Welcome to my Intermediate 1 program for the half marathon. This is Intermediate 1, a relatively new program created for my book, Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training. Intermediate 1 fits conveniently between Novice 2 and the old Intermediate program, renamed Intermediate 2. The difference between those programs is that Intermediate 1 focuses on endurance, Intermediate 2 focuses on speed, including one day of speedwork a week. Mondays in Intermediate 1 features cross-training 9 of the 12 weeks with 3 of the weeks for rest. Begin today with a half hour of cross-training.
An easy day. Run 3 miles at a comfortable pace. Over the next 12 weeks, you will gradually increase the length of your Monday runs from 3 to 5 miles. Seemingly the increase is minor, but it's all part of the design to get you ready to run 13.1 miles. But start easy! If even running 3 miles seems a strain for you, don't hesitate to mix in a walking break.
Four miles, one mile further than yesterday. As the countdown continues, you will begin to run slightly more miles midweek, peaking at 8 miles in Weeks 9 and 10. These are what I call my "sorta-long" runs. Remember: Consistency is the key to half marathon success.
Run the same distance that you did on Tuesday: 3 miles at a comfortable pace. Again, consider the walking-break option if you need a bit of a break mid-run. Learning to stop running then run again is a talent worth nurturing, since you can use the stop-start approach going through aid stations in the race. Do you plan to do some strength training during this program? Tuesdays and Thursdays might be good days on which to lift--after you run.
Three miles is a pretty short run, particularly since you already had three runs this week at that distance or longer. But over the 12 weeks of this program, the distance for your Saturday and Sunday runs will increase. On a half dozen days, I will also ask you to run at race pace. Don't worry too much about pace now; just run easily.
I dedicate Sundays to long runs. While 4 miles hardly seems very "long," the mileage will climb relentlessly during the 12 weeks of this program to peak at 12 miles the weekend before your half. With pace runs on Saturdays, the weekend workouts are not easy. But if you wanted "easy," you would not have signed up for the Intermediate 1 half marathon training program.
Monday is an easy day. Continue to remind yourself of that fact. Do some cross-training, for a half hour, but only at a very, very easy level. It may not seem like you need to rest after only a 3-miler and a 4-miler over the weekend, but you will be thankful for this day of relative rest as the program continues. Also, evaluate how you felt after your first week of training. A lot of people play at running, working out three or four days a week, doing a long run on the weekends, entering an occasional race, sometimes gearing up for a marathon. For a while, they'll improve just on accumulated mileage, but after several years it becomes increasingly difficult to set Personal Records. To do that, you need to train. Training is when you follow a schedule, such as this one.