Pedaling 13.1 miles may seem like a breeze, but take your bike away and suddenly the distance seems daunting. As a cyclist, you have built up a strong cardiovascular system that will serve you well during a half marathon. Now, you need to build up strength and endurance in your feet, knees and hips to sustain the pounding of the race. In 2012, 59 percent of half marathon runners were women, reports Running USA. With a solid training plan, you can join their ranks and finish strongly even if you still carry a torch for your bike.
How Often to Run
Cycling probably remains a passion and you'll want to maintain at least some of your rides during your half marathon training. You can continue cycling and successfully train for a half marathon running just three times per week. Have one run be speed drills to hone your speed. Speed drills may consist of four to eight 400- or 800-meter sprints at your max capacity followed by an equal distance of easy jogging or walking. Your second weekly run is a tempo run, which requires you to work at a point just under your lactate threshold, the place where you feel like you have to stop. It will build stamina. Your long run helps train your body to sustain impact for the long haul and builds endurance. If you want to run a fourth day, you can -- but make it an easy run that doesn't interfere with the tougher training days.
Fitting in Rides
If you are afraid you’ll have to park your bike for your 12- to 16-week running plan, rest assured: You can still fit in at least one or two rides per week and benefit your half-marathon training. Cycling rests your body from the impact of running, while building your aerobic base and encouraging full range of motion in your leg muscles, Neil Cook, the multi-sport program manager at Asphalt Green in Manhattan, told the "New York Times." Cycling also offers a benefit as cross training because it works your thigh muscles, specifically the quadriceps and hamstrings, in a different way than running. Varying the way you work your body discourages muscle imbalances that can lead to injury.
If you are brand new to running, plan to start training for your half marathon at least 12 weeks prior to the race. You may be aerobically fit from cycling, but you aren't conditioned for running long distances. In weeks one through four, commit to running about 10 to 12 miles per week -- making the speed and tempo runs last just three miles and the long run range from four to six miles. As your plan progresses, increase the length of these runs gradually. Your mid-week speed and tempo runs may never exceed five miles, but the long run will top out at week 10 at between 10 and 12 miles to prepare you for the full half-marathon distance. You do not need to run the full 13.1 miles in training; the adrenaline of the race day will carry you through the final mile or two.
You'll need to purchase a pair of good running shoes that match your gait. Head to a local running store and get advice on the best shoe for you. With your commitment to cycling and new-found determination to excel at running, remember to still give yourself at least one rest day per week. Burning out when training in multiple sports will only make your runs and rides less fun and effective. In the week prior to the half marathon, rest completely from both cycling and running at least two days prior to the competition. Your runs this race week should be short -- lasting just two to three miles --- so you stay fresh but give your muscles a chance to rest. Keep your riding miles down too because you'll want to have energy and power come race day.
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.