If I haven't mentioned it already, I am finishing up week two in my 12-week half marathon training program, preparation for the Whidbey Island Half Marathon on April 13. I probably don't need a formal training program--I know what to do to get myself ready for a race--but I like the structure of having a written plan to follow. Last year I used Hal Higdon's intermediate program; this year I've moved to the advanced plan.
The advance plan introduces longer "long runs" early in the game, and puts more emphasis on speed work, and some emphasis on hills. I've actually modified the plan to suit my needs and preferences... so in many ways it barely resembles the original plan at all.
The Hal Higdon plan has you running five and sometimes six days a week. I'm sure that's a good idea, but I have gotten accustomed to running just four days a week, and my achilles tendon and ankle appreciate that. So I have essentially combined two of the short "easy run" days into one longer easy run.
Also, Hal's plan only has you running three miles on most days (eventually increasing to four or five), except for the weekend long runs. I can't really imagine running less than a minimum of five miles at a time... so I've changed that too. Yesterday, when I didn't have to get to work early, I let myself go a couple extra miles (for an 8.5 mile run), the first few miles as a tempo run and the last few as an easy run.
I've moved the hill repeats off of a weekday (when I couldn't possibly do it), and worked them into my long run on Sunday. Well, that's what I did last Sunday. I'm still tinkering with that plan. But I am especially working on hills this time (since Whidbey is hilly, as is the Portland 15K), so I anticipate lots of runs with hills.
I do more cross training than he recommends--definitely on the non-running days, and usually an additional short workout on running days also. I don't expect this to especially help with the running (except for maintaining fitness); I just tend to do a lot of cardio to help keep my weight in check.
Since I'm not running as many days as recommended, I am trying to work in an extra "run alternative" on Saturdays. Today I walked at the beach for about five miles (sand, rocks, and a little bit of log climbing). I'm thinking more walks, hiking, and hopefully some snowshoeing and cross country skiing (when the mountain snow lets up a bit!). Maybe an extra run some weeks, if I really feel inspired. Maybe when I get my running snowshoes I can do a snow run!
My "strength training" is Pilates, and I also generally go to yoga a few times a week. Maybe (another one of those "maybes") I'll start lifting weights (again), but I already have a lot on my plate, schedulewise, workwise, and otherwise.
My training plan also includes a few races along the way... the Love 'em or Leave 'em 5K next weekend, the LaConner Smelt Run 10K later in February, and the Portland Shamrock Run 15K in March. Last year I also did the 5-mile Tulip Run a week before Whidbey, and I'll probably run it again this year.
I'm also hoping to do the Robie Creek Half Marathon in Boise the week after Whidbey. (The closest I want to get to a marathon-- two half marathons in one week.) Registration is on February 19, and if my computer (and my luck) doesn't fail me, I'll get in. (If I thought there were mobs of people reading this--which I don't--I wouldn't even mention it, because I wouldn't want the competition in signing up!)
So all in all, it looks like a busy winter-into-spring. I'd better get to bed and rest up!