Runners: A Sign of Spring in the Pittsburgh Landscape


Although ‘Ground hog Phil’ saw his shadow on Groundhog’s Day, and accordingly we are ‘supposed’ to have six more weeks of winter–there is one definitive sign of spring–runners breaking from their winter hibernation to begin training for the Pittsburgh Marathon and Half Marathon on May 6, 2018. In the next week you will notice runners eager to pound the pavement on sidewalks, roads and trails despite the cold and snow–as they begin their twelve week training program for the Pittsburgh Marathon or Half Marathon. Twelve weeks may seem like a long training plan, but in order to be fully prepared for race day, a great training regimen/plan is essential.

So how does one execute their best race–whether a PR or  a strong finish? The key to a successful race is to have a running plan (that you stick to). A running plan keeps you on track by adding miles gradually–a plan prepares your body for longer distances by giving your body time and gradual exposure to distance running and by gradually adding miles injuries like shin splints can be prevented. Running plans come in a wide range of levels from beginner (couch to 5K) to novice (where you train 3 days a week and cross train) to intermediate where you train 4-5 days a week to advanced training which includes speed training. Here is a sample of a plan half marathon training plan:

Like many women/mothers, my favorite distance race is the half marathon (60% of all finishers were women according to Running USA in 2016). The 13.1 distance is a doable for mothers–although training is a time commitment, half marathon training does not over take your family life. 

For previous years for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon I have followed the Hal Higdon training plan. My first year I followed his novice training plan and for subsequent plans I followed the intermediate plan–basically it is the length of the long runs (in miles) and the frequency of runs per week that determine the intensity of the plan. Here is a link to Hal Higdon’s novice plan: Half-Marathon-Novice-1-Training-Program. In this plan, the longest run is ten miles, so if this is your first half marathon or your time is limited for fitting in long runs, I highly recommend this plan. If you can run 10 miles, you can definitely run 13.1 with no worries.

This year I am following the intermediate training plan by Hal Higdon: here is the link:  Half-Marathon-Walk-Training-Program-Intermediate-1. My goal for this year’s Pittsburgh Half Marathon is to finish the race faster than last year–even if by one second. This year’s half marathon will be special as well, as my 16-year-old son will be running his first half marathon race. He’s way faster than me, but I want to make him proud as well and make his first distance race one to remember. 

Good luck, mother runners, as you begin your training! See you on the trails! What training plan do you use? 

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Sarah Knight is a mother of five children, wife of her college sweetheart and companion to her numerous household pets, as well as a resident of the South Hills of Pittsburgh. She holds two degrees from Duquesne University: A Master's in English Literature and BS in Business Management. Growing up as an only child, Sarah has faced many challenges raising a large family. Raising children (the youngest being highly energetic twin 4 year olds) has provided many lessons in parenting, patience and life. She is an aspiring writer who is now finally able to put pen to paper, as her kiddos are a little bit older. As a stay at home mom, living on a single income, Sarah is always finding new ways to keep the family on a budget. She is an avid runner, and has run five half marathons and will be running the Pittsburgh half this May. She loves learning new things, whether experimenting with cooking, making home decor or gardening. Follow her writings at or @wicklowwildflower on Facebook.