Training For The
By: Marco Ochoa
Orange Coast College
many athletes running a half marathon is not on their annual racing
schedule. Runners usually tend to race distances that are familiar
to them so they can compare and measure their success and improvement.
The half marathon can be considered an awkward distance to be racing
which makes it difficult to focus on such a distance. Developing
a training program for this distance can be complicated for many
runners mainly because of the odd distance. It can be too long for
a 5k-10k runner or it may be too short for the marathon runner;
so many runners pay no importance to this specific race distance.
These characteristics are what make
training and racing the half marathon unique. It can be the perfect
distance for training and racing if planned accordingly. The runners
that specialize on the 5k and 10k can use it as over-distance training
and racing. And for the marathon runner, it can be use as race-pace
Many elite runners run half marathon
races to test their strength and stamina. This type of racing is
done during the built-up or base-work phase of their training. After
analyzing and evaluating the race, the athlete and coach can plan
the next phase of training, and changes can be made according to
It is very common to see that the
rabbits or pacesetters of major marathons are either elite 10k runners
testing their strength or elite marathon runners running at race-pace
or a little faster. Either case is done during a heavy training
phase of their specific training programs. Implementing half marathon
training and racing can be very beneficial to the athlete's program,
but the coach and athlete must carefully design and develop a plan
that will be conducive to meet the athlete's specific goals.
Half marathon training is usually
implemented during the pre-season or the built-up phase of the training
cycle. Training sessions are normally of high volume and long intervals
with a high number of repetitions. The rest time between intervals
can be very short or moderate but it never allows for a full recovery.
The running pace is usually run between, slower than 10k pace to
a little faster than marathon pace. The rest period between intervals
and speed can be manipulated according to the needs of the athlete,
taking into consideration the goals the athlete is trying to achieve
What makes training for the half
marathon unique is that for the most part, most of the running sessions
are done on the roads and/or dirt trails instead of the track. Interval
sessions are run as fartleks or pick-ups. Also, there is a great
emphasis on hill work and tempo runs. During this training cycle
the main concern is the development and improvement of cardiovascular
strength and endurance.
following is a sample of a heavy week of training for the half marathon:
miles warm-up16-24 x 1min pick-ups @ 10k pace
1min. recovery jog in
2-3 miles warm-down
runner can select a dirt trail or grass field to perform the
workout. This session can be very difficult because it is
a continuous running workout. Velocity and the pace of the
recovery jog will dictate the degree of difficulty.
miles easy pace
run is done about 70% of VO2max or 75% of HRmax. Running at
this pace will allow for a recovery from the strenuous workout
from the day before.
miles easy/medium pace
long runs, there is an increase of blood volume, which results
in improved maximal stroke volume. As a result, there will
be an improvement in running economy.
3-4-5-5-4-3 min. pick-ups
Recovery time same as the pick-up 2-3 miles warm-down
for this session a dirt trail or grass field is recommended.
This is a lactic acid tolerance workout and the emphasis is
on strength and not speed.
miles easy pace
run to allow recovery.
miles Tempo Run @
runs are usually scheduled every other week alternating with
an easy day to allow for recovery.
miles easy pace run
endurance session will increase the development of slow twitch
fibers, blood volume, and capillarization. It will improve
running economy and fuel utilization (fats/carbos).
of Training for the Half Marathon Race:
- Building aerobic base
- Developing endurance-speed-strength
- Developing anaerobic strength
- Speed endurance
- Developing strength thru tempo
- Long runs to increase stamina
and running economy
- Short intervals - lactic acid
- Long Intervals - lactic acid tolerance
- Short recovery - long recovery
- Race pace workouts
- Running pace - training at different
- Periodization - planning for the
performance at the right time