The “No Training Plan” Half Marathon Training Plan for People who Loathe Running
It was about a year ago that I left the New England winter behind and moved to sunny Florida for 2 months. I love the beach more than anything, and wanted to use every opportunity I could to spend time there. My mornings consisted of walks on Siesta Key Beach, and the walks turned into run/walks. But here’s the thing, my entire life I had loathed running. I mean, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how people could actually enjoy it. I felt like I was in reasonable shape, yet I would go out for a run and feel terrible and discouraged. I could run anywhere from 1-3 miles, but never EVER felt good about it. Many times in my life I had been determined to “get into running” and yet, I could never get it to stick. If this feels like you… keep reading.
This was a testing time in my life, and one of my friends (Hi Krystn!) recommended that I get into running. “Therapeutic” is how she described it and all I could do was laugh and say, “Yeah, except the only problem is that I hate running.” Yet, there I was walking on Siesta Key Beach watching other runners go by and wishing I could be one of them. So, slowly but surely, I started incorporating running into my daily routine. I started with run/walks, and I could (semi) comfortably run 3 miles but just couldn’t seem to get past that. So how did I go from barely being able to run 3 miles, to running 13.1 miles (and enjoying it!) in 6 months? I winged it, and what I did happened to work.
So in the spirit of New Years Resolutions and my one year anniversary of being a “runner” (although I still laugh when I get called that), here is my “No Training Plan” Training Plan for anyone who loathes running, but yet still wants to check a half marathon off their bucket list. Please note that I am by no means an expert or feel at all qualified to be giving advice on the matter. All I know is that I did it and if you’re reading this and hate running, know I was right there with you 1 year ago.
1. THINK OF YOUR REASON. As I mentioned, I was going through a difficult emotional time in my life last year when I began running. I have to say, when I look back at this past year, running has been such a saving grace in my life. It was my time to myself. My time to escape. My time to hurt, and my time to heal. The time where I had no one to lean on but myself, and no one to lean on but God. Whether you’re going through a rough time, or are striving to live a healthier lifestyle or get in better shape, or simply want to feel the empowerment of setting a goal for yourself and achieving it– keep that in mind and use that to push yourself. Because you’ll certainly need it, and it will keep you going when you don’t feel like going out for a run or are out on your run and are just plain old exhausted. Having a reason allows you to dig deep and push through!
2. START SLOW. Say it with me, there is no shame in walking. Just get out there! Start with going for a 2 mile walk to get your body used to carrying you that distance. Then walk 2 minutes, run 2 minutes. Walk a mile, run a mile. Split it up however you feel comfortable! Then you slowly work your way up. If you haven’t run in years and try to go run 5 miles, it’s probably going to be pretty darn discouraging. If you can feel comfortable running 2 miles, push yourself to 3. Just keep adding on distance and I promise you will get there. Also, have no speed expectations in mind. When I first started, I think I could have speed walked faster than I was running. But what mattered is that I was running and got my body used to that motion! When I started running, I didn’t necessarily have a half marathon in mind. Mostly because I felt like I couldn’t get over the 3 mile hump. (Keep reading to find out more about that)
3. THE FIRST 3 MILES ARE THE WORST. So turns out that I probably didn’t like running much because I never felt like I could get in the groove. I felt like I never settled into it, then after a slow build up, I could finally get past 3 miles. It turns out that still to this day, I’m a firm believer in the fact that the first 3 miles of any run are my least favorite. Then after I get past 3, I feel like I get into a groove. I very quickly jumped up from being able to run 4 miles, to being able to run 6-8 miles. I was so surprised! I don’t know if other runners agree with this, but I know for me, my body needs those first few miles to adjust and realize, okay. we are on a run. this is a thing that we’re doing… If you can make it over the 3 mile hump, I think you’ll surprise yourself!
4. FIND WHAT ZONES YOU OUT. For me, it is a finely curated playlist. I have to run to music and prefer to run alone. If a running buddy makes the miles fly by & holds you accountable, do that. If you’re a podcast/book-on-tape fan, use your run as your time in the day to listen to that. For me, it was music. Quite an interesting mix, I might add. Hip-Hop, House, Worship… I can’t quite put into words what it is about these songs on my playlist that get me moving, but they do and when I’m feeling tired on my run, the right song can kick me back into gear and get me through. I think it’s different for everyone, but find what works for you!
5. YOU HAVE THE TIME. Stop making excuses. Everyone is busy. I photographed 23 weddings in the 6 months that I trained for my half marathon. Typically during wedding season I had always fallen behind on working out because I was just too busy with work to fit it into my days. Well before wedding season even started, I signed up for the MDI Half Marathon in October. Having that date forced me to get out there for my runs. Some mornings I had to get up an hour or more before I really would have liked to, but never regretted it once I was out.
6. IT CAN’T BE ALL ABOUT RUNNING. What?! But isn’t that the whole point of this post? … I really believe that my ability as a runner is because of the training I did in workout classes. Also, if you try to just run all the time, I think it’s way easier to get burned out. Mix it up & keep it interesting! For me, it was with classes at Athletx & REV Indoor Cycling. Going to Athletx made me feel physically strong. Classes there involve boxing, TRX, weight lifting, rowing, ski erg, and body weight movements (burpees are the bane of my existence). Those classes get you pumped and you’re motivated by the people around you & the instructors that you push you. When you think you’ve reached your max, you have to push a little more. On the flip side, spinning at REV made me feel mentally strong. In a spinning class, a great instructor is of course a great motivation, and they can teach you and push you to be mentally stronger. In spinning, the motivation ultimately has to come from within (a lot like running), because you decide how much or little you push yourself. It did wonders for endurance and running hilly terrain. Just to give you an idea, I tried to split up my weeks with 3 classes, 3 runs, and a day off.
7. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE. Don’t be so darn hard on yourself! If you don’t get out for a run for 5 days in a row, don’t be so quick to throw in the towel (may or may not be speaking from experience). If you want to run 5 miles, and but only have the time to fit in 2, that’s okay. There will be weeks when you’re busier or not feeling as great, but don’t give up. Refer back to #1, think of your reason, and get back out there. In the past when I had spurts of wanting to train for a half marathon, I would download a half marathon training template, get about 3 days in, get off track, then quit. That’s why I didn’t follow a training plan. I listened to my body. I started slow, then once I had run 6 miles, I signed up for a half marathon that was 6 months away. Somedays I would get out there thinking I would run 3 miles, and end up running 8. Other days, I would want to do a long run and my body would not agree. And don’t set too strict of expectations for yourself on your pace. Still to this day, I run slow (which is why I don’t love running with other people, because I just feel like I’m chasing them the whole time). Ain’t no shame in those 10-11 minute miles. Do I sometimes feel like I could speedwalk faster than I’m running? Yep, but who cares?! You’re out there and that means you’re already ahead. Training for a half marathon is going to be give & take. Know when to push yourself, and when to allow yourself to take it easy.
8. SHOP AROUND UNTIL YOU FIND THE RIGHT HALF MARATHON. There are SO many half marathons to choose from! And you want it to be a good fit… play into your strengths & likes so that race day is something you look forward to. For me, I chose a half marathon in beautiful Acadia National Park, because it’s so close to my hometown & beautiful! I knew fall would be a great time of year… I don’t ever envision myself running a half marathon in New England that’s between November and April, because I’m not a huge fan of running when it’s really cold out. Set yourself up for success by signing up for a half marathon that will be in a favorite location & season.
9. IF YOU CAN HIT 10 MILES, YOU’RE GOLDEN. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I ran 10 miles. It felt like such a victory and the half marathon really felt within reach. If you can work yourself up to run 10 miles, you can do the half marathon. I personally decided to save the golden 13.1 for race day, so that it would truly be the first time I had ever run a half marathon.
1o. THE BETTER YOU EAT, THE BETTER YOU’LL FEEL (SEEMS SIMPLE). It’s a funny cycle. The more I workout, the better I eat. And if I fall off the workout train, I eat more junk. You would think more runs would equal more ice cream (trust me, I still had plenty of ice cream this summer), but I find that being active makes me want to eat better. You want to put good, nutritious things in your body because you want to fuel it with the right things for your runs. If I eat terribly, it’s pretty much a guarantee I’m not going to feel spectacular on the next run. For me, JuicePlus was my secret weapon. I would start each day with the capsules and refuel after a run with the chocolate protein shake. On race day & on long runs, I would pack JP gummies for mid-run energy.
Voila! There are 10 tips that brought me from a running skeptic to someone who genuinely looks forward to running. On a final note, don’t be afraid to post about your running journey! Think of it less as bragging and more as an opportunity to motivate someone who has been wanting to get into running but just doesn’t know where to start. That’s my biggest hope for this post and I can’t wait to see who gets out there on the race course in 2017!
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My Favorite Running Gear (which I would reward myself with when I hit certain milestones in training):