Erica, Karen, and I are very different runners; yet, our half marathon finish times are ridiculously close to one another. We each have our strengths and training runs we prefer. I’ll be the first to say that both Erica and Karen are amazing endurance runners. Erica has paced people at the Umstead 100 miler and Karen is about to tackle her 4th marathon this fall. As mentioned in previous posts, I’m more of a mid distance runner and if I’m honest, I’m best at 100 meters. But, there are not many races around for that event. I’m even better at the slow jog and walk recovery before starting another interval.
Here’s a sampling from some of our favorite runs in our training cycle:
- Ladder Fartlek. I love a good fartlek (short, quick run with equal recovery). I find them to be distracting enough so that by the time I’m aware of the pain, it’s time for a break. I like to build into my fartleks, so ideally I build by 1 minute increments with the recovery time the same as the hard running time. I’ll go from 1 minute up to 3-4 minutes and then come back down. 1 min hard, 1 min easy, 2 min hard, 2 min easy, 3 min hard, 3 min easy, 4, min hard, 4 min easy and back down. My goal for the pick-up is a bit faster than 10k pace. (This is also a GREAT 5k workout). The quicker cadence is good mental and physical training for what’s to come on a race day, but this doesn’t seem to be as tough of a workout as mile repeats. This workout is easiest to do when you have it set in your Garmin so that your watch will ding when it’s time to start a new interval. Alternatively, if you’re without a watch, run 2-3 light poles at a time and then recover.
- Tempo run. Karen likes the tempo runs, but only because they are good for your speed and endurance at the same time. She typically does a 2 mile warm up, followed by 2 tempo miles (tempo miles are faster than race pace), a recovery mile, and then another 1-2 tempo miles, then a cool down. Later in the training cycle, the tempo run may be a 2 mile warm up, followed by 3 tempo miles, 1 recovery mile, and then 1 race pace mile. She likes this tempo workout closer to race day because after running 3 tempo miles, it makes her race pace mile feel so much more doable.
- Long run. We all like a good long run, even better with a fast finish of 1-3 miles. We tend to do long runs of 10-12 miles year round even when not training to keep a good base. Our absolute favorite way to do a long run is with a brunch at the end (e.g. this is how we convince Kimberly to come along).
Basically, if you do all 3 you’ll have yourself a merry little training cycle and probably a PR to boot.