Half-Marathon Training, Times Two

Susan Wagner

Susan Wagner

We’ve got a new Fit Bottomed Mama in the house! Meet Susan Wagner, a freelance writer and editor who lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and their two sons, Henry, 11, and Charlie, 9. Susan will be sharing her experiences juggling her fitness goals and family. In between training for a half marathon and shuttling the kids to karate and baseball, she writes about fashion, running and pretty things she finds on the internet at The Working Closet. She’s training for upcoming races as I speak. Here, I’ll just let her tell you all about it… 

So here’s a crazy thing: On November 20, I’m running a half marathon. Two weeks later, I’m planning to run another. Because why not?

Why not indeed.

The November race, the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Okla., will be my first half marathon. It’s a small race and essentially local (I live in Oklahoma City, about 90 miles from Tulsa), so there’s no elaborate travel involved, which makes it seem like not such a big deal. Except for the part about how it’s a half marathon, you know, and how I’ll be running 13.1 miles on a totally unfamiliar course. But I’m trying not to think about that too much.

Two weeks later, if all goes well, I’ll be running a half at the Dallas White Rock Marathon, which does feel like a big deal: bigger race, bigger distance to travel, bigger entrance fee. It’s not like I have time to worry about it, though. I’ve got a lot going on over here, what with the job and the kids and the fact that someone has to cook dinner every night. Oh, and the whole marathon-training thing. That, too.

training for a half marathon

Credit: lululemon athletica

I started running 15 months ago, after taking nearly 20 years off. In that 20 years, I got married, had two babies, moved cross country and changed careers. Through all of that, I stayed active and fit, but I gave up on running; I was too old and too busy and too slow for running to really be my thing.

These days, I freelance full time, at least in all the time that I’m not shuttling my sons to carpool and karate class and little league. I also run between 20 and 30 miles each week, at about a 9:30-per-mile pace. I’m not going to win any Olympic medals, but I feel good about my runs, and about the fact that I can stick to my training schedule and still get the kids where they need to go and get the laundry done before anyone runs out of clean underwear. Most of the time.

But I’m still a little bit nervous about that first half marathon. And the one right after it. I’m following the Runner’s World Smart Coach training program to get ready for the Route 66 run; the plan steadily increases my miles in the 16 weeks leading up to the race. Of course, Week One coincided with my family’s summer vacation, which meant that I had to do my long run at the beginning of the week, rather than the end, and that the rest of my miles were on a hotel treadmill. It wasn’t ideal, but at least I kept running.

So why run two half marathons back to back? I suppose the short (and obvious) answer is because I’m crazy—or at least that’s what my friends are all saying. But the more accurate answer, I think, is because I can. My sons are 9 and 11 now; the parenting phase where I must be within arms reach all the time is finally over. I started running because I needed a break from my daily routine, from chores and work and kids who want to tell me the plot of Star Wars: Episode III (which movie is that again?) for the hundredth time. I love running for the sake of running, but having a goal—especially a big one—keeps me motivated.

But two half marathons in a row? I will admit that there’s a certain element of crazy there. What kind of person does that to herself, voluntarily? But the real crazy part is that it doesn’t seem that difficult to me. The practical part of my brain looks at my training schedule and figures that if I can do the two 14-mile training runs that lead up to the first half marathon, there’s no reason I can’t run back-to-back half marathons, particularly since I’ll have two weeks between them to rest and recover. Although that kind of talk is what makes everyone around me think I’ve lost my mind just a little bit.

In the end, I’m running two half marathons in a row because I can. That’s it. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone; I just want to do this. Because as much as I love being the mom and the wife and the writer, this is one thing that I’m doing just for me.

Although maybe it’s just because I’m crazy.

Why do you run? Is running a break from your mom routine or one more thing on the calendar? And what advice do you have for me as a first-time half marathoner? I’m open to any and all suggestions. Share in the comments! —Susan

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  1. Karianna says:

    Of COURSE you are going to do wonderfully! I am not in as good a shape as you, but did five half-marathons in 2010, plus a relay race (I ran 18 miles and change in 2 days) and an endurance race done tag-team-style (during which I ran 13.4 miles.) The endurance run and my 3rd Half of the year (which was the first half of the hilly San Francisco Marathon) were 15 days apart. I KNOW you can do two half-marathons with 2 weeks apart. You’ll have a blast!

  2. Kelly says:

    I run because I always told myself I couldn’t do it. Recently I completed Couch to 5K and I’m working towards wanting to run a half marathon. Currently I’m working on my pace but I enjoy going out for a 5k run every other day and I am beginning to think my 18 month old enjoys the ride in the stroller.

  3. Carrie says:

    I did that by accident last year, and was great! Ran my first half in Atlanta on Thanksgiving morning. Then had a friend who talked me into doing a local one with her, two weeks later. I did no running more than 3 miles during those two weeks and did great!!! Good luck!

  4. Melissa Galban says:

    I run to clear my head and have free time for myself. I am going on my 3 half marathon and have run 2 full marathons. When I started running I too hadn’t run
    in around 20yrs. I joined a running group and loved it and it gave me the confidence to keep running. Now don’t get me wrong sometime life or I just don’t want to run can get in the way. BUT once I get out there I fell so much better.
    I am running the Vegas marathon in Dec. and am so excited about it. It’s going to be a night run! this will be the first time I have to travel this far for a half marathon. My brother and I have made a list not to long ago of full & half marathons we want to run, kinda our bucket list. This is our 1st on the list. I then was thinking of doing my usual marathon in Austin, Tx the Livestrong and then another a month later. We’ll see how that goes. good luck and enjoy yourself and take it all in. It’s such a great feeling and accomplishment.

  5. Whatever your reason for running, good for you! I think back-to-back halfies are very doable and with your running history, training and confidence, you will do great! I’m looking forward to my 4 half marathons back-to-back in 4 days http://www.seattlequadzilla.com. It’s all done over Thanksgiving weekend. Probably not recommended by many people, the risk of injury, not recovery time, etc., but like you, it’s a goal that I set for myself, not to prove to anyone, but a challenge for myself. That’s it. Much luck to you!