Train for a Half Marathon in Half the Time?

Just last week, I shared my advice for balancing CrossFit and running because, like a lot of you, I have a half marathon on my calendar later this fall.

train for a half marathon two days per week

Last week, I actually registered for the South Shore Half Marathon. And, of course, once I received my email confirmation, I immediately started to put together my training schedule. But when I started planning out my runs, I realized I wasn’t able to easily fit them all in. I rely heavily on gym childcare and occasionally our jogging stroller when it comes to exercise, so fitting in longer training runs each week just wasn’t happening.

Brooks Nantucket GTS

Pictured above: Brooks Adrenaline Nantucket GTS 16 16 aka “the most adorable sneakers ever created”

I figured if there’s a will, there’s a way, so I started to bounce around some ideas with Mal about how we could make things work. (He’s registered to run the same half marathon, so getting on the same page, schedule-wise, was important.) We eventually came up with the idea of running two times per week with other kinds of (childcare provided) exercise mixed in. Hmm… that might work? The more we talked about it, the more it seemed to make sense for our situation.

cnc-2533

Thinking back to my training for the Boston Marathon, I consistently ran three times per week with the occasional KFIT or CrossFit workout thrown in. My training was a combination of long runs, medium-length tempo runs/Yassos/hill workouts, and shorter runs, and I felt completely prepared for race day (nervous, but prepared).

2015 boston marathon bib

The 3-times-per-week schedule allowed me to train without injury, and it didn’t stress me out one bit. It felt like the appropriate amount of running without being overwhelming. Basically, the whole thing just seemed manageable, so I stuck with it and enjoyed my training. So, maybe training for HALF the (marathon) distance could be done with fewer days of running? 

Obviously, I have no idea, but I’m going to give it a try this fall and document my training on CNC for extra accountability. And because my half marathon training will likely only include two days of running per week with cross-training mixed in, I plan to make the most of my runs by really pushing myself both distance- and pace-wise. (I’m leaning toward a combination of long and tempo runs and hill workouts because the South Shore Half Marathon is NOT flat.)

So, that’s the plan, and I guess we’ll see how it goes.

Wish me luck! 🙂

Question of the Day

Has anyone ever trained for a half marathon running just two days per week (with cross-training mixed in)? If so, how’d it go? 

 

 

26 Comments

  1. When I trained for my half I followed a training plan to a t and felt as though I over ran and under cross trained. I would add in more weights and body weight work if I were to train again with focused runs. Excited to see how your approach works out!

  2. I’d try and stick with the 3 days per week schedule + crosstraining. I feel like 2 just isn’t enough time on your feet during the week, especially if you have hills. If u do a Crossfit day (especially a squat heavy or plyo day) if time allows try running a few very EASY, slow miles afterward. This is a trick i use when I don’t have time to workout again and run, but it allows your body and mind to run on tired legs and stimulate the backend of the half marathon. Just a thought if you really can’t do 3 solid days of running. good luck! I look forward to following along!

  3. When I was in the Army, I ran three half marathons with, what I considered, little to no formal training. My first half was a very smooth and easy course and my fastest time (I think my body didn’t know how bad it would hurt, so I just went for it), the second half was AWFUL (Seattle, hills, barf), and the third was a combination of nice downhills and horrible uphills (not a PW but not a PR). Granted, for all of those races I was doing some form of running at PT in the morning. Even if it was just a casual 4 mile run.

    I still say I didn’t have much formal or scheduled training runs for any of those races though! I may be inspired to run a half myself now!

  4. I would love to see how this works out for you! Right now I take Orange Theory twice a week (it includes about a 2 mile run each class) and then run 2 or 3 times a week. I would love to train for a half sticking with this same schedule! Right now I’m up to 7 miles so whats another 6.1? HA! Plus I feel like with all the strength training it has to set you up for success, no?

    1. @Christine: I also do OTF twice a week and just finished a half marathon. I did one short (5-6 miles) run during the week and my long run on the weekend in addition to the two classes. I sprinkled in yoga and rest days as needed. I also did the bike some days in class if my legs/joints were feeling especially beat up. Result? I PR’d huge for my race!

  5. I’d love to see how this works for you and can’t wait to follow. I’m running my first half in February, and the farthest I’ve run is a 10K. Even though I LOVE running, my body doesn’t take kindly to running too many days per week, so this might be just what I need.

  6. I’m doing this too!! I don’t have the childcare situation but I do love Crossfit.. And am paying for unlimited so I want to incorporate it. I’m about 4 weeks into half training and am doing two runs a week… 1 long and 1 medium. I’m also doing ~4 Crossfit workouts which sometimes incorporate running or other cardio sprints. So far, so good! We can learn together!

  7. Not ever body is the same. I feel the more day’s I run the more burnt out I am by race day. I found 3 days of strength training and 3 running days is the secret sauce (for me). My run days are 1 short fast run, 1 easy mid run (like 6-7miles) and one long run.

  8. I did a half marathon with more spinning classes than running. I think I got 3 days a week of running in if I was lucky. My time in the half was good at 1h5 0m especially since it was a super hot, super humid Philly morning in June.
    After many years of hitting the pavement, I think my body liked spinning for crosstraining. I think I needed a few more long runs on the weekends to get through the last 3 miles, but it might have been the energy-sucking humidity that made that part tough (as well as a soul-crushing final hill. UGH.)

  9. It’s not quite the same but I did run a Tough Mudder with my training being 4/5 days per week of CrossFit and one longer run per week. Which is naturally a bit different with obstacles and starting/stopping. But I was basically moving non-stop for 3 1/2 hours over 11 miles so your plan seems doable to me. Honestly I ran 6 miles the other day after not having ran more than 1 mile in a CrossFit WOD for months and was totally fine (other than my IT band which always gets twitchy after long runs). I feel like I read something the other day that talked about training for running with only 2/3 days per week of running but I can’t remember where!

  10. I’ve never tried training for a half with only 2 runs a week, but I have used the 3-day a week (Run Less, Run Faster) method before and ended up with the fasted times I’ve ever had! For me, I think it definitely depends on your base level of fitness and then the other cross-training activities become more important than usual to help keep you fit.

    Best of luck with your training, and I look forward to reading more about it!

  11. Interested in seeing how this goes! Are you still going to incorporate crossfit? Maybe you could also incorporate an easy day of like 2 miles after another workout and still have your 2 set days where you run longer? Good luck. I’m in the midst of training right now too, and scheduling makes all the difference. At least you and Mal are working towards the same goal!

  12. I only run once a week (which is less then i prefer) but due to being a father of 3 boys and a husband along side with a fulltime job thats all my sech. Will allow now so i ran my first half marathon in June 2016 and i placed 3ed in my age group! My second is coming up in sept and im still only running once a week and working out 3 times this has seemed to work well for me now my times/ PR have not improved but maintained an average of a 1:50 min half give or take a few min. I wish you all the best of luck on your next event hope this has helped great read! And happy running to all

  13. I ran my first ever half last year! Prior to starting training, I didn’t run AT ALL. In fact, I was convinced I couldn’t even run 3 miles straight. But a friend asked me to run one with her and I couldn’t say no, so I started training. I started out running 3 days/week, but then life happened and about halfway through my 10 weeks of training, I only had time for 2 days/week. I did have to stop and walk for about a half mile because of a terrible side ache, but otherwise felt great! And that was with no base 🙂 Good luck with your training!

  14. I’ll have to try this. Right now I’m pregnant so I’m not training for anything in particular, but having a goal post-baby helps me mentally get through the months I have to scale back. I’m excited to follow your example and train for a race while sticking to a good strength training routine. Thanks for the idea!

  15. After doing a full Ironman in 2015, I’ve done several 13.1s with only 2 run days per week – but I swim twice a week and bike twice a week. Last year, I got a PR at 1:58 training with 2 run days per week and swimming and biking.
    A few months out, I gradually build my long run day and keep my other run day short (or even do elliptical training). I am doing the same now for another 13.1 in a couple months.

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