How I'm using Peloton to train for my 10th half marathon
Despite the tagline of my blog being "running, food, lifestyle, lipstick", I don't really talk about running much here anymore! I guess that's for two reasons - I don't really have much to say about running and I don't really like talking about running!
But I'm currently in the middle of training for my 10th half marathon and I've been thinking on those loooooong Sunday runs about how much I love using Peloton Digital for my training.
I know I've banged on about Peloton plenty of times here on this blog. (I wrote about how much I loved Peloton Digital back in January 2021 and then in November we caved and got ourselves a Peloton bike (and I wrote about that here)). In that original post over a year ago I talked about starting to use the outdoor running content but I think I'd only done one or two classes and I definitely hadn't used any of the Tread workouts outside.
Now, with the except of parkrun, I almost never run without a Peloton Digital class (or two, or three) loaded up.
Half marathon training with Peloton Digital
I talked in my post about getting our Peloton about using the Mastering the Basics program on the bike to give myself some structure and routine when we first got the bike, as well as, well, mastering the basics. I talked about while the program was really helpful, it was a bit restrictive and lacked flexibility.
Peloton does actually have a marathon program (and I have used some of the classes in my training - more on this later) but not a half marathon one, but honestly, given the inflexibility of the programs I'm not sure even if a half marathon program was offered it would be something I would use.
Instead, I use my tried-and-tested Hal Higdon half marathon plans.
I've used Hal Higdon's plans for every single half marathon (and the one marathon) I've ever run, and with nine under my belt now I know what works for me. I always adapt the plan to suit me - Saturday runs are parkruns, I never run more than 3 miles in the week, I extend the training plan to 16 weeks and I always include two 10 and two 12 mile runs if I can squeeze them in (I definitely feel the benefit on race day if I managed to get those extra miles in my legs). I've also learned that 5 days of running per week is too much for me, and usually do 4 days of running plus at least one rest day and some strength and cross training.
My week usually looks like this:
- Monday - cross train
- Tuesday - speed (alternating tempo runs and 400m interval runs each week)
- Wednesday - cross train
- Thursday - 3 mile run
- Friday - rest
- Saturday - parkrun
- Sunday - long run (6-12 miles)
Now this is just my plan and I am no expert! This is just what has worked for me over the years. There are always a few days I miss due to being ill or a weekend of runs I miss for being away, but I usually try to stick to a structure like this. Every Sunday I add a mile or two to my long runs, and every Tuesday I add time to the tempo portion of my tempo workout or an extra interval to my speed work (as per the Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 plan which is the one I follow).
I also have weak glutes (thanks to both being a runner and sitting down all day at work) so I try to incorporate some glute-specific strengthening work a few times a week to protect my knees. I use Peloton for this too - I love Matt Wilpers' 10 minute Strength for Runners class for this, plus Hannah Corbin's barre classes.
When it comes to using Peloton, on Mondays my cross training is usually a mix of the bike, plus some of Peloton's brilliant Strength for Runners classes, and maybe some core or other strength, Tuesday I either use one of the Peloton Marathon Training program tempo runs (while I don't do the actual program, Pelobuddy has a link to all the workouts in the program so you can access them without committing to the program itself, and the tempo runs are just fantastic so I'm following those every other week), or I do my 400m intervals using my Garmin (one of my few runs with no Peloton!), Wednesday is usually another bike or strength day, then Thursday I do a 30 minute Peloton run (usually an outdoor class), Saturday is parkrun and Sunday is my long run.
For my Sunday long runs, I really love Peloton's stacking tool. This allows you to add multiple runs together. For some reason, they don't have any runs over 60 minutes, so in order to hit my mileage I need to stack a few runs together. The only downside with this is they don't autoplay, so I have to grab my phone to move onto the next workout when one finishes. I really hope they add this feature soon!
For pretty much every half marathon I run, I'm aiming for a time just under 2 hours, unless I've had any injuries. My PB is 1:59:20, and I've ran 1:59 three times, so on the day I'm aiming for a pace of around 9:07 minutes per mile. Most training plans recommend running your long runs 60-90 seconds per mile slower than your goal pace, so I aim to run my long runs around a 10 minute mile pace. Which makes things super easy when it comes to working out how long my Peloton stack needs to be!
I always start out my long run with a Matt Wilpers 5 minute pre-run stretch, so I stack this first, and I always end with the same Rebecca Kennedy 10 minute post-run stretch, so both of these always go into my stack. Then the filling of my stack depends on the length of my run.
Peloton's 60 minute content for outdoor is pretty woeful, with only 3 classes, but there is plenty of content for the Tread that is over 60 minutes. On my long runs I tend to ignore most of the callouts anyway but it's really easy to run a Tread run outside - just speed up when they say to speed up, and then you can either speed up for the incline increases or just ignore them, especially if you're running around hills as I do!
My favourite 60 minute outdoor run is a 60 minute Becs Gentry Marathon Prep run, and when I'm training I basically do this exact same run every week. Yep, every single week. I probably know it word for word now. It's a great run and you're encouraged to run super slowly and increase your pace gradually throughout the run, so it's just perfect for a Sunday long run.
But it's only 60 minutes! So while that's fine for a 6 mile run for me, when it comes to the following week and I've got 7 miles, what then? Well that's when I add on a 10 minute warm up run from the Tread selection. I run that first, then have my 60 minute run ready next in my stack.
Once I get to 8 miles, I have a favourite Chase Tucker 20 minute Punk Rock Run, which I add on after Becs' 60 minute run, taking me to 80 minutes. Then for 9 miles I do the same as 8, plus an extra 10 minute warm up. For 10 miles, I do a 10 minute warm up, a 60 minute run, then a 30 minute run, then finally for my 12 hour run I stack two 60 minute runs together.
With the exception of Becs' 60 minute run which is a marathon training run anyway and perfectly paced, I mostly ignore the cues in the run (especially if I add on a short fast 20-30 minute run at the end of my stack when I'm already spent!) but I love the feeling of having someone talking to me while I run, reminding me to check my form and coaching me throughout. I also love someone else taking control of the music - all I have to do is run!
It's been a real game-changer for me to run with Peloton, especially as those long Sunday runs can be a bit boring! But even in the week, I love choosing the run I'm going to do for my morning runs the night before and adding it to my schedule. After running 9 half marathons it's so refreshing to do something different.
I've been asked a few times about using the bike now I'm training and the reality is I'm not using it as much, as I knew that when I got it! I just physically can't cycle much on top of running, and I've definitely noticed a decrease in my cycling fitness as I've started my running training again. And that's okay! I love the rides I do do on Wednesdays and sometimes Mondays, and I'm excited to be be back on the bike after this race (before I start training again in July for my October half marathon!).
Hit me up if you have any questions about Peloton Digital!