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Jack McGowan's Half-Marathon Running Guide

Running a half-marathon can seem quite daunting to anyone who hasn't run over 5 miles before. People constantly ask me, "Do you think I can run a marathon?" And I always say, "If you don't think you can run a marathon, then you should go watch one." You see people of every age, color, disability, etc. And if that still doesn't sway you, then you can just think of it as a long run. A little longer than your normal one.  The first basic bit of advice is add mileage. Start simple, and then gradually increase your mileage as you train. Be diligent about your running schedule and stick to it as BEST you can, and ALWAYS make time for full nights of sleep. The hard part isn't the actual running; it's the going for an 8-mile run, on a cold Saturday afternoon, when you'd rather be going to brunch. It's not going out the night before you have to wake up early to do a run. The actual running becomes fun, and the hard part is making the actual time. 8 weeks is PLENTY of time to train for a half-marathon (as long as you stick to the schedule). Everyone's fitness level varies, but here's a game plan that can work for most anyone:

Week 1: do 3 days of 3 mile runs, without stopping (on the treadmill or outside). 1 day of cross training (aerobics, swimming, weightlifting, cycling, etc.) 1 day of yoga/pilates or light recovery with active stretching. 2 days completely off

Week 2: two days of 3.5 mile runs, one day of 4.5 mile runs. one day of cross training. one day of active recovery or yoga. two days off.

Week 3: two days of 4 mile runs, one day of 6 mile run. one day of cross training. one day of active recovery or yoga. two days off.

Week 4: two days of 4 mile runs, one day of 6 mile run. one day of cross training. one day of active recovery or yoga. two days off.

Week 5: two days of 4 mile runs, one day of 7 mile run. one day of cross training. one day of active recovery or yoga. two days off.

Week 6: two days of 4 mile runs, one day of 8.5 mile run. one day of cross training. one day of active recovery or yoga. two days off.

Week 7: two days of 4 mile runs, one day of 11 mile run. one day of cross training. one day of active recovery or yoga. two days off.

Week 8: two days of 3 mile runs, one day of 6 mile run.  one day of active recovery or yoga. two days off.

Definitely take the two days off before the big race, so depending on the timeline make sure your days off fit in on the calendar.

You'll get into a rhythm on the first two weeks of what you can eat the night before a race and what you shouldn't. And then stick to that. NEVER eat something before a big race that you don't normally do. I personally don't eat pasta, in my daily life. So I would never eat it before a race. But it all comes down to what you do how you train. If you have to have coffee in the morning then have it. But treat your long runs like you would treat the race. And ALWAYS account for 25 mins of dynamic and myofascial stretching after your long runs. If you're new to this, buy a black foam roller and youtube your lower body stretches, if this is too easy buy a pair of yoga tune-up balls and get in deeper. IT band stretching on a foam roller will SAVE YOUR KNEES.

By Jack McGowan

Check out Whitney Tuckers blog post about "Turning Your Mind Into Your Favorite Running Companion" to accompany your training!