Once I made a commitment to training for the Princeton Half Marathon in October, 2020, I had to develop a plan for myself.
I researched many of the training plans that running coaches have posted on the web. A typical plan was spread over a period of 12 weeks (sometimes less,) and has you running three times per week, with one “long” run each week. Your long run could start off being as little as 3 miles, then each week you add half a mile to that distance. At the same time, you’re also adding distance to your other two runs each week.
Now of course, I wasn’t about to adopt any such cookbook training strategy. To begin with, I never like to conform to any set of rules. But apart from that, I had a few specific reasons.
First of all, I didn’t want to run three times per week. I like to exercise (at least three days per week), but I like to do things other than running – weight training, long walks, dance, etc. I don’t love running enough to focus on it exclusively.
Secondly, I was planning my strategy way, way ahead. It was only February, so I had 8 months(!) to whip myself into shape to run 13.1 miles.
Thirdly, I’m old. At 65, I figured I might benefit from more recovery time between maximal running workouts. And I might need a slower build-up of my maximal distance.
The plan I settled on was to run only every 4-5 days. And increase the distance by 1/4 mile each time. Instead of the standard plan of adding 1/2 mile per week, I’d be adding 1/2 mile every 9-10 days or so.
My first run was 3 miles. That wasn’t the longest distance I’d ever run, but it was far longer than any distance I had run recently.
I was off and running! Half-marathon, here I come.
Next chapter: first hint of trouble