half marathon training recap

I think the best way to do this would be to evaluate the first 7-8 weeks and ignore what went on the last 2.  Because swimming 15000+ yards over 8 days and spending the rest of the time in bed eating Oreos by the handful is not exactly what anyone would recommend for a proper taper.

Here's a shot of my original training plan (click any of these to make larger):
And here's a shot of my executed training plan:
The obligatory disclaimer: what worked for me might not work for you.  It might not even work for me the next time around.  Also, I did not get injured from any aspect of this plan.  I got injured because I got realigned/released 2 weeks before the race, which triggered a whole slew of problems.  External forces, not anything wrong with my training.

So, what worked?  
  • Swimming as active recovery - most weeks I swam on Monday to give my legs a break from the weekend.  This left my legs feeling pretty fresh by the Tuesday evening track workout.  
  • Running 4 days a week (Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday/Sunday).  This allowed me to rest my legs the day after both the track workout and the tempo workout.  My back-to-back days were the long run and the recovery run, both of which were at an easy pace.  I am definitely going to stick with this for the near future.
  • Pool running at least once, if not twice a week.  Pool running on Wednesday was a great recovery for my legs after Tuesday's track workout, and many weeks I squeezed in another pool run - sometimes on Sunday after my recovery run, sometimes on Monday coupled with swimming.  I completely believe in pool running as a supplement to land running.  My body doesn't like high mileage on land, so this allowed me to have high mileage overall weeks without increasing the risk of injury.  
  • Taking both Friday and Monday as an easy active recovery day.  I would either swim or do an easy ride on these days.  The one week that I did a long ride on Monday, I paid for it Tuesday night at the track.  I found that I preferred swimming on Monday as recovery and cycling on Friday - all my best long runs happened after I did an easy ride on Friday.
  • Following my Sunday recovery run with yoga.  It made a nice end to the training week and I felt really helped me recover from the long run.
  • Stepping back my long run distance almost every other week.  Alternating high and low mileage weeks works for me.  I had one instance where I had two high mileage weeks in a row, and I was really ready for the step-back week by the time I was through those weeks.
  • Lifting four days a week.  I stepped my lifting back from the 5-6 days a week I had been doing, and this allowed me to maintain my fitness in the weight room.  In some higher mileage weeks, I stepped down on the weights to balance the overall intensity of my training.
What didn't work?  
  • Trying to maintain a decent cycling base.  I think part of this was due to the fact that this was a winter training cycle and I simply don't like to ride in cold weather.  I rarely got in more than one ride a week, and some weeks I didn't ride at all.   
  • Resting the day before a long run.  I discovered that complete rest made me feel sluggish and slow, but some easy movement left me feeling fresh.
  • An 11-week plan.  I created a long plan because I was still coming back from surgery and wanted to make sure I had a good base, but 11 weeks was still too long.  I was race ready three weeks out.
  • Not planning a longer tune-up/practice race.  I only planned one race - a 5K - in this cycle.  Next time I'm in a half cycle, I'd like to include a 10K or even a 10M race, depending on where it falls in the cycle.  I think this would also prevent me from peaking too early.
  • And, of course, doing something completely new to my body 2 weeks out from the race.

What's next?  You might have forgotten, but I didn't.  I've got a 70.3 right around the corner.  I'm in the hands of an excellent PT right now, and she has okay'd cycling and swimming.  I mapped out a 70.3 training schedule a few weeks ago, but now everything is different.  For the next two weeks, I'm going to focus on getting my cycling base back up - lots of easy miles.  I'm going to continue swimming at least twice a week.  I'm going to pool run at least once, if not twice a week.  I'm going to keep lifting like I have been.  And I'm going to let my PT call the shots on the running.

The great thing about this 70.3 is that it's not an A race for me.  It's a foundation race, it's a check-and-see-where-I-am race.  So I am not stressed about my preparation or my time.  If I can't run by then, I'm okay with that.  I can still swim-T1-bike-T2 and then walk, or just skip the run and DNF.  There is still a lot of value to be gained by doing 2/3rds of the race.  And no matter what happens at that race, I'll be spending the following week in Jamaica on my honeymoon!  Life could be a whole lot worse.


  1. Love your attitude about the upcoming 70.3! And having a honeymoon post race is pretty sweet! If anything, from the last two weeks, you should realize that you are STRONG, and can overcome anything.

  2. You had such an awesome season Katie! I think your plan worked REALLY well for you, and adding another 5 or 10k race in the middle would be a great addition for next time! And by next time, I mean please come back to training as soon as you're allowed! I loved our Sunday easy runs together!

  3. Awesome recap! Evaluating what worked/didn't work is so important to the process. I'm really excited about the 70.3!

  4. Sometimes even the best laid plans often go awry. If we aren't the cover girls for that!!! I'm still so happy you were able to run the Half and that you are able to see look at your training and pull from it both the good and the bad. You've learned a lot this cycle and learning is half the battle. Can't wait to see what you do at the 70.3, non-A race or not.

  5. Looks like you learned a lot this training cycle. It's awesome that you now have swimming and biking to look forward to until you can actively start running again. Very exciting about the honeymoon right after your 70.3! :) Great timing!

  6. I dunno, maybe the taper was better for you than you realize (the pain/mental anguish part aside). Sometimes people push too hard too close to an event and aren't at their best. But as you and others have observed, this is all extremely personal.

  7. This is a great recap and I may be stealing some of your ideas in the future. I'm sure you will do really well in the 70.3 (with or without the run) and I can't wait to hear about it!

  8. Solid recap of the training program. I never thought about doing an end of training evaluation of the training program itself. I evaluate along the way, but I can see the benefits of doing it this way for future training planning. No better way to spend post-race recovery week than on a beach with drink in hand!

  9. This is a fabulous breakdown--I have such similar thoughts after 9 weeks. I like the 4 days a week of running too and run on the exact same days as you!

    You need to enter my giveaway if you are trining for a tri!!

  10. This is great! Just keep with what you are doing and try to stay (safely) active where you can!

  11. This is a great overall assessment of your training program. Its great to see you take the time and evaluate the plan so you can tweak it before the next race. Great Job.


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