A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Friday, January 2, 2009

How to break in a 13.1 Virgin

Image courtesy of Runners' Lounge

Welcome to my little part of the Interwebs! This blog is for all of you who want to follow me as I start to tackle distance running.

Quick, let's do a crash course in distances for those who don't know (for those who do, you can skip this part):

Typical race distances
5K = 3.1 miles
8K = 5 miles
10K = 6.2 miles
Half-marathon (or 21K) = 13.1 miles
Marathon = 26.2 miles

(there are other race distances, but we'll stick with these for now)

Since I started running in June of 2007, I've raced five 5Ks, one 8K, and three 10Ks. And countless training miles (well, okay, I could have counted them but I didn't).

But, as you can see, I've never run a race longer than 6.2 miles. In fact, my longest training run to date has been just over 9 miles. So, I'm definitely a virgin when it comes to anything longer than that.

Most veteran runners will suggest that you use a training plan when attempting a new distance. Why do you want a training plan? It helps keep you on track, accountable and, most of all, it helps prevent injury. Training plans allow you to increase your weekly mileage in a nice, controlled manner. There are few things worse than running too much too soon and injuring yourself.

The hardest part (for me at least) comes when trying to choose a plan. Hal Higdon, Cool Runnings and Runner's World are some of the most well-known training plans. But, as you can see, there are difference among them. Nine week or twelve week? Beginner or intermediate? Speedwork (also known as intervals) or not? And this doesn't even get into the training plans that various running clubs use with their members or the question of whether or not you should run with a training group!

How to decide? I'm definitely a runner who needs a plan to follow. I've used Hal Higdon's 10K Novice plan in the past. My original thought was to use his Novice Half-Marathon plan for my first half-marathon in April. This will give me time to figure out how to do the speedwork/intervals required for most of the other plans. And then when I start training for my second half-marathon I can use an intermediate plan.

So why tell you all this about training plans? Because this blog will be a record of what I do during and between the runs laid out in whatever plan I choose. You'll see photos of things I encounter while running, charts and graphs of speed and distance, race reports of any lead-up races I might run, and general information about my fitness regime.

I welcome any and all readers who wish to join me on my journey whether in mind, body or spirit.

Stay tuned! Whatever training plan I choose most likely starts in the next week or two!


Anonymous said...

Love the layout, looks great! Looking at your tracker down there, you have 13 weeks, so a 12 week program is perfect.

The Cool Runnings one looks... a little hard. It says "You should be able to run this schedule for four to five weeks without much discomfort before starting the half marathon program" where 'this schedule' is Mon-Sun: Off-3M-4M -4M-Off-3M-5M. I think that's more than you've been doing. Plus it has a bunch of speed training and I think you're right that you don't really need to do that until your next one.

Likewise, the Runner's World one you've linked looks hard. Ack!

From these, I'd choose Hal's. However, there's one other option -- the Runner's World Smart Coach.


I plugged in your 5k time and starting Monday with a 13 week program, and it even tells you the PACE you should be doing on training runs! I think that's super cool.

I will also share with you what schedule I get, but my race will be on Marc 21st, so a little earlier. Also our times whon't be even close to comparable, because I hear that this race is a grueling trail and I might be hiking more than I'll be running. If I do the Santa Cruz half in April, that'll be a better comparison, I think.

End epic comment. :P

Anonymous said...

Re: your comment (it is not as easy to reply to comments on blogger!)

I know, it *is* kind of weird that the easy runs on my schedule are by minutes, not miles. The Wednesday night runs are run from the store, and they're always about 4 miles, so I don't know why those aren't listed as such!

Bayjb said...

Thanks for the comment! I love your layout. I need to keep up with you too. I'm planning to run a 5k (my first ever) in April but I'm so behind beginning my training.

Hi! I'm Erin said...

Bayjb - Welcome! You're not behind at all. As long as you start in the next few weeks you'll be just fine. Let me know if you need any 5K training plan suggestions. The one I used to train for my first 5K was great!

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