Half-marathon training: week 5 - 6

Regular updates on my training for the Toronto half-marathon.

The stats:

Week: 5-6/26

Workouts: 25/105

Distance: 51km/448km


Week 5

  • Recovery run: 2.5km
  • Recovery run: 3.5km
  • Nike+ Training Club workout
  • Recovery run: 2km
  • Long run: 5.5km

Week 6

  • Recovery run: 2.5km
  • Speed run: 6x200m
  • Speed run: 6x200m
  • Recovery run: 2km

It’s hard to believe I’ve already completed 6 weeks of half-marathon training. With an update to my training program upon completing week 4 (the Nike+ Run Club app updates every few weeks as it gathers data), I was faced with 5, instead of 4, training sessions in week 5. Given one of these workouts was a cross training workout, I still carried the same mindset that it would be another relatively laid back week of training — silly me!

You’ll notice the third session scheduled for me in week 5 was a Nike+ Training Club workout. I opened my app to find I would be completing the Maestro — a 15-minute, medium intensity workout including movies such as bear crawls, push-ups with arm extensions, squats and walk-outs. Fittingly, the cover photo for this workout is Roger Federer. I was in good company.

About halfway through my cross-training session, my arms ached, I was short of breath and I certainly wasn't channelling the grace of Roger Federer as I pushed through the remaining moves in the session. The next day, with a recovery run to complete, wasn’t much easier, my upper body was sore from the short 15-minute cross training workout which made me realise if a 15-minute workout is all we can fit into our day, sometimes that’s worth it too. If you’re reading this now, feeling less than enthusiastic about working out today, try a 15-minute workout like the Maestro — you’ll be surprised how good you feel from a short burst of movement and strength training.

My long runs continue to increase in distance each week with a 5.5km run scheduled to complete week 5. As always, WeatherBug has been helpful with planning out my long runs. For long runs, I use the hourly forecast and Doppler weather radar to see what the best time of day is for my run or if I should delay the run altogether when it’s a particularly miserable day.

Honestly, I procrastinated most of the day before my 5.5km long run at the end of week 5 — groceries got done, social media time was plentiful and I even did some stretching, just no running! Although once I eventually got outside in the sun, amongst the hordes of runners and cyclists along the lakefront, I felt motivated and ready to run.

At the 4km point, I got into a good rhythm. No more skipping songs on Spotify as the 70s and 80s rock blared through my earphones — I’d managed to steady my breathing pattern and pace to a level that I didn’t have to think about basically a runner's dream. I hadn't felt this much in the zone on a run since I was running multiple times a week in 2014 and 2015. Knowing throughout this run that week 6 includes a mix of recovery and speed workouts, with a break on long runs, also gave me an extra surge of energy for this session.

Week 6 was filled with short and sweet workouts. My first speed run in week 6 included 6x200m sprints targeting 4:32/km pace which left me breathless and sore but it was a quick workout which I always love. Needing constant energy throughout the speed runs, I've realised my running playlist could use some work so I’m not wasting so much time or energy skipping through songs. It’s probably something to do with the fact my playlist ranges between 90s hits, CrossFit style anthems, 70s and 80s hits (or as Dad would say, “my music.”) and current upbeat chart toppers. Does anyone else also have a playlist like this, or is it just me?

My focus before I start week 7 is researching and finding a good pair of running shoes (my current shoes are making my feet sore) and updating my running playlist before my much-anticipated 7km long run. I can’t wait to see how I go with this long run as it’s been a while since I ran further than 5km.

How do you go with building up distances in your running program? I’d love to hear about your training in the comments below.