ask a runner: marathon training

lululemon ask a runner

lululemon: ask a runner

you asked

Hi! I run for fun but have recently decided to enter a half marathon race (also for fun, just longer distance fun!). I have three months to train. Any suggestions on how to get to a half marathon from my current 20/25 miles a week? Jenny

a runner responds

Look at your race date, and write yourself out a schedule. I recommend picking up a copy of Jeff Galloway’s “Half Marathon: You Can Do it”. You will have to run a minimum of 3 days a week, one run being a long run. The other 2 or 3 runs should consist of shorter, more intense runs with a focus on speed and/or hills. Increase your long run distance by no more than 10% each week. Any more and you will put yourself at risk for injury. Three months is definitely enough time to train based on your current fitness level, but a smart and consistent program is critical for success.


you asked

My sister and I are both rowers but are looking into a triathlon in the fall (the Mermaid Tri in Santa Cruz). Any tips on triathlons for people who haven’t done one before? The race is in September so we’ve got lots of time to prep. - Libby

a runner responds

Good for you and your sister! What a great way to test your mettle as athletes. Triathlons, while they may sound intimidating, are actually really fun and are a great goal for any fitness enthusiast. Here’s a simple yet effective training approach: practice each discipline at least once per week. If you have a particular weakness or are frightened by one of the triathlon legs (eg. swimming), practice that element an extra time per week, and seek extra help like a coach or even an experienced friend. On top of this, it is critical for you to practice “brick” workouts, where you do one discipline followed immediately by the other, eg. swim/bike, or bike/run. These brick workouts should be your longer workouts and you will be surprised how awful they feel the first few times around. This is why you should practice doing them!

As with any program geared towards a final race goal, your workouts, particularly your brick workouts, should be increased in duration by about 10% each week. For your shorter, single discipline workouts, let your focus be speed and form. A great book that I highly recommend for first timers is “Triathlon 101”, by John M. Mora. It gives specific workouts and programs, as well as sound nutrition advice.

My last suggestion is to get out into your community and join a local tri club! They will have scheduled club runs, rides, and swims for people of all levels in the group, and they can be a great way to gain more knowledge and experience in the tri world. Good luck to you both on your first tri!! Have a blast!


lululemon pocket
What are you putting in your pockets for marathon day?

you asked

Do you have any tips about training for a half marathon?
Should I bring my own energy gels? and how many should I take if I’m planning on finishing around 2h:30m? - Nadia

a runner responds

Find yourself a good half marathon program, like this one,

Definitely bring your own gels if that’s what you like to eat during your runs. A simple formula which works for many runners is to consume one gel every half hour (taken with water). If you use this technique, that would require 4 gels. One tip that I also recommend is to also take in a gel 30-45 minutes prior to your race start. This would mean you should get to the race start with 5 gels in your pocket. Of course, this gel/30 min technique should be practiced during your long runs, as to ensure no surprises on race day. Good luck girl!


Ainslie is the first run expert featured in our Ask a Runner series. Check out her website to get to know her better:

Upcoming run posts from Ainslie:

- What kind of shoes to wear – May 27
- How to stay motivated – May 28

read more related posts:


I’ve done 14 tris and the first thing I always think about is the clothing. I have a 1 piece (not the most flattering :) suit that acts as bathing suit + bike shorts. I usually wear a sports bra under it for additional support for the run.
In the t1 (transition 1) I’ll have shirt, socks, bike shoes, helmet on handlebars so you can’t forget it! , jacket (maybe) number belt laid out so they’re super easy to put on and for t2 I have my running shoes and a hat ready.
Transitioning is hard enough without having to dig through or think much.
Good luck!
(i’m a rower too ;)

Comment by divahh — May 26, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

Thanks for the inspiring post. I’m in the middle of my marathon training program and I love to read about what other endurance nuts out there are doing :-) Thanks for the tips. Joe.

Comment by Joe Runner — May 27, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

As a seasoned marathon runner, triathlons are a nice break away from the longer runs, but to take a different strategy to complete. As divahh mentioned, the transitions are going to be one of the toughest parts so it is wise to practice that. You want to know exactly what you are doing and in what order as you come in for both T1 and T2 so that you don’t forget anything or do something silly like grab your bike before your helmet is buckled and get DQ’d. The other subtle yet challenging part of a Tri is the nutrition. For a run, you can have your gels or sport drink all figured out at the beginning and just go with that plan with consistancy but that is not possible with a tri. You are switching up what you are drinking/eating during the race so you have to be prepared for that. A sound strategy is to be well hydrated before the race (always go to the bathroom before you start!!!!!!) and then re hydrate a bit in T1. Sometimes water is best since your stomach might be a little swirly after swimming. On the bike is your best opportunity to take in calories so you can eat energy bars (clif bars are my favourite on the bike) or gels if you prefer and sports drink to make sure you are not loosing too much electrolytes. Then on the run, you just try your best to hold on with gels/water or sports drink, depending on how your stomach feels. This nutrition side of it gets much more important the longer the distance is, but it is still something that is often forgotten. Best of luck!!!!!

Comment by Brian — June 1, 2010 @ 8:30 am

Hi Ainsley, I am running my first marathon in six days. Some time between now and then, I am thinking about squeezing in one more leg workout at the gym (squats, lunges, etc.). Good/bad idea? ~Dino

Comment by Dino — September 20, 2010 @ 8:30 am

Hi, Im a basketball player and a cross country runner. I just recently graduated from high school and went to college. I havent benn running since high school and as soon as i went back to running, Ive gotten shin splints. Ive had them on and off for a year now and they are really annoying at this point. Are they permanent? And if not, how can i cure them?

Comment by Wally — March 1, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

Hi Wally,

Ouch! Shin splints can be troublesome and painful but thankfully, not permanent. They can be caused by any number of things – improper footwear, excessive training (putting on too many miles too soon) or biomechanical problems such as pronation or knees that need stabilizing. Your first step should be heading to your physiotherapist for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Once the injury has healed, the name of the game becomes prevention. It sounds like you’ve got a great running history so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting back into the swing of things!
~ Tess, GEC

Comment by lululemon athletica GEC — March 3, 2011 @ 1:26 pm


I’m really desperate to know why I can’t run, or I guess to be more specific, why I have so much trouble running at all. I’m 21 years old, seemingly in good shape, 125 pounds, 5′ 6″, slender to average build, and don’t have any health problems, but I can’t for the life of me run.

Today I tried to start, since recently I’ve really wanted to get in shape and do some proactive and good things for my body, mind, and health this summer. I followed a suggested starting schedule given on this site, and walked for 5-6 minute intervals with a one minute interval of running in between. I did this about three times. But after the first half a minute of running, I was dying. My ears start pounding, there’s wind rushing in them, my lungs burn, I need to pointedly swallow just to push some air down into them after I’ve stopped, and I definitely cannot effectively breathe, at least not in any way that doesn’t look like I’m dying. My body gets very worn out immediately.

I’ve heard you should be able to carry on a conversation while running, but I don’t see how. I can’t even breathe in and out while running let alone speak. Is there any hope for me! I’m so sad and disappointed. It’s been this way all my life, and I’ve always felt so ridiculously out of shape despite my physical appearance, because it’s a huge feat just to run two city blocks for me. Why is this? What can I do? I’ve tried researching methods of breathing while running, but even trying to just deeply inhale and exhale regularly while running has not helped at all for me. What’s the deal?

- Desperately Tired Diana

Comment by Diana — June 17, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

Hey Diana,
Thanks so much for reaching out to us. Have you talked to your doctor about this? I would highly recommend that you do before starting a running program and they can help you figure out what is happening. It could be any number of things, and your doctor is really the best person to ask and to make sure the level of activity you plan to do is that right level for you.

Mention how you are pacing yourself as well. Are you running flat out, or are you having a nice light jog? Perhaps the increase is too great.

We are all unique beings and will come across different obstacles. For me, my ears get really sore and worked out I need to have them covered to keep them happy. We’ll all have our quirks, and need to remember to do what’s best for us and what works for one person, may not work for another.

Hang in there and remember nothing worth doing is ever easy!


Comment by GEC Online Community — June 19, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

I have recently entered my first half marathon. I know that I want to wear shorts for the race- however I am having trouble deciding on what to wear on top, as the race is early in the morning and in the Northern part of the country,which means it may be very cold in June. Help as I don’t want to overheat.

Comment by jasmine — March 5, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

Hi Jasmine,

Although it does get chilly during the morning, running a half marathon can get heated with all that running. I suggest the Swiftly Tech Short Sleeve or the Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve The seamless Silverescent® will be moisture wicking and anti-stink!

~ Siya
GEC Online

Comment by lululemon athletica GEC — March 6, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

I have been training for my first half marathon, it’s a week away. I have had pain near my left leg’s soles muscle since the first few weeks of training. (I’ve been training for 3 1/2 months) last week I went to a orthopedic store and learned from the doctor I have had a stress fracture. I took my last 3 week long runs off, I have put a heel lift in my left shoe to accommodate my shorter left leg. (this is why I’ve had the pain in my left leg) all of my short runs (12k or less) have felt good. I’m nervous I’ve lost a lot of my endurance. Is there hope ill be able to complete this half marathon? I plan to take time off after to heel:)

Comment by Jenna — May 13, 2012 @ 3:24 pm


I will be running my first half marathon in two weeks!
I have been a runner all my life and have been running long distances daily for my own enjoyment. As the marathon approaches I am wondering how I should spend my last couple weeks preparing. I’m not sure if I should be running less and doing more cross training or continue to do long distances. I just want to make sure that I’m not over/under trained and that I have a good healthy race!

Thanks a bunch!

Comment by Izabel — June 25, 2012 @ 5:53 am

I am training for a half marathon at the end of October. In the training schedule I am following, I am to do speed work one week then hills the next week. What does that even mean? I have read many examples of what it could mean but they are all so different and am left confused. I don’t want to do too much and I don’t want to be training too little. How long should I be doing these sessions also? Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks!!!!! ;)

Comment by Theresa — August 9, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

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