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How To Train For A Half Marathon With A Busy Schedule

After starting to run in January, Stacy Mahoney crossed her first finish line at a Hot Chocolate 15K in March. Now the San Diego-based nurse has hit
“register” for a half marathon. But how does a newbie safely up her run game to complete the big 13.1? We asked a running coach to weigh in on the best tweaks and motivations for this first-timer’s training plan. If you plan to move up a race distance, these tips can work for you.

Dave McGovern is the national head coach for Team Challenge, a nonprofit training program that welcomes runners of all levels and supports the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.

STACY’S QUESTION: What’s the best way to get ready for a half marathon with my erratic work schedule that includes many 12-hour shifts?

DAVE’S SOLUTION: Every endurance training schedule should have a mix of hard and easy days. For you, work days will become your rest or very easy cross-training days. Your days off  from work will be your quality runs. Your schedule should look something  like this:

Monday: Work (Off or easy cross-training day)
Tuesday:  Easy 3–5 miles
Wednesday: Not-so-easy tempo 4–5 miles
Thursday: Work (Off or easy cross-training day)
Friday:  Work (Off or easy cross-training day)
Saturday: Not-so-easy tempo 4–5 miles or intervals
Sunday: Long run

STACY’S QUESTION: How can I appropriately train when I’m on vacation in Europe three weeks before my race and don’t plan on running much?

DAVE’S SOLUTION: If you can try to get in one last long run about two weeks before your race, that would be optimal—and probably a highlight of your trip. Other than that, squeeze in a couple of 4- to 5-mile progression runs per week: Start at a moderate pace and build toward race pace. I think the vacation will be great for your half-marathon prep.

Caitlyn Pilkington

Caitlyn Pilkington is the web editor for Women's Running. She started running competitively in 2001 and has completed three marathons and tons of half marathons. Her proudest moment as a runner was crossing the finish line of her first marathon in 3:29, qualifying for the 2016 Boston Marathon.