Training plans in my opinion are not one size fits all, unless you are professional or a person with a lot of free time, training plans don’t usually account for the fact that you have a family, work, house chores, kids, extracurricular activities, catching up on DVR (I’m only half kidding 🙂 ), did I mention family yet?
A friend of mine recently asked me: “Do you have a training plan I can follow for a half marathon?”, to which I said: google search one and customize to your needs 🙂 OK, I did send some suggestions but my point is, there is a myriad of resources out there that you can choose from. Fortunately, we live in an era where all you have to do to find what you want is, open a browser window, type a few search words and voila. Google tells us that there are at least 10 pages worth looking through of half marathon training plans out there, like: coolrunning.com, Jeff Galloway’s half marathon program (the run-walk program), Runners World, granted that the ones that let you customize them you need to pay for, I still say that is quite a variety to choose from.
That can be a lot for a beginner to navigate through, adjusting a training plan to specific needs, goals, schedule, etc can be overwhelming. Take for example person A who wants to break their personal record of 1:30 in a half marathon versus a person committed to completing their first half marathon. Person A will probably be a more experienced person at this point in time and will know what works and what doesn’t, where as person B will probably find it difficult to figure out what is working and what to do when they have to miss a workout.
One of the things that has worked for me when I’m trying to follow a training plan is: running groups. Running groups for beginners in my opinion is the best weapon you got to completing that first half marathon, ultramarathon, sprint triathlon, you name it. The sense you get of finishing a track workout or a tempo run with a group, is n-times greater than if you are completing that track workout or tempo run on your own. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t run by yourself, I’m just saying that there’s a sense of camaraderie that goes along with running with a group.
I am fortunate enough to live in a community where running groups are everywhere you look: RunTex, Rogue, Georgetown Trail Runners, Tejas Trails to name a few. Usually these groups are organized by a runner with experience, in my case it has ranged from ultra-marathoners to ironmen.
To sum it up: find a running group, customize your training plan, and run. Bonus: you make new friends, you get new perspectives and you will be well on your way to a PR.
PS. I don’t claim to be an expert so I just provide direction on the paths that I have traveled.