How to train for the Historic Half
Each year, thousands of people come to Fredericksburg from all over Virginia and the United States to run the Historic Half marathon. This year’s race takes place May 17, 2015, and you can register here.
Over the years, this race course has earned a reputation as a tough and challenging half marathon, with the epic Hospital Hill leading runners up a steep incline right after the 10-mile mark.
The best way to train is to spend some beautiful spring weekends here in Fredericksburg getting familiar with the terrain. Here are four workouts that will cover the toughest parts of the half marathon course, but also allow you to see some beautiful parts of this region that aren’t included in the race. We’ve also suggested plenty of rewards along the way to keep you going on your training plan.
Workout 1: Conquer the Hill
Hospital Hill is not something you want to see for the first time on race day. The more you can include it in your training runs, the better.
VA Runner will hold two group training runs on the hill between now and the race. They are March 31 and April 28. Both runs start at 6 p.m., and all you need to do to participate is meet at that time at the VA Runner store in Central Park at 1993 Carl D. Silver Parkway.
You’ll warm up on the run down Cowan Boulevard to the hill, then do a workout on the hill itself. Representatives from top national running brands will be on-hand to offer expert advice, as will VA Runner staff.
You’ll run back to VA Runner to end the workout, which will give you a reminder that the hill back up Cowan Boulevard—a hill you’ll see after Hospital Hill on race day—is another big challenge you’ll want to keep in mind.
Your Reward: Head to Peter Chang’s China Café for dinner. It’s nearby in Central Park and it’s not your typical American Chinese restaurant. You’ll find some dishes here you don’t see anywhere else, and Chang’s modern take on Chinese cuisine has made this place a local favorite. For dessert, stop by Sweet Reasons, also in Central Park, and pick up some hand-crafted cupcakes to take home.
Workout 2: Into Stafford County
It’s great to train on the race course, but there are a lot of beautiful runs in the Fredericksburg area that this course doesn’t cover.
Just across the Rappahannock River in Stafford County, the Belmont-Ferry Farm Trail offers a four-mile route (out and back) that takes you from Gari Melchers’ Home and Studio at Belmont through Falmouth Beach Park, up the river bluff to two other scenic parks, where you can choose to connect to Chatham Manor.
When you get to the switch-backs that lead you up from the river, stop to do 4 to 6 hill repeats. Yes, training for this race is all about the hills.
Your Reward: Tuck some cash in your shorts and end your run on the outdoor patio at Amy’s Café in Falmouth. Those hills have earned you a frosty craft beer and a burger, crab cake or other hearty entrée off Amy’s menu.
Workout 3: Get to know Fredericksburg
Long runs can get boring when you cover the same terrain every week. Make a day of it with a run that starts and ends in downtown Fredericksburg. The course mapped out below is just under 11 miles. You’ll experience the popular Rappahannock River Heritage Trail and University of Mary Washington campus along the way.
You’ll also get to see how far it really is from Hospital Hill to the finish line at the Fredericksburg Expo and Convention Center. This is important, because inevitably someone will be standing at the top of Hospital Hill saying, “You’re almost there.” Don’t listen.
Your reward: A long run calls for a cold beer and lunch on the outdoor patio at J.Brian’s Tap Room. For more conditioning, consider booking a massage at Skin+Touch Therapy or a pedicure at any of downtown’s many salons to pamper yourself a little.
Workout 4: Spotsylvania Courthouse Battlefield
The roads through area battlefields have long been a draw for runners and bikers. This 6.2-mile route through Spotsylvania Courthouse Battlefield is a great way to see these preserved lands, and historical markers along the way will help you learn about what happened here more than 150 years ago. This is a refreshing change of scenery.
Your reward: Stop in to Butternut & Blue Bistro in Spotsylvania’s Courthouse Village development. You won’t leave hungry, but if you want to take home some wholesome fuel for the rest of your training, be sure to visit the Harvest Market next door, for a wide selection of local, natural and organic products.