It’s EARLY! And a Reader Q&A

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Morning! Today was the first day that I woke up and didn’t want to strangle a small child in exchange for coffee. 🙂 The future looks bright!


I had hot water with lemon instead.


Hopefully, I’ll survive working a new shift today.  As most of you know, I work from home.  My company has decided to do four 10-hour workdays instead of five 8-hour days.  So I’ll have every Friday off, but I have to sit in front of the computer from 7 AM to 5:30 PM Monday – Thursday.  There’s pros and cons, for sure!


I made a different (but yummy) breakfast.


I sauteed about 1/2 cup of slaw with some EVOO, vinegar, and pepper and added two scrambled eggs to the top.


It was like a warm egg salad. Pretty good!


Plus a side of fruit


Reader Q&A:  Give Me the Rundown on Training Programs!


Today’s Reader Q&A comes from Alessa at On the Run.  I thought I’d share my very long-winded answer with everyone because I get many similar questions in my e-mail!


I have seriously looked at so many training programs in the past and just never went ahead and signed up for a race. I am so happy to finally taken that step. My best friend and I will be running the half together (I live with her) and we go for runs together a couple times a week, as is. So we are going to start talking more seriously about a training schedule towards the end of March. I know to slowly increase my mileage to avoid injuries, etc. But what kind of cross training do you enjoy doing? I have to say, I like spinning but its hard for me to always get to the spinning classes at my gym. And I think I definitely need to get back into more weight training. SO sorry to go on and on.. you just seemed like the perfect person for me to ask questions to!  Did you ever actually run 13 miles during training, or did you just build up to 11 or 12?  ~Alessa


Hi Alessa!

Congrats on training for a race!  I love that you love running just for fun!  But, training for a race gives me a lot of satisfaction, and it’s makes running a little more interesting. 🙂

Choosing a Training Program

I have always used a modification of Hal Hidgon’s programs.   He has programs for 5K, 8K, 10K, 15K, Half Marathons, and more.  Each program has "intensity levels," like novice, intermediate, expert.   You can look at the "novice" versions of the programs and kind of get an idea of where you are currently at.

Runner’s World has a training program that you can entirely customize according to your current fitness level– it’s pretty cool!

Couch to 5K (which is for NEW runners) is another excellent program for beginners.

A Half Marathon Rule of Thumb

To do a half marathon in 12 weeks, you should currently be running at least 12 miles a week

If you’re not at that level, do a few weeks of a 5K or 10K training program first.  I always modify training programs to what will work for me — and sometimes that means adding or deleting weeks.  You certainly don’t want to push yourself too hard and too fast because you could get an injury.

Other Training Tips

For cross training days, I just do a non-running cardio activity.  I also kind of use "cardio" days as a light workout day to give my body a chance to recover.  As in, I typically go to the gym and do 30 minutes on the elliptical while reading a magazine.  Occasionally, I swim.  I have a bike that I ride around the neighborhood every now and then, too. I view cardio days as a way to give my knees a break from the pounding! 🙂

There are three types of running that should be incorporated into your training plan:  Tempo Runs, Speedwork, and Easy Runs.  The energy you put out on these runs is either 1 = 50% output, which is roughly a comfortable jog; 2 = 75% output, which is a faster, but maintainable pace; and 3 = 100% output; or a sprint.  For me, a Level 1 is a 10 minute mile; a Level 2 is a 9 minute mile; and a Level 3 is a 8 minute mile.

Tempo runs begin at a Level 1 run — a comfortable jog.  During a tempo run, you stay at Level 1 until the run is 2/3 complete, and then you move to a Level 2 run for the last 1/3.  The pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden. 

Speedwork runs alternate 400-meter (or 0.25 mile) Level 3 sprints with a rest period of Level 1.  I described a 5K speedwork plan the other day in this post.  To make it more challenging, do 800-meter sprints.

And Easy Runs are typically done on your longer run day, when you focus more on distance than speed.

In terms of what your longest distance should be before your race, it’s really up to you.  Some training plans recommend running up to 11 miles, others say run 14.  I chose to run 14 miles two weekends before my first half marathon (read the post here).  The week before I ran a 15K race on my long run day.  If you only decide to go 11 before the race – DON’T WORRY – you’ll be able to finish the half marathon because you’ll be so excited and pumped!

And Be Safe!

My last bit of training is BE SAFE!  You don’t want to get an overuse injury, such as a stress fracture or a pulled muscle.  It’s important not to increase your distance too fast. As a rule, I try to never increase my mileage by 10% from week to week. Also, LISTEN to your body and take days off if you need to.  I try to follow a program at least 90% of the time.  If you miss a day or two, it won’t ruin you!



***REMINDER*** Meghann’s Blogging Bake Sale begins today at 11 AM EST.  Check out her blog for more information.  I’m baking for the event, of course.  All proceeds go to charity!



  • Megan February 9, 2009, 5:00 am

    i can’t wait for the bake sale, yayyy 🙂

    i love running tips! i’m such a newbie, these are great.

    good luck on your never-ending work day!

  • rebecca February 9, 2009, 5:19 am

    The 4-10 schedule seems super long at first. But I made the switch to it over two years ago and I would never go back to any other schedule. The knowledge that I have every, single Friday off gets me through the days that seem particularly long. Good luck!!!!

  • VeggieGirl February 9, 2009, 5:22 am

    Oooh your breakfast looks like confetti!! Love it 🙂

    Great Q&A/tips!!

    Happy Monday!!

  • Mica February 9, 2009, 6:50 am

    Great running tips and GREAT job not craving caffeine this morning. Rockstar!

  • inmytummy February 9, 2009, 6:50 am

    My first job had 4 10-hour days. I had Mondays off. Once you get used to the 10 hour part, it’s pretty awesome to have a 3-day weekend every weekend.

  • sweetandfit February 9, 2009, 6:54 am

    haha… glad your coffee dependence is wearing off, i don’t know if I could do that just yet. yay for having fridays off! now you can maybe get outside and enjoy the amazing florida weather another day =)

  • Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) February 9, 2009, 7:12 am

    I’m a fan of Mr. Higdon as well – he got me through my first full. Good stuff.

    Wow, 10 hours in front of the computer. That takes discipline to do that at home. I think I would have a hard time staying at my desk!

    Love the eggs on slaw. Great idea. Have a good week Caitlin!

  • brandi February 9, 2009, 7:40 am

    Good luck with the new schedule!

    I wish my job would go to that schedule!

  • Rose February 9, 2009, 7:46 am

    That’s great that your work is considering alternate work weeks. I wish mine would do that!

  • RhodeyGirl/Sabrina February 9, 2009, 7:50 am

    aw man. I work 7 to 5:00/5:30/6:00 monday to FRIDAY right now! I would love to do it 4 days a week.. I bet you will love it once you get used to it.

    the biggest piece of (unsolicited) advice I can give you: Always prep ahead! I prep a few foods ahead, wash clothes on the weekends, etc, so that the week is easier on me.

  • Nancy February 9, 2009, 8:11 am


    I don’t know what you think about running in terms of weight-loss since you are no longer losing weight but for those who want to, do you think speed is more important than distance or vice versa? For example, do you think it would be better to run 4 miles on a comfortable/not too challenging pace or a fast 2 miles?

    keep up the amazing job! 🙂


  • Burp and Slurp~! February 9, 2009, 8:17 am

    I love anything with eggs, so your breakfast totally wowed me over!
    thanks for the running tips!

  • lilveggiepatch February 9, 2009, 8:29 am

    Mmm warm egg salad sounds so yum! Your 10-hour work schedule is very impressive… especially without that java!

  • ksgoodeats February 9, 2009, 8:31 am

    Oh my gosh – I like the new breakfast! You are so creative!

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point February 9, 2009, 8:32 am

    nancy – you will burn more calories running 4 miles at a slow pace than running 2 miles at a fast pace, for sure. let’s say your fast pace is 8 minute miles and your slow pace is 9 minute miles. that means you can run 2 miles in 16 minutes or 4 miles in 36 minutes. that’s 20 more minutes of calorie-burning activity! so, distance is best!

  • Marian's eats February 9, 2009, 8:37 am

    Thanks for all the running tips! Have a great week:)

  • Thinspired February 9, 2009, 8:39 am

    Thank you so much for these wonderful tips, Caitlin! You are such an inspiration to me as a running newbie 🙂
    I had hot water and lemon this morning too….after my coffee. I don’t know how you’re doing it, but congrats to you for going cold turkey!

  • Meg February 9, 2009, 9:11 am

    Great job with the coffee! I wish I could give it up.

  • Katie February 9, 2009, 9:37 am

    Thanks for the training program tips. I actually started with Couch to 5k in August 2007 and could barely make the first 30 second running interval. Since “graduating” from the program I’ve been in the “What next?” phase. Your suggestions are very helpful.

  • Sarah (lovINmytummy) February 9, 2009, 9:39 am

    Really good running tips! Hope the hot water w/lemon helps with the coffee cravings.

  • Runeatrepeat February 9, 2009, 10:25 am

    Great running tips. Just to add some personal info – I never ran 13 miles before I did my first half. I think my longest run was 11 miles.

  • Sarah W. February 9, 2009, 10:54 am

    um you are going to grow to love your 4 day workweek! I think everybody should do it!!!

  • HangryPants February 9, 2009, 11:01 am

    Thank you so much for this answer. I will definitely be reading it again and again over the next several weeks!

  • tryingforatri February 9, 2009, 11:37 am

    Great post! I’m only just starting to take this training stuff seriously, so it’s good to know!! Thanks 🙂

  • Vegan On Stage February 9, 2009, 1:25 pm

    thank you so so much for the tips!!! i just printed out an intermediate training course!

  • Marissa February 9, 2009, 4:53 pm

    I’m so jealous of your work schedule! I work like 5 12+ hour days :/

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