When my twin sister, Danielle and I decided to run a half marathon, we knew we wanted to train for it. I really believe that anyone in half-decent shape can run a half marathon. It may take you 7 hours and you may have to walk the entire thing, but you could wake up and do it if you really wanted to. In our minds though, training was part of the process. We started out with one goal: to run the whole thing. We came up with a 16-week training schedule to get us in half-marathon shape just in time for the big race.
I consider this a training schedule for beginners. I wasn't a very consistent runner before this training process, and the most I had ever run was about 3.5 miles. We took it slowly and built up the distance gradually. If you are a runner, you can probably eliminate weeks 1-4 and be fine. The great thing about this training schedule is it prevented us from having to run every day. Running 3 days a week is totally manageable, and it gave us rest days in between each run. We would run the same distance Monday and Wednesday and then double that distance for Friday's run. This also allowed us to only have to run one long run a week and then rest for the weekend.
Since Danielle and I live hours apart, we ran separately, with the exception of the 6 mile run over Christmas. I highly recommend training with a buddy. Danielle knew exactly what I was going through because she was going through it too. Being able to talk each run through with her and motivate/receive motivation made the whole thing doable.
If you are planning on training for a half marathon, and I mean seriously training for it and not just running once a week, 16 weeks is plenty. By about week 14, we were starting to get burned out and just wanted to get to race day. If I ever decide to do this again, I will definitely condense the training to 12 weeks. For a beginner though, 16 weeks is a good time frame. I ran on my lunch breaks so I could have the evenings off. Everyone will have different availability, but lunch runs were perfect for me.
The farther we got through the training process, the easier it became. I know it's hard to believe, but one of my hardest runs was the 2 mile in week 2. I remember coming home out of breath and telling Parker there was no way I could ever add 11 miles to that. I found that as I continued to train and build up distance, my pace actually got faster.
The 7 miler was the slowest run I had with a 10:40 pace, and I actually remember that run. It was super windy and really not enjoyable, but it felt so good to finish it. The fastest pace I ever ran was with the 9 miler, and the 10 miler wasn't too far behind. The training works. If there is one thing I learned throughout the experience, it is to trust the process. Some runs were so hard they made me want to give up altogether, and some runs gave me an adrenaline rush that made me want to keep going. Regardless, every single one of them was worth it.
Training for a half marathon was physically exhausting, obviously. My legs were sore for the better part of 4 months. One thing Danielle and I weren't ready for was how mentally exhausting training was. We felt like it was our life- we ate, slept, and breathed training. Meals were centered around runs, social functions were centered around runs, and really just life in general was centered around runs. It was a good thing, though. We wanted to train for this half marathon all-in. We wanted to give it everything we had, and we did. Looking back at my run times and the training process, I have no regrets. I pushed my body farther than I ever have before, and I accomplished my goal through hard work and dedication. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything!