Half marathon training is predictable in its distances but unpredictable in terms of how the body will do on any given day.
There are all sorts of ways to train for a half and all sorts of long run schedules you can follow. I've followed a predictable training schedule for the last bunch of races and it works. Just in case though, I do a little voodoo dance, spin around twice and toss chicken feathers over my shoulder in the hopes that it keeps working.
Here's what my Saturday long run distances look like:
10k easy week
10k easy week
Build up for two months. Get three runs in that are 20k or more. Taper back down for the last month. This routine works for me and leaves me feeling relatively confident for race day.
Race day is still a long way off so I'm at the beginning of this schedule. On Saturday, I ran 16k. It went surprisingly well. My body, my energy and my blood sugar did what I wanted them to do the entire time. I even managed to shave a few seconds off each of the last few kilometres instead of add seconds like I usually do.
As I finished the last few hundred metres, I thought to myself, 16k is my favourite long run distance.
It really is.
12k and 14k usually feel a little harder than they should as my body struggles to get used to ramping up the distances again. It's both a physical and a psychological struggle. By the time I hit 20k, I'm in survival mode. By that I mean that I have to run 2+ hours, I've been doing this for almost two months and I'm getting tired.
But 16k is that sweet spot. It's far enough to feel like an accomplishment and yet it's not so far as to feel overwhelming. In fact I could happily head out for 18 holes of golf after 16k. Nothing really hurts. A good shower and a warm lunch is all I need to bounce back and I walk around all day with a nice post-workout glow rather than a desperate need for a nap.
Seven more weeks and I get to do it again!