admin 23rd July 2018

Are you following this plan for the Royal Parks Half Marathon 2018? Then join our training group on Facebook. 

Target time: sub-2hr

Race pace: 9min 10sec/mile

This plan is for you if… You can run continuously for 30-45 minutes. If you’ve completed a 10K event you’ll be in a strong starting position.

If you’ve ever run or tried to run 21.1km before you’ll know that doing it in less than two hours is no easy feat. But if you run regularly and have completed 5K and 10Ks it’s a feat that could well be within reach.

That’s why we asked Justin Reid-Simms, UK Athletics-qualified running coach at Alamer Athletic, to pull together a manageable plan that will help runners tick this one off their bucket list. As in all good training plans, the distance you cover each week builds gradually to make sure you don’t do too much too fast – a surefire route to injury.

It’s also a plan that can fit into a busy lifestyle – and we bet you’ve got one of those – with a baseline of just three runs a week. That’s a run on Tuesday that should take you around 30 minutes, a flexible session on Thursday and a long endurance run on Sunday. On top of that there are two optional cross-training strength sessions and another take-it-or-leave-it run on Saturday.

“Everything after the three main runs is supplementary,” says Reid-Simms, “The other sessions will really help – it’s especially good to have that extra time on your feet in the the optional run – but I understand that not everyone can commit to doing that many sessions a week.”

You’ll also notice that to begin with there’s the option to walk for a bit during the Thursday session. “Ideally you’d be running, but if you’ve been out of training for a little while, just take a bit of a breather,” says Reid-Simms. “At that stage it’s all about trying to get your body used to that amount of time on your feet. It depends on how hilly your route is too – hills can really beat you up at the start of a training cycle so it’s just a get-out.”

Take a look at the plan and if you decide it’s a bit much for you, try Reid-Simms’ 12-week beginners’ training plan.

How the plan works

The plan is split into three four-week blocks. The first block builds a base of fitness, with slight increases in the distance covered on the Thursday and Sunday runs.

The second block concentrates on building your endurance in a similar vein until the introduction of an intervals session in week seven. If it’s your first intervals session, steel yourself – it’s tough to run outside your comfort zone, but they’re a great way to make huge strides in your training.

The final block begins with another tough intervals session, but the good news is that by now you should be feeling comfortable running for over an hour, so it’s time to taper – winding down the amount you do gradually so your body is well rested and ready to go on race day.

“Make sure you do the ‘shake-out’ run the day before the race,” Reid-Simms advises. “It helps loosen the legs so you feel fresher on race day after the taper and can be a great way to settle nerves. Don’t go hard – this is no time for cramming extra training in. Just get out there.”

Each run asks you to complete a set distance, which can take a bit of planning. Reid-Simms recommends the route calculator in Map My Run (you will have to create an account) or an app called Footpath.

Whatever you do, try not to stick to the same old route for the full 12 weeks. “For the longer runs, jump on a train or bus, get off somewhere and run back home,” says Reid-Simms. “It’s a bit of variety that helps keep training interesting.”

Types of runs

There are four types of run in this plan, differentiated by the speed you need to run at. If you have a fitness tracker or running watch with GPS or a running app that can piggyback off your phone’s GPS, then you’re all set, but if you don’t fancy the extra expense Reid-Simms recommends using the talk test (in brackets after the breakdown of pace, below), which is essentially how many words you can get out while running at a particular pace. “It correlates really well with effort levels,” says Reid-Simms.

Aerobic Run: Builds to a steady 9min/mile (two/three sentences)

Interval Run: 8min 30sec/mile (two/three words)

Endurance Run: 10min/mile (carry on a full conversation)

Recovery Run: 10min-plus/mile

Block 1: Base Building

Week 1

Monday Rest
Tuesday 3 miles aerobic
Wednesday Strength training (optional)
Thursday 3 miles aerobic, walk for periods if you need to
Friday Strength training (optional)
Saturday 3 miles recovery (optional)
Sunday 5 miles endurance

Week 2

Monday Rest
Tuesday 3 miles aerobic
Wednesday Strength training (optional)
Thursday 4 miles aerobic, walk for periods if you need to
Friday Strength training (optional)
Saturday 3 miles recovery (optional)
Sunday 6 miles endurance

Week 3

Monday Rest
Tuesday 3 miles aerobic
Wednesday Strength training (optional)
Thursday 4 miles aerobic, walk for periods if you need to
Friday Strength training (optional)
Saturday 3 miles recovery (optional)
Sunday 6 miles endurance

Week 4

Monday Rest
Tuesday 3 miles aerobic
Wednesday Strength training (optional)
Thursday 4 miles aerobic, walk for periods if you need to
Friday Strength training (optional)
Saturday 3 miles recovery (optional)
Sunday 7 miles endurance

Block 2: Endurance

Week 5

Monday Rest
Tuesday 3 miles aerobic
Wednesday Strength training (optional)
Thursday 5 miles aerobic, walk for periods if you need to
Friday Strength training (optional)
Saturday 3 miles recovery (optional)
Sunday 8 miles endurance

Week 6

Monday Rest
Tuesday 3 miles aerobic
Wednesday Strength training (optional)
Thursday 5 miles aerobic, walk for periods if you need to
Friday Strength training (optional)
Saturday 3 miles recovery (optional)
Sunday 9 miles endurance

Week 7

Monday Rest
Tuesday 4 miles aerobic
Wednesday Strength training (optional)
Thursday 5 miles intervals: 15min warm-up (build up slowly to recovery run pace), 5 x 1min efforts with 2min at recovery pace in between efforts. Finish at recovery pace to hit mileage target
Friday Strength training (optional)
Saturday 3 miles recovery (optional)
Sunday 9 miles endurance

Week 8

Monday Rest
Tuesday 4 miles aerobic
Wednesday Strength training (optional)
Thursday 5 miles aerobic, walk for periods if you need to
Friday Strength training (optional)
Saturday 3 miles recovery (optional)
Sunday 10 miles endurance

Block 3: Endurance And Speed

Week 9

Monday Rest
Tuesday 4 miles aerobic
Wednesday Strength training (optional)
Thursday 6 miles intervals: 15min warm-up (build up slowly to recovery run pace), 5 x 1min efforts with 2min easy in between efforts. Finish at recovery pace to hit mileage target
Friday Strength training (optional)
Saturday 3 miles recovery (optional)
Sunday 9 miles endurance

Week 10

Monday Rest
Tuesday 4 miles aerobic
Wednesday Strength training (optional)
Thursday 6 miles aerobic
Friday Strength training (optional)
Saturday 3 miles recovery (optional)
Sunday 7 miles endurance

Week 11

Monday Rest
Tuesday 3 miles aerobic
Wednesday Strength training (optional)
Thursday 5 miles aerobic
Friday Strength training (optional)
Saturday 3 miles recovery (optional)
Sunday 5 miles endurance

Week 12

Monday Rest
Tuesday 3 miles aerobic
Wednesday Strength training (optional)
Thursday 3 miles aerobic
Friday Rest
Saturday 20min recovery (shake-out run)
Sunday Race day

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