Half-Marathon Training: À-la-Victoria

Victoria-Lavinskas

Victoria Lavinskas PT, MScPT

Registered Physiotherapist
Running Consultant
Are you thinking of registering for a half-marathon this Spring/Summer/Fall?   Wondering what the key elements to a solid half-marathon training program are? Here’s my 2 cents…  
  • Long Runs
    • Goal : endurance – the longer these runs, the more you will work on your endurance, helping you prepare for race day
    • Pace : these should be performed at a slower pace, i.e. this should be a long, but “easy” run
    • These runs will build up throughout your program
    • For a half-marathon (21.1km), you can work up to 18-19km in your long runs – the idea is to run for a similar amount of TIME as race day, so, given the slower pace, your 18-19km run time should approach your race time
  • Speed Work
    • Goal : increase your speed, improve your cardiovascular performance (get your heart stronger!)
    • Pace : 5-10km pace, i.e. fast, but not so fast that you’re gassed out and can’t continue
    • Start with an easy pace 1km
    • 2 ways to work on speed :
      • Speed intervals – either by distance or time (e.g. 5X400m or 5X2min), separated by either walking/light jogging intervals
      • Tempo runs – continuous run with a gradual build-up to a 10km pace in the middle (holding that for 1-2 min) and then gradually slowing back down
    • Hills
      • Goal : improve your hill running technique (as this is different than running on a flat surface), improve your cardiovascular performance (get your heart stronger!)
      • Pace : try to maintain pace while going uphill, increase pace while going downhill (you want to use the advantage of the decline to get some quick mileage in)
      • Start with an easy pace 1km (flat)
      • 2 ways to work on hills
        • Hill intervals : intervals of short (steep-ish) hills (running up and down), separated by running flats
        • Hill endurance : longer intervals of small-incline hills, separated by running flats
      • Technique
        • Goal : improve running efficiency (improve performance, decrease risk of injury)
        • Use a run/walk program to work on technique – this will give your body a chance to get used to the new technique with a decreased risk of injury
        • Examples :
          • Increased cadence (170-190 bpm), i.e. smaller steps
          • Decreased noise, i.e. being “light on your feet”
          • Running barefoot (on a treadmill)
        • Cross-training
          • Goal : get your body working different muscle groups to allow an “active” recovery from running, helping muscles be more adaptable
          • Ideally another cardiovascular activity (e.g. cycling, swimming, etc)
          • Yoga and Pilates are also good complements to running as these activities focus on core strengthening and stretching
        • Rest Days
          • Goal : allow your body to recover from your week’s workouts
          • You could also do an easy yoga class on rest days
  Here’s an example of a balanced and gradual half-marathon program :    
Week/Day Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
  Rest Speed X-train Hills X-train Technique Long
Week 1 Rest 5 X 400m X-train 1 X 100m X-train 30 min 1R/1W 8km
Week 2 Rest 30 min tempo X-train 2 X 100m X-train 30 min 2R/1W 10km
Week 3 Rest 6 X 400m X-train 3 X 100m X-train 30 min 3R/1W 5km race
Week 4 Rest 35 min tempo X-train 4 X 100m X-train 30 min 4R/1W 11km
Week 5 Rest 7 X 400m X-train 5 X 100m X-train 30 min 5R/1W 13km
Week 6 Rest 40 min tempo X-train 6 X 100m X-train 30 min 6R/1W 10km race
Week 7 Rest 8 X 400m X-train 7 X 100m X-train 30 min 7R/1W 14km
Week 8 Rest 40 min tempo X-train 8 X 100m X-train 30 min 8R/1W 16km
Week 9 Rest 9 X 400m X-train 9 X 100m X-train 30 min 9R/1W 15km race
Week 10 Rest 45 min tempo X-train 10 X 100m X-train 30 min 9R/1W 18km
Week 11 Rest 10 X 400m X-train 10 X 100m X-train 30 min 9R/1W 19km
Week 12 Rest 30 min tempo X-train 3 X 100m X-train 30 min 1R/1W 21.1km race