I had roughly 6 months to train for the 2017 Cardiff Half Marathon and, in the early days, I’d run merely once a week with a few gym sessions in between. Months down the line and I realised this wasn’t cutting it. And that’s when I created this plan.
If you’re thinking entering a 10K, half marathon or even if you just fancy getting into running, this table can be really useful tool to schedule your runs, improve stamina with interval training, and undergo regular strength training sessions. This timetable gave my half marathon training more structure, focus and helped me to keep track of my progression. So, here it is;
This training plan has been implemented with a race day in mind and is spread over the course of 4 months. However, if you have less or more time to play with before your event then this plan can be adapted, squeezed or stretched to best suit the amount of potential training time you have. On the other hand, if there is no event as such and you just want to improve your cardiovascular fitness and endurance then you can always chose your favourite four rows (eg. 3, 5, 7 & 9) and alternate continuously throughout the months.
Interval & Strength Training
You’ll notice in my table that Mondays and Wednesdays are dedicated to interval and strength training. Now, just to clarify, on these days you will do an interval training workout as well as focusing on strength and conditioning, not one or the other. However as the plan intensifies, so does the interval training, hence there are four variations which are detailed below. OK, so what is interval training? Well, it’s a highly beneficial workout style in which cardiovascular efficiency (the ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles) is improved and so is the body’s tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. It involves the alternation between high-intensity bursts of speed with shortened, slower, recovery phases, working both the aerobic and the anaerobic systems. It is a great way to improve speed, endurance, and enhance overall performance thus making it a vital element in your half marathon training.
These can be swapped around and amended depending on what suits you, for example, you could alternate all four interval types for four weeks and then repeat.
Strength training throughout your program is equally as crucial, though I only realised it’s importance later on in my training regime. I would, admittedly, have an extra run or rest day on some of my allocated strength training days and, as a result, I lost a lot of power in my legs and my core stability and overall agility lessened. Targeting different muscle groups for just one day each week between runs will make such a difference. Don’t make the same mistake I did and think that the interval training and running will suffice. it wont. Remember these three important S’s: Stamina, speed and strength.
The importance of rest days
Rest days are implemented into most training plans with good a reason and that is because they are essential in allowing our bodies time to repair and recuperate. As we work out, run, or weight train, we place greater strain on our muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints. Our immune system is activated when there are muscle tears or joint strains, but if the body doesn’t come out of continual practice, this system doesn’t have the time to catch up, rejuvenate and repair where needed. This is why resting is so important. There is also a greater risk of injury without these much needed days as your body fatigues so don’t be tempted to ignore them and over-train because it will do more harm than good.
This may not work for everyone and won’t be the most refined, perfect training in the world but hey, if it worked for me, it can work for you. Following a structured yet adaptable, flexible plan like this allowed me to go from not being able to run to the corner shop for some bread without being out of breath to confidently running 13 miles in a matter of months. It’s a great starting platform and like I said, even if you’re not training for a specific event, this could be an ideal way to help you discover, or re-discover, your love for running.
As always, thanks for reading and until next time,