Lazy Runner Trains for Half Marathon

I’m not sure that lazy is exactly the right word, but it fits pretty well. I’m 8 weeks into my half marathon training plan and 4 weeks out from the race itself. And I’m here to tell you that I’m not so good at following a training plan. I’m not quite getting in my weekly mileage, but I feel like I’m generally on track for the race. I’m just not doing it according to plan.

In a nutshell, my training plan is/was a 12 week plan, starting from a base of 15 miles per week and increasing at a fairly modest 8% per week. My runs are broken out to be 50% during the workweek, and 50% on the weekend. The workweek runs are split into two runs, one a little longer than the other and I alternate weekends either doing one long run or two shorter back-to-back runs. I don’t go out with a specific training goal in place, instead I just mix in hills, sprints, etc. into the scheduled runs. The longer weekend run is generally what real runners would call a tempo run. I think it’s a fairly sound plan. And I had fun building the spreadsheet to plan and track it.

But, what I don’t like is actually following the plan! I defintely prefer a more free flowing training schedule. A lot of the research I’ve read talks about the necessity of having a specific plan and following it closely. That was even the first piece of advice an experienced triathlete and marathoner I know gave to me – “Get a plan and follow it!” On the other hand, I’ve read and listened to interviews with successful ultra-runners who mention that their training is just getting out and running. No mileage plan, no track days, tempo days, easy days, etc. They just go out and run. A lot. Obviously, different approaches for different people.

As for me, I wish I could work my way through this plan more diligently, in order to give it a fair shake and really know if it were the best route for me. But as it is, I’ve already gone too far off course to get back into it. For the last couple of weeks, my shorter runs have been much shorter than what I planned, around 3 miles each. Actually, closer to 3.2, as I try to minimally do 30 minutes and 5k every time I go out. My longish runs on the weekends have been ok, though, I think. The week before last, I did a little over 9 miles in one run, and this past weekend I did almost 12 miles on Saturday, between a 5k race and then some additional miles about a half hour afterward. So, based on those long runs, I don’t have much concern over being able to finish the half marathon. It will just be a matter of whether I’ll be the last person across the line. Or if the line will even still be there when I finish!

I have to say, I don’t know what the best approach for me is. I’m not even sure if I should be focusing on weekly mileage at all. After all, a week is just a group of days on the calendar, it really doesn’t have much to do with how our bodies are feeling in terms of working out or not. One approach might be to total up all the mileage that I would run over the course of the training plan, then just keep whittling away at it. For example, I planned to run about 255 miles over the 12 weeks of training. So far I’ve run about 130 miles, a little over a half of the total miles. Maybe I should make one of those giant fundraising thermometer posters and hang it on my fridge. I could fill it up a little after each run.

So, who knows how t he race will go.  I think it will be fun, and it will give me some experience at longer events to get a feel for it they are something I want to pursue.  If I can find a good way to train that accommodates the fact that running is only a small part of my life, assuming the race goes well, I may look into some more long-ish events.