Half Marathon Plan: How did I come up... - Marathon Running ...

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Half Marathon Plan: How did I come up with that 9-day cycle idea?

Hi all,

I meant at some stage to talk about this, but I didn't want to over-complicate an already complicated subject! As I have been sorry to see that a number of people have been suffering from injuries I thought it was about time. I've also been working on the plan again as you've probably guessed from the picture 😊

Thanks first of all, and once again, to Linda for sharing her experiences with the University physio yesterday. Very insightful, and I wish you a speedy recovery, Linda! If you haven't seen Linda's post, it's just a few below this one.

Anyway, what was that 9 day cycle all about?

Well, a few months back, someone posted on the Bridge to 10K forum that they couldn't manage to keep up with only one day's rest between runs, they needed more recovery time. They asked for help with how to manage the problem of fitting 3 runs into a week. My first thought was: why don't you use a 9 day week instead of a 7 day one? And I nearly commented to that effect, but I thought the person would think I was nuts 😊

The idea stayed with me though, and of course I Googled it. Straight away I found an article from Runner's World about how the American elite runner Meb Keflezighi had found that switching to a 9-day training cycle had helped him, as an aging athlete, to keep on competing injury free. The 9-day cycle afforded him more time for rest and recovery between the harder runs. I found a few more articles on the subject (see some links below), and when we started talking about a half marathon plan for this forum, the idea kept tapping me on the shoulder.

Of course a major caveat, that was mentioned in some of the articles and also raised by many people here, is that most people operate according to some sort of 7-day schedule, which makes it harder to fit life around the type of plan I proposed. At the time I was not able to overcome this issue...

... but hey, I said this was an experiment, right? Work never stops on this plan, and here is a link to the latest version of it:

docs.google.com/spreadsheet...

I'm not saying anyone has to switch over to the new version; I'm not sure if I would want to myself, although it fits in ok with where I am at the moment - I would be in the middle of Week 6 and I'd have to do a speed run on Saturday instead of a 14k long run, but I could probably live with that.

I definitely missed a few things in the earlier iterations of the plan, and I apologise for that. But your comments so far have been amazing, and so here is a bullet list of the notable changes:

β˜… There are at least two rest days between each of the "hard" runs, which are highlighted in red. You will note that this means there are only two runs per week, so I have included some optional extra runs in case anyone feels compelled to run three times a week, but I urge you to remember that this is based upon a 9-day cycle plan with three runs per cycle.

β˜… That said, I have rearranged things so that all the long runs are on a Sunday, and I have had to add a few extra rest/cross days to make this work with the longer rest periods. I think of these as a bonus.

β˜… I have made the Speed workouts optional. A number of you have mentioned difficulties with this - special shout out to homlyme, hope you'll be ok!! xx Particularly if you are running your first half marathon, although speed workouts have very good fitness implications, they are really not necessary for you. They can be saved for another time.

β˜… I have included something called "CHECK IN" for want of a better name - any suggestions? Thanks to Sqkr and ju-ju- for this idea! It is really good to take a bit of time every now and then to take stock, and really question any niggles or other concerns you may have. So I put in three workouts, for which I suggest a walk or light jog, where you check all over your body for any signs of pain or tension, write down your thoughts, think and talk about them.

Anyway, (and sorry btw that this is a late post, normal service should be resumed next week!) I hope you all have a great weekend running!!!

roseabi xx

runnersworld.com/training/a...

trainingpeaks.com/blog/why-...

middleagemarathoner.com/the...

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Mentioned in this post: linda9389, homlyme, Sqkr, ju-ju-

xxx

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Ooh nice - some thought provoking reading for the couch ... off to digest and process :)

Will be back :D :D :D

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Hi Abi, I’m using the 7 day version which you put out some time ago, which I’ve adapted to my lifestyle and work pattern.πŸ™‚ You always said it was a suggestion and I’ve taken full advantage of it.πŸ˜€

My hope is that I will be properly prepared for the Croydon HM in late March.🀞 As I’ve already managed 15K with about 10 weeks to go I’m relatively confident I’ll get there.😊 Without your guidance I wouldn’t be anywhere near that, sonthanks for your efforts to help us all! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

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That's fabulous, and it's my pleasure 😊

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roseabi are you doing another one with thursday long run I'm feeling a bit lost with it now I completed my 15k today I'm thinking maybe it's best for me to carry on with original plan

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Oh yes, do carry on! Xx

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Thanks Abi, this is really interesting, I confess the concept of 2 non-running days after each run had completely escaped me. I took the running on alternate days schedule that I have been doing since C25K and carried on, oooops! 😁 maybe that is why I feel a bit broken today and this week has been really tough? The checking in is a good idea although I probably do it whenever I notice a niggle, like today my left hip was starting to ache and I realised it was probably because I was running on tip-toes on my right foot (I have an impingement in my right ankle that sometimes makes it painful to completely flex the ankle), running on tip-toes removed the pain from my ankle but obviously created an imbalance that has put strain on my left hip. Who said running is easy?!

Off to take a look at the new and improved plan to see if I can fudge it with the old one and perhaps do more XT sessions. My weekly mileage has been a tad more than the maximums you list 😳

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It might be, but then again it's generally a bit harder at this time of year. And yes, there is a mindset created by the C25K. It's not BAD per se, but it is pretty rigid which is a pity I think. I also think that a lot of people worry that if they start cutting out runs they will fall off the horse and not be able to get back on again - but it doesn't have to be like that!

Don't worry about your mileage too much, in the plan it is particularly low. But if you are struggling, cutting down the mileage is certainly something to consider!

I'm glad to see you are checking yourself for niggles on the go. I like to do this myself while I run - I call it 'body scanning' as in mindfulness meditation, and I nearly put that on the plan but I thought it would be too 'woo' 😁

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Interesting really, really interesting...:)

I am using the seven day with tweaks... life and weather keeps throwing things at me!!

It is fabulous.... but...

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Thanks Floss! xx

And yeah, tell me about it πŸ˜‚

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Lots of useful info in there!

As you know, as of yesterday I already amended my plan to the 3 runs per cycle principle, so it is closer to this new version I think.

My parkrun last week was going to have to be my last until after the HM under the old plan, but since removing one run per cycle, I might now be able to do park run in Feb after all.

So far I have been lucky enough to barely be working, so have been able to take long runs mid-week. From mid-Feb that's going to be much more difficult though, so I will probably jiggle my plan to run those at the weekend then. There's more flexibility with 3 runs per cycle not 4, and after the appointment yesterday I am feeling much more confident about having less runs in the schedule, especially since the weekly mileage is still quite high (not sure I would have been so keen earlier on when the distances were shorter though).

Once back from two weeks of hols, I effectively have 7 weeks (one of which I will be away again for).

So 3 weeks of cross training out of the next 9! But for the other weeks, I will look again and combine what I have with your new plan, with the aim of getting those long runs to the weekend; I think it will be very useful for me.

The only other thought I have is I wonder if Check-in needs to feature more often to be of value? I'm sure I wouldn't have been aware of my current problem in week 4, yet I'm already out of action before the next check-in is due!

Thanks for this - each different way of looking at things further informs the jiggling I do - it's really valuable :) x

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I do like a bit of jiggling πŸ˜‰

Sounds good!

Teri commented about more regular checking in too, and I went on about my meditation ideas again 😁 The idea on the plan was to make it more formal, with a whole workout day devoted to it - and generally draw attention to the idea of it. But I take your point, and will think about putting in more regular sessions. I'll post about it next week too.

Ideally, check yourself on every run. Many of us write notes in Strava (you are one) after a run, which is a great tool for making us think about how we're feeling - even if we never look at the notes again. I used to write massive reports of all my runs - this was when I was on Endomondo, and I had only one follower but he was very good about reading my novels 😁😁 I decided after a while that life was too short, but I do try to put down a couple of points after my runs.

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I heard jiggling was the latest thing in cross training!

To be fair, after so many small injuries since I started running, I do tend to check in on myself every run. My problem is knowing when to stop and rest :D :D :D

Even now, in my head I plan to get my 20k run in next week before I go away. Right now I'm saying I will only do that if the pain has completely gone ... but by Weds or Thurs next week, who knows what deal I will have struck with myself! :D

So regular check in is easy, but having the strength of mind to stop at the right time is my real problem :(

Maybe turning my strava comments into a check-in confessional would help :D :D :D

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Omg a Strava confessional with an orange curtain!!!

Writing a new Jiggling workout right now...

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:D :D :D

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Thanks for still working on this roseabi. I’m finding all your thoughts and suggestions invaluable, but flex my plan mainly around how I feel now.

For now I’ve mainly got my normal evening exercises every night back again, and 3 times a week of extra leg strength exercises. I’m largely using walking as cross training while still building up distance, but hope to get more energetic (with a gym stair master) and to bring in hills once I’ve hit the full flat HM distance. Not far to up from 19k now! As I’ve got until May to practice it for my HM race, I figure I’ve plenty of time to play around.

I suspect taking 2 days to recover after the longer runs may well be my longer term strategy, but I may still some of the time fit that into a 7 day week / 3 runs per week cycle. Once I bring in hills, if they wipe me out then I’ll take 2 recovery days after those too, which may end up more in line with your 9 day cycle.

Having wiped myself out on the last few k of my last 19k run, I want a rematch and am trying to think more about nutrition. (In hindsight, a long run in the afternoon when you only ate a banana for lunch is probably never going to work well for me...)

Hope you are feeling better again now. xx

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I think you're doing a fantastic job! You're probably right about the lonely banana though - more food needed, hooray! 😁

And thanks, I am feeling much better today xxx

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I don’t want you thinking that’s all I normally eat for lunch - it’s the 2 hour digestion window I struggle with before running. A banana is the only fuel I know I can get away with half an hour before, and I like my long runs to finish before it gets dark! Morning runs 2 hrs after porridge seem to be easier to plan during shorter daylight hours!

Glad you’re feeling better 😊❀️❀️

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The morning run sounds good. Do you have anything during your runs?

Thank you xxxx

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I ordered a mixed pack of tailwind yesterday, to try in my water. I carry (and drink!) 1.5l of water in my hydration vest for longer runs.

I should perhaps mention that I sweat a lot, I always have, so this is probably about right for me. In the colder weather, my husband returns home with almost dry running kit - mine’s so water logged that it weighs a tonne!

As I can’t tip back my dodgy neck to drink from a bottle while running, my race plan is to start the HM with my usual 1.5l bladder to sip from. I may grab an extra bottle from a water station if needed, but will have to stop to decant it into either my bladder or a straw-accessible soft flask I have. I could stop running and drink from the bottle while standing still, but think I prefer my usual regular sips rather than suddenly slugging down a load of water in one rushed go...

I do carry emergency Jelly Babies, but don’t think to get those out if I don’t deem the situation an emergency and imminent collapse likely! To be honest, munching on dry food doesn’t really appeal to me while I’m still running, so I hope the tailwind will be enough if I need anything.

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I look forward to hearing how you get on with Tailwind. I've been meaning to try it, although I really think it's a bit expensive. I've been using Decathlon's powdered energy drink, and I'm interested to compare the two...

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Apart from essential chocolate bars πŸ˜‹, we tend to eat fairly natural β€œclean” stuff at home, so I prefer the sound of a natural option. I agree they’re pricey though.

My plan is to try one for my next long run, but if that goes ok then I’ll try without again for the long run after. For HM distance I’m hoping enough oats etc with the right timing beforehand will be adequate. I may just use Tailwind for a boost during races, if it has any effect. If I find I need it for every long run now, then I’ll look more into making up my own energy drinks from raw materials...

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I use Tailwind on every run to keep my blood sugar levels stable - it tastes really nice and has never caused any tummy upsets for me. You are right though, it is really expensive - I would be interested to hear how you get on with making your own up with raw ingredients.

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I’ve not read it all yet, but this looks like an interesting article on running and food etc - at the bottom of the page it has a simple DIY energy drink to make...

nytimes.com/guides/well/hea...

I’ve heard people say that just using well-diluted fresh orange juice with a bit of added salt in is another option.

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I used to make my own sports drink with orange squash and a pinch of salt 😊

Love the NY Times! Although I'm not surprised you haven't read all of that article yet - its massive!!

... and I'm disappointed in the NY Times now - the opening sentence is utter drivel πŸ˜‚

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Thanks md, have skimmed through the article and the recipes look promising - I'm off to google some more! I can save the Tailwind for lazy days! 😊

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I used to have the same issue. Until I discovered the SIS espresso Energy bars ... to which I am now sadly addicted! I can eat one within 30 mins of running with no issue with a stitch or indigestion so long as i have a slug of water to wash it down. So far that has made a big difference even on the long runs, although I do sometimes have a couple of jelly babies en route. Now I have a hydration vest I'm going to try the tailwind energy drinks too .

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I’ve ordered some tailwind to try too, Linda, as I’ve been carrying a water bladder for all my long runs. I like the fact that they are 100% natural, and everyone seems to say they don’t get any digestion issues from them.

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Yes, that's why I bought some to try too. I haven't worn the bladder yet but will definitely try them out before March. The espresso bars are probably far from natural, but they do have caffeine in them. I don't really take caffeine in anything else, so I think that's why they give me such a boost :D

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I think some of the tail wind versions are caffeinated too.

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I’m going to have a good look at this as I think I need to do another half marathon this year.

But I know I won’t be doing Dorney ever again!!!!

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I was talking to someone this week who was thinking about doing a tri at Dorney. Although it's only two run laps of the lake, you have to swim in it then cycle round it too. I thought that sounded dreadful too πŸ˜€

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The half marathon was 4 and a half laps of totally flat boring running. I finished it but it wasn’t at all enjoyable and I felt really disappointed as it was my first HM race. Put me right off.

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Does sound pretty dull - what area (of the country, world etc.) would you like your half to be in ideally? I wonder if folk could recommend one for you this year :)

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I’m in Luton so will have a look for something near here. πŸ˜€

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Ha, I'm bound to recommend the Milton Keynes Winter Half, although it's not til December. But it's a single lap course and very pretty.

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I may have to look into that one roseabi :-)

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2 laps was boring enough, yours must have been dire. Just imagine how much better your next half will be though πŸ˜€

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It was, and I have a very low boredom threshold, so I was then just feeling every metre of the course and not enjoying it at all. I only did it because it was on a Saturday and the person who put me up to doing it is a pastor in a church and wanted to be there to see me run.

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Excellent, and there are so many half marathons to choose from!!

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Well done for all the continued hard work Abi.

I am regimented in doing 3 runs per week and I like the speed runs as part of the plan. They add a nice bit of variety with alternating Intervals and tempo running.

What I did, and I'm sure you have touched on this, is to work out my paces (for each type of run) based on my personal ability - both to enusre I am putting in enough effort and that I am not putting too much.

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Thanks Dave xx

That is a good idea. We have had quite a bit of chat about pacing over the last few days, and I'll be posting about it next week.

I like the speed runs too, well maybe I only like the tempo runs after I've finished them πŸ˜‚

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Amen to that!

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Thanks for all this extra info Abi, really interesting. I am happy with my home-cobbled plan at the moment, but I'm taking on board what you say and will be mindful to include some body scans/check ins on my runs. I am being a bit more diligent with my strength work and cross-training now and am hopeful (aren't we all!) to avoid injury. But if I get any niggles I am open to rejigging my plan to include additional rest/cross days.

Off to do my long run tomorrow - 16k! πŸ€— - so will try to remember to do a body scan in that (I am used to calling it Body Scan from some mindfulness meditation I did a while back). That reminds me, I need to plan my route... scurries off to find OS map πŸ€“πŸƒπŸŒ

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Sorry I didn't reply to this earlier! How did you get on with your mindful run?

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That's ok 😊 By the time I remembered to check my body my whole lower legs and feet were hurting! I even had a bit of lower back ache which I never normally get. I put it down to all the steep hills and coming down with a cold. My legs and feet are fine now, just need to make sure I keep my toenails cut really short as the end of my toes on left foot felt really sore. Thanks for asking!

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