First of all- Congratulation for deciding to move your running up further, for challenging yourself and especially for going beyond of what you know, beyond your comfort zone!
In this post I would like to talk rather briefly about Training plans for both Marathon as well as Halfmarathons. Although the experience during the training is quite different, the actual training isn’t that much. I could talk a lot about Marathontraining and will do so happily in a separate post, but for today I would like to talk through some of the common features of training for any run that is longer than what you ran before…
You will be able to find plenty of trainingsplans online- it is important that you find one that actually suits you.
Whilst I was training for my first Halfmarathon without any trainingsplan, I would definitely advice to use one for a Marathon, and also use one if you plan on finishing your Halfmarathon in a specific time. It will help you at least as guidance what speed and ability you should have accomplished by then to be able to succeed in your ‘dream-running’ time.
Whatever the length of your run- find a trainingsplan that looks realistic to you. Have you been running in the past 2-3 times a week and you got a family and busy city job, maybe do a personal reality check before deciding on a 5-6 times a week ambitious trainingsplan. Also 4 times a week will get you there, even to a Marathon (I actually reduced my running from 6 times a week to 4 times (plus one cross training session of Yoga) once I started to train for the Copenhagen Marathon! ).
Some main features your trainingsplan will (most likely, hopefully!) contain (and here it doesn’t even matter that much if it’s a HM or the full show):
1 Long session (usually 3 weeks increasing, 1 week less as a recovery) – most likely you never cover the entire race length.
1-2 fartlek, interval sessions (their length depending on your goal and your experience)
And some simple, normal, enjoyable runs. I often used them during my Marathon training to run the 10km to work.
Something that has been quite specific in my experience is that during HM training you almost don’t have to focus at all on nutrition and hydration. Especially not during training. Of course you want to eat well whilst preparing for a race; however you won’t need to test yourself through gels and bars or specifically change or adjust your diet as for a Marathon.
As said in the beginning- both race lengths have a lot in common in terms of training- just keep in mind that a Marathon is way more demanding and time consuming…. and enjoy.
It’s definitely been for me an absolutely life changing experience.
Enjoy your training