This post is directed toward those of you who have already run a half marathon and are now thinking of running faster. Recall that when training for your first race, the biggest limiting factor was your endurance. You simply had to develop the ability to run farther.
Improving your endurance will likely still help you to an extent, but you'll quickly reach a point where you can run 15, 20, or even 26.2 miles non-stop. Eventually, you basic ability to endure the race distance of 13.1 miles is not your weak link.
As I've mentioned in the past, improving ANY of your base qualities of movement, strength, and aerobic conditioning will help. Building a better base is rarely a bad idea. If you really want to improve your half marathon time, though, you'll need to start practicing the race – in small chunks.
Any good training plan should introduce and follow a progression. This could mean the runs get longer each week, but if you can already run the race distance, we need at least one or two other forms of progression. For example, over time your longer runs speed up and your short & fast sessions get longer.
|Speed work||Long Run|
|Week 3||12 X 200m||Easy 10 miles|
|Week 9||6 X 800m||Easy 5 miles, Hard 5 miles|
I love the idea of practicing your race pace in gradually larger chunks as you get closer to race day.
Here's a four workout progression spread over 8 weeks leading up to a half marathon. If you're racing sooner than that and you like to try this, just jump in. I advise warming up with 10-20 minutes of easy running and then 3-6x 100m strides before each of these workouts.
|8 Weeks Out||4-8 miles easy, then 4 miles @ HM pace|
|6 Weeks Out||6X 1 mile @ HM pace w/ 1 minute recovery intervals|
|4 Weeks Out||4X 2 miles @ HM pace w/ 1 minute recovery intervals|
|2 Weeks Out||3X 3 miles @ HM pace w/ 2 minutes recovery intervals|
*HM = Half Marathon
Depending on your mileage and injury risk,
I recommend performing the 4x2 and the 3x3 as your long run for the week. These sessions are very taxing and will require several days recovery if your weekly mileage is relatively low (say, less than 40 miles/week).
Give these sessions a try and I guarantee you'll feel much more prepared on race day. You'll have a sense of familiarity and confidence that will give you an edge, promise!
If you actually do one of these workouts, drop me a line below!