If you are an experienced runner, or maybe even if you are not, you may have noticed that my pace is not exactly the best around. I average about 14-15 minutes per mile. But here is the thing...I am an interval runner. That means I alternate between running and walking...so my average pace is longer because the quick running pace is "slowed down" by the slower walking pace. This method of training has allowed me to go for longer distances without injuring myself and without wanting to quit so quickly into my run. My pace with interval training may still be longer than others doing the same training, but perhaps they are more experienced runners. But I do what is best for me, and what will get me across the finish line within the required time.
When I first began running over a year ago, I used the Couch to 5K program. I figured it made sense since I like the couch, and I was going to run a 5K in the fall. Oh man...that did not work out. I mean the program in general is great and has worked for many, many people. But it seemed to have required a higher fitness level than just sitting on the couch when starting out and it did not work out for me at all. This is not to down the program, because as I said, it has worked for many people. I am just not one of them. The training was building you up to going from a mix of running and walking to all running. My body was not having it and I never, ever made it past going two miles. And I hated almost every bit of it. I was unmotivated, discouraged, tired, and sore.
Then I arrived at the health and fitness expo for the 5K last year...and I sat in a session with Jeff Galloway. That is the first time I heard about interval training. It was also the first time I did not feel guilty about doing a combination of running and walking. If a former Olympian was not only encouraging it, but also using that method to help others train, obviously there was something to it. I found myself wishing I had known about this months before so I could feel better prepared for the 5K.
Fast forward to today. I ditched the Couch to 5K program after the 5K. I began training for this half marathon using Jeff Galloway's training method, and I accomplished 2 miles on my first run in a shorter amount of time than I ever did with the Couch to 5K program. I have found I am able to go longer distances, and come out of it just fine. Yes, I might be a bit tired...but nothing like I was before, and I don't wake up really sore the next day. The worst part of it was only when I had terrible running shoes.
Jeff Galloway makes his training programs available through his website for free, and are designed for full marathons, half marathons, and 5K/10K. He is also the official training consultant for runDisney, and his training programs have been adjusted to fit each race Disney offers. Check out the Wine & Dine training schedule I am doing! If you are interested in any other Disney race, you can check out the training programs for each here.
I cannot say enough how much I love this training program. I want to say that training programs are not a one size fits all. Different methods work for different people. That is why I stress that I am not at all downing Couch to 5K...just saying that it is not the method that works for me. I also know people who had better success with other training programs. But Jeff Galloway's method has worked wonders for me. And I am very partial to someone who is extremely humble and makes you feel like you are the most amazing runner out there even if you tell him you have only been able to run a block. I should know...I got to meet him after that session last year. For a first time 5K runner to get the most amazing encouragement from a former Olympian...well, let's just say it still makes me teary eyed.