Training for a Half-Marathon: From Zero to 13.1 Miles

I’m not a person who likes to exercise. I usually go to the gym once a quarter. I tried many things on the past, but I can’t stick to any particular exercise routine. Most of my exercise comes from playing soccer once a week, biking with the kids at a park (during summer), hiking every once in a while, and that’s it. Last December a friend of mine mentioned how he was just like me until he signed up for a biathlon (triathlon?) and that he didn’t want to lose the money nor look bad in front of his kids and that gave him the motivation necessary to train for it. I thought with myself I never tried that, so why not? Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I signed up for the Seattle Rock-N-Roll Half-Marathon.

I quickly read on the Internet that it takes between 12–16 weeks to train for a Half-Marathon for a beginner, so I went to my Calendar and marked early March as to when I should start training — The Seattle Rock-N-Roll is in late June.

Let the training begin

I thought I would start training in Austin, during SXSW since my hotel was by the river and they had a nice flat trail. Wishful thinking. There was no time during SXSW. So last Sunday (about 14 weeks before the race), I decided to go to the Marymoor Park here in Redmond and run the trail to Seattle. I wanted to run as slow as possible and see how far I could go.

As someone who has never run before, I didn’t know how my body would react to it. I’m on my late 30s, and you keep hearing and reading stories about how your knee is going to hurt or damage, how your tendons might suffer, etc.

Well, I ran about 3.2 miles on Sunday for about 40 minutes (2.7 miles running, .5 miles walking at the end). Interestingly enough, my legs felt great. I bought the right shoes and socks to do this. The only reason I couldn’t run any longer was because of my lungs. I ran out of energy on my chest. My heartbeat was fast, but OK.

OMG, It’s 5K!

As soon as I got back into the car with my wife and kids, I thought a 3 mile run was a pretty good start and then I decided to switch my data entry to Kilometers instead of miles (I’m a metrics guy). Then I realized I ran about 5 Km. Wait, what? 5K? That’s a 5K race! My first run of my entire life (I never ran before) was a 5K!

I really felt awesome. Thank you body for not breaking down on me.

On Tuesday I ran another 5K at a Treadmill. I realized that running on the trail is more fun than treadmill, but treadmill gives you more control over your pace.

Today I ran another 5K and a slightly faster pace (under 35 minutes).

In case it’s not obvious, I ran three 5K “races” in 5 days! That’s coming from a guy that couldn’t stick to any exercise routine whatsoever.

The Plan

I put together my own half-marathon plan. I looked at the Internet for several half-marathon training routines, and created my own version adapting it to my needs. Pretty much I’ll exercise 6 days a week and rest on Monday. I’ll run on Tuesday and Thursday at the gym. I’ll do Cross-Fit training or strength training at home every Wednesday. I’ll play soccer on Fridays. I’ll run near my house on Saturday (or maybe on a park), and on Sunday is the day I’ll do the longest run of the week.

The one thing I forget was to bring a water bottle. Today was my third training and I forgot it again, and I got pretty thirsty.

Now I just need to find enough 40–45 minutes podcasts for me to listen during training. Any suggestions?

Marcelo Calbucci

Marcelo Calbucci

I'm a technologist, founder, geek, author, and a runner.