Training Programs

We’ve crafted three 13-week training programs to guide runners as they prepare for race day. Whether you’re a beginner training for your first race, or a pro looking for a challenge or to get that PR, we’ve got you covered. Each program breaks down suggested runs and workouts each week to get you in tip-top shape for race day!

13.1 Training Tips

  1. Run for a Reason

    We all have a WHY. Whether you’re new at running or an old pro, ask yourself one simple question: “Why am I doing this?”

    The answer to that question gives purpose and will serve as your primary motivation throughout the training season. Focusing on your “reason” helps get you through the mental and physical blocks that may come up during training, and on race day. Think of your WHY, remember the reason you wanted to accomplish this race and you will enjoy your time running even more.

    Our WHY is to help cancer patients. We run for them, we fight for them, we honor them.

    We hope along with your WHY, you’ll join us in running in honor of someone you love. #whywerun #jointhefight


  2. Pick a Training Program

    Choosing a plan that suits your style and fitness level is key. Whether this is your first race or your 100th, having a training program and something to follow week-by-week helps you stay accountable and consistent.

    Consistency is also a must to avoid injury. 13 weeks is a long enough period of time to safely build up your long run, weekly mileage and other workouts, but not so long that you lose motivation and get bored with your training.

    If you’re looking for a training program to follow, check out our beginner, intermediate and advanced programs (linked above) to get you going!


  3. Find a Training Buddy

    Training is better with a buddy. Don’t go at it alone. A training partner can keep you excited and accountable. It can be tempting to stay in bed and skip a cold morning run if you’re running alone but knowing that you’re meeting someone can be just what you need to get up and get going!

    Your buddy will also be there to share every experience and celebrate with you on race day. Rely on each other for motivation and encouragement. #trainwithabuddy #afcanyonrun #runwithfriends


  4. Think Quality over Quantity

    Training for 13 weeks can take a toll on your body. Training smart is one of the best injury prevention tactics we can suggest. Don't just look at the total mileage for the week and fit in whatever miles you can here and there. There is purpose in all the different training runs. They continually build upon each other week after week.

    Doing tempo runs or pace runs will help you build your stamina. Your long runs help you get comfortable for longer periods of time, training your body and mind to mentally settle in for the long haul. Skipping runs or pushing further than you are ready too quickly can have negative effects. Make each run count and help prepare you, not hurt you. #afcanyonruntraining #qualityoverquantity


  5. Cross Train and Rest

    Doing non-running but aerobic cross training as well as light strength training on your non-running days is a great way to up your running game. Cycling, swimming, using the elliptical machine or row machine are all great forms of cross training. Doing strength training and focusing on the core and upper body, will help you maintain good running form longer during your runs. It's also a great way to mix up your workouts and not feel like you are in a running "rut." In any training program, cross training can be anywhere from 2-3 days depending on your training plan.

    Always be sure to include a "rest" day to allow yourself some time to recover. Rest is just as important as a run or workout. Your body needs time to rebuild and repair. #afcanyonruntraining #crosstraining #whywerun


  6. Train Downhill

    Because the AF Canyon half marathon is downhill, it makes for a FAST course! If you’re not careful it can also make for a long, sore recovery. Incorporating downhill runs into your training program are encouraged to help build the opposing muscles you tend to use when running flat.

    Add a few downhill runs into your program to test your abilities. Can you maintain speed while descending, how do your knees feel, is there too much joint pain after? All these questions are better to find answers to before, rather than after the race day. Your body will thank you after when you are feeling great and celebrating your finish! #afcanyonruntraining #traindownhill #downhillrunning


  7. Run on Different Surfaces

    Too often we tend to run the same boring routes over and over or hop on the treadmill and just pass the time. As much as possible, try to switch up the surfaces you run on. Softer surfaces, such as grass or trails, can be great for recovery runs since the impact is less on your body, and the uneven nature of the surface can help strengthen your feet or lower legs.

    Running on roads can help harden your legs and work on your race rhythm, while the treadmill can help you dial in pace. Switch it up whenever possible. #afcanyonruntraining #switchitup


  8. Buy Two Pairs of Shoes

    Your miles can really add up on your shoes when in training. Shoes can break down the longer the miles get which can in turn cause injury and harm without knowing it. Having a second pair of the exact same shoe is important.

    Recent studies suggest that alternating between a couple pairs of shoes in training can decrease running-related injury. Having two fresh pairs of shoes on hand when you start your training helps extend the life of each pair by giving them ample recovery time between workouts. Just as your body needs to recover after a long run or key workout, so do your kicks. #afcanyonruntraining #theimportanceofshoes #buytwopairs #themoreyouknow


  9. Expirement with Fuel

    Over the course of 13.1 miles your tank will get low and your energy stores will deplete. Gatorades, gels and gu's can save you on any long run. Unless it's new and your stomach says "NO!" No one wants to know the side effects of bad fuel on race day. Experimenting with different products on long training runs is the best way to determine what your go to fuel for race day should be. Do your research and plan ahead. #afcanyonruntraining #fuelyourbody


  10. Study The Course

    Learn as much as you can about the course ahead of time and coordinate this with your training. Is there a drop in elevation, a big hill in the middle, long flats or gradual incline? What is the typical weather like at this location this time of year? Will there be wind? Answering questions like these ahead of time can save you in the end.

    Knowing what you are in for is the best way to train and get prepared for race day. #afcanyonruntraining #studythecourse #beprepared


  11. Practice at Race Pace

    Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect! It might seem silly to include this, but too often runners train slower than they want to run the race, thinking adrenaline will kick in and help, only to find out they pooped out half way through.

    Running one day a week at race pace can help you test your limits, set goals and set bench marks for yourself. Race pace is your goal pace for the whole race. Try to make at least one run a week at race pace and track it. Adjust if needed. It’s better to test this ahead of time and not be surprised on race day. #afcanyonruntraining #racepacepractice


  12. Don't Overdo the Long Run

    Long runs are indeed an important cornerstone of any half marathon training program, but it’s an element that can be easily overdone, whether you’re a newbie or a veteran. How do you avoid this? Slowly build your mileage. Adding a mile per week is a great way to have steady progression. Most half marathon trainings get up to 10 or 11 miles and taper back down for the final two weeks. Overdoing your longs runs can cause burnout early on in training. Consistency is key with long runs. #afcanyonruntraining #dontoverdoit #consistencyiskey


  13. Take It All In—Enjoy it!

    The most important tip is to enjoy your time training. Running should never feel like a chore or something that "has" to get done. You will start to regret your decision and you will start to feel negative about your training. Keeping a running journal or log can help you week by week to dial in on what works for you. Remembering how you felt after your long run, was it too hard, or did you feel amazing? What did you eat before (including the night before), during and after a training run? What music really pumped you up? Who did you run with and what route did you take?

    All of these can easily be recalled in your log for the next time you want to do something the same or change something that didn't work. After the race you can review your journal and take it all in, feeling accomplished and proud of your hard work. #afcanyonruntraining #enjoyit


13.1 Have FUN! Sign up for your next race!


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The AF Canyon Run Against Cancer is all about running for a cause. Each person runs for their own reason — and we’d love to hear about it! Connect with us and share your experiences using hashtag #afcanyonrun #whywerun.

97th Floor is the Title Sponsor of AF Canyon Run Against Cancer

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97th Floor is the Title Sponsor of AF Canyon Run Against Cancer
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