The Plan

TGIF! Some thoughts on the week –

After a lovely, but $$$ Restaurant Week dinner with Ms. Leslie (damn those $15 cocktails), I realized I needed to crack down and start being a little more judicious with my spending. I don’t make the best coffee in the world, but when it’s served ice cold with plenty of whole milk and fun straw, it’s palatable. Making my coffee at home for a week = one fancy cocktail. I had a to-die for Rhubarb margarita with smoked sea salt rim from Rouge Tomate on Tuesday!

Runners + pedicures don’t mix. A mere 24 hours after I painted my nails, a huge chip was already on my left toe. Womp, womp.

In other news, last night’s tempo made me feel out of shape. Okay, maybe not compared to the average person – I mean, I have been running 45 miles/week for the past month. But even though I have a decent base, I haven’t been doing enough speed workouts. There are a lot of reasons for this (late nights at work, my own laziness), but if I want to run well in Philly, I need to crack the whip. Last night I ran a 4-mile tempo run with CPTC and while it wasn’t awful (~4.05 miles in 28:37, about ~7:03/mile), it seemed much harder than it should have. 8 weeks from now, I want to runner faster than that pace for 13.1 miles. Yikes. Which brings me to “the plan”. First of all, big ups to my friend and former blogger Megan M. for creating the original power point template for this plan. It’s a beautiful design. Second of all, I have my work cut out for me. I ran the Philadelphia Distance Run (yes, I’m still going to call it that even though it’s technically a “Rock ‘n Roll” half now) last year in 1:32:22. I hadn’t tapered for the race and was in the middle of marathon training, so I think it’s possible for me to run 2+ minutes faster this year. Possible, yes. Easy? No way.

My training plan is pretty aggressive – 40-55 miles/week on average including fast finish long runs, track workouts and tempos. I think I’ll be fine with the overall mileage and long runs, but getting myself to do workouts will be the toughest part. Once I actually get my butt to the track or to a CPTC workout, I have no problem working hard, but overcoming my own inertia (and late nights in the office) often get in the way. Hopefully I’ll be able to fit in the speedy stuff even if I can’t make it to an official team practice….

I posted the training plan on Google Docs (anyone with the link can view it), so if you want to take a gander, here it is:

Philadelphia 1/2 marathon training plan (Sub 1:30 or bust!)

Some notes:

I plan to take a rest day once every 2 weeks or so (instead of every week). Like I said, this is an aggressive plan, it might not be for everyone, but this is what usually works for me. If I’m feeling overly tired or injured, I have no problem taking an extra day off.

Besides some core work and basic arm exercises (triceps, biceps), I don’t plan to do any cross-training. If I’m feelin’ it, I might hit up a yoga or spin class, but my theory is this – to be a better and faster runner, you need to run.  If I need to take a day off from running, I’d rather take the day off completely (no exercise) than half-ass it on the elliptical. Of course, if you’re prone to injury or something, cross-training can be very beneficial, it’s just not my jam.

As far as Thursday night workouts go, they are still TBD. The CPTC coach sends out the workout email only a few days before. However, I can usually count on at least 7-8 miles total and my plan is to never run the workout (tempo) slower than half-marathon goal pace.

A main component of this plan is practicing running at goal race pace (~6:50-6:55 pace) at least once a week. I’ll start off with 4-5 miles and will (hopefully) be able to run 9 miles at goal pace before race day. I think this will 1) help me to recognize what race pace feels like 2) get better at staying relaxed when the pace is uncomfortable and 3) give me confidence. If I can run 9 miles at goal pace, I’m pretty sure I can run 13.1 miles at that pace, especially if I have a small taper under my belt.

And that, my friends is the plan.

One more thing before I go – I was recently selected as a Yahoo!/FoodBuzz Brand Ambassador for the Share Our Strength program. What does this mean, exactly? No, I won’t be getting any free stuff (I opted to donate my $100 stipend to Share Our Strength) or hosting any give-aways. Basically, it just means that I changed my homepage to Yahoo! to show my support and am encouraging you all to do the same (at least for a little while). Yahoo! donated $20,000 to the Share Our Strength program which fights childhood hunger and I think that’s pretty awesome. So, if you feeling like giving Yahoo! a thumbs up for donating $20k, make them your home page. Okay, public service announcement over!

Question: What do you think is the most essential part of a half-marathon training plan? I always thought it was the long run, but I’m starting to think that tempos might be key.

  • Long runs are huge at a fitness level. But you can really take them at a moderate pace if you’re working in tempos as well. So yeah if you’ve got the fitness base, which you do!, I think tempos are key. Key for confidence, oxygen efficiency and rhythm, especially for fast leg turnover. I think you’ll kill the sub 1:30!

  • Eric

    Good luck! See you there.  

  • “My theory is this – to be a better and faster runner, you need to run. 
    If I need to take a day off from running, I’d rather take the day off
    completely (no exercise) than half-ass it on the elliptical. Of course,
    if you’re prone to injury or something, cross-training can be very
    beneficial, it’s just not my jam.” YES. I’m in the same boat– I’ve done next to no cross-training since graduating from college two years ago (mainly because I never had a gym membership in NYC). But I’ve also never been injured. People are sometimes dubious about this, but it’s been working for me. Also, I know this makes a lot of their hearts cry, but…I hate spinning. Haha. I’ll never do a triathlon because I haven’t ridden a bike since 7th grade, and as far as swimming goes, I basically know how not to drown and that’s it.

  • RunTheLongRoad

    I think tempos are definitely key for the half, if you are a more intermediate/advanced runner with previous marathon experience (like you).  That way you already have a good endurance base and can more fine tune speed.  If you’re more of a beginner, I would focus more on the long run.    

  • GPC

    I really like your training plan! I firmly believe both long run AND tempos are the essential keys to HM training. It looks like you have both in your plan. Before NYC Half, I found the 2 hour long run was very important (so your goal of 15-16 is perfect). Also similarly, I got my fastest tempo up to 9 miles. However, in my humble opinion, one thing I would suggest is not getting too caught up in practicing running exactly goal HM pace for that whole 9 miles. Although the idea sounds like it would make sense, I found that your body won’t know the difference between racing and training at that point, making it harder/longer to recover. The average for the 9 mile tempo I did was about 10 seconds slower than my goal HM race pace. In my experience, I found it most beneficial starting out a little slower (20-30 seconds slower than goal HM pace) and being able to cut down steadily, feeling good, and run the last 3-4 miles at goal HM pace, rather than the whole 9. I practiced this while building up the length of the tempo (starting with 5 miles with last 2 at HM, then the next one was 6 miles with last 2-3 at HM, and so on until 9 miles). You definitely have the right plan and know these types of workouts are essential, but being able to recover from them is even more essential! Just my 2 cents, but, hey, what do I know!? Good luck with the training!

  • You know how to qualify for the Olympic Trials, THAT’S what you know.

  • Anonymous

    this is really good advice Gian, thanks! i agree that 9 miles at HM pace is
    a rather ambitious workout. i’d MUCH rather run a few miles slower than goal
    pace and finish up on target than go out hard and not be able to finish.
    gulp, i’m really nervous about upcoming training. i’ve never raced anything
    longer than a 10k at sub-7:00 pace and it seems so scary fast…keep your
    fingers crossed for me!

  • Anonymous


  • What a great thing yahoo is doing.  That is really amazing.  I am a yahoo lover and still use yahoo over gmail for personal use.

    Your training plan sounds advanced and agressive, which is exactly what you need to do if you want to get faster.  I totally agree with you on the cross training.  I cross trained in my first marathon training because I was prone to injury and just wanted to finish.  If and when I train for a full marathon again I do believe that how you get faster is by, shockingly enough, running.  And running a lot!  Good luck- go sub 130!

  • GPC’s tempo pace is faster than my mile PR. Oh life.

  • Dad

    Charity: Donating your stipend to fight childhood hunger through SOS is awesome! Demonstrates what a truly wonderful person you are.
    Hope: Your training plan is excellent and will help keep you focused on what you KNOW you need to do. Really like inclusion of core and arm training – so often over-looked. However, had hoped to see inclusion of ocassional hill training as it does make a difference.
    Faith: Have faith in yourself as I have faith in your ability to crush 1:30 in Philly! You go girl!

  • Good plan! I like aggressive plans (as long as you know what you can handle which I am sure you do) 🙂 I think a lot of my improvement training for this marathon has come from tempo runs which I never really did before. Of course long runs and everything have their place but i think longer tempos have helped me become speedier. Good luck! I am sure you will get the sub1:30!

  • Anonymous

    thanks for the nice comments Dad 🙂 And don’t worry – I’ll get my hills in!
    Much of our team tempo workouts are done on the rolling hills of Central
    Park, so I’ll be sure to tackle those inclines.

  • Corey

    I think for halfs, I agree that tempos/race pace running are key. Training the body to run at goal pace, plus training your mind to tolerate more discomfort before slowing down, seem to be crucial. Your plan seems very well thought out and deliberate in leading you to a sub 1:30. You are a very strong, experienced runner and I am confident you will work your way to that time. I know how it feels to have one run freak you out, but I always try to remember that one workout is not defining, and I want to have some room for improvement at the start of training anyway. Excited to see how the next few months go for you…I have a very good feeling!

  • Anonymous

    thank you for the vote of confidence! i really want to do this, but
    sometimes feel a little overwhelmed at the training i’ll need to do to get
    there 🙂

  • Radrunnergirl

    Home Pedi $1.99 and you can do it like 7 million times (or like 15) 🙂 Buy a super cut fantsy mug for your coffees, it makes it much prettier, soon enough when you even THINK about an out of the house store bought coffee you will cringe 🙂

  • our feet could be twins right now, mine looks the same haha

  • I ran a 1:30:00 and a 1:28:22 this year, and I think the key to getting speedier for me was throwing sprint intervals into my run once a week or once every other week.  I would do three miles, with 10-12 sprints (lasting about a minute each).  Other than that, I don’t follow any plans or workouts. 

    Oh, and I “taper” for 3-4 days by taking it easy.  ’tis all!  You can definitely get the sub 1:30:00, fo sho

  • I’m a big advocate of pace runs! I did them during my training for NYC 2009 and I felt they were extremely helpful. I think it is really great to do long tempos and really gets you used to that goal pace! Sounds like you have a good plan and are on your way to sub 1:30!

  • Kate Kirkpatrick

    I’m not as advanced a runner as you are, but am training to break 2 hours for a 10/2 half and am going to draw some ideas from your plan…thank you for sharing it!

  • Poor pedi! I don’t even bother with them, sadly enough… I’ve just accepted the fact that my feet are horrifically ugly… 🙂

  • I love your plan – it looks hardcore and awesome. And you will dominate the half! I honestly don’t have too much experience training specifically for halfs, but I do agree that tempos are definitely key. And fast finish long runs. 

    Also, +1 on runners feet. One of my (purple slash black) toenails is hanging on for dear life and I’ve done my best to cover it up with bright pink polish. 

  • I have no experience in making training plans so you probably don’t want my advice. But, it seems like you’ve been running long enough to know yourself and what works best for you. So, if aggressive works for you – go for it! I can’t wait to read about your sub-1:30!!! Good luck.

  • First off – good for you for supporting the Share our Strength Program – so great. (Yahoo is my homepage!)
    Second – excellent training plan. A lot of your points resonated with me as well – I think I have the distance thing down – and have gotten okay with speed workouts for 5-ish mile runs, but I really think I need to work on running faster longer and incorporating close-to-race-pace into longer runs more. I’m always so impressed with how much distance you fit in!!
    I’m with you on ditching the elliptical as well. Last week I was on it, and 20 minutes into the workout, I was like “I dont even think I’m sweating – this is stupid.” However I’m really gonna try to get in a yoga class once a week.
    Good luck!! Are you running the Philly 1/2 in November too?

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  • Healthyeverythingtarian

    you are a beast woman! good luck with that program. i have no doubt you are going to kick some major ass.

    also, i totally feel you on the spending thang! i actually need to reign things in a bit (okay, a lot), especially if i want to do some shopping in Europe come November. except this morning, a venti iced coffee from Starbucks was necessary, i swear…

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