Wednesday, December 30, 2009

National Half Marathon

I signed up today for my first race of 2010 (OK, technically my second, but the New Year's Day race was cancelled), the CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield National Half Marathon (jeez, could the title get any longer?) on March 20, 2010. This will be my second half-marathon; my first, the Philadelphia Distance Run last September, was marred by the recurrence of a strained calf muscle on mile 5 (of 13.1). So I had to run-limp the last 8+ miles. For this one, I'm hoping to go in pain- and injury-free.

The problem I'm experiencing is not being able to find an appropriate training program for someone of my ability. I'm what could be called an "advanced beginner". I could probably break off an 8 or 9 mile long run right now, but many of the 12-week "beginner" programs I'm finding have long runs starting out as low as 2-4 miles. That's a normal run day for me, so those don't work.

Conversely, at the other end of the spectrum, the advanced (or intermediate) programs all incorporate some measure of "speedwork" every week. This is how I injured myself last year preparing for Philly. I'm not really looking for a specific time, just to run this race in a manner that satisfies me, namely, finishing in a run, not a limp. So I'm not really keen on getting on a track and running "880's at 5K pace with 440 jogs in between". I'm willing to do tempo runs or tempo intervals to work on my speed, but I want to first make sure I'm going in healthy.

So I decided to incorporate methods from a few of the plans I saw, and I'm going to be running 3 days a week, for 4-6 miles per session (at about 70% of my heart-rate reserve), and doing a Sunday long run starting at 6 miles, progressing to 13 miles in Week 8, before tapering. I'm hoping that sort of mileage, with a weekly tempo run mixed in, will get me to where I need to be to complete the National.

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