Half-Marathon Training: Week Seven

nyc_half_w7This week steps things up again after a relatively easy week six. Despite the race on Sunday, there’s no real rest until Friday. According to the training plan, Monday is focused on strength and conditioning. With the addition of swimming to Thursday’s list of activities, I have backed off the bicycle a little and will swap some of that time for pool time to allow me practice time. Tuesday is another speed session, with 8 quarter mile sprints interspersed between 9 quarter mile jogs. Wednesday’s easy run also increases from 4.5 miles to 5 miles.

Saturday and Sunday are reserved for a short 4 mile run and a longer 9 mile run – notable in that it will be the longest distance I will have ever run. Although the schedule calls for them in that order, I am flipping to two days to free up some personal time. I can’t see there being any harm in juggling runs like that; although the forecast is predicting snow for the weekend, so who knows how things will pan out.


swim001I have always loved the water, but oddly enough have never learned to swim. I am pretty comfortable in depths where I can touch the bottom and when using a floatation device such as noodle beyond that. On a recent trip to Brazil I thoroughly enjoyed getting tossed around by the high surf (waves running up to 15 ft at times), primarily because my anxiety was kept relatively in check due to the general shallowness of the water. On a couple of occasions I have pushed myself to swim outside my comfort zone, in depths where I could not touch the bottom and without the aid of a flotation device. Although successful, it took a lot of effort and required me to keep moving at all times.

The problem, like with so many beginners, is that I get very tense and feel like I have to keep moving otherwise I feel as if I will sink. Unfortunately, I never learned the basics of floating nor how to execute a simple kick or stroke. Instead I flail about using all my energy but without really getting anywhere. Over a distance of a few meters that may work, but drop me in the middle of a lake and ask me to swim a half-mile to shore … not a chance!

Jess and I had discussed swimming lessons a while back and I looked around for opportunities. I eventually found an instructor whose rates were excellent and whose schedule matched mine. Following a cross training session last Thursday, I met him at the pool for an assessment and he proceeded to put me through my paces for an hour. He made the lesson very interesting and also helped my to feel extremely comfortable in the water, more so than I ever have in the past. Tomorrow is my first full lesson and I expect a thorough workout, so I am reducing my cross training and strength sessions to a minimum. I don’t want to over-train but will continue to work on my upper body strength with some weights until I can feel the swimming has a greater effect.

Easing Off

easing_off_001Today’s run was supposed to be 8 miles, but given that my legs were feeling like lead and my knees were a bit sore, I decided to ease off a little and stop after only 7 miles. Towards the end of the run I actually felt alright, but didn’t want to push it too much and risk injury now that I’m only six weeks away from the half-marathon.

I had also introduced swimming as a new element to my training plan, and it’s possible my body was going through some adjustments at the time. Better to play it safe and get back on track the following week.

Half-Marathon Training

half_training_001This is my training plan for the NYC Half-Marathon on March 18. I put this together after researching a number of different sources and approaches, primarily based on Hal Higdon’s half-marathon program for intermediate runners. Unlike the original version, I have allocated time for stretching every day and set specific cross training targets on Mondays and Thursdays. Typically, those cross training sessions involve cycling and swimming respectively. I believe that this plan will give me the gradual improvement in strength, stamina, and distance to allow me to comfortably complete the half-marathon in a good target time. As of right now, I am looking at a two hour target but may revise that down over time – depending on how I progress.

As the half-marathon takes place on a Sunday, all my long runs are scheduled for Sunday mornings. I believe consistency is key in preparation, and helps reduce the risk of injury. However, I deviate from that model in weeks two and six because I am taking part in organized races.

Entries highlighted in red are organized races – more information for those can be found on the race information page.