Why do we train? Well it is a simple answer, we train to race!
Training comes in three parts, base building, sharpening, and taper. Base building is just that. Putting in the miles. If your running a half, work up to 25-35 miles a week total. A full marathon will need 35-45 a week, for advanced runner (elite) you might want to get up to 65 or more. Base building should not have any intervals (aka speed work) or pace runs. Just run easy runs 3-4 times a week with one long run. Increase your miles 10% a week till your at your base. This could take 6-8 weeks.
Once your have reached your base now it is time to sharpen your skills. This is when you should start doing speed work and pace runs. Keep your base miles the same and do 3 key runs, speed, pace, long. Add a few easy runs and you should be good for 3 weeks. What pace should you run at. This question was answered in another post, “How do I run faster”. Read that one. The main focus for this phase of training is becoming accustomed to your race pace. For a half marathon, limit pace runs to 4 miles (1 miles warm up, and 1 mile cool down added to the pace run). For a full marathon 6 miles is ok for a pace run (again add the 1 mile warm up and 1 mile cool down to that, making an 8 mile run).
The last phase of training should be the taper. This phase lets your body rest and recover so come race day your 100%. I always find this phase the worst. We start to questions our training, I should have ran more, I don’t think I’m ready. Expect this, and counter it. Review your training plan, look at the runs you have done. Tell yourself your ready, You can do this. Now is not the time to run hard, or more miles. you can do a few speed work days, and pace runs, but your total miles for the week should be dropping by 20% a week. The last week only run easy runs, and take two days off before the race. Remember most expos have a lot of walking, so that will be enough of a work out just before the race. Also don’t forget to carbo load. For a half, 1 day should be good, a full will need 2-3 days of carbo loading. I use a 600 carb a day plan, but you will need to figure out what is best for you based on your weight and sex. 600 a day would be good for a 160lb man, but not good for a 120lb woman. On race day get a good night sleep, eat a light breakfast 2 hours or more before the race. If you take a gu before a race, do it just at the start, never eat 2 hours to 30 minuets before a race. Take it easy for the first few miles, add maybe 15 sec to your goal pace to keep from going out to fast. After two miles, pick it up to your goal pace. Hold that till your 2-4 miles from the finish. Then speed up and finish strong. You can do it.
Ok, I forgot one phase of training, its after the race, Recovery. Take a few days to rest. One or two, then go for an easy run. If you just ran a full, it will take a few weeks to let your body recover. Only easy runs and make sure your eating for recovery, lots of protein. Your muscles need to rebuild after a race. Let them.
WOW, didn’t mean to go that far in this post. Remember, Training is not RACING. If you do race every run, you will injure yourself and never make it to the RACE.