If I’m running 13.1 miles, it’s because I’m either being chased by Freddie Krueger wielding a gun, I’m attempting to outrun K-9 dogs from the local penitentiary, or I’m chasing the ice cream truck to snag one of those shortbread cream dreams. I understand that many of you crazy health nuts out there run to improve your quality of life. I have a personal theory that you’re endorphin junkies. But whatever your reason may be for running 331 linear acres, a strategic training plan should be developed and consistently followed. I am the living epitome of the word Beginner, so I’ll outline below the baby steps to hone you into “evading the Po Po” shape in 13-22 short weeks.
- You should be a runner to begin with. If you are thinking of jaunting 13.1 miles down the road for the first time ever and have not been at least schlepping along on the treadmill, you will die. Not only will you not make it, but you will leave an awful, sweaty, grimaced-in-pain, corpse on the side of the running track.
- Think positive. No one ever woke up one day and thought ‘I just can’t run a ½ marathon,’ and then go out to try it. Suggested good vibe seeking reading should start with Runner’s World. This is one place to look for motivation and mentors. Believe me – you’re going to need all the positive support you can get.
- Buy good footwear. Your current Flintstone’s velcro running shoes will not carry you to the stop sign at the end of your block. New Balance has a great line of custom footwear. Invest in it. You can be measured for tailored sneakers that will caress your caveman flat feet. The investment you make up front will directly correlate to a smaller emergency room bill in the end.
- Breathable running togs. If you plan to pull out your usual running sweatpants and t-shirt to run a distance equal to the length between my home town and the nearest Starbucks, then you’ll need more than a venti iced skinny caramelatto monkey tumbler upon your arrival – you’ll need a Nascar EMSA New York taxi cab driver to race you to the nearest waterfall in order to cool off. Start with socks and buy something that wicks away sweat. Next your boxers should be something like breathable CW-X by Litefit. Lastly, look for cooling pants and tanks that will allow you to run without friction. Nothing worse than errant ill-placed sparks during exercise.
- Buy a Fitbit. Since you hope to make it to the finish line, you don’t want to max your heart rate in the first 50 feet. [I say this mostly to myself.] Pace yourself and maintain a half-marathon heart rate of 85-88%. During earlier training intervals, aim for 87-92% on tempo runs, and between 65-75% for easy runs. I have no idea what any of this means, but marathon experts have verified this information, presumably by running.
- Begin training. Now that you look and feel like a winner, start pounding the pavement. There’s no substitute or shortcuts for running on solid ground. The treadmill you played on all winter is no match for running in the wind, rain, sunshine, and sloping topography. Running a half-marathon is not the same as watching the stock market ticker tape from the comfort of your gym’s trendy treadmill.
- Just one more mile. Each week, add another mile to your regimen. The below Road Rhythms are outlined on Cool Running.
- Endurance 3-6 weeks
- Strength 2-4 weeks
- Speed 1-3 weeks
- Tapering 1 week
- Racing 3-4 weeks
- Recover 3-4 weeks
I am having bouts of exhaustion after writing this article for you. I may not be in ½-marathon shape, nor have a real desire to seek out same, but I assure you my status of marathon Barcalounger testing is in the top ten. For those of you who plan to train for a pinnacle stroll of 69,168 feet, God speed. For any overachievers out there making plans for the Leadville 100, I am glad to share the name of a good therapist.
Tune in tomorrow for Thirsty Thursday Alternative Milk Does a Body Good
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