In prep for my trail half marathon in September, here’s what I did last week with 11 weeks to go. I had a goal of 15 miles split over 4 runs. I met that exactly, although not at the scheduled mileage for each run. I had a couple that went long, and then did a shorter 2 mile run on Sunday to hit 15.
I’m already learning some things about increasing my mileage and actually trying to stick to a running plan. Which means I’m already adjusting the plan! I did a long (for me) 10 mile run on Shadow Mountain in Grand Lake, CO a couple of weeks ago. I was pretty sore for a few days and I ended up not running until a week later, partially due to the soreness but mostly due to other things in my schedule. Then, when I did get my next run in, a 6 mile trail run, I was more sore from it than I usually am on that same route. Based on that, I decided that I may need to fine tune my training plan a bit.
This first week of my training plan included a pretty pretty significant mileage increase for me, starting out at 15 miles per week where previously I was closer to 10. I think this is what caused my soreness – the overall mileage increase rather than the difficulty of the particular runs. And even that small amount of soreness coming up when I don’t normally have it really made me think about my plan and how I can increase my mileage without injury. I’m excited that I haven’t had to stop running this time around, and I am NOT AT ALL interested in pushing the envelope into injury territory and have to stop running. So, my first adjustment was in changing my running schedule. Where I had initially planned two runs during the weekdays and one longer run on the weekends, all focused on time rather than mileage, I decided to fine tune that a little.
In addition to the soreness I was experiencing from upping my mileage, I found it hard to use time as my goal not really knowing the time I could realistically expect to finish the half marathon in. But, obviously, I do know the distance I need to cover. So, I made a plan starting at 15 miles per week and increasing by a little less than 10% each week until two weeks before race week when I should hit about 22 miles. That is based on a schedule that would have my longest run of the week hitting 13.1 miles the week before the race. But, I plan to only run a few easy miles the week before the race, with my last training run being a short one during the weekend before the race. I’ll take it easy the whole week leading up to the race, probably just some easy cycling and body-weight excercises, then do my first 13.1 mile run on race day.
I also decided that I may get more benefit out of varying my run efforts, which may help me recover more easily. Maybe…maybe not, but I guess we’ll see how it goes. Here is how I’m breaking up my runs through the week. Mo-Fr will be shorter runs, accounting for 50% of my weekly mileage, with the weekends accounting for the other 50%. The first run of the week will be a little longer than the second, roughly 30% of the weekly mileage on Tuesdays and 20% on Thursdays. I’m planning that Thursday run to be easy both in terms of distance and effort, so I’ll try to make the focus of that run staying at or below my MAF heartrate. I try to do that all the time, but for this run, that will be the focus. Then, on the weekends, I’m planning to alternate between one long run, or two equal distance shorter runs, one on each day. In either case, though, the weekend distance will still be 50% of the weekly goal. I thought that may be a little easier on my legs than one longer run each time, especially here in the beginning. I’m going to use that two runs on the weekend approach for the first two weeks.