The Road to 13.1 – My Half Marathon Training Plan

On Saturday morning, Preston and I sat down and plotted out our training plans for January’s Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  We spent 90 minutes mapping out our training plan, using Jeff Galloway’s runDisney training plans as a guide for our own training.  Preston followed Galloway’s marathon training plan when we prepared for the Disney World Marathon this past January, and felt very confident in the way that the plan helped prepare him for race day.

Our tools for mapping out our training plans: a blank calendar Jeff Galloway's runDisney training plans, a pen, and a pencil

Our tools for mapping out our training plans: a blank calendar, Jeff Galloway’s runDisney training plans, a pen, and a pencil

From what I’ve read on several blogs and websites, including Runner’s World and, its best to start a half marathon training plan with anywhere from “a couple of months of running” to six months of running under your belt.  Since I first signed up for the Disney World Half Marathon back in April, my target start date for half marathon training has been September 1st, which is just under 20 weeks before race day.  On this date I will have been running for about five and a half months, which is perfect given the numerous suggestions that I’ve read.

With Preston running the Dopey Challenge (four races in four days) and I essentially running Disneyland’s Dumbo Double Dare Challenge or Disney World’s Glass Slipper Challenge (a 10K one day followed by a half marathon the next day), we used Galloway’s training plans for these challenges as our starting point.  Although Preston plans on walking the 5K and we both plan on walking the 10K, we still want to train for these distances since regardless of walking or running them they will still add to the physical stress that we will be putting our bodies through while down at Disney World.  One of the benefits of Galloway’s methodology is the promotion of the run-walk-run method.  Because I’m still trying to build my endurance as a runner, and Preston doesn’t plan on running the entire marathon without walk breaks, which he successfully did this past January when he only ran the marathon and none of the other races, using a training plan that supports the run-walk method is perfect for us.

As we started mapping out our training plans, we first wrote in all our September and October races.  We don’t currently plan on running any races after mid-October, as we want to focus solely on our marathon weekend training.  We have a number of races scheduled in the early fall, including two ten milers and two half marathons for Preston, two 10Ks for myself, and a number of 5Ks.  Since I need to submit a 10K race time to runDisney by November 1st for corral placement, I plan on submitting my best race time of my three 10Ks (my first was the Biggest Loser 10K back in July, I’m running the Perfect 10 10K on September 29th, and then the Charlottesville Fall Classic 10K on October 13th).

After we plugged in our fall races, we turned to Galloway’s training plans and began to adapt them around our races.  Galloway’s Dopey Challenge Plan officially started July 2nd, but with vacation, other summer activities, and other races (Preston is currently focused on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon on September 1st), he hasn’t been following it as closely as he would have liked to.

Most of our weeks include three runs – two timed runs during the week and then a long distance run over the weekend.  Because we will both be doing back to back races (or in Preston’s case, back to back to back to back races), there are also a number of weeks with a long walk the day before our long run, and two weeks for myself and four for Preston with two long walk days followed by a long run day.  Our weekday runs are currently planned for either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday, depending on what the training looks like over the weekend.  Depending on how we’re feeling, we’re going to try and adjust some of our weeks in order to ensure that we’re running on Wednesday, as Preston enjoys running with Team Red, White, and Blue on the National Mall every Wednesday and wants to continue those runs while training for Dopey.  Outside of Preston’s Team RWB runs, I foresee most of our weekday runs occurring at the gym on the treadmill.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we’ll be able to complete many of our long walks and runs outside instead of being confined to staring at a TV or the wall at the gym.  The only components not listed on our calendars are other cardio activities (specifically the elliptical), as well as weight and core training, which we can easily also complete at the gym when we complete our weekday timed runs, which are no more than 45 minutes long.

After 90 minutes of planning, we were done.  Our finished product is housed on the refrigerator, so that we both have easy access to our plans.  Because I’m running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Mini Marathon on September 1st, my “official” road to 13.1 will start on September 3rd.

The finished product - four and a half months of training mapped out

The finished product – four and a half months of training mapped out

All four and a half months of training plans

All four and a half months of our training plans

Are these plans concrete?  Of course not, and we’ll make changes as necessary.  Although Preston has run this amount of mileage before, I have not, and I have no idea how my body will adapt to the rapidly increasing mileage.  Although a bit timid about what lies ahead, we’re also excited for this challenge and are ready to tackle it and prepare for Disney World in January!

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16 Responses to The Road to 13.1 – My Half Marathon Training Plan

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  15. emdibs1 says:

    What is the difference in running timed runs in training (for example like your 30-45min runs) compared to doing milage runs? My last training plan I did milage runs, although the ones I’m researching now are timed runs – like you have here. Is there a difference between the two? Is one better than the other or meant for a certain type of training?

    • It really depends on what your goals are. If your main goal is to build endurance to run a distance that is new to you, then your focus should be on running a specific distance each week. If your main goal is to improve your speed, then your focus should be on timed runs. I tend to use a combination of the two during my training cycles, depending on a variety of factors.

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