Big Cow Blogger Paul’s Autumn Half Marathon Training

MK Autumn Half Training

My first half marathon was part of my Zero 2 Hero marathon training with my local running club so
the focus was basically just to get round; I mean I was going to get a PB regardless of how long it took right?

However when Big Cow Running approached me to run the MK Autumn Half as one of their bloggers
I decided I owed it to them and myself to train with a focus on improving on my previous time of
2:22:18 from the MK Winter Half in 2018 and set a target of beating 2:12.

The first thing I did was create a training plan for all my runs and stick it on the fridge; I’ve found it’s
always easier for me to keep to a plan if its written down somewhere I’m going to see it often (I only
really run so I can feel better about the shear amount of food I eat so the fridge is the perfect place).
I didn’t want to go with any generic online training plan or pay anyone to set it out for me just yet as
I feel I’m still a beginner runner so I should be able to make vast improvements with some simple
tweaks to my training.

Running

So to run a half marathon the most important part of the training will always be running; I mean
there’s no way round it, you’re going to have to run 13.1 miles so you need to practice.

I started by looking at various other plans to see how long the average training lasts for a half
marathon; about 12-13 weeks if you’re interested, after that I worked out the Sunday long run
distances based on increasing in increments of about a mile every two weeks with a week of
tapering before race day to rest and get ready.

I have a habit of always running at one speed and staying in my comfort zone so to try and combat
that I’ve stated running with the social group on Monday nights. It has really helped push me to run
quicker as it’s with all the ‘proper runners’ and I have to run quicker than normal just to try and stay
in the middle of the group. The first few runs felt like I just couldn’t keep up with everyone else but
as the weeks have gone on I’ve found that I’m with the tail runner less and less.

If I run at my comfortable pace I would still be within the advertised paces for the social run so
depending on how my legs feel from the Sunday long run I can either push myself or take it easy-ish.

I like to use Parkrun to test myself each week, as I know the course quite well it makes it easier to
hold onto a pace when you really feel like giving up towards the end. While Parkrun is not a race I do
have a few rivalries; granted the people involved have no idea I’m competing against them… I will
beat that woman with the buggy one day.

I generally like to get another solo run in at some point during the week that doesn’t have any set
distance or pace; by taking away all the pressure it means I can just enjoy that run, get lost in my
own mind and remember why I love this hobby so much.

Cross training

As part of my half marathon training I’ve been trying to introduce extra cross training into my plan;
the biggest thing for me has been to start doing weight training at least once a week at a small
personal training gym about two miles from my house meaning I can run or cycle there to get a little
extra out of my legs.

I know a lot of runners try to avoid doing any weight training at all but it has made the biggest
improvement in my running so far; as my muscles have gotten stronger I am able to run quicker but
with less effort meaning even when I feel like I’m starting to slow I’m still running quicker than I
expected, it has also meant that I can really push myself for the last mile of my long runs and
increase the pace.

The last part of my cross training has been to incorporate some cycling into my plan; I’ve brought a
road bike as I’m looking to enter some dualathlons and triathlons in the future but for the time being
I have been using a turbo trainer to really drill down into heart rate zones for extended periods of
time which is something I can never seem to achieve when I run.

The final and most important part of my training has been to take decent rest days each week,
something I always struggle with as I still feel like I can just keep running everyday but without taking
any rest days I know I’m just increasing my chance of injury and I would rather force myself to rest
than regret not making it to the start line due to injury.

I have tried to look at all aspects of my training to prepare for this half marathon but only time will
tell if there is anything I’ve missed. If nothing else this experience has given me a lot to think about
and made me look at aspects of my training that I would have otherwise ignored.
Now I just need to prepare for my victory lap on 28th September 2019.