Ever since I decided to run the half marathon in May at the Cleveland Marathon, I’ve been evaluating the pros and cons of various training plans. Although I really enjoyed using a training plan for my first 5K, I haven’t used one since that time and essentially just went running three days per week with the goal of gradually increasing my distance over time. Miraculously, this approach has worked well and I’ve been able to reach seven miles without hurting myself.

While I’m sure that this approach could potentially keep working, I don’t want to roll the dice with my health. I have high hopes for my 2013 racing season, and I’d hate to have a foolhardy approach to training send me to the sidelines for an extended period of time. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to have a training plan in place far in advance of the time when I would need to start training in the hopes of setting myself up for another great year of racing.

Here I am at the Cleveland Turkey Trot – a great end to my first racing season! With God’s help and smart training planning, I hope to have many more of these moments in the years to come.

I finally decided to use the Hal Higdon Novice 1 Training Plan. My buddy Matt used a Hal Higdon plan when he ran the Chicago Marathon in 2008 and had great success with it. I also liked the fact that this plan doesn’t require me to run on consecutive days. Theoretically, I have no problem with running on consecutive days—I’d actually love to run every day—but I’m afraid that doing so would cause an injury.

My biggest dilemma involved selecting the day to do my long runs. Many runners I know who have done marathons have told me that they did their long runs on Saturday. I put the question out there on Twitter, and fellow Official Blogger Jessica and my friend and running guru Alex both told me that they do their long runs on Saturday too. While I wanted to do my long runs on this date, I thought that getting in the habit of running long distances on Sundays would help my body get used to running long on the day on which the Cleveland Marathon will be held in the same way that running early in the morning on the week before a race helps get one’s body used to running early in the morning on race day.

Additionally, Saturday is the only day on which I have the opportunity to sleep in. Try as I might, I’ve never been an early riser, and Sheila and I generally spend the morning in bed and relax together on Saturday mornings if at all possible before we enjoy a leisurely brunch. (The last sentence was probably TMI for most of you, and you can read whatever you want into that statement!)

In the end, I decided to go with Sunday. If this doesn’t work out, I’ll recalibrate and start doing them on Saturday. I realize that Cleveland’s famously unpredictable weather and life in general may shake up this plan, and while I hope to stick to it as closely as possible, I am going to do my best not to get bent out of shape if I have to make some alterations along the way.

Many other bloggers who are far more creative than me have posted colorful training plans for their half marathons, and they inspired me to do more than just upload a lame ole’ text document with my training plan cut-and-pasted straight from Hal Higdon’s site. Without further ado, here’s my half-marathon training plan:

I’ll explain why I chose the background image in a future post…

If any of you more seasoned runners out there have any thoughts on my plan, please let me know! Additionally, please feel free to leave any tips on half marathon training in the comments.