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Half-Marathon Training: Choosing Your Program

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Now that you've set your goal, it's time to choose a training program. This chapter outlines the advantages of several training courses, and helps you to decide which one is best for your goals, health, and lifestyle.
This chapter is from the book

In this chapter

  • Determine the training protocol that best fits your goals and abilities

  • Establish target heart rate training zones

  • Understand the rating of perceived exertion scale

  • Explore cross training options to include in your weekly regimen

Let the training begin!

Now that you have set your goals in Chapter 2, "Getting Started," it is time to determine the training protocol to help you achieve those goals. There are three different protocols presented in this chapter for 5K, 10K, and half-marathon distances: fitness walking, run/walk, and experienced exerciser. An explanation of the protocols will guide you in choosing the program ideally suited for your needs, goals, and current abilities. Each protocol will dictate the frequency, duration, and intensity of your exercise sessions. To allow you to fully understand how to monitor your intensity while walking, running, or cross training, this chapter will also review training heart rate ranges and the rating of perceived exertion scale. The final section will examine the importance of cross training and provide examples of how to include cross training in your weekly routine. Choose your protocol wisely and make sure to have fun!

How Do You Choose the Program That Is Best Suited for You?

In the last chapter, you established goals. Now it is time to determine how you can make these goals a reality by choosing the training program that best fits your needs. Based on whether your goal is to complete a 5K, 10K, or half-marathon, make a decision between these three training protocols: fitness walking, run/walk, or experienced exerciser. Be conservative when choosing a program so you can reach your goals safely and without injury. Base this decision on your current fitness level and regular exercise routine. To help you choose the right program, detailed descriptions of each protocol are provided in this section.

NOTE

I am sure you are eager to begin your training. However, it is critical that you are conservative when choosing your 5K, 10K, or half-marathon protocol. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to injury and prevent you from achieving your goals.

The three different 5K training protocols are all 8 weeks in length, the 10K protocols are 11 weeks, and the half-marathon protocols are 15 weeks. Based on the date of the race you choose to complete, count backwards from the race to know when you are to begin your training. Do not rush your training and jump into one of the training protocols at week 2, 4, 6, and so on regardless of the length of the race. Plan ahead to make sure you have plenty of time to successfully complete the entire training program to prevent injuries or health complications. If you just started reading this book and your planned race is a couple of weeks away, choose a later race that will allow you to train appropriately by completing the entire training program.

CAUTION

Do not try to condense the protocols to rush through your training. Each program is designed to allow for an appropriate progression of time or mileage in preparation for your 5K, 10K, or half-marathon race as well as for rest and recovery throughout the program. Skipping weeks by starting late can lead to fatigue and injury.

The three different training protocols (fitness walking, run/walk, and experienced exerciser) for each distance (5K, 10K, and half-marathon) assume that your long walk or run of the week will be on Saturdays. If this is not a convenient day for you, shift the protocol so you are completing the long workout on a day when you are not rushed by work or other commitments. However, maintain the spacing of the workouts to allow for rest and recovery. For example, shifting the long workout to Sunday will cause the entire protocol to shift by one day.

Please read through each protocol description before deciding on your best option. Choose wisely and have fun! If you go to http://www.quepublishing.com and type this book's ISBN (0789733145) into the Search field to go to this book's web page, you will find printable PDF versions of all of these protocols available for download.

Is a "Fitness Walking" Protocol Right for You?

The Fitness Walking protocols are geared for the fitness walker who is walking one to three days per week, or the first-time exerciser. The program is based on time rather than mileage. It is designed to increase your fitness level as well as help you successfully complete your 5K, 10K, or half-marathon. These protocols schedule only three days a week of exercise, which is ideal for first-time exercisers. Your focus should be on the long walk of the week while including two additional days of walking or cross training at an easy or moderate pace. The following list describes additional program characteristics:

  • The Fitness Walking protocols are appropriate for you if your goals are to increase aerobic fitness and to finish the 5K, 10K, or half-marathon.

  • Consider your current fitness level. You must be able to walk at least one or two miles comfortably at a 16–20 minute/mile pace.

  • The Fitness Walking protocols include two to three walking workouts per week with one optional cross training session. The intensity is easy to moderate.

Figure 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3 show the Fitness Walking protocols for the 5K, 10K, and half-marathon races.

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 5K Fitness Walking protocol.

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2 10K Fitness Walking protocol.

Figure 3.3

Figure 3.3 Half-marathon Fitness Walking protocol.

Use the following workout key for these protocols:

  • EASY—Keep intensity low and at a conversational level.

    Intensity should be within 50%–70% of your Target Heart Rate or 11–12 on the RPE scale.

  • MODERATE—Slightly more difficult than easy.

    Intensity should be within 75%–85% of your Target Heart Range or 13–14 on the RPE scale.

  • LONG—Keep intensity low and at a conversational level. Focus on completing the distance.

    Intensity should be within 50%–70% of your Target Heart Range or 11–12 on the RPE scale.

  • CT (Cross Train)—Workout for the designed amount of time on aerobic or strength equipment. Keep intensity low to moderate.

Is a "Run/Walk" Protocol Right for You?

This program is designed for first-time walkers, runners, and those who want to follow a combination run/walk training regimen. This program is based on mileage instead of time with the exception of your cross training day that is scheduled in time instead of miles. If you are interested in following the run/walk regimen, the mileage in all three race lengths will be completed by alternating running for three minutes and walking for one minute. The combination run/walk regimen is perfect if you are interested in transitioning from walking to running while staying injury free. This protocol increases the number of days of exercise to four: three days of walking, running, or run/walking (including one long workout), plus a cross training day. Below are additional program characteristics:

  • The Run/Walk protocols are appropriate for you if your goals are to increase fitness levels through regular walking, running, or a combination of walking and running; and to finish the 5K, 10K, or half-marathon race.

  • Consider your current fitness level. You must be able to walk, run, or run/walk one to two miles comfortably. No requirements on speed.

  • The mileage in the Run/Walk protocols range from 3–6 miles per week for the 5K program up to 6–18 miles per week for the half-marathon program. The intensity is easy to moderate.

Figures 3.4, 3.5, and 3.6 show the Run/Walk protocols for the 5K, 10K, and half-marathon races.

Figure 3.4

Figure 3.4 5K Run/Walk protocol.

Figure 3.5

Figure 3.5 10K Run/Walk protocol.

Figure 3.6

Figure 3.6 Half-marathon Run/Walk protocol.

Use the following workout key for these protocols:

  • EASY—Keep intensity low and at a conversational level.

    Intensity should be within 50%–70% of your Target Heart Rate or 11–12 on the RPE scale.

  • MODERATE—Slightly more difficult than easy.

    Intensity should be within 75%–85% of your Target Heart Range or 13–14 on the RPE scale.

  • LONG—Keep intensity low and at a conversational level. Focus on completing the distance.

    Intensity should be within 50%–70% of your Target Heart Range or 11–12 on the RPE scale.

  • CT (Cross Train)—Work out for the designed amount of time on aerobic or strength equipment. Keep intensity low to moderate.

Is an "Experienced Exerciser" Protocol Right for You?

The Experienced Exerciser program is designed for individuals who have been regularly active but not necessarily focused on walking or running. This is a mileage-based protocol (with cross training days listed in time) and is appropriate for either walkers or runners. Similar to the Fitness Walking and Run/Walk programs, the emphasis is on the long walk or run, which will condition you to comfortably and safely complete the 3.1, 6.2, or 13.1 miles of your goal race. Most of your weekly mileage should be completed at an intensity that is easy and comfortable, with one moderate-intensity workout per week. The programs include 3–4 days of walking or running and 1–2 days of cross training so you can continue to enjoy your other favorite activities.

  • The Experienced Exerciser protocols are appropriate if your goals are to increase fitness with the challenge of a new activity/sport and to finish your 5K, 10K, or half-marathon.

  • Consider your current fitness level. You must be able to walk or run at least two to three miles comfortably. No requirements on speed.

  • The mileage in the Experienced Exerciser protocols range from 6–9 miles per week for the 5K program up to 9–21 miles per week for the half-marathon program.

Figure 3.7

Figure 3.7 5K Experienced Exerciser protocol.

Figure 3.8

Figure 3.8 10K Experienced Exerciser protocol.

Figure 3.9

Figure 3.9 Half-marathon Experienced Exerciser protocol.

Use the following workout key for these protocols:

  • EASY—Keep intensity low and at a conversational level.

    Intensity should be within 50%–70% of your Target Heart Rate or 11–12 on the RPE scale.

  • MODERATE—Slightly more difficult than easy.

    Intensity should be within 75%–85% of your Target Heart Range or 13–14 on the RPE scale.

  • LONG—Keep intensity low and at a conversational level. Focus on completing the distance.

    Intensity should be within 50%–70% of your Target Heart Range or 11–12 on the RPE scale.

  • CT (Cross Train)—Work out for the designed amount of time on aerobic or strength equipment. Keep intensity low to moderate.

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