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Half Marathon Training Plan

So I realized sometime during my marathon training that training plans overwhelm me and really take the fun out of running for me. During my training I got burnt out and wanted to not run as much as I was in the beginning. The training plan I was following was made up for my current running abilities at the time and was perfect if I would had stuck to the plan pretty closely. I dealt with a lot of personal things during the training which also wore me out so I had no energy to run some days. Running hard six days a week is just not for me either. So with this upcoming half marathon, here are the things that needed to be addressed.

1. Bathroom issues – I need to find a good mix of what to eat while running that doesn’t lead to bathroom trips. Though I never had had a problem with the half distance and the bathroom issues, if I choose to run a marathon again, I would rather try to figure that out earlier on so I don’t have the problem anymore.

2. Speed – After the marathon I realized that I had perhaps stepped back on running fast for a little bit too long and I had lost a lot of my speed that I build up by building my endurance. I am going to work on getting faster and keeping with that pace for this cycle of training

3. Hills – I know the SF 1/2 is going to have some major butt kicking hills and if I don’t train on them I’m going to have an epic blowup at the 1/2.

4. Sticking to the schedule – So I got super burnt out, and had a really hard time getting myself out there to run because I think I got overwhelmed with the amount of running, the time it took and everything else in my life. This cycle I am really going to try to stick with the schedule.

5. Diet – So we all know that I eat a ton of crappy food. As in a TON. I eat a ton of fast food, and at work I’m called Lamar because I eat so much candy. This little issue will be addressed after the training plan.

So dun dun dunnnnn, I announce my OWN training plan.

I made this up according to what I think I can feasibly get done and also with the idea that one day, sooner than later I may possibly run another full marathon. This is all still speculation and I hope to discuss my feelings and how the race went mentally sometime next week. I’m still sorting through that whole mumbo jumbo in my head.

Sundays will be my rest day

Each week I will be doing on cross-training or weight lifting type workout. This will most likely fall on Mondays.

Tuesdays I plan to do some simple mileage. Usually at a nice, consistent pace. Anywhere from 6-8 miles. Somewhat of a recovery from weights if I’m a little sore. I will do some striders at the end to shake out my muscles and keep the speed somewhat included.

Wednesdays I will run a faster lactate threshold type workout. This can range from 6-12 miles, with 3 to 8 miles at a faster pace. Mostly the half marathon it will be on the 6-10 mile side.

Thursdays I will do a track workout. This means legitimately going to the track and running as fast as I can. Usually will be doing 400s or 800s all out. Possibly will include sprints (because I miss them dearly) OR I will run hills, which would be a very hard hill workout, where I run up a hill all out about 10-20 times and then slow jog around the back. There is a nice grassy hill that I know I can run up and it will kick my butt but will also get my quads into better shape and will get me more used to running hills more frequently. This is what we did in high school and it really helped me.

Fridays This is my 2nd rest day of the week.

Saturdays This is where my training will be a little different, I am going to include 2 20 mile long runs in the beginning of July before my taper to try to increase my endurance. All my long runs in the training cycle will be longer than the half marathon distance of 13.1 miles as well. I have 6 long runs to get in before the half so I am going to probably break it down like this:

June 13 (but sadly this weekend I think my run will come on Sunday because I have some prior all day commitments on Saturday, but it shouldn’t mess up my schedule too bad since it’s not too incredibly long and I shouldn’t be sore on Monday) – 14 miler

June 20 – 18 miler

June 27 – 20 miler

July 4 – 20 miler

July 11 – 18 miler

July 18 – 14 miler

July 26 (Sunday) – San Fransisco Half!

It seems crazy but I really think this will allow me to build my endurance up and I know I can run that far because of the marathon. I know it will also keep me in better shape in case I do decide to run a fall full marathon. I also hope it makes me faster. Also every night, I will do at least 25 push ups and 100 sit ups, if not more as I go along. I started doing that before San Diego and before I gave up on them, I was really starting to see a difference. I know the core is very important to runners and I want to work on mine. I feel that starting off with 100 and doing them every day will be a good number. If I feel good then I will do more, but I must always do 100.

So now onto the diet of myself. I know I eat a ton of fast food. To cut this down I’m limiting it to eating fast food once during the work week, and once during the weekend. This can be for dinner, breakfast or lunch, but it’s only ONCE during the day I choose, not a full day. For me, fast food is Mc Donalds, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, Del Taco, etc. NOT Quizno’s, Subway, or Togos. If I get a sandwich somewhere that doesn’t count as fast food, because that’s basically what I would have brought from home.

This new diet also includes not drinking limitless amounts of Soda. I can have two of those a week too. Luckily, I don’t drink coffee so I don’t have to wean myself off that either, but I know caffeine and sugars are super bad for you, and I need to increase my water intake. I know I can’t give up all my soda but I think two a week is a good number, because sometimes I just need a soda, sprite specifically.

Then we have the candy addiction. This is rough because I love candy. I am going to try to cut as much out of my diet as possible, but if need be and I can’t resist the addiction cravings, I can have one bag a week, of whatever candy I choose. This isn’t the family size bag or a fun size, this is the regular bag that would be mixed in with the candy at any gas station type of establishment.

I am going to try to eat healthier by eating more fruits and vegetables as well. I seriously lack those in my current diet. Mainly my diet is made up of cheese and bread/pasta, with the occasional interspersing of chicken. So I think including more fruits and veggies will bode well for me. Also last weekend I tried tofu and really liked it so I think I’m going to try to start working on making some of that and including it in my diet. I don’t necessarily want to drop a lot of weight on my ‘diet’ but at the same time that would be an added bonus, but mostly, I want to do it to feel healthy and feel good. I love candy but it doesn’t always make me feel the best after I’ve downed some huge bag.

So that’s my plan in a nutshell basically. Well see how it goes and how all my workouts start to fall into place. It starts this Saturday (or Sunday, pending) with my 14 miler. I am trying to get my toe to heal as quickly as possible and it’s starting to feel a bit better, which I think will allow me to run well this weekend for the 14 miler I have planned. Now to get rid of this summer cold that has me a little congested and I’ll be good to go.

I am excited about this plan because I feel like it fits me a little bit more than such intense running. I like to switch things up and I feel like my long runs will help me build endurance and make the half fly by! Well see how it goes. I also feel that this gives me the option to run another fall full marathon if I choose to.

So tomorrow I’ll have some sweet deals! I will be posting my progress with the plan as well throughout my training up until the 1/2 on July 26.


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  • Reply PunkRockRunner

    Wow! Pretty intense training plan for a 1/2 marathon. I have a feeling that San Francisco will not know what hit it. If your past training is any indication, you'll be running a strong race. Love the long runs BTW!!

    All the best!

    June 10, 2009 at 11:41 am
  • Reply Michelle

    Wow, sounds like a plan! Literally! With all that in place, I predict you are going to run a PR in San Fran!!

    Good luck girlie!

    June 10, 2009 at 11:43 am
  • Reply Tara Gibson

    wow sounds like a major plan girl! I cant believe all those races your in! thats awesome!

    June 10, 2009 at 11:48 am
  • Reply RoadBunner

    Sounds like a great plan. I definitely think long runs longer than the half distance are great if you want to PR. Both of my two most recent half PR's were done in the middle of marathon training (was doing 16-18 miler long runs at that point). I've always thought if I were training for a half PR I'd take the long run up to that range. 20 is pretty hard core, but great if you like that. The only difference I'd make would maybe to have a cut back week in between your two 20's. Like 20, 16, 20. Of course, I'm not sure if there is such a huge difference between running 16 or 20 or if it is mainly psychological.

    I also don't eat enough fruits and veggies. I eat pasta at least once a day so get a lot of tomatos, but have to really force myself to incorporate more fruits and veggies otherwise, too.

    June 10, 2009 at 12:06 pm
  • Reply aron

    wow that is one insane plan for the half! back to back 20 milers?? you are nuts girl! i know for my fall marathon (which is before LB) i wont be doing my first 20 until the weekend of SF… just be careful not to get burned out again with this intense of a half schedule if you do want to do a fall marathon. you would have plenty of time to build endurance after SF. also just a warning since i have seen a of number people who get injured doing speed work twice a week… maybe do one of your days of rest in between the tempo and track work out?

    BUT you know yourself the best and know where you will succeed. you will be out there kicking major butt at SF and can wait for all of us at the finish! cant wait to see you there :) !!!!!

    June 10, 2009 at 12:09 pm
  • Reply JenZen

    That's some crazy mileage for half training! Whew. You're going to be more than prepared. I agree with you – I just cannot run 6 days a week. 5 is pretty much all my knees and work schedule and mental fortitude will allow. Good luck!

    June 10, 2009 at 12:18 pm
  • Reply Tara

    It's a good thing you've taken the time to figure out what you didn't like/what didn't work for you when training for the full. Looks like you have a good plan all set up that will work for you.

    I might be careful doing speedwork back to back…maybe throw in a rest day in between and then do an easy recovery run Fridays if that would work for you. Also be careful bulding back up on your long runs. If you think about it you've been "tapering" for a bit since before SD, so take it easy once you get back up to the higher mileages!

    Just remember to listen yo your body!! You're gonna kick major butt at SF!!!! It'll be a FUN weekend fo sho :)

    June 10, 2009 at 12:19 pm
  • Reply Alisa

    Holy miles! I'm sticking with the 8-15 range for the half for long runs. I don't want to see another 20 for a GOOD LOOOOOONG time. However, it's a smart plan if you think you're going to do a full in the fall.

    This sounds like a very reasonable plan. Two days off, which is important and underrated.

    I think you got this in the bag!

    (For your hill workout, it sounds like you do hill repeats. How steep is your hill? I have several near me and would like to start trying out this workout. Though 10-20 up might be a bit much for me to start with. I was thinking 5-8 =).)

    June 10, 2009 at 12:25 pm
  • Reply X-Country2

    Good luck! I love that you have it all written down. You're going to kill that next race.

    June 10, 2009 at 12:33 pm
  • Reply Lo

    I love your blog — I may do a linky to your training plan on my blog! I think its great, and pretty sensible that you're not totally depriving yourself your favorite things… I think that's where a lot of people break down!

    June 10, 2009 at 12:34 pm
  • Reply Tim Wilson

    Pretty impressive, but borderline insane :) I got a lot of questions about going a simple 14 miles before my half… you make me look like a wimp.

    Good luck with your upcoming half!

    June 10, 2009 at 12:35 pm
  • Reply Eric

    Tha plan is great but my recomedation is get an easy day between the speed seesion it can lead to injury other than that looks good and the food plan looks excelent

    June 10, 2009 at 12:35 pm
  • Reply Sheila

    That is one ass-whupping training schedule for a half. Not sure I would do two 20-milers on consecutive weekends. What about flip-flopping the 2nd 20-miler with the last 18-miler? Other than that…wow. I'm also training for San Fran half, and doing 14 this weekend, 16 next weekend then 12, 15, 10 and race. I have no desire at this point to run more than 16 myself. As for the soda thing…try to drink lots of water. That's how I got off sodas. I just have water with me all day long and sip it all the time. I probably drink 48+ oz of water a day. Good luck. Can't wait to hear how your training and race goes.

    June 10, 2009 at 12:36 pm
  • Reply Lisa

    Wow, how do you run the mileage you run on that diet? Good for you for making the change. Good luck with your training plan.

    June 10, 2009 at 12:36 pm
  • Reply Chic Runner

    Looking back I will probably change Tuesday and Wednesday. I am an idiot. ha ha. :)

    June 10, 2009 at 12:37 pm
  • Reply B.o.B.

    thanks for sharing your plan. i too am trying to implement more core work. good luck and can't wait to cheer you on (from my computer) at your half!

    June 10, 2009 at 12:45 pm
  • Reply The Reality of Happily Ever After

    Giiirrllll — This sounds SERIOUS! LOL — I'm not running, but I started the 30 Day shred yesterday and I think it was really Jillian Michaels conspiracy: Death by Exercise — HA!

    Couple things… Don't EVER eat fruit before a time you are going to run a marathon — it. cleanses. you. out. fast. :)

    #2 — NO HILLS IN VIRGINIA BEACH… I'm just sayin' ;0)

    #3 — Two days ago I spent $15 filling up my side desk drawr with candy… FROM THE DOLLAR STORE :) I. love. candy. too :)

    #4 — We really would be great friends! HA!

    June 10, 2009 at 12:57 pm
  • Reply J

    Impressive! You are going to rock the SF half!

    June 10, 2009 at 12:59 pm
  • Reply Lisa

    Nice, sounds like you've really thought through what works best for you. I'm also trying to improve my diet which includes trying to cut down on snacks and sweets. Reading your plan is helping me with my resolve to stick to my goals too.

    June 10, 2009 at 1:24 pm
  • Reply Our Family of 5

    That is a tough and solid plan!! You will do awesome at the 1/2!! Good luck sticking to your diet and workouts!!

    June 10, 2009 at 1:26 pm
  • Reply ilovesteaks

    You're running the first half right? Which corral are you in? It's a very nice race. I had fun running it last year.

    June 10, 2009 at 1:26 pm
  • Reply Melissa

    I am SUPER impressed! Great training plan… I know you'll kick ass in San Fran!

    June 10, 2009 at 1:49 pm
  • Reply J

    Its good that you set up your own plan. Everyone is different and after running so much I am sure you know what is good for you! I have a super big sweet tooth too! I love swedish fish and skittles! They are the worst for me though. I just don't buy them and I have felt a lot better lately but it really is hard to give that stuff up!

    June 10, 2009 at 2:33 pm
  • Reply Rachael

    Sounds like a good solid plan!
    I used to have a candy binging habit too … ok well sometimes I still do.
    Now I'm on to better and bigger things, potato chips …

    No really, you'll do great! I can't wait to hear how this training program goes. And maybe next year I can join you in SF!

    June 10, 2009 at 2:39 pm
  • Reply Kayla Grace

    Excited to see how you do on the SF 1/2! Good luck, girl!

    June 10, 2009 at 3:48 pm
  • Reply PDawg

    Ugh, I have the candy thing too. And the soda thing. And the Taco Bell thing. I just LOVE FOOD! Every time I try to cut back, I just end up feeling deprived and then binging. I think it's great you're allowing yourself some freedom. Thanks for sharing the plan!

    June 10, 2009 at 4:26 pm
  • Reply sara

    Danica … i'd be really cautious doing back-to-back 20 milers. i understand the desire to build up your endurance, but you also should have cutback weeks. also, can you rearrange the days you're running so that you're not doing two hard workouts in a row? i don't think it's the best to have a track workout the day after a LT run, just as you wouldn't run one of those the day before a long run. have you looked at Pfitz' shorter training plans?

    hope you feel better soon and can't wait to see you how you kick the SF 1/2's butt!

    June 10, 2009 at 4:37 pm
  • Reply D10

    You definitely got a good plan going. Way to keep in the extra long runs too! I think you are going to have much success with this plan. It really is about finding a schedule that works for you.

    June 10, 2009 at 5:33 pm
  • Reply Amy Reinink

    LOVE the idea of the tailor-made training plan, as I truly believe we know what works best for our bodies. I just trained for the National Half Marathon using a modified version of the FIRST three-day-a-week plan, and found it worked really well. Good luck with your training – SF is supposed to be a great race!

    June 10, 2009 at 5:53 pm
  • Reply kristen

    Dang girl, you must love running. back to back 20 milers for a half – that's alotta runnin'.

    Good thing you do all the running because you probably be so obese with your fast food/candy addictions. Goof for you for making those changes now. You'll definitly thank yourself for it later. I'm a candy junkie too. Sour Jelly bellies $ Twix. I'm a sucker for them.

    June 10, 2009 at 6:44 pm
  • Reply Meganerd

    Gosh, Your plan sounds sooo intense. I don't think I could handle it! Do you think its necessary to get in that high of mileage training for a half?

    June 10, 2009 at 6:49 pm
  • Reply The Happy Runner

    Wow — 2 20s and 2 18s for a half?!?! Wow.

    My advice to would be run hill fartleks in addition to just hill repeats. I run them hard in some of my hillier runs and it has really helped my leg strength.

    June 10, 2009 at 7:36 pm
  • Reply Amber (Girl with the red hair)

    I think your plan sounds pretty good! Doing the long runs will be good because it will keep your endurance up if you decide to do another full right away! I am in training for my second half at the end of June right now and I REALLY need to eat better! It's so bad (as I type this I just finished consuming a slice of pecan pie, ha!) but ya, it's not good!

    I'm also going to start doing 100 situps a night again, I was doing that for awhile a few months ago and I could really see a huge difference!! Good luck I'm excited to read about your training for this half!

    June 10, 2009 at 8:35 pm
  • Reply Jessica

    I can't wait to read your updates on this plan. San Fran is a beast… all those hills! You'd have to drive 50 miles (seriously) to the best bridge near here that imitates a hill… haha.

    June 10, 2009 at 10:44 pm
  • Reply The Laminator


    Since you rubbed the teapot and requested the help of the running guru(genie)…I'll grant you your wish…haha…

    Okay, your six week program is really intense. Two speedy sessions back-to-back is really a whole bunch. I'd probably switch that to just one session a week or at least alternate weeks.

    Secondly, don't run your intervals all-out! You'll kill your legs and risk injury before race day. Plug in your race times to the McMillian calculator and find out your appropriate pace instead. For variety, do 400s, 800s, and some mile repeats on different workouts. Of course, your speed should vary at the different distances.

    Also, you don't need to do 20 milers in training for a half. Max out your long runs at 16 miles. That's plenty. Instead focus on running a few longish runs 8-12 miles at tempo pace.

    The key is to not to do too much.
    If you do too much, you'll be exhausted and not feel like following the plan again. All symptoms of overtraining. So listen to your body and modify as need be.

    Best of luck, ChicRunner!

    June 11, 2009 at 4:49 am
  • Reply Marlene

    Good luck with your training!

    June 11, 2009 at 6:29 am
  • Reply Natalie D

    It's so funny you eat fast food, bc you look in great shape and you are so tiny! your plan all around sounds great! exciting for this 1/2!

    June 11, 2009 at 6:34 am
  • Reply Kayla

    I just discovered your blog and I think it's awesome!

    I'm actually training for the SF Marathon (my first full) and I think you plan is a good one. Are you running the first or the second half? I've run the second half and it's a very fast course. The first half, not so much.

    I totally understand what you mean about being burned out from running when you have an intense training plan. The only runs I look forward to are my group long runs. Hopefully I can change that soon!

    Thanks for writing this amazing blog and good luck here in SF!

    June 11, 2009 at 7:42 am
  • Reply Lucky in Love

    Could you move here and be my trainer and write a plan for me??

    Thanks! See you tomorrow!

    June 11, 2009 at 9:40 am
  • Reply Running Around Acres

    I'd do more than just 400 and 800s for your speedwork. Try some ladders (400, 800, 1200, 800, 400). Mix up the distance too. You get used to just 400/800. Through in dome 600 or 1000s (easy to do on a track). When you confuse your mind and body a little it helps build better. I also end my track workout with one more 400 all out. Just my gluttony.

    June 11, 2009 at 10:33 am
  • Reply Glenn Jones

    Hey Danica – as a non-Laker's fan I'm impressed you got the Lamar reference….

    I'm with some of the other folks here on the 20 mile run. I'm not sure there's a great benefit to multiple 20 milers for a half. Most half plans max out around 10 – 12 miles. If you're going to throw in some speedwork, then maybe cut back on the long runs – you don't want to end up injured!

    Have fun at SF!

    June 11, 2009 at 11:32 am
  • Reply Billy Burger

    Quite ambitious kiddo. I'm relying on your to pace me for the 1st half though so don't blow it! ;)

    Have you decided on the 1/2 or full for LB yet?

    June 11, 2009 at 3:51 pm
  • Reply P.O.M.

    That's a great plan my dear.

    But you GOTS to kick that fast food habit!!! Seriously.

    June 12, 2009 at 2:25 pm
  • Reply Middalia Wayman

    Sounds like a great plan.. Good luck!!

    June 13, 2009 at 10:53 am
  • Reply Middalia Wayman

    Sounds like a great plan.. Good luck!!

    June 13, 2009 at 10:53 am
  • Reply Serious Running: Chris Barber

    That is a pretty serious running plan. I like that you changed it up to a schedule that you can keep instead of something that is too tough to stick with, which ultimately burns you out.

    That is a lot of fast food. Good idea cutting that out. I never feel good after eating fast food then running.

    June 15, 2009 at 1:38 pm
  • Reply Bootchez

    Such a late comment on this post, well, I lost you for a little while. I think the plan sounds awesome, and I'll be interested to see how you run in SF. I'm more interested in your diet, 'cause it sounds like we have the same problems (tho I don't have the fast food issue), and I've NEVER been successful on trying to change those habits — and I haven't much tried. Good luck!

    June 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm
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