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Half Marathon Training Plans

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“Whether You’re An Experienced Half Marathoner, or a First- Timer at the Distance... This 24-Week Training Programme is a Powerful ‘Recipe’ for Success at Your Next Half Marathon ...”

For many people a half marathon is just a box to be ticked on the way to running the full 26.2 mile distance. But that would be a mistake.

Because the half marathon a very worthy event in its own right. Not only that, half marathon training (done correctly) can lead to much-improved marathon and 10k performances. It’s such a tremendous race to run as a workout that it can have a very useful effect on your LTRV (lactate-threshold running velocity).

However, while training specifically for and running a strong half marathon should be viewed as a genuine stand-alone running challenge, this is easier said than done. Truly top-class information on half-marathon training and competition is hard to find because the event is so often overshadowed by the marathon.

That’s why I asked John Shepherd, a long-time contributor to my Peak Performance sports science newsletter, to construct a 24-week running programme that would pretty much be the ‘last word’ on training and conditioning for this event – because the information would be equally valuable to both the novice runner and the experienced half-marathoner.

The result: Half Marathon Training Plans – a complete and concise programme that includes all the information you need to train for and successfully complete your chose half marathon event. And be able to do so, injury-free, in a time that brings a smile to your face!

John is eminently qualified to write on the subject – because he brings the level of personal insight and experience to the subject that only an experienced competitive athlete can. You see, John is himself a former international long-jumper – as well as a coach to elite athletes in the UK – who has written extensively on sports, health and fitness. In all, John has authored eight books including 101 Athletic Drills for Young People and The Complete Guide to Sports Training.

Indeed, John’s written several, successful training programmes for our ‘Personal Training Online’ series – ‘Fat Burning’, the ‘3-month Muscle Builder Training Programme’, the ’24-week Marathon Programme’ our ‘3-Month Speed Training Programme’ and the ‘Triathlon Training Programme’.

Unlike so much of what you’ll find on the internet, Half Marathon Training Plans is informed by the very latest sports science on pre-conditioning, training, injury avoidance and recovery. That’s because every word is written by a long-standing, regular contributor to Peak Performance – the world’s only sports science newsletter.

So we go out of our way to avoid shortcuts that might jeopardise your next half marathon attempt – or indeed your entire future as a distance runner.

You don’t need to look to hard online to find training plans that make such grandiose promises as ‘a full marathon for a non-runner in as little 12 weeks’.

At Peak Performance we refuse to take such a risky approach – and for good reason.

Because a proper 24 week programme – which might seem excessive to some people – in actual fact allows for several cycles of building and recovery, the chance to work on faster paced running rather than just slow plodding, and the opportunity for genuine physiological adaptation and therefore a good time, when you hit the start line.

The careful build up to the distance, the regular programming of lower volume recovery weeks, and the inclusion of focused strengthening and flexibility work, means the risk of injury to you is significantly less than in more compressed plans.

So not only are you much more likely to get to the start line injury-free and ready for a fast time, you’re also building a proper foundation for the rest of your running life.

In short, Half Marathon Training Plans is the definitive guide to half marathon competitive success.

And because it’s available to you as a PDF download, you can start putting the ideas it contains into practice within just 24 hours.

As a subscriber to our weekly Sports Performance Bulletin, you’re invited to reserve your copy of this brand new training program TODAY at an exclusive, advance order, discount price – but for a LIMITED time only. (More details on how to get your copy below.)

Where else can you find such cutting-edge advice in one place – and all of it based on the very latest sports science research?


“Training advice from Peak Performance has helped me to improve by using the correct exercises and strategies. I have also learned to get the maximum training effect with less time spent than in the past. A must for anyone wanting to keep abreast with the latest knowledge on sports performance.”

Geoff Lienert, Distance Runner, New Zealand “I like to know that I am getting information that the average person doesn’t. This makes me feel like I’m one step ahead of my competition.”

Gary Barnes, Triathlete, Australia “Peak Performance articles helped me focus my training and gave me great results. I had hit a plateau, and thought I was through improving. Once I started applying the information in the articles, I was able to improve my times from 5ks on up to marathons.”

Philip Aucoin, Distance Runner, USA

If you’re really serious about competing – and finishing – a half marathon in the next 12 months, then it’s tim e to take advantage of the latest sport science thinking – and impress your family, friends and workmates with your distance running ability!

Get your copy of Half Marathon Training Plans TODAY, at our special, 40%-discount, advance release price. What’s more, you’ve got 30 days in the convenience of your own home or sports club to decide whether or not you want to keep the program.

So make sure you order your copy TODAY.

A Half Marathon Plan to Suit Every Runner

A lot of free online running programmes claim to work for a wide range of runners, from novices to the experienced. But this is simply not true. For a first time half marathoner to reach the start line appropriately prepared to finish the event, he must train in a significantly different manner from the hardened distance running veteran.

That’s why Half Marathon Training Plans contains not one, but THREE carefully constructed and individualised training plans.

Plan 1 is aimed at relatively inexperienced runners who have completed a 5km run, are able to run at a steady pace for 30 minutes or who have a reasonable general fitness base from team sports or gym based training.

Plan 2 is aimed at intermediate runners who have already completed a strong 10km, a half marathon or are regularly running for 60 minutes or more. It’s ideal for runners who’ve ‘finished’ a half marathon but maybe weren’t entirely satisfied with their time and want to improve their PB before maybe focusing on a full marathon. If you have aspirations for a sub 4 hour marathon, then a 1:50-1:55 hour half marathon is an essential foundation before stepping up the mileage. A very sensible and effective strategy for a strong marathon performance is to focus over the winter on a PB at a spring half marathon and with that in the bag then target an autumn marathon.

Plan 3 is aimed at experienced runners who have a solid running background, are regularly running 4-6 times per week (including a long run of 90 minutes plus) and are targeting a sub 1:45 hour ‘half’. As with Plan 2, it’s an ideal launch pad for a marathon campaign. If you’re a marathon runner who feels they’ve reached a plateau, dropping down and targeting a fast half can be a great way to smash the plateau, find some speed and freshen up your training.

What Sets Our Half Marathon Plans Apart From the Rest?

Training for a half marathon involves a substantial commitment of time and effort – and the associated risk of injury. So you want to make sure that you know what you’re doing, and that you get it right.

So our three training plans are underpinned by the following principles, grounded in the very latest sport science:

The Importance of Recovery Weeks: too many running plans simply pile miles on top of miles, week after week, until the necessary distance or duration is achieved. This is a guaranteed recipe for injury, staleness and sub-optimal performance. Scheduling in a recovery week every 4-6 weeks, where volume is significantly reduced, should be part of any endurance training programme. These weeks allow your body to recover, become stronger and will also accommodate testing or racing. You’ll also find that they give you a mental lift and significantly help in keeping your enthusiasm for your training high.

No ‘Junk Miles’: every single session in your training plan has a specified intensity, duration and purpose. There is no ‘running for the sake of running’ and by cutting out worthless and meaningless junk miles, you’ll run faster and avoid injury. Plans 1 & 2 in particular prescribe less running than many traditional half marathon plans but because of the highly focused nature of the sessions, no more volume is necessary.

And less volume significantly reduces the likelihood of either burnout or injury.

Testing to Assess Your Progress: at the beginnings of Plans 2 & 3 and in Week 10 of Plan 1, a Run Test is scheduled. This test is designed to find your threshold heart rate and from that accurate and personalised heart rate training zones can be calculated. Using a threshold testing protocol to determine heart rate zones is far more accurate than using arbitrary formulas based of estimating maximal heart rate. Although maximal heart rate can be field tested, it’s incredibly unpleasant and to get an accurate and true figure, you have to be very motivated.

You’ll need a flat running route without any obstructions (a running track is best) and a heart rate monitor that allows you to recall average heart rate. Have a complete rest day the day before the test, don’t eat for two hours before and make sure you’re well hydrated.

In Half Marathon Training Plans we explain exactly how to run the test the right way, so you get accurate results. And we provide a table of predictive data based on a range of 10k times, so you can estimate your likely half marathon time even before you get to the start line on the Big Day.

Applying the Science of Pre-Conditioning to Avoid Injury

Running by its very nature creates over-use injuries. These usually manifest themselves in the lower limbs and back areas. More specifically they include ‘runner’s knee, shin-splints (medial tibial stress syndrome), Achilles tendon problems and heel pain (plantar fasciitis).

Although these and other injuries are often the result of factors beyond the scope of this special report, such as running in the wrong (for your gait) or worn trainers, too great an increase in training volume, a change in regular running surface or poor biomechanics - the good news is that you can use what are known as pre-conditioning techniques and specific strength training exercises to reduce their incidence and keep them at bay (the information in this section should be read in conjunction with the strength programmes and stretching suggestions found in sections 4 and 5 of the work book.

Pre-conditioning (or pre-training) is a relatively new ‘buzz’ word in the world of sports training. It refers to the process of ‘training to train’ rather than training to compete – or in your case run. It can be likened to the preparatory processes followed in numerous manufacturing industries, whereby tolerances and tests are painstakingly devised for materials and structures, so that when they are finally incorporated into the product, the risks of failure is virtually nonexistent.

So in Half Marathon Training Plans we show you exactly how to go about implementing a running specific pre-conditioning routine – and when.

The start of the training year would seem an ideal time to pre-condition. Indeed, many running coaches would say that’s what they are already doing by emphasising general training methods to build a foundation of running strength for more specific work.

In many ways these coaches are engaged in pre-conditioning, but in others they are not. Pre-conditioning should be implemented on an ongoing basis - it should operate continuously in the background of the main training programme in order to keep the runner in prime running condition all-year round.

For example, bouts of eccentric calf training to ‘protect’ against Achilles strain should be used periodically throughout the training year to keep this potential injury at bay. That’s why in Half Marathon Training Plans we provide full details of a specific exercise you can do to avoid this common and debilitating injury.

This section also includes several home-grown tests you can do to evaluate running injury potential – including a trigger point self diagnostic test that identifies potential ‘runner’s knee’ – one of the most common and annoying ailments in experienced and novice runners alike.

We also give you eight preconditioning exercises that you can use to ‘innoculate’ yourself against future injury – it’s worth reading the report for this information alone!

The Role of Strength Work in Distance Running

Sport has a number of enduring myths – ‘traditional’ approaches to training that persist into the present day despite all scientific evidence to the contrary.

For many distance runners the most prevalent of these is the ideas that what runners do is simply to run. And that the last activity they should be doing is strength work.

Of course this is not true. No top level distance runner worth their salt would dream of neglecting their strength work. And the same is true of you.

So in the next section of Half Marathon Training Plans we now provide some specific examples of running strength developing workouts – each of which appears in it designated place in the full training plans in the book. We give you two different workouts, which you should alternate each week as indicated.

Each workout is made up of 7 exercises – all of them carefully chosen for running-specific strength work, and all of them explained for you in detail (including illustrations) so you can be 100% sure you’re doing the exercises the right way.

How to Stretch Your Way to Half Marathon Success

Stretching and its relationship to running is still a controversial subject.

Runners tend to fall into one of three camps. The first are the ‘stretching evangelists’ who’ll take every opportunity to contort themselves into extreme stretches and will wax lyrical about the benefits of stretching. At the other end of the spectrum are the complete non-stretchers who’ll scoff at that ‘stretching nonsense’ and whose idea of post-running recovery is a cup of tea! In the middle tend to be the majority of runners. They’ll have a vague notion about some stretches, usually do a few after a run and sometimes include a few as they limber up for a race.

Science isn’t much help for a definitive answer as although the research does seem to suggest that post-running stretching can help to prevent injuries, it’s by no means conclusive. With regards to pre-exercise static stretching a number of studies have even shown it to have a negative impact on performance and increase the risk of injury.

It’s no wonder that runners are confused!

There does seem to be a growing consensus though that flexibility work, as part of a balanced training programme is beneficial. Common sense and the fact that almost all elite athletes and coaches prescribe stretching is also a good indicator that it’s something we should be doing.

As with the strengthening work, one of the major reasons for stretching is not to counter the tightness associated with running but to undo the damage and imbalances of endless hours spent sitting. Hamstrings, hip flexors and gluteals all suffer from too much time sitting and, by stretching them, you’ll ensure they can contribute to your running effectively.

So in Half Marathon Training Plans we give you a Best Practice guide to stretching for distance runners. Our carefully-crafted 6-exercise routine should be used in two ways:

First, after all run sessions work through all the stretches holding each for 20-30 seconds and repeating 2-3 times.

Second, at the end of strength workouts and whenever you feel like - in front of the TV in the evenings is a good time - work through once only, but hold each stretch for 60 seconds.

Our handy colour diagrams ensure that you can perform each stretch the right way, first time.

Running-Specific Warm-up Drills that ‘Innoculate’ You Against Injury – and Improve Your Gait

As a runner you might think that a gentle jog before commencing your faster run is all that is needed. Yes, you could probably get away with this in this instance, however by not warming up more extensively you are missing out on a prime opportunity to strengthen your running muscles and perform drills and exercises that will boost your performance over time and reduce injury.

So in Half Marathon Training Plans we devote a full chapter to the science of warming up the right way. We share with you a warm-up routine that actually improves your running technique (making you both more efficient and less prone to injury) through the use of specific running drills.

What’s more, our running specific warm up will:

Raise your body temperature - this process will ‘switch on’ numerous physiological processes that make subsequent vigorous exercise more effective and safer;

Fire up your neuromuscular system - getting you ready to run more effectively;

Put you in the right frame of mind to get the best from your body (known to sports psychologists as being in the ‘zone of optimal functioning‘ or simply ‘in the zone’).

Improve sport specific range of movement due to decreases in viscous resistance (muscles literally become more stretchy);

Increase oxygen utilisation in muscles, as haemoglobin release is facilitated at higher body temperatures

A Training Plan to Suit YOUR Individual Half Marathoning Needs

Now we’re getting to the nitty-gritty – the 24-week training programme designed to get you to the starting line prepared to run a great time, whether you’re a novice half marathoner or an experienced distance runner on the road.

We’ve talked about the importance of pre-conditioning (with a particular emphasis on building strength), warming up and flexibility. Now it’s time to lace up your shoes and hit the road!

But before you do, a quick final word on the detail in our three running plans. Because when you train the smart way, with a clear understanding of everything in your programme, you’re far more likely to succeed.

So let’s take a quick, closer look at the different types of sessions that our author, the experienced international athlete and elite coach John Shepherd, has woven together so carefully for you:

Recovery Sessions: this is a free session that is available for non-impact cross training or even for a complete rest if you’re feeling tired. Swimming or cycling can be good if you want another cardiovascular session but don’t work too hard and compromise your next running session. A yoga or Pilates class can also be beneficial or you could do an extended run through of the flexibility routine. Early on in Plan 1 you could perform an additional strength session but as tempo runs are introduced, this could be too hard on your legs. You need to ensure that you are able to put the emphasis into your half marathon training - having said that don’t neglect the strength training or stretching as they will play a key role in helping to keep you injury free.

Rest Days: no ifs or buts, this is a complete rest day. Consider booking in for a massage every couple of weeks. As well as being relaxing and therapeutic, a good sports masseur will be able to pick up areas of tightness and imbalances that will be able to be addressed before they become a problem.

LSD: Long Steady Distance (LSD) runs are the bread and butter of distance running training and develop the pure stamina and endurance needed to run a strong half marathon. They do this by boosting the efficiency of your heart - increasing the rate at which it pumps blood around the body (stroke volume) and the effort with which it does (heart rate). Perhaps less well know are the effects it has on your muscles and their supporting cellular structures. The number of oxygen carrying capillaries will be increased as will the number and efficiency of mitochondria. Mitochondria can be equated to cellular power plants and the better they are at doing their job, the better fuelled your LSD efforts will be.

Tempo: tempo runs are about learning to run at a sustainably quicker pace than your LSD pace. Regularly training at this intensity improves your overall running pace and gives you an extra gear to slip into for the final 3 miles of a half marathon.

Intervals: intervals in the half marathon plans require you to run at another gear higher than tempo pace, but should not be flat out. This intensity hovers just below anaerobic threshold and is very effective for increasing speed, building strength and increasing mental toughness.

Cruise Intervals: these are exactly the same as a regular interval session (including warm-up and cool down) but they involve a moderate hill of 3-5% gradient. The recovery is jogging back down.

Hill Reps: warm-up and cool down as for interval sessions. Work on a steep 10%+ grade hill and run at your maximum sustainable pace for the 1 minute work intervals. The recovery is jogging back down.

Fasted AM Run: an excellent way to develop running economy, enhance fat burning capabilities and control weight. Run before breakfast (you can have a black un-sugared coffee/tea or water) and stick strictly to Zone 1-2.5 on a flat course.

CrissCross Threshold: warm-up and cool down as for interval sessions. For the work period run in Zones 4-6. Once Zone 4 is reached build the pace over 2 minutes until you hit mid-upper Zone 6. Gradually back off allowing your heart rate, over about 2 minutes, to return to the bottom of Zone 4. Repeat this cycle for the prescribed time.

Threshold: the same structure as a tempo workout but aiming to work in Zone 4-5.

Track: lactate tolerance reps that use a rest time 2.5 times the length of the work interval. Intensity should be the maximum speed that can be consistently attained for the length and number of intervals. These are tough workouts and you need to be ‘committed to them’ to get the most from them.

So there you have it! A complete ‘tool kit’ of information for training for the half marathon – and completing it, injury-free, in a time you can be proud of.

So whether you’re a first-time half marathoner, or a grizzled distance running veteran, be sure to get your advance copy of this programme – TODAY.

And because it’s a PDF report, you’ll receive it within 24 hours of completing your order.

Half Marathon Training Plans is one of a series of special training programs from Peak Performance, the sports science newsletter. This specialist training programme is not available elsewhere.

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