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The Art of Movement Edition 26: Half-Marathon Training

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CIRCUITS IS BACK! - Tuesday 26th July @ 6:30pm on Turnham Green, Chiswick

Edition 26 - Half-Marathon Training

So earlier this year, I signed up for a half-marathon for the first time (having been roped in by my wife, my best mate, and his girlfriend). I say roped in, but didn’t really take much convincing. I’ve always been arrogant enough to think I’ve got a half-marathon in my locker, despite rarely doing much in the way of distance training - I categorically hate running anything over 10k (although I did used to run middle distance and cross country as a youngster). Football is where I get my miles in. I rack up around 10km in a 90 min game, and half of that during a bit of 5-a-side in the week.

However, as I would also say to a beginner, there is no doubt you can do the distance. You can, I can, we all can, even if you are out of shape. If somebody put a gun to your head, we could all do a half-marathon tomorrow, walk, jog or crawl - we are human and our bodies are capable of far more than we are prepared to accept. Your proximity to death at the end would be the only variant! But of course, this is not what we are talking about, and hopefully we all want this to not only be a semi-pleasant experience, but also find a sense of achievement by not just crossing the finish line, but doing it within a time that we might expect of ourselves (however realistic or generous that goal might be).

So to make it interesting, I have set myself a goal of completing the run anywhere between 1 hr 30 mins and 1 hr 45 mins, meaning I will need to apply myself! My other consideration is that I will also be playing football twice a week (1 training, 1 match) every week during my half marathon training, and therefore minimising injury risk and maximising freshness is of great importance to me. So how will I achieve this? Here is what I expect my typical week to look like in terms of training and exercise:

Usually distance running training should incorporate a mix of 3 different types of running - Fast intervals, lactate threshold training, and longer, slower, distance runs which create your base (or ‘tank’). Long distance runs are the only activity I have included as a necessity for my half-marathon, because I will be involuntarily doing a lot of threshold training through football, and I will add some low impact sprints using the ski erg (or rower) on Thursday’s to get my heart rate near max without punishing my legs further. Therefore my usual schedule would actually look very similar to this without the long Monday run. I have tried to give my legs a recovery day following the long run, leg day and match day. I like to try and do upper body 3 days per week - 1 push, 1 pull and 1 both, so all muscle groups are targeted twice per week, and focus on core stability twice per week to stay injury free.

Long slow run progression:

Week 1 - 25/7 - 7km (slow)

Week 2 - 1/8 - 10km (slow)

Week 3 - 8/8 - 10km (faster)

Week 4 - 15/8 - 5km (deload)

Week 5 - 22/8 - 12km (slow)

Week 6 - 29/8 - 14km (slow)

Week 7 - 5/9 - 14km (faster)

Week 8 - 12/9 - 7km (deload)

Week 9 - 19/9 - 16km (slow)

Week 10 - 26/9 - 16km (faster)

Week 11 - 3/10 - 10km (deload)

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth” ― Mike Tyson

Why is this gem from Iron Mike so great and important to me? Well, for me it helps me to always remember the plan you put together is just an ideal scenario. Very rarely is a training programme executed exactly to the letter of how it is written, with no adjustments, compromises or setbacks, to the extent I would be suspicious of somebody who claimed that their entire 12 week programme had gone without a glitch.

It is important to allow for changes to the script, and not freak out when things don’t unfold in the pretty way they look written down. Some examples of what I expect and anticipate:

  • Possibly moving my pull/core session from tues to weds, in order to have 1 rest day, 1 intense day, and 1 medium day, rather than 3 medium days (tue-wed-thur)

  • Experimenting with having my lower body conditioning session on the weds (same day as football training - 2 different types of training stimulus), allowing thurs to be an additional rest day for the legs

  • Removing the short, easy monday run on a deload week, meaning less running volume and extra recovery instead (running only carried out at football x2)

All of this depends on how my body is coping with the demands of the programme I have created. I have added sports massage into my Friday’s during my training because I acknowledge that now in my mid-30’s, I can be a delicate little flower when my training load increases, and I am very much a confidence athlete - so anything to help me feel a bit fresher for match day Saturday and long run Monday will have a good psychological effect on me!

Movement of the Week: Single Leg Squat

One of the best exercises I can recommend for runners. The loaded single leg squat will help you strengthen the glutes and quadriceps greatly by taking them through a full range of motion many people find difficult to achieve with a double leg squat. The single leg nature of it improves your balance and stability on one leg (when we run we are always on one leg), particularly through the foot and the ankle, and offers a huge degree of injury resistance and support for the knee. Get on it!

That’s all for this week! Please spread the word about my Patreon channel so more people can enjoy the videos and newsletters!

Thank you,


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