If his venture gave you some serious fitness motivation of your own, but you’re not quite ready to go the full 26.2 miles, set your eyes on a half marathon.
Still a tremendous feat of endurance, half marathons are more feasible feats for guys who are completely new to running or those who’ve sidelined their running kicks for, say, CrossFit or MMA training.
Regardless of your skill level and the type of race in which you’re competing, we understand that training can be a bit daunting and difficult to stick to—which is why we turned to Patti Finke, exercise physiologist, certified run coach, and chairperson of the Road Runners Club of America coaching committee. She’s created an expedited training plan for people who don’t have the time to train for a half marathon for months on end. Whether you made an impromptu decision to join a half or just don’t want to spend that much time away from the gym, consider this your 10-week program.
One thing to keep in mind: “Going from not running to training for a half marathon in 10 weeks can be risky,” Finke says. “You need to be cautious about going too fast, too far, too soon.” As long as you follow this blueprint, fuel right (aka get enough carbs to refuel post-run), then everything should go off without a hitch. And if this is your first race, then maybe it’s best to have a goal of finishing the race without walking (rather than trying to break the world record).
Start each run with a five-minute warmup walk at a comfortable pace, then cool down with some light jogging, stretching, and foam rolling. Rest on days 2, 4, 6, and 7 (except for week 5, when you’ll do cross-training on day 7).
|Day 1||Day 3||Day 5|
|Week 1||2 miles||2 miles||2 miles|
|Week 2||2 miles||2 miles||3 miles|
|Week 3||2 miles||2 miles||4 miles|
|Week 4||2 miles||2 miles||5 miles|
|Week 5||3 miles||2 miles||5 miles|
|Week 6||3 miles||3 miles||7 miles|
|Week 7||4 miles||3 miles||8 miles|
|Week 8||4 miles||4 miles||10 miles|
|Week 9||4 miles||4 miles||10 miles|
|Week 10||4 miles||2 miles||RACE|
Training tips: Week 1
During week 1, run at a comfortable pace. “Judge your pace by breathing,” Finke says. Take four steps as you breathe in, then four steps as you breathe out. Slow down if you’re breathing faster. Practice deep belly breathing when you’re not running, then use it mid-workout. “You should be able to talk in complete sentences,” Finke says. “If you’re gulping air, getting only 3-4 words out before you need to breathe, slow down.” You shouldn’t be panting. Stop and walk for a minute. “It’s always OK to add in some walk breaks whenever you’re feeling stressed or out of breath,” Finke adds.
“The secret to running longer distances is to start slowly, and maintain an easy pace,” Finke says. Practice staying in control and being disciplined with your warmup, cool-down walks, and stretching, too. They should be consistent all through the program.
Week 3 & 5
You can add 20-30 minutes of cross training—hop on a bike, rower, or elliptical—on one of your rest days if your legs aren’t too fatigued, Finke says.
“Your pace should be slower on the longer-mileage training days to be able to complete the distance,” Finke says. Again, watch your breathing. You want controlled strides and breathing—nothing frenetic.
On the three-mile day, add in some one-minute bouts of slightly faster running for the middle two miles, Finke suggests.
Week 8 & 9
During one of the four-mile days, add in some one-minute bouts of slightly faster running for the middle two miles, Finke recommends. “Stay controlled so you’re able to add the two miles to the long run in these weeks,” she says.
Start the race at a long-run training pace, then run that for six miles. “If it feels good, speed up slightly (e.g. about 10 seconds per mile for the next six miles) and breathe so you’re inhaling for three steps, exhaling for three steps,” she adds. On the last mile, run as fast as you think you can. Hasten your breathing to two steps in, two steps out. Sprint when you see the finish line approximately 10-20 meters out (one step per breath), then celebrate a damn good achievement.