You asked for it and we delivered—introducing the new and improved Train For a Half program! It was created by Aaptiv Trainers Wes Pedersen, Rochelle Moncourtois, and John Thornhill, as well as RRCA certified running coach and Aaptiv CTO Chris Fischer (he ran this year’s NYC half in an hour and 18 minutes!). This 12-week program is perfect for all runners who are consistently running a minimum of eight to ten miles a week and who are looking to prepare for a 10K to half marathon event.
In order to finish strong, it’s important to build your weekly mileage and endurance. In the program, you’ll learn proven running techniques, reduce your chance of injury, improve your fitness, and get set up for success during and after your race. This program is based solely on running, so you’ll complete weekly mileage on the treadmill and with outdoor runs.
The 12-week training plan is divided into three, four-week blocks that are designed to lay the fitness foundation you need to run your best race: Base, Build, and Prep. Each week will focus on four different workout types: conversational pace training, intervals, tempo days, and long runs.
According to ASFA running certified Aaptiv Trainer Wes Pedersen, each technique trains your cardiovascular system in a different way. “Running by nature is a very consistent movement pattern. It’s a forward backward movement. But we want to train and prep the cardiovascular system in different ways,” he states. “We use these different workouts because that’s how your cardiovascular system will develop in a safe and efficient way.”
While cross-training is important to build overall fitness, if you want to run a 13+ mile race, you need to get as comfortable as you can with running itself. “Cross-training is always better than doing nothing at all, but if you want to train and run an effective race, you want to get out and run, and run safely,” says Fischer. “A half marathon is a long distance and success with it will only come if you can really have fun running for 1.5 – 2.5 hours. There are no tricks or shortcuts.”
Aaptiv Trainer Rochelle Moncourtois agrees that the best way to prep for a half marathon is to run. “When you do your long endurance runs, staying at a conversational pace is really important,” she says. “That’s how you’re gonna build up your stamina, and it’s also the best time for you to focus on your technique.”
Below we’ve broken down the details of each training block of the program, as well as the format of each of the four types of running workouts you’ll be using throughout. To access the program pdf click here.
Base (Weeks 1-4)
In this block you are aiming to run 15-20 miles or 2-2.5 hours a week.
In the Base block we’ll introduce you to three workouts every runner needs to be successful—short hills or intervals to build strength, mid- to long-tempo runs to improve your running efficiency, and long runs to improve your endurance and prepare you for the demands of a long race. You can add additional conversational pace running to help increase your fitness and overall endurance to suit your experience.
The goal of this block is to reduce injury risk by introducing your body to new workout types incrementally. Often the cause of injury to new and experienced runners alike, is taking on too much, too soon. Over these first weeks your mileage and speed will slowly increase to help your body adapt to the demands of racing.
Build (Weeks 5-8)
In this block you are aiming to run 20-25 miles or 2.5-3.5 hours a week.
In the Build block you’ll continue to improve upon the workouts from the first block. Now that you’ve built your framework and created consistency in your program, you’ll increase the length of time that you run at your goal race pace, further preparing you for the specific demands of your upcoming event.
You’ll work a lot more on pacing in this block, and by the end you’ll be feeling confident about your stride and running capability. You’ll also extend your overall mileage and build up the distance of your long runs to make sure you’re fit and prepared come race day.
Sharpen (Weeks 9-12)
In this block you are aiming to run 25-30 miles or 3-4 hours a week.
In this final training block you’ll take on some paced workouts to make sure you are mentally and physically ready to perform on race day. You’ll also be working on the all-important “taper” process—winding down your training schedule and limiting your mileage—to help your body rest up and in the final 7-10 days of the plan. You’ll be ready with high energy in preparation for race day.
Understanding Pace and the Four Workout Types
In the Train For a Half program Aaptiv Trainers will reference the paces below. We’ve broken down the benefits and intensity levels, so you can understand exactly why and how you’re doing what you’re doing.
Conversational Pace + Strides or Striders
- Builds efficiency and base mileage
- Introduces running quickly without wearing you out
Intensity Level: This is a light jog. You can hold a conversation at this pace. Strides and striders are drills to improve form and mechanics. These are quick, 15- to 30-second opportunities to focus on lengthening your stride to help fine tune your innate running form.
- Increases strength, power, and mental toughness
- Strengthens muscles
- Reduces chance of injury
- Teaches you proper form and mechanics
Intensity Level: Short bursts of all out effort. It should be hard to speak during these.
- Improves pacing
- Strengthens aerobic system
- Establishes a quicker pace that you can sustain for longer durations
Intensity Level: Hard effort you can do comfortably for up to 30 minutes. You can speak in broken sentences.
- Builds endurance aerobic capacity
Intensity Level: This is your half marathon pace. You can hold a conversation.
Off Day Workouts
- Increases mobility
- Prevents injury
Intensity Level: This includes light effort work, such as stretching, walking, yoga, or optional light cross or strength training.
Now that you know everything there is to know about our new Train For a Half program, hop in the Aaptiv app to check it out!
We can’t wait to hear your thoughts, so, as soon as you start on the program, share your feedback and any questions you may have with us!
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