rest up a little and concentrate more on stretching instead.

I had also been looking at the latter part of my marathon plan and was starting to feel a little desperate, wondering if I could ever really be able to run a full 21km. This is a big no-no – I was starting to hit a wall mentally and allowing discouraging cautions to get to me!

The weather got a little cooler in the eighth week but I was still feeling demotivated and, well, lazy! Still, I’m pleased that I managed to force myself to nail all my runs that week because I really, really do want to stick with this commitment. It’s a pretty big commitment and I really wanted to prove to myself that I could see it through to the end rather than just giving up mid-way when the going gets tough. I even had a look at the seventh week and tried to be kind to myself, pointing out that two 6km runs, a 3km run and a 45-minute swim in one week is still pretty good. It’s better than spending the entire week doing nothing at all!

Now that I’ve had a couple of low weeks, this post may finish on a low note – but not so! I’m extra determined now to make this week a good week training-wise and nail all my workouts. I’m going to get this done, I know I’m going to get this done! <===(a little bit of positive thinking 🙂 )


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