I ran my first half marathon as a teenager back in Indiana. It was sponsored by the local McDonalds, who fed us something they claimed were pancakes. Apparently in the 1970s, we didn't get that carb-loading 30 minutes before race time wasn't very effective. I don't remember my time, but it took me a couple of decades before I ran my next half.
Since then, I've run two marathons and a number of half marathons. And yet, I'm not what most people would consider a runner. I don't run regularly. If I don't run for days, weeks, or even months, I don't get an itchy desire to lace up my Hoka One Ones and head out. I'd much prefer to amble along a dirt trail, noticing the wind through the trees, the wildflowers reaching for the sun, and the wild turkeys pecking their way uphill.
And yet, at least once a year for the past four years, my buddy Jason and I have travelled to another National Park to run another half marathon. This year, it's the Grand Teton Half Marathon in Jackson, Wyoming. And this year, instead of logging 5-9 miles a run four times a week to train, I'm not running at all.
My Non-Runner's Training Routine
Three times a week, I take an indoor cycling class. Specifically a Pursuit class, where your metrics are projected onto a screen at the front of the classroom. The accountability and competition inspires a higher level of performance that makes every other cycling class seem boring by comparison. It only takes an hour, and since the Equinox gym I belong to is two floors down, I have zero excuses. Best of all, it's fun. Unlike running, I actually do feel an "itch" to go to a Pursuit class when I've missed one due to travel or other commitments.
And then I hike, usually twice a week. Hiking, by necessity, takes longer. I have to travel to-and-from the trailhead, and traveling at even a brisk hiking pace, most hikes consume half a day or more.
In between, I fill in the gaps with strength training and yoga. I've been learning Iyengar yoga, which focuses on proper form and has been super helpful for flexibility and recovery.
How well will this non-running training program work?
I tested this last month in the Oakland Half Marathon. I signed up on a whim, just a couple weeks before the event. I planned to use the Jeff Galloway method, running four minutes and walking one, repeating until finished. I ended up running straight through mile nine, then adding in some walking stretches. I finished with my best half marathon time since 2012. My time wasn't my fastest ever, but it felt like validation that a non-running training regimen could work.
We will find out in...