Holiday Half Marathon Training: 3 Key Workouts (plus Malibu)

Yet another weekend spent living life instead of keeping up with the blog, social media, etc. That’s a wonderful thing, but I tend to feel stressed during the week trying to keep up without my weekend head start. Yeah, I know, blogger’s problems.

Anyway, while Alan and I spent the weekend in Malibu where he announced the Malibu Marathon, I also spent a little time planning my training for the San Diego Holiday Half Marathon. This past week was a throwaway week, with only two runs and just seven miles (!), but I’ll be back in full force this coming week. I promise I will get the full plan posted this week too, but in the meantime, here are three key workouts that I think will get me to the finish line with my post-50 PR (in spite of the shortened training period).

3 key workouts - Holiday Half Marathon

Lactate Threshold (Tempo) Runs

Because of my limited time for training (and, ahem, my age), I plan to complete a tempo run once every other week. I’ll keep it simple, starting with a mile warm up, then aim for two to three miles at slightly under my half marathon goal pace (which is about 9:00 minutes per mile).

How it helps: Tempo runs help increase your lactate threshold.   By training at a pace just under the point where you accumulate too much lactic acid, which would force you to slow down, you increase your lactate threshold, which allows you to run faster for a longer period of time.

Interval Training

This is the workout that I will alternate with the tempo runs. Frequently run on a track, or in my case a marked area of one half mile, interval training is run at a faster pace, for a shorter distance than tempo runs.

How it helps: Intervals will help to improve your VO2 Max, which is the efficiency at which your body processes oxygen. Half mile to one mile intervals are perfect for half marathon training. They should be done at 90-95% of your all-out effort. I try to get in three to four miles total (not including warm-up/cool down) of interval training.

Downhill Running

As I mentioned last week, the Holiday Half Marathon has a net elevation loss of about 714 feet, which means there will be a significant amount of running downhill during the race. While that may sound pretty nice and easy, downhill running brings it’s own set of challenges that need to be addressed in training. If it is not down correctly, not only will you risk injury due to the higher impact of running downhill, you could also slow yourself down. I plan to find a gentle downhill of 4-5% (these are abundant on my regular running route), and spend some time focusing on form as I run the downhills once or twice a week.

How it helps: Proper downhill training can teach you to avoid the pitfalls of “braking,” which can cause you to put more pressure on your heels and knees, plus help your muscles adapt to the needs of downhill running.

These key workouts are in addition to what is actually the most important workout, the long run (though some of the downhill training can be incorporated into the long run). I currently have about an eight mile base (though it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve run that distance), so I’ll start my increase from that point, peaking at 12 miles two weeks before the race.

Training starts this week (since I only managed a short run while we were in Malibu, details of that coming soon). I’ll get the plan up soon, then follow up with training updates each week.

Now, Malibu. Since it’s late and I didn’t write all weekend, I’m offering pictures today, details tomorrow.

Malibu Vegan Food - key workouts

An early dinner the night before at Hugo’s, where we go every year when we stay in Malibu (actually we stay in Agoura Hills, which I imagine is a lot less expensive to put us up at). While they serve meat, they have an amazing vegan menu (as well as gluten free choices), and take pride in offering eclectic and delicious options.

Malibu half marathon - key workouts

With a new start line, the beginning of the Malibu Half Marathon was, well, interesting. Imagine this: The announcer (Alan) had to move 3,000 runners about 1/2 mile down the road from the staging area to the start line. Details coming. Hint: It wasn’t as pretty as the coastline of Malibu.

Malibu Marathon - key workouts

While I usually take my run early, before the start of the race, the new cluster fuck start line, and my responsibilities as Alan’s transportation from the start to the finish (down a busy Pacific Coast Highway shared with 3,000 runners), stressed and distracted me. Instead, I waited until we arrived at the finish line then took off for a little four mile run. Not what I’d planned as a kick off to my Holiday Half Marathon training, but I was happy that I managed to get in a few miles instead of blowing it off.

Malibu truly has to be one of the most beautiful places to run. With blue skies, fluffy skies, crashing waves right alongside the road, it truly is running heaven.

Malibu Half Marathon - 3 key workouts

How was your weekend? Did you race? What is the most beautiful course that you have run on (an official race or just a training run)? In addition to Malibu, my favorites are along the coast at Hanalei Bay (in Kauai), or the Paris Marathon. Of course, my daily route, on the trails of La Quinta is amazingly beautiful too.

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  1. says

    I’m glad that you had a weekend unplugged and away from blogging and social media but I know what you mean about being stressed during the week without the head start! I cannot even imagine what the scene was like at the start line of the Malibu Half. Yikes! Super excited to hear more about your upcoming training!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..A day in the life of compassionMy Profile

  2. says

    Malibu looks like a gorgeous race site! But I can’t imagine having to navigate through all the runners. I ran a race yesterday with 2000 and the traffic situation in spots was quite scaring. Drivers were not going slow and almost purposely trying to hit runners. I don’t know what they were thinking!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..2013 Seacoast Half Marathon RecapMy Profile

    • says

      It is very scary to have about 3,000 runners on the highway right next to the cars. At least the Malibu Marathon has a cop leading the traffic through the dangerous areas. Some of the runners are completely oblivious that they are running right next to the cars and move into the traffic lane without even looking (headphones to blame I think). The downside is that my husband needs to get to the finish line to prepare for the finishers, and it’s hard when you’re stuck behind the runners.
      Debbie Woodruff recently posted..Holiday Half Marathon Training: 3 Key Workouts (plus Malibu)My Profile

    • says

      It’s true that you rarely hear anybody adding downhill running to their training,but it’s important if you’re running a race with a net elevation loss. I actually enjoy running downhill, working on my stride and using the downhill to an advantage.

      I really am fortunate that withing two hours I can get to so many beautiful places in So Cal, from San Diego, Malibu, Big Bear, Idyllwild,and more.
      Debbie Woodruff recently posted..Holiday Half Marathon Training: 3 Key Workouts (plus Malibu)My Profile

    • says

      Yes, one of the smaller islands would be perfect for a misfit. My husband and I always chose Kauai, but instead of staying in the resort areas we headed north to Hanalei (home of Puff, you know), where it’s like stepping back into the 60s, is much more affordable (so we could rent a house within steps of the beach), and is totally laid back and awesome. Hmm, time to go back, I guess.
      Debbie Woodruff recently posted..Holiday Half Marathon Training: 3 Key Workouts (plus Malibu)My Profile

  3. says

    Gorgeous views! I raced this weekend in the Pensacola Marathon (I ran the half), it is a beautiful town that allows us to run along the Gulf Coast which to me offers some of the most beautiful beaches. I feel lucky that I can run here, but I would love to travel and see some other areas of the world and run races as well! I love your three workouts and use them, but need to add them in more often!
    Holly @ Running & Baking Oh My! recently posted..Happy Veterans Day!My Profile

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