Half-marathon training plan: Practical guide

Half-marathon training plan: Practical guide

Today we are talking about a half-marathon training plan. After having started by giving you the basics to build your own training plan (to read absolutely before attacking this one!), I move on to the specific with all the keys to create an effective half-marathon training plan. Objective, to allow you to give your best in running by creating your own training plan or simply by better understanding the half-marathon training plan you have chosen to use.

Basic description of the half-marathon

The half-marathon is a road race event that, as its name suggests, is half a marathon or 21,097km to be precise. It is a very popular event because running a half-marathon is already a great challenge, but not as demanding as a marathon.
I like to define the half-marathon as a comfortably difficult event. We evolve at a relatively fast pace without flirting with the anaerobic threshold, the one that burns our legs slowly when we pass it. Be careful, comfortably difficult does not mean without suffering... The end of a half marathon is difficult, there is fatigue. But if you manage your effort well, this fatigue comes after running a good part of the race at a "relatively comfortable" pace. The end of the race is finally done to the mind, a characteristic specific to all distances if you want to exploit your full potential!

At what speed should the half-marathon be run?

To start your half-marathon training plan, you don't need to know exactly what your half-marathon pace looks like. It can be validated during preparation, depending on what the training sessions give. However, you still have to estimate it to know where you're going. To do this, starting by calculating your VMA is a good basis.
Well trained, with a good experience in running and in top form, one can hope to run a half-marathon at 85%VMA or about 90%FCM (Maximum Heart Rate) maximum. That's what you can read in books or on the Internet. Don't worry right away, these values are at the optimal level, and for someone of a good level, so don't worry if it's lower for you. More generally, targeting 80%VMA or 85%FCM is already a very good objective for many of us! For the example, I completed my first semi at 79% VMA and the second at 82% VMA and I was busy on the way! And I'm talking about times less than 1:30. So obviously if you run 2 hours, it is much more difficult to keep a high percentage of VMA, you have to put things in context when you look at this type of figures and adapt them to your level, to your experience!

Half-marathon training plan prerequisites

As I said earlier, the half-marathon is already a great challenge, running 21km at once is not nothing! Some prerequisites seem to me to be recommended for running your first half-marathon:
Run regularly for 1 year to have a land base that allows you to tackle the half marathon with confidence. In fact, 6 months may be enough to finish a half marathon but in running, knowing how to take your time is the best way to last so be patient!
Having run one or more 10km in competition to learn about peloton racing, the management of these race gaits, refuelling, before and after the race... In short, everything that makes a competition really different from training.
Train at least 3 times a week. For me it is the minimum, difficult to be totally ready with a half-marathon training plan that would contain less than 3 sessions per week.
These prerequisites are recommended, not essential. The half-marathon is an affordable challenge without too much risk for most people in good physical condition. But they are "Nice to Have" in order to enjoy your half-marathon and avoid the race.

Half-marathon training plan : Key sessions

More than the key sessions, I will give you the key rhythms to carry out a half-marathon preparation. And if you click on the name of the pace in question you will come across an article dedicated to its subject to learn more! To date, the only pace for which I have already written the article is fundamental endurance, for the others... I will find some time between 2 and 3am to do this one of his days! ????
Fundamental Endurance: In the half-marathon training plan as in all others, jogging in fundamental endurance must represent approximately 70% of the training.
Sessions: In the form of recovery jogging from 30 to 45′ until the long outings of 1h50 max at the heart of the preparation
Specific half-marathon pace: To be able to run at a half-marathon pace on race day in a fluid way, without having to look at the clock every 2 minutes, you have to give this pace in your brain and legs, to know the sensations it brings. Practicing your running pace allows you to be more economical, more efficient when you have to reproduce it for 21.1km.
Sessions: 3x2000m, 4x2000m, 3x3000m as the preparation progresses
In a very basic way, we now have both key gaits. To progress, of course, we must not stop there. When working a distance, the competitive pace must be controlled by working at higher and lower speeds. The progression of the half-marathon pace is also made possible by the diversity of the speeds we practice.
Aerobic Capacity: Close to what could be a marathon pace, this type of endurance is run around 80% FCM. Aerobic fitness sessions are really interesting in terms of cardiovascular development because they integrate well into long outings.

Sessions: 3×10′, 2×15′, 20′, 30′, up to 1 hour continuous at 80% FCM
Anaerobic threshold: Sessions at the anaerobic threshold (or slightly below) will make it possible to push back this threshold, to be able to go faster without reaching it. This is essential on half marathon because the anaerobic threshold is quite close to the half marathon pace. So the more you push your threshold the more comfortable you are at your semi pace and the more you can increase it. The threshold flirts with the red zone with 90-92% FCM.

Sessions: 2×8′, 2×10′, 15′, 20′ at 90% FCM Max (better to train below the threshold, than above!)
Of course, that's not all, but we're talking about the key sessions here. To this, we can add short fractioned sessions (> 95% VMA) to maintain your VMA, hiking sessions for a specific muscle strengthening for running or cross training (cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing... If possible a sport worn to avoid shocks). We do not forget the physical preparation to keep abs and other back muscles strong and avoid injuries.
All you have to do is play with all this to build your training plan! And if you have any questions, feel free to comment on the article! ????

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