This 10-week plan was designed by the experts at Runner's World for anyone who wants to break 2:30 in a half marathon. It is geared for runners who have at least a year of experience running on a regular basis and who log an average of 15 miles per week. Most weeks include three days of rest, three to four days of shorter runs, and one long run, which starts at five miles, builds gradually, and peaks at 13 miles. You'll do workouts that include miles at your goal race pace so that you can develop the stamina you need to finish 13.1 miles feeling strong.
Run at a comfortable pace, easy enough that you can hold a conversation. If you're huffing and puffing, you're going too fast. The important factor in easy runs is how you feel. These runs should feel smooth and comfortable, as if you could go forever. (Pace: 12:47/mile)
Good running form can make all your runs feel easier. Keep your head up and your eyes looking straight ahead. Keep your chin up and back, not dropped toward your chest or jutting out in front of you. Relax your shoulders, and shake out your arms to stay loose. Try to run tall; avoid leaning forward from the waist. Make sure your feet land directly underneath your body. Land on your heel to midfoot and push off through the ball of your foot. (Pace: 12:47/miles)
On easy days, you can cross-train with an activity such as cycling or using an elliptical trainer. Put in a sustained aerobic effort for the same amount of time you'd spend on the day's mileage. (Pace: 12:47/mile)
Today is your first long, slow distance run (LSD). Since you'll be running farther, you can go out slower than you usually do. On these days your goal is just to cover the distance. (Pace: 12:47/mile)
If you're an early morning runner, be sure to prep for your run the night before. Set your automatic coffeemaker to brew before you wake. Turn off the computer and TV at least 30 minutes before you hit the sack. And be sure to eat well: have slow-digesting carbs such as broccoli, beans, and lentils. If you skip dinner or eat fast-digesting carbs such as rice, bread, or sugary desserts, your glycogen levels will be depleted, making it even harder to muster the energy to get up in the morning. (Pace: 12:47/mile)
Shin splints are common among beginners and seasoned runners alike, and that soreness and pain along the shinbone tends to come on after ramping up mileage or intensity too much without enough rest. Running on hard or uneven road surfaces, or wearing worn-out shoes, can also lead to shin splints. If you feel them coming on, take it easy. You may need to back off a bit. (Pace: 12:47/mile)
As your training gets under way, invest in shirts, pants, shorts, underwear, and socks that are made of technical, lightweight fabrics that wick away moisture. These fabrics, such as Dri-FIT and Coolmax, help prevent blisters and chafing. (Pace: 12:47/mile)