The August 2011 Runner’s World has a ten-week half training schedule for those who are planning to run their first half marathon this fall. I just finished reading the article, and can recommend it if you are not already using one of my schedules. As you know, my half training schedule is customized according to your needs and current level of fitness.
Having said that, let me be the first to state that for a “one size fits all” schedule, it’s really good. It starts from the assumption that you are already running three miles three or four times a week. (If you’re not there yet, you definitely need to get a copy of my half training schedule to see how to get started.)
In the Runner’s World article, the general principle is to take three days per week resting or cross-training and two hard and two easy days. This is a great principle to follow, and gives you plenty of time to recover from the hard workouts. The hard workouts alternate speedwork with long runs, with one or two rest days and one easy day between each hard workout.
I approve of the general pattern, especially if you’re only training for ten weeks. For longer training periods, I would personally find the speedwork they recommend boring. I understand the idea behind it: it’s to get used to running at race pace by running 5- 6 miles with a gradually increasing portion of that being at race pace.
If you’re following a 13-week or 15-week schedule, I think you might find yourself getting stale through overtraining on these pace days. Think about it – the schedule looks like this:
>>>Monday: Rest or cross-training
>>>Wednesday: Rest or cross-training
>>>Thursday: Pace run
>>>Friday: Rest or cross-training
>>>Sunday: Long run
Repeat for ten weeks, except that in week 5 they suggest a 10K race for the long run and taking an easy day instead of the pace run. I would find that monotonous, especially if I trained for more than ten weeks. I would mix in some interval runs, fartlek and hill repeats to build strength and speed without the monotony of continual pace runs, (Incidentally, while I call these pace runs, the article refers to them as tempo runs – I apologize for the inconsistency!)
There also seems to be no provision for strength training in this schedule. Having run for years without strength training, I am now beginning to discover the problems that has brought me. I have recently started a strength training program that would fit in nicely with this schedule, taking just 7 minutes a day on the rest days: I’m sure your running would benefit from that or something similar.
The third issue I would be concerned with is that the longest training run is 12 miles. This is adequate and, given the assumptions made, is probably the best you could do. Given a longer training period or a more advanced starting point, I would aim for 14 or 15 miles for the longest run.
In summary, if you’re training for your first half marathon with only ten weeks to do it in, this is a good schedule. If you have more time, I would recommend mixing in some different workouts for the hard days, as well as strength training during the week. Personally, I would recommend, too, that you try to fit in one run of 13 miles or more before the race: it will give you the confidence you may need that you can actually finish 13.1 miles.