There are a number of wonderful training plans out there, however I am partial to the Jeff Galloway training program especially for beginners, but the Hal Higdon plans are also wonderful. It is important that once you find your training plan of preference that you stick to it. Yes, you can switch things up a little bit, however you do need consistency and be disciplined to stay on track and get the work done. For example, if you can't get your 4 miles in on Thursday, just swap with Friday's rest day. By following a training plan you will be able to stay accountable to getting your miles and training in without over training and risking injury. Whether you are looking to break a 2:00 half marathon or make it across the finish line of your first full marathon, there is a plan out there for you.
When training for a big race, nothing is better than the support of others. Everyone in your life might not totally understand what exactly you are working towards. Working with training groups or finding running buddies is an excellent way to get support from other runners and stay accountable to your training plan.
My mom, Momma K, and I do a lot of training runs together when she is prepping for half marathons. Not only does running together give us quality time together, it is also a great accountability tool to help make sure that miles get logged. Sometimes you might hit a mental block and try to find a reason to bow out of a run, but if you know your running partner is depending on you to be there, your tune definitely changes. Having a running buddy gives you someone to help push each other a little more and of course celebrate your accomplishments with along the way.
If you are training for the Pittsburgh Marathon or 1/2 Marathon and live locally, be sure to check out the training runs with Steel City Road Runners to help get your ready to become a Runner of Steel in May! Even if you don't live in the Pittsburgh area (like myself), there are still many other great running groups that you can join. Check out your local running store, Moms Run This Town, or even Facebook groups are an excellent way to find group runs or find great words of encouragement and advice.
Training for a race is hard work - be sure to celebrate and have fun! There are a lot of different ways to reward yourself occasionally throughout training. For example, once you have completed a month staying on track with training you buy yourself a new piece of running gear, go enjoy relax with a mani/pedi after 100 miles, or even stashing a dollar per mile in a special jar to have some spending cash for the expo (you will be amazed to watch the jar fill up).
Most runners know that cross-training is important - almost as important as logging your miles. If you find different cross training routines that are beneficial AND fun, you will be more likely to do them, right? While I tolerate my weight circuits days, I REALLY enjoy going to my weekly abs class and yoga twice a week. These are some of the days that I most look forward to on my schedule. Each day of cross training is important to your marathon or half marathon training. Remember your body is like a car and has a lot of different parts that makes it move better and faster. Try out some different classes at your local gym or check out your local running store or club for "yoga for runners" nights. You never know where you might fall in love with something new to add to your schedule.
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