At the end of September, I begin the final block of my batchelors degree at Coventry University College. This will involve ten weeks of studying and, as this will be my final, big project, it’s going to be ten weeks of intense studying. With that in mind, I wanted something to aim for prior to returning to my studies. The half marathon is probably my favourite distance. Not quite an endurance event and not quite an all out race (not for me anyway). It’s long enough to require sensible pacing but short enough that you can go at an uncomfortable speed. So, I went in search of an early September half marathon. In the end, it came down to either Kenilworth or Northampton, both taking place on the same day. For no real reason, I chose Northampton.
The final race of the East Midlands Grand Prix series happened to land ten weeks before September 3, the date for the Northampton half marathon. I therefore went in search of a ten week improvers plan, with a view to beginning on the Friday after the Milton Keynes 10km.
Search online now for a training plan, of any distance, and there are just so many! Some are even paid for, although I struggle to see why anyone would pay for a training plan with so many free ones available. Anyway, having looked around, I found a good looking ten week advanced plan on The Running Bug. One thing that I found helpful during my training for Warwick and Coventry earlier this year, was running at my target half marathon pace for maybe a third of the distance of my long runs, during the middle stint. This chosen plan from The Running Bug has exactly the same, hence the choice. The only real concern, is that the plan has five runnng days per week, whereas I can only realistically commit to three, four on occasions.
Having already selected my plan, the group coach at the running club recommended ASICS as a good source for training plans. I had a look and he was indeed correct. You enter a recent race time, along with the usual age and gender, select a training difficulty level and how many days per week that you can train, and it compiles your plan. It even gives a predicted finish time based on your inputs. Having completed the Coventry half in 1:44, my goal for Northampton was initially sub-1:40, so I was very pleased to see that the ASICS plan gave me a prediction of 1:39:24. This is for three runs per week, based on my Wolverhampton parkrun time of 21:52.
The truth is, following any plan is quite difficult. Again, given other commitments, running a given amount of miles on a given day is not always possible. Plus, with club sessions on Tuesdays, this can mess with the schedule somewhat. So rather than following one plan strictly, the plan is to loosely reference the two that I have mentioned above.
The actual plan, is for one interval session, one threshold session and one endurance session per week, with any further chances for training taking in either recovery sessions or parkruns. The days on which these runs will take place, and the distances, will vary week-to-week, but I have my broad plan to work to.
Under usual circumstances, I think the sub-1:40 target is achievable, although I am due to attempt the UK Three Peaks Challenge during the weekend of training week 6. With a mini-taper in the week leading up to the event and, depending on how much recovery is required afterwards, I could potentially lose two weeks of quality training. This is the only thing that concerns me in the lead up to the half. Regardless, sub-1:40 will remain the goal.
For anyone interested, here are the links to the plans that I have referenced.