By Eric on February 15, 2012 24

Training for a Half Marathon

What would ever possess me to run a half marathon?

That’s the question I asked myself after my first training run.

I’ve found that I lose motivation very quickly with workouts. I tried P90X for a while and I enjoyed it and was seeing results, but that didn’t seem to be enough to keep me motivated.

I’ve tried running in the past and it goes well for a while, but I have never seemed to find it worthwhile. So far, after two weeks, I think I have figured out what motivates me.


I committed to running the Dam to Dam race in Des Moines on June 2. OK, it’s not quite a half marathon, it’s 20K and a half marathon is 21.1K…

My goal is to finish, and hopefully run at an 8-minute/mile pace.

I was urged by a friend at work who ran this race last year. She said it’s super fun and gave me some training tips. I love to plan this stuff out! It excites me!

She sent me a link to a 12-week training plan that’s pretty light on the running actually. I only have to run three days a week, with the longer runs being on Saturdays.

I modified the schedule with five pre-training bonus weeks to get in shape before the real training begins. I also shifted around the two workday runs to Mondays and Wednesdays because we have life group on Tuesdays and I wanted to set myself up for success.

Here is a look at my schedule. (Yes, I jazzed it up in Excel. I’m a nerd. I know.)

Training for a Half Marathon

(download the Excel document)

I’m really excited to go for this goal. Kelsey already bought me some awesome running gear (two shorts and two long-sleeve tops) as an early birthday present. I’m hoping to run outside most of the time, as long as it’s above 35 degrees. Otherwise, I’ll be heading to the gym to run on the treadmill, which I pretty much hate at this point.

What do you think? Would you ever consider running a half or full marathon? Any advise from those who have done it before? I would love to hear from you.


Husband to Kelsey. Father to Rooney. Follower of Jesus. Born and raised in Iowa. I like blogging. Bulleted lists excite me. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. My biggest advise is on race day don’t go out too fast. My first 10 miler I was so excited I started way too fast, 3 miles in I was dying. Last year I ran a smart race and enjoyed it so much more! Running is so great. Hope you have fun getting ready!

  2. I have run eight half marathons and one full marathon, I love them!! Races are tons of fun and crossing the finish line is one of the best feelings ever. My only suggestion would be to try to find a running buddy for the longer runs. Having a friend to talk to is a HUGE help! Also, finding one or two local 5K’s to run during your training helps keep you motivated and excited about the big race ahead.

    • Great advise. I was planning on running an 8K in April, but the timing doesn’t work out with our schedules, but I’ll hopefully find another one.

  3. Good luck with your training! I’ve done two 1/2 marathons, and this year my husband is going to run the Indianapolis Mini Marathon with me!

    I 100% agree with the advise not to start too fast on race day. Let me know if you come across any advise that helps you as a 1st timer, so I can share it with my Hubby.


  4. If you can find someone to run with who is close to your level, it makes a HUGE difference. Pacing is everything, and running with a partner of similar skill can keep you from setting too high a pace (and burning out early), but also competitive juices flowing to keep up when you would normally fall behind.

    Have you ever considered cycling, in addition to running? I just got into it, and I enjoy it so much more than running (although I still run and it’s great cross-training).

    Good luck on the race!

    • Good advise Josh. I’ll be on the lookout for a running partner. I do enjoy cycling and I think I’ll add it into my cross training as the weather turns to spring.

  5. Congrats on training for your first half! I’ve run one a year for the last two years and one important thing to remember is not to over-train in the beginning. When you start out, you have the urge to just keep going and that’s great but you don’t want to risk injury. Start out easy and build up your legs before pushing too hard. You don’t want an injury to delay your training!

  6. Running is the best!! I love the way it makes me feel. I’ve run at least 10 half marathons, as many 10-mile races (my favorite distance), and three marathons. My advice is to stick to your schedule. It looks similar to a Hal Higdon schedule (he has lots of tips on his website, too), which I’m a fan of (no speed work for a first race of a particular distance, just mileage). I find that if I don’t compromise on the schedule (barring injury/weird pain, extreme sleep deprivation, setting the alarm for pm instead of am, etc.). I always feel better if I run versus not. I run at 5 am because that the only time of my day not scheduled away…it is still so worth it. It’s so exciting that you’re getting back into running!! :) Have fun!

    • oh, man. I get up at 5AM every morning, but not to run. It’s usually to blog. I don’t know how well I would do with running that early in the morning. might have to try it though.

  7. you’re inspiring. i like the workout in excel….i’m thinking about doing the dam-to-dam also (crazy people we are), but haven’t yet committed. best of luck to you!

  8. You will LOVE Dam to Dam… the course and the crowds are great! It was my very first race and since that time I’ve ran 3 fulls and several 1/2’s…Dam to Dam got me hooked! I’ve found that if I’m not training for something, I likely won’t do anything. Good luck!

  9. Gooo Eric!!! That’s awesome! I just finished my second half marathon last Saturday so I am, by no means, an expert but my best advice is to run the pace you train for! Don’t get caught up in the race day adrenaline and go out too fast -I always do this- and then blow up at the end. You want to finish strong- oh and smile for the photographers! Those pictures mean so much to me. I’m a little addicted now and I love it, it is fantastic fun.

  10. Nice! I may download that template! I’m running a half also in June. I’m excited! I’ve been keeping my spirits up, but this plan that you’ve laid out is really awesome! Keep it up! I’m sure it will all become worth it later on!

  11. Good luck! having a manageable training schedule makes all the difference! Don’t forget to give yourself a break if you feel you need it! Best of luck

  12. My advice is to train how you plan to race. When you get to your higher mileage long runs, experiment with what to eat before running, what/how much to drink while running, and what to wear. When you find what works, stick with it – no big changes on race day! Also, the advice above about not over training is great.
    I’m training for a half right now, and have been blogging some beginner advice here:

  13. I found that running is as much mental as it is physical so my advice is to think positive during training and on race day. Tell yourself that you’re strong and that your body has the endurance to finish the run and race. If the run gets tough imagine there is wind at your back pushing you to the finish line. If you think that it hurts or it’s so long or you’re tired, it’s going to keep hurting and will be very difficult to finish. If you run with a mindset of I feel good, this is awesome, I can do this, you will shift your focus and the run will be much more pleasant.

    When I was training for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, I learned that your body will feel different on different days. Some days you’ll run 8 miles no problem and other days 3 may be pushing it. And that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up. Just do what your body can do on that day. And breathe.

  14. awesome goal! i am the same – i need something to work toward. the difference for me was telling people about it. once i TOLD people i was running the DM half in 2010, it made it real, i HAD to stick to it!

    i started training a little early and kind of burned out, but ran a great time as a result. also, be sure to run HILLS. dam to dam is hilly i hear, and hills just make you so much stronger….i was running 10-minute miles on some mega-hills by our house, and shaved 1.5 minutes per mile just running the flat DM marathon course. it helps your endurance incredibly.

    i’m hoping to run the DM half again this year in October….six months after the baby. too ambitious i’m guessing, but it’s worth a try, even if i have to walk :)

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