How long had you been running before you ran your first half or full marathon?
On another forum, I was reading a rather angry discussion about newbies running half marathon's with inadequate preparation. I understand that doing too much too soon can lead to injury. At the same time, there are a lot of programs that allow inexperienced runners to train for marathons or halfs in just a few months. I'm one of those new runners who has ambitions to run long races, so reading the argument was really discouraging. One poster was very contemptuous of many of the popular training plans, saying that the mileage was totally insufficient. I enjoy challenging myself, but speed isn't important to me, and doing short fast races isn't where I want to be. I'd much rather do long demanding runs, which is why I decided to begin half marathon training. There is a local half-marathon in March that seemed like a good option. However, I don't know if I'm being stupidly over-ambitious. I started running in August. I'm a long time walker and hiker, so the C25K went easily. Since I finished it a month ago, I've been increasing my mileage a bit each week. This week, I plan to add a fourth day to my weekly training. But my mileage will still be fairly low, since I'm trying to follow the 10% rule.
Do you think that 7 months from couch to half marathon is reasonable, or am I being a fool?
It depends...on YOU. That is, I think it depends on what kind of shape you are in when you start, how your body deals with training stresses, what kind of time and energy you can devote to training, and importantly, what kind of race you want to run.
How do you feel when you're running? If you already have days when you feel like you could run forever, then maybe you're good. If it's a real challenge right now and if you're a person who is inclined to despair or lose motivation due to failure and injuries/setbacks, maybe set a shorter goal.
If there's not a particular hurry, you can always set your sights on running your half-marathon in a year and 7 months, and then feel really well trained, finish strong and feel great. It's good to have short and long term goals. I currently have a goal set to try to acheive 4 years from now, but lots of interim goals along the way.
Just keep running!
"If you think you will fail or that you will succeed, you'll be right."
Recent and Upcoming Races:
New York NY - ING NY Marathon, Nov. 6, 2011 - Finish time 4:53:24
Do not get impatience, think long term running. Running for life should be all of our goals. With that being said I think you can do it if you listen to your body and train smart, no time goal. Find a on line plan Hal Higdon's has some very good free ones.
"Do you think that 7 months from couch to half marathon is reasonable, or am I being a fool? "
It could be either. It depends greatly on your training and your goals for the race. It can be reasonable if you train carefully and progressively, and your primary goal is finishing the race. You have about 16 weeks (depending on the exact date of the race). Train to avoid injury. Work on distance, forget about speed for now. Listen to your body at all times!
Just for curiosity's sake: what race?
Lenzlaw - The HM is the one in Chambersburg, PA.
My goal is to finish, to run as much of it as I can, and to enjoy it enough that I continue with other long races. I'm sure I can finish, barring serious injury. I've walked much farther than that. But running is different. And I'd like to enjoy it too. I had a blast at my first 5K.
My biggest concern comes from the fact that I tend to push myself just a bit farther and a bit farther - and that can lead to injury. OTOH, I do know how to listen to my body. As a long distance backpacker, I learned that plans are great, but when the foot hits the trail/pavement, sometimes plans have to change.
So far, I've done well on the short runs (3-4 miles) but the longer ones are a challenge. My longest so far was 7 and by the end I was dragging. But no pain. I have time to build stamina, I think. Biggest problem is still hills. I'm okay on the little ones, but the big ones wipe me out. The Chambersburg run starts with a climb, according to the map, so I need to be prepared for it.
In my opinion you're not a fool at all. I started running on 2/14/11 and I just completed my first 1/2 marathon this past Sunday. I did the c25K program, then the bridge to 10k and then the Hal Hidgon's Novice 1/2 training. I made sure to follow the program closely so as not to over train, and I listened to my body as I went. I didn't find that the training was inadequate at all. I was able to run the whole 13.1 (didn't even need to walk for water stops - I had a hydration belt so I was able to keep running). I made sure that I kept my pace easy the whole time (in the 11mm zone) and afterward I stretched A LOT and rehydrated. Just three days later I feel fine and I did my first post-race run today (just an easy 2 miles to see how my body felt). Like you, I need goals and I like to challenge myself. I think if you're smart about it and you don't set the bar too high you'll be fine. For the record, there were plenty of people completing the 1/2 using the Galloway (walk/run) method. I know there are people who feel that unless you're running the whole thing it somehow doesn't "count" but I'm a big believer that as long as you're true to your own goals and you're being safe about your training you should be free to enjoy your accomplishments without judgement. That said, it's possible that I'm one of those over-zealous newbies, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I did it and I'm pretty much dead average in terms of my conditioning and ability level so I'm probably able to speak for the "normal" person. I say, if you want to do it, do it. If you have to alter your plans as you go, be willing to do that too. Best of luck!
3/19/11 Holy Grail 5K 36:20 (First 5K)
4/10/11 Wellness 5K 30:48
4/23/11 Stonyfield 5K 30:28
5/7/11 Dover 5K: 29:39
5/23/11 Get Fit in May 5K 29:44
5/29/11 Redhook 5K 29:32 (PR)
6/11/11 Market Square 10K 1:08:40 (First 10K)
8/18/11 Saunders 10K 1:07:35.49
9/5/11 St. Charles Childrens' Run: 29:54
9/10 Fox Point 5 Mile: 49:03
9/25 Holy Grail 5K: 32:33 (with bronchitis)
10/9 Great Island 5K 32:54.23 (still with bronchitis)
11/13 Seacoast 1/2 Marathon: 2:31:39 (1st 1/2 Marathon)
1/1/12 First Run 10K 1:4:45 (PR)
2/19/12 Half at the Hamptons 2:28:18 PR
3/24/12 Holy Grail 5K 28:17 PR
4/21/12Whale of a 5K (first trail race) 30:24
3/30/12April Fools 4 Miler 36:39 (9:10mm)
6/12/12 Margaritas 5K 27:52 (9mm) PR
I was in about the same place as you (7 mile long runs) this spring when I registered for my first half, in August. My mileage was 20-25 per week. I finished the half no problem. One thing that surprised me, though, was how brutally tired I got a few hours after the race! Not just legs and lungs, whole body exhaustion.Crash on the bed and sleep for hours tired.
So I think you can be ready by March, sure. Train smart, stay healthy, and you'll finish. Just remember to rehydrate and eat well after the race. You probably will not feel like eating as you've diverted your energy from your stomach to your legs, but force yourself. Longer distance races around here tend to have beer available post race,. I don't drink often at all, but a cold one after 21K is very good for recovery! Have warm clothes waiting at the finish line, and schedule a nap for the afternoon.
You might be quite foolish in other respects, but the goal of a 1/2 Marathon in March is quite reasonable. The challenge will probably be to get your milage in through the dark of a PA winter. Persevere, though, and you'll most likely do just fine.
Barefoot / Minimalist Runner
...not maintaining this these days..
07/29/2012 Marsh Creek Raptor Run 10 Mile Trail Race
07/15/2012 Quadzilla 15K Trail Run, Trexlertown, PA 1:37 (2011, 1:49)
04/29/2012 Lehigh Valley / St. Luke's HM, 1:43:15 (2011, 1:54:20 )
03/19/2012 Kutztown Fool's Run 10 Miler, 1:18:15 (2011, 1:30:20)
02/26/2012 Ugly Mudder 7.2 Mile Trail Run, Reading, PA 1:20
11/27/2011 Dirty Bird 15K Trail Run, Birdsboro, PA 1:40
10/08/2011 Lehigh Gap Nature Center 10K Trail Run (6.38 miles), 59:20 (10/07/2012)
Started running (again) May 5, 2010
Hills - Try to find a moderate hill that's about 250 meters long. Do a mile warmup getting to the bottom, then do repeats on the hill. Go up at your regular pace or maybe a little faster, turn around and go down at a very easy pace to recover. Do maybe 3 the first time, add 1 each time, to a maximum of 8 to 12 (your choice). Do a mile at the end to cool down. Do them every 10 days or so.
I defer to those more experienced with their great training advice. I can only offer my humble opinion and that would be that competing in half marathons is a process that involves a gradual trasition through other distance races. However, I also hold the old school reference that training at seven miles a day is not enough either. I never enter any race unless I have completed ( via difficult routes) at at least double the distance of a particular race. However, I certainly also understand the desire to participate and finish because every runner holds that sense of pride in accomplishing a particular goal.
To answer your other question -
I was an off-and-on runner for a couple years before I ran my first race (a 10K). I ran to stay in shape for other sports, usually less than 2 miles 2 or 3 days a week (max 3 miles but that was unusual). And I didn't run through the winter. After the 10K in November I trained more consistently, ran a couple shorter races in the Spring and a half in September.
Ginny - I just completed my second half. My first was quite the experience. I started training with a charity group, but their training schedule and my schedule weren't very compatible so I ended up following their plan and trained on my own. Seven months seems adequate, but I agree with most posts, you need to really listen to your body. I didn't know how to listen to my body either so I ended up with VICIOUS shinsplints and because I was tied to fundraising, I felt like I HAD to run eventhough I wasn't fully prepared physically. My body hated me for a whole week after.
If you're running for the experience of completing a half marathon, then go for it. So long as you're willing to pay attention to what your body is feeling and be willing to walk some of it so as not to hurt yourself. Also, CROSSTRAIN! You can't just rely on running to get ready, you have GOT to invest some time in either yoga, weights, swimming, or Zumba. It helps tremendously.
If you're interested in finishing within a certain amount of time, then I'd recommend training for a full year before taking on 13.1 miles. Oh, I'd also look into a series of races that build up to your half. Here in San Antonio, we had a series called The Alamo Beer Challenge that started with a 5k in July and gradually built up to the half in November (5k, 8k, 10k, 15k, half marathon). I ended shaving off 29 minutes from last year's time and my body only hated me for the a day or two. Whatever you decide to do good luck and keep us all posted!
It may sound extreme, but it builds great endurance to better prepare for race pace and also boosts self confidence for important events. Many may not require extensive training hours, however those additional efforts help reduce anxiety about competition and personal performance.