How to Start a Half Marathon Training Program

Just follow these 43 easy steps!

  1. Before you begin. Find a training schedule, courtesy of Hal Higdon. (Thanks, David B., for the link.)
  2. Think about how long it will take to work through the training schedule. Allow a couple of extra weeks to sort out the dodgy hamstring.
  3. Identify a target date for the race, then look for a half marathon in a beautiful place that you’ve always wanted to visit. Don’t register for it just yet. Are you sure you can do this?
  4. Start the training schedule on a cold, windy day, and don’t stretch or warm up enough. Be joined by a friend who runs a little too fast for you, then try to keep up with him. Quit running after a couple of miles when that hamstring seizes up.
  5. Decide it might be prudent to spend the two spare weeks walking, stretching, and rehabbing that troublesome muscle.
  6. Take advantage of the extra two weeks to read the training schedule more carefully. Learn some new stretches.
  7. Start the training schedule again, determined to do it right.
  8. Week 1, Day 1. Head in the general direction of the park with a plan to walk three miles to warm up and then work through the “stretch and strengthen” regimen.
  9. Stop to meet a friend for coffee first, though, and arrive at the park in pouring rain. Adjust the plan to start with the weight training.
  10. Discover that you don’t have the $1.75 for admission to the fitness center. Berate yourself for never carrying any cash.
  11. Think about rearranging the week’s schedule, but decide that Week 1, Day 1, is a little early to start playing fast and loose with the regimen.
  12. Drive to a nearby convenience store with an ATM.
  13. Spend $4.25 in ATM fees and bank service charges to withdraw some cash.
  14. Buy a pack of gum and a scratch-off lottery ticket at the convenience store to get some change, because you know that the fitness center won’t have change for a $20 bill.
  15. Win $2 on the lottery ticket!
  16. Drive back to the fitness center.
  17. Work out, trying not to look like too much of an idiot for not knowing what half of the machines are for.
  18. Do some stretches.
  19. Go for a 3-1/2-mile walk, more conscious than ever of how much you prefer the walking trail to the gym.
  20. Go home and do some more stretches.
  21. Week 1, Day 2. Stretch as if your life depends on it. Then stretch some more.
  22. Walk half a mile to warm up.
  23. Run three miles, paying careful attention for the first sign of trouble with the hamstring, and stopping a couple of times for water breaks.
  24. Walk three miles.
  25. Stretch again.
  26. Go home thinking that you might be able to do this.
  27. Week 1, Day 3. Wake up relieved not to be racked with pain.
  28. Stretch even more than you did the day before.
  29. Walk a mile to warm up.
  30. Run two miles.
  31. Take a moment to enjoy the fact that you ran two miles without any complaints from the hamstring.
  32. Walk 3-1/2 miles.
  33. Stretch again.
  34. Week 1, Day 4. Wake up knowing that you can do this!
  35. Register for the race.
  36. Post it to Facebook and bask in the admiration and encouragement of your friends.
  37. Meet a friend at the park. Do all of your stretching even though you know your friend is eager to start running.
  38. Walk half a mile to warm up.
  39. Run three miles. Delight in having kept pace with your much-younger friend!
  40. Go to the fitness center. Work out, feeling slightly less like an idiot than you did last time.
  41. Walk back to meet your friend at the stretching area, feeling like some kind of superhuman.
  42. Stretch again (because you’re not).
  43. Enjoy thinking about Week 1, Day 5: Rest.

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