RnR San Diego Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 3 + 4

Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 3 + 4

Spring comes to Central Park (Photo: Phil Hospod)

Four weeks down, eight weeks to go on my half marathon training plan for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon. My tune-up race at The North Face Endurance Challenge 10K is less than four weeks away. How’d my last two weeks of training go? Comme ci comme ça.

I’m aiming to run four times a week, following a half marathon training plan from Greg McMillan’s book You (Only Faster). I’m also slowly building my mileage from my winter base of 20 miles per week to 30 miles a week and beyond. Last week I said: “I want to get off the road and onto dirt once a week during my runs. I also want to up my strength training from once to twice a week.” Um, not so much. I had some great workouts, but did zero trail running, minimal strength training, and missed a long run. Thus the comme ci comme ça.

Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 3 + 4

Announcing at the Scotland Run (Photo: Phil Hospod)

But I also announced at the Scotland Run 10K with 8,000 runners, some in kilts, storming Central Park. Announcing is always a highlight of my week. If I can’t run a race, the next best thing is announcing at one!

So here’s the run down on my last two weeks of training.

Goal Half Marathon Time—1:59:59
Current Half Marathon PR—2:00:30
Goal Race: Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon, May 31
Tune-Up Race: The North Face Endurance Challenge NY 10K, May 3
Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 1 + 2

Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 3 + 4

The U.N.

Fartlek: 3.65 miles outside. After a warm-up, I ran 1 minute on, 1 minute off fartleks. It was a solid workout and I was pushing really hard by the end. I ran past the United Nations, which is a beautiful complex.

Hills: 4 miles on the treadmill. I ran 10 x 1-minute hill repeats at a 5% incline, roughly the incline I’ll face at Bear Mountain. Got a great sweat going on this one. Big bonus: Positive K’s “I Got A Man” came up in my running mix. I usually run with all my music on one giant shuffle, so I don’t actually repeat songs all that often. Yeah, I was super pumped! Pretty sure I got some stares as I rapped and gestured along. “But how you talking? Pshaw, whatever!”

Easy: 5.4 miles on the treadmill. I’ve been doing all my easy runs as progression runs, but still felt great the whole time on this one. Watching A League of Their Own didn’t hurt either!

Strength: Tacked this onto the easy run above. Did some planks, push-ups, and what not, followed by foam rolling, just so I could watch more of A League of Their Own.

Long: 0 miles! Ahhhhhh! Totally skipped what was supposed to be a 9-miler. Why? No good reason whatsoever. I had a bad bout of cramps, and I just wasn’t in the mood. Told myself I’d do it the next day. But I slept oddly and cranked my neck, so the next day and the day after that were a wash. I didn’t run for 3 days in a row. Instead of trying to make up the long run, I decided to just plow ahead with my half marathon training plan.

Week 3 Total: 13.05 miles + 1 strength session

Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 3 + 4

Chrysler Building

Progression: 4 miles outside. I started this one really easy, then turned it into a push. I didn’t wear a watch because I just wanted to run by feel. By the end, I was moving! That felt great. Managed to snap this pic of my favorite building: The Chrysler Building. Thanks to Annie, I’d heard about this gem before I’d ever seen it: “You’ll stay up till this dump shines like the top of the Chrysler Building!” Shine it does.

Easy: 5.5 miles on the treadmill. This workout was a trudge. I just didn’t have it in me. Even an easy pace felt like work.

Strength: Tacked this onto the easy run above. Did some planks, push-ups, and what not, followed by foam rolling. I’ve been trying to do this after easy runs each week.

Speed: 5.5 miles. In between a 1-mile warm-up and cool down, I did an awesome speed run at Niketown in NYC lead by Nike+ Run Club Head Coach Chris Bennett. Treadmill + the world’s most beautiful runs on a giant screen + music? If only every treadmill run was like that! I tried out the new Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit shoes as part of the Nike Free Stride session (review coming soon).

Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 3 + 4

My Nike Paces

We did an interval ladder at 10K, 5K and 1-mile race pace. As the pace got faster, the intervals got shorter, but the recovery also got shorter and we increased our incline. Then we worked out way back down the ladder: as we dropped pace and dropped the incline, the intervals got longer. During the last minute, Coach Bennett told us to let it rip, and I surprised myself by edging the treadmill up to 9.0 at 6:40 pace. That’s faster than my 1-mile PR. Sure, I only did 1 minute there, but it felt great to finish FAST!

After the workout, I told Coach Bennett about my unfulfilled quest for sub-2. I asked his advice about what to focus on in training, based on my race times and training habits. His answer surprised me. He suggested I start gently pushing the pace on my recovery/easy runs. Say what now?

Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 3 + 4

Running at Niketown (Photo: Nike)

He explained that adding more mileage or speed work might simply court injury. However, if I can up the speed at which my body recovers, all my runs—and race times—will get faster. Of course, he added the caveat that there’s a fine line between upping recovery pace and turning it into another workout, which we don’t want to do. Easy runs really should give your body the chance to adapt and recover. But he said I can still make them work for me.

He suggested treating every run–even easy runs—as progression runs. Check. I already do that. Then he said to start slowly upping the pace at which I begin the progression, being careful to check in with myself and make sure the pace still feels easy. So instead of starting at a 10:30 pace, for example, ease into a 10:20 or 10:15. When that 10:15 feels dead easy, begin recovery runs at a 10. Over time, he said my body will adapt to recovering at a faster pace. It’s an intriguing idea and one I’ll definitely play with.

Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 3 + 4

Nike Free Stride

By the way, anyone in NYC can try the Speed Run: Nike Free Stride session I did, and in a pair of Nike Free shoes too. Nike will loan you a pair of trial shoes to wear during the 50 minute workout, much like at a bowling alley. Sign-up at nike.com/nyc. The weekly calendar is published every Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. So if you don’t see an open session, log back in on Sunday. The trial will be going on through May 2 and it’s free!

Long: 9.5 miles on the treadmill. Call me crazy, but I’ve started to actually like doing long runs on the treadmill. I know, I know! It’s totally insane. But I watch one of 1,000 movies that are inevitably on TV on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and the miles fly by. Last week I killed an hour run with A League of Their Own. This week, I managed to watch most of 27 Dresses between the long run and a good foam rolling sesh afterward. I know I’ll have to head back outside for my long runs at some point, but if it ain’t broke….right?

Week 4 Total: 24.50 miles + 1 strength session


Week 1: 20.55 miles + 1 strength session
Week 2: 21.90 miles + 1 strength session
Week 3: 13.05 miles + 1 strength session
Week 4: 24.50 miles + 1 strength session

Half Marathon Training Plan Week 5 and Beyond

OK, I really need to get off the road and onto dirt. I still want to up my strength training, too. Thankfully, I’m heading to San Diego this weekend, courtesy of Westin Hotels & Resorts, for the first of Westin Wellness Escapes’ series of fitness and health retreats. This first event at The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter is Women’s Strength Nation LIVE led by Holly Perkins. On the agenda? Strength Training! I’m hoping to come away from the weekend motivated and armed with a strength training plan I’ll actually stick to. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Happy running!

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Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


04 2015

11 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    I’ve been following you a while now and am so pumped for your next 1/2!! I know this is it and you’re gonna get that sub 2!!! 😀

  2. 3

    Those Nike workouts sounds great! I’ll have to look into trying one next time I am in town.

    Glad to hear your training is going well so far – I can’t wait until the day you crush that PR!
    Danielle recently posted..Yoga for AthletesMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thank you! I can’t wait either! I keep visualizing it, hoping it will make it come true :)

  3. 5

    That’s an interesting idea, moving up your recovery pace a little. You’ll have to report on how you feel putting it into practice.
    Judith recently posted..Well DressedMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      I definitely will! I’m finding the treadmill useful to help me gauge exactly where I am pace wise on easy runs (which I don’t do so well on the road).

  4. 7

    Yeah, so, I’m totally going to be stealing this advice. I, too, have been on an unfulfilled quest for a sub-two, and this actually makes perfect sense! In any case, sounds like you’re killing your training! How you are tackling long runs on a treadmill is beyond me (I could never do it), but I actually kind of like the idea of taking in a movie at the same time! 😉
    Jennifer @ The Final Forty recently posted..The Final Weeks: New Jersey Marathon TrainingMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      If I could put a treadmill in my living room in front of the TV, I would! Sadly, as a one TV household in a Manhattan apartment there’s just no room. Thank goodness for the gym!

  5. Kristen #

    What kind of strength training have you been doing during your half marathon training? I’m also training for the San Diego half marathon and need to implement strength training into my routine, but am looking for recommendations. Good luck in your quest for a sub-two half marathon!

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Kristen! I’m doing mostly body weight exercises, sometimes with hand weights where appropriate: push-ups, planks, squats, lunges, deadlifts, etc. Things like that. Though I’m going to start incorporating heavier weight lifting w/machines and barbells soon. After attending the Westin Wellness Escapes on strength training, I’m definitely motivated to up my game. I got Holly Perkin’s book “Lift to Get Lean” in conjunction with the retreat and it’s a great strength training primer for women. Good luck with your training! Can’t wait to go back to San Diego!

      • Kristen #

        Thanks for the info! Just last week I found a local class that does circuit training sets that incorporates strength training and cardio. It’s amazing because you think you’re in pretty good shape from running until you go to one of these classes – I most definitely was sore! See you in San Diego!


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