The Dixon Half Marathon Training Plan

Disclaimer: Ok, first & foremost let me preface this post by saying this…we are not experts in this matter. We are not doctors. We are not (yet) certified trainers. We are not on staff at Runner’s World. We’ve never even run a full marathon (not yet anyways). We are just normal, regular people who love to run and eat a lot of chocolate. So, now that we have that cleared up…

We’ve had quite a few people ask us over the past few months how we train for our half marathons. Thus far, I have run 7 of them and Ryan has run 8. You can see the list of races here. Also, here’s an archive of all the posts we have about running. You can also find these in the sidebar category labeled “RUNNING”. We love it…I posted a blog with 10 reasons why.

13.1 miles is a fun challenge to take on. Trust me when I say, if I can do it – YOU CAN! Seriously, when I first started running about 6 or 7 years ago, I could barely make 1/4 mile without stopping. Training just takes time and patience, but it is well worth it! About a month ago, some friends of mine decided to register to run in the Big D Half Marathon in April and asked me how they should train for it. So, I put together a four month training calendar for them based upon books I’ve read, other training tips I’ve researched online, and what Ryan and I have done that works for us. This schedule is meant for people who are already up to running about 3 miles on average and here’s what it looks like:

Our method is to run about 3 to 4 times each week, depending on how much time we have. One of those runs should be a long one. What we usually do is run between 3-6 miles on these “weekday runs” and then run our longer distance runs on the weekend. An example of our schedule is I do Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday while Ryan does Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday.  The next week we rotate that schedule. Each weekend, we try to bump up the long run distance as you can see on the calendar. A little at a time, usually in mile increments.

For better overall fitness, it is a good idea to incorporate one day of cross-training and one day of speed work. What I mean by cross-training is anything from bicycling to walking to swimming to lifting weights. Speed work is my least favorite things and I usually slack in this area. But when I’ve done it in the past, I really can see a difference in my pace. On speed work days, we like to go to the local high school track and do quarter mile repeats. This is where you run a quarter of a mile as fast as you can, then walk for a minute and do it again. And again. And again. Run fast, walk. Run fast, walk. You get the picture…it’s not fun! Definitely gets your heart pumping and it will help you better you time on race day. More on speed in a minute.

Another piece of advice we give to everyone just starting out is to get you a GOOD pair of quality running shoes. This is essential! In order to prevent injury and just to have a more enjoyable run, you need good shoes. You can not skimp out on this! It will be worth your money but GOOD shoes are not necessarily the most expensive ones either. Saucony and Mizuno are our favorite brands. But I have friends that prefer Asics and some that like Nike…just depends on how you run, your foot arch type, whether you overpronate or underpronate, etc. They have to feel right with a little wiggle room for your feet to expand when they get going. You can read about my latest fav shoes here…and bonus they are only $40!

Hydration is important! Not just during the race but more importantly the day prior. We do our best to drink about 2 liters (yes) of water each day. Ryan runs with a water bottle for any run longer than 4 miles. You can see what his other running essentials are here. One of these includes the best tool we have, a GPS watch. This is great for knowing your exact distance and average pace which we value greatly. Many ask what a good pace might be for running distance. The best answer is to just get out and run, find your natural, comfortable pace. This is where you will feel as though your body just grooves. When you find that pace, get used to it, get the miles adding up, challenge yourself with speed work for better times.

So for those of you who are looking to take on the adventure of registering for a half marathon, I’d say go for it! Registering for a race is a great motivator to keep you on track with your running. Such a challenging, yet very rewarding experience. Here’s a clip from an article I read recently regarding the finish line of the Austin Half Marathon. I loved it and shared it with my friend Ame who ran in Austin her very first half marathon. I feel it sums up the feeling and accomplishment of crossing the finish line very well & thought I’d share it with those of you considering this venture…

“At the bottom of the hill, you turn left, and it’s a block to the massive finish line structure. Smile, wave, cry – whatever you do, you’ve done something phenomenal, that so few people will ever even try to do. You chose to train. You chose to run on many days when the weather, or your schedule, or your will, were pushing back. You got through a day full of choices – whether to slow down, whether to walk, whether to stop. Maybe you didn’t win each of those battles, but everyone that you did win says something about who you are, and who you choose to be, and that’s what’s great about this sport.”

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