Training Between Half Marathons

by Neal
(Central Florida)

training between half marathons

I will be running a 1/2 marathon a few weeks from now and then have another one scheduled for 6 weeks later. What should my training plan look like? Can I just use an online type training plan and plug in that I only have 6 weeks before the race?

My concern is that the generic, online version doesn't take into consideration the training that I have been doing for the last 12 weeks preparing for the first 1/2 marathon.

Answer by Dominique:
Hi there,
Thanks for your questions regarding your multiple half marathons.

Yes, you are right, online training plans will not really help you.

Most of them will probably not even work or they might tell you that six weeks is too short to prepare for a half marathon.

My advice would be:
1. Take it easy in the first week.
2. Focus on race specific training for 3.5 weeks.
3. Taper for 1.5 weeks.
4. Rest for longer after the second half marathon.

Broken down in a bit more detail:

Take It Easy In the First Week

training between half marathons
When you race a half marathon, you need a bit of time off afterwards to recover. You also want to avoid burn-out. You have just come out of pretty serious training and a big race.

It is counterproductive to just keep on pushing and pushing.

So, the first week after your first marathon you'll want to take it easy. Probably no running the first 3-4 days, maybe some walking or an easy bike ride, depending on how much of an impact your half marathon had on you. I would really recommend that first week to be a recovery week with just easy exercise and a limited amount of running.

Focus on Race Specific Training for 3.5 Weeks

training between half marathons
After that recovery week, treat the last five weeks preceding your second half marathon as the last five weeks preceding your first.

If you are using a good running program then this is the time to be doing some race-specific running training. In this last period before a race your training weeks are likely combining some good long distance runs with a good dose of goal pace running. I'd also expect a tempo workout which gets you running close to goal pace. Of course, this faster running would be complemented with easy runs.

Use that same approach for the second half marathon. Online training plans will probably come up with a base running period of two or three weeks and then some race-specific training, but when races are so close together, it is better to keep on doing race-specific training, in my opinion.

Taper for 1.5 Weeks

training between half marathons
Like with any half marathon, the best preparation includes a taper. In my opinion, the taper for the half marathon does not need to be crazy long. I prefer to bring the long run slightly back in length the last weekend before the half and I also reduce the amount of work I do in tempos and/or interval sessions, e.g. instead of 12 x 400m intervals, I'd do 6 x 400m for example.

What is very important is to keep the quality workouts in your schedule. So, don't just go to doing easy running, if you are normally used to doing two workouts a week. Just reduce the length of the workouts, rather than cancel them altogether.

Rest for Longer after the Second Half Marathon

After the second half marathon I would recommend a longer recovery period (two weeks), and then a transition into a new running program with mostly easy running / a base building period to start off with. It is important to reset the body and soul after a season of racing. Then rebuild and come back even stronger next season.

Hope this helps.
Kind regards,

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