However, there comes a time when you need a change. I've been relying on FIRST for over a year now, and I'm burnt out on it. Since I am not confident in my ability to craft a training program on my own, I've been scoping out ones to follow.
After thumbing through a number of books and clicking through a number of web sites -- many of which are complete junk, but some of which seemed pretty good -- I've settled on using Hal Higdon's Advanced half marathon training program.
I am not unfamiliar with Hal Higdon. I used his Novice half marathon training program to get ready for my first-ever half marathon, the aforementioned National Half Marathon in 2008. Quite frankly, I loved the program as I trained, but when it came to race day I felt it left me unprepared for the rigors of a first-time half marathon. But I had another half marathon scheduled 5 weeks later and I bumped up to the intermediate program for the Frederick Half Marathon for the run-up to that, and I set a half marathon PR there that still stands. I've had fair and good experiences with Higdon, so I'm giving him another chance.
Other reasons why I like the Higdon Advanced half marathon training program:
- It incorporates weight training into the program. The FIRST program has 5-6 training days per week, but weights, while covered, must be done extracurricularly (if that's a word). I simply didn't have the time for weights much of the time I was training using FIRST.
- The long runs are done by time and not by distance. I find this aspect of training intriguing. I'm generally one who needs to be told exactly how far and how fast I should go and I'm curious to see how well I adapt to this. Luckily, there's still tighter structure in the shorter runs, so I'm not abandoning my need for explicit instruction completely.
- There's a lot more running than in the FIRST program. FIRST focuses on three runs a week, each targeted to do a specific thing. And it works. But my body wants to run more. Higdon allows for that, with up to three relatively short easy runs a week.