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3 Things I Love About My HM Training Plan + Last Week’s Workouts

I have completed three weeks of my half marathon training plan and although it’s early days, I have to say this is probably my favorite plan that I’ve ever followed.

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For those of you who asked, I’m using Smart Coach through Runner’s World. You input a recent race time along with your upcoming race distance and how hard you want to train. The program uses “science, mathematics and 40 years of collective running wisdom to bring you a proven, individualized training program.” The basic program is free but you can upgrade your account to Smart Coach Plus ($4.99/mo) to receive the ability to modify your plan if you miss workouts, adjust your pace, etc. Free is working great for me right now! 🙂

Here’s what I love about the plan.

1. Four days per week of running. 

Four days of running is a sweet spot for me. It’s a little more than I usually do but not enough to place a burden on my time or my body. In the past I have done some three day per week training programs and while effective, I feel like that fourth day really gets me in the groove of running regularly. It breaks down like this…

Run #1 = Easy/Recovery (Monday)
Run #2 = Speed/Tempo (Wednesday)
Run #3 = Easy/Recovery (Thursday)
Run #4 = Long (Saturday)

The speed/temp and long runs really challenge me and the easy runs keep my legs feeling loose and my body feeling good.

2. Prescribed paces for EVERY run. 

This is the first training plan that I’ve followed that gives you a pace for every run, even the easy ones, and I LOVE IT! Part of the reason it’s so appealing to me is because I’m training for time for this race and not just to finish. It’s been a long time since I’ve trained for anything and I’ve really craved having a set plan where I don’t have to think about what I’m going to do. The set paces are simultaneously pushing me outside of my comfort zone and teaching me how to hold back.

3. Tempo/speed work 

I am surprised to find that these are my favorite runs of the week. In the past I’ve always been more of “run to finish” kind of girl but lately I’m feeling more need for speed. These runs are REALLY challenging me. I’ve gone into them each week a little scared and finish with a huge sense of pride and accomplishment when I make it through. I definitely feel like they’re helping me to become a better, faster and stronger runner…and also to realize my potential.

I can’t wait for race day!!!


Here’s a recap of last week’s workouts…


Hot yoga


2 mile run + strength

10 deadlifts (105#)
10 pull ups (kipping)
10 push ups
15 GHD sit ups

x5 rounds


Tempo run + restorative yoga

5 miles total. 1 mile warm up at 8:30, 3 miles at 7:30, 1 mile cool down at 8:15. This was the first tempo/speed run that I did outside and not on the treadmill and I was worried about pacing myself. It was hard but I stayed on pace and the run was great!


2.5 mile easy run + strength

8 back squats (105#)
10 dumbbell push press (20#)
12 weighted sit ups (20#)
14 kettlebell swings

x5 rounds



I hadn’t done a CrossFit WOD in 2 weeks and I was craving the high intensity. I got this workout from CrossFit.com and did two rounds of it instead of one.

30 calorie row
30 bar facing burpees
30 hang power cleans (75#)

x2 rounds. Took me right at 19 minutes.


Long run

9 miles at an average 8:51 pace. I set my alarm for 6 a.m. and was on the road by 6:20. It was still dark when I took off and it was really cool to watch the sun rise as the miles ticked by. This run felt pretty effortless (60 degree temps helped!). I managed negative splits for every mile. I just started slow and let my body do its thing as it warmed up. I finished the 9 miles in just under an hour and 20 minutes. Long run recovery was no problem. My legs felt 100% the next day and like I could have run again (which I didn’t!).


Restorative yoga

4 runs, 3 strength days (with one each squat, deadlift and clean…perfect!), 3 yoga practices. No strict rest day this week but two days of yoga only with Sunday’s class being a restorative, non-hot class that left me feeling sooooo good!

What are your favorite training runs? Do you enjoy speed work or like the challenge of going long? 

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Amber September 22, 2014, 1:04 pm

    Love reading about your balance! It sounds like your two easy run days are shorter runs too (2 miles and 2.5 miles) or did you shorten them so they would balance better with strength? I think that sounds like a really great way to balance it all and I can’t wait to hear about your race!

  • 2
    Caitlin September 22, 2014, 1:13 pm

    I can’t figure out how to get the Smart Coach training plan without having to pay the $5/month. It keeps directing me to the Smart Coach Plus… 🙁

  • 6
    jillian September 22, 2014, 1:45 pm

    My co-worker and I have been training for a marathon in December and we love doing fartlek-style runs on Wednesdays. Last week we did 10 miles with 10 fartlek reps (2 minutes hard at 80% and 3 minutes at average pace). Each mile ended up being about a 7:30 split. Mile repeats are also excellent for your Wednesday workout 🙂
    Also, if you are in San Francisco, New York, Salt Lake City, or Denver we have several personal trainers that can help with your training!


  • 7
    meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles September 22, 2014, 2:21 pm

    I swear it depends on the day with me which run I prefer. Today I ran intervals and loved it yet some days I am happier to just run at a steady pace and go long. I don’t follow much of a plan but have considered the Runner’s World plans just to see how it worked for me versus what I normally do.

  • 8
    Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run September 22, 2014, 5:22 pm

    60 power cleans @ 75lbs. sounds tough!

  • 9
    allie@sweetpotatobites September 22, 2014, 7:49 pm

    I’m currently training for a half marathon in November (with a time goal also) and I’ve found running 3-4 days a week works best for me. I do the same thing as you – each run has an intended purpose whether it is speed work, or a timed long run. It’s working well 🙂

  • 10
    Carrie (This Fit Chick) September 22, 2014, 9:10 pm

    Wow! you are killing the runs, girl! I used to love long distance, but lately I have been more of a sprint lover.

  • 11
    Nancy September 22, 2014, 11:01 pm

    That is great I can’t wait to read about your PR! SO go od to know about your RW plan too I always use Hal Higdon but I feel like it is a bit too conservative. bTW , who is Isaac???

  • 12
    Nicole September 23, 2014, 6:11 am

    I just discovered your blog and I love it. It’s very refreshing to see a runner who still takes the time to do yoga. As a yoga instructor, I love introducing yoga to runners (or other athletes) and see their faces after class as they feel more rejuvenated . It’s so good for your body!

  • 13
    Whitney September 23, 2014, 8:34 am

    I’m training for my fifth marathon in December! I’m doing easy, tempo, speedwork and long runs for my training. No matter the distance speedwork is a must! It makes you such a stronger runner in my opinion! 🙂

  • 14
    She Rocks Fitness September 23, 2014, 9:40 am

    I cannot stand speed work…I think because it brings back memories from college. HAHA! I only have 3 weeks until my 1/2 and it was a spur of the moment decision, so it’s been a little nutty with the training. I like to follow Hal Higdon’s plan. Need some yoga back in my life though and hoping to go to the studio tomorrow. 🙂

  • 15
    Sarah @ KS Runner September 23, 2014, 7:53 pm

    I love SmartCoach! That’s what I’ve used for my last couple marathons and it is such a good program. I love doing 4 days a week. My first training program was 6 days a week (way too much!) and after alot of trial and error, I’ve settled on four days a week being a good balance for me. I love the speed days and the easy days leave my legs rested for the long runs. Sounds like you’ve found a great balance with running/yoga/strength!

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