Help - Half Marathon Pacing Tips

Cannot get the half marthon cracked

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18/06/2003 at 11:00
So let me get this straight....

Do 8.30-9.00 minutes miles up to, say, mile 5, then pick it up? What pace would you suggest to pick up to and would you pick it up even more on the the last couple of miles?

I have done my recent 10ks in May in 51:00 and in March, I was amazed I got a time of 1:54 for my first half marathon, when I was expecting a time well over the 2 hour mark. I can't quite believe that based on my 10K pace that I could, in theory, achieve a 1:50 H/M time. Very interesting!!! I'd die of joy, if I could get a something near the 1:50 mark. :0)

So does this negative split thing really work? My next two H/M's are in September, so I'd like to try this out, if it's the way to go...



18/06/2003 at 11:12
well I am going to give it a go, cos it seems to make sense, and I am really frustrated with my current performance. But it is going to take a lot of dicipline at the start.

I also, accept the value of the comment about extending the training to ensure that I can keep up the quicker pace, but I suspect that will come gradually over the months, especially as I train on.

The key thing at the moment is to ensure that I am performing at optimum based on current training.

My 10ks have really developed well over the last year. I have knocked 6 minutes off last years PB, by increasing the training and running at an even pace. I just need to adopt the same tactic with the halfs. The 10ks are probably the root of my problem, in that I am trying to run the 1/2s at 10k pace, probably because I have more xperience there and have been doing them for longer; and have put quite a lot of focus on them, without thinking of the impact that has on the longer distances.
18/06/2003 at 11:19
Angela, negative splits do work. good luck, go for sub 1.50! (if one of your 1/2s is the GNR, don't be too disappoint ed if you don't, it's too crowded). Once you set off too fast you're in energy debit for the rest of the race.

Re use of hrm, I used it for all my training and racing and so got an idea of what my training ranges should be.
For me, a 1/2 m effort equates to about 85-86% working heart rate. So I made sure my tempo runs were run at 80-85% (at the lower end of usually).
I set my 1.45 target on the basis that my previous pb was 1.51, and it sounded like a good number!
As my training went on, the pace I was running the tempo runs got faster, and I did one time trial of 10 miles 2 weeks before the race at my target pace on a flat route where I'd measured the mile markers previously.

So by then, I knew running at 85% would get me a min/mile pace of about 7.45, which is exactly how it worked out in my race, got 1.40 (watch time). Unfortunately it's been downhill ever since!

18/06/2003 at 11:21
My message crossed with yours freefall. Just for comparison, my 10K race effort is about 93% whr. If I set off on a 1/2m at that effort I would die a death about half way!
Try wearing your hrm in your race and make yourself stick to the level you've set. Experiment in your training (on the road, inside the readings might not match what you'll experience outdoors) and work out your target effort levels.
18/06/2003 at 11:38
FB: Using a HRM may add another complication factor to your runs, its a matter of indivdual preference. I tried for nearly a year to run with a HRM, and I didn't improve. I could never get the % figures calibrated for a race. In the end I ditched it and now I just run at the perceived levels of effort.

The advice to make the 1st mile really slow is really good. I usually try to start further back than my predicted time because:
a) you are held back over the 1st mile as the field spreads out.
b) you get to overtake a few people, which is a confidence boost.
18/06/2003 at 12:13
Once again, I completely agree with MTDRF:

I arrived late at the GNR a couple of years ago and had to start much further back than I wanted. However, this turned out to be a god-send. My first couple of miles were way below my intended sub 1:30 pace because I was boxed in by the weight of runners around me (I think I ran a 9-minute mile followed by an 8-minute mile). However, once I got some clear road ahead of me I was then more than able to make up the lost time and finished in 1:27 feeling much better than usual...

Also, it was a fantastic feeling to be overtaking people along the way. This definitely gave me a real boost.

A useful tip in training is to try and increase the pace for the second half of your long runs. This should help get you used to running a negative split.
18/06/2003 at 13:11
I have only run 4 halfs now but my first was in 2.07 and the most recent in Sheffield (which is a tad hilly) was a PB for me in 1.47. A couple of things really helped me get quicker and one is starting slow as everyone else seems to be saying. I ran the first six miles saying to myself over and over again 'keep something back' like a mantra and I would test myself every mile or so by accelerating past someone and slowing back down again just to ensure i was holding back and judging it by how easy it felt to overtake. Being quite bad at pacing myself I found it helped me know what i had left by how easy I felt it to accelerate - might sound like tosh but it helped me.

The second thing was speedwork which i now do every week. I hate it but it works ;)
18/06/2003 at 13:21
Laura, it doesn't sound like tosh - it sounds spot on.
You seem to be doing everything right. I wish I could.
18/06/2003 at 13:28
So lets see. If my 10k is 59:30 using the calculater suggests a half of 2h 16

Thats miles of 10:46

How much slower should I start, and then pick up by. I assume if you start TOO slow making up the time ceases to be an option as you are to far back to make it up.
18/06/2003 at 13:43
you could time a few shorter runs at a quicker pace that you can sustain to give you an idea of how fast and more importantly how long you can sustain them for then you could use these times to work out what is practical in terms of what you think you will be able to make up.
18/06/2003 at 14:07
I may be wrong but I think a 2-16 half is about 10-23 per mile not 10-46.
18/06/2003 at 14:29

I think Neversweat is right - I make it 10m23s/mile as well.

From my calculations:

If you were to run the 1st mile at a pace 1 minute per mile slower (i.e. at 11m23s/mile pace) then you would need to run the rest of the race at 10m18s/mile pace.

If you were to run the 1st mile at a pace 2 minutes per mile slower (i.e. at 12m23s/mile pace) then you would need to run the rest of the race at 10m13s/mile pace.

If you were to run the 1st mile at a pace 2 minutes per mile slower (i.e. at 12m23s/mile pace) AND the second mile at a pace 1 minute per mile slower (i.e. at 11m23s/mile pace) then you would need to run the rest of the race at 10m6s/mile pace.

Even in the last (and probably too extreme) case you would only need to be running 17s/mile faster than the overall average 10m23s/mile pace - I don't think this should be any problem given your 10k pace.
18/06/2003 at 16:42
doh.... I never could count...not enough fingers....

Well it certainly sounds feasible...especially as all my runs round here vary between 9 and 11 minute miles cause of the hills. On the flat I suppose I should be able to sustain 10 23....

Does starting so much slower..say I take the midle option really give you so much more extra energy at the end....? not sceptical, just surprised as a novice....
18/06/2003 at 16:43
good question, how hard is it to pick up pace?
18/06/2003 at 16:54

I don't know what the science is behind it, but starting slow really does seem to help later in the race. As I said, I did it by fluke at the GNR and it really worked. I've also done it the other way around (starting too fast) and really paid the price.


I never find it hard to pick up the pace - in fact I find the hard part trying to stop myself running too fast at the start. If you run slow enough at the start then you should really feel like you are running slowly. It just feels natural (like taking the brakes off) to up the pace after a mile or two. On a half-marathon it certainly shouldn't feel like much more effort or else you are probably forcing things and exerting too much energy.

18/06/2003 at 17:01
Thanks Lawrie..... I'm going to give it a go...2nd or 3rd option on Sunday... It's my first half so it'll be a PB anyway!!?

..actually looking forward to running that far on the flat. Most I've done so far is a very hilly 11 miles....
18/06/2003 at 17:07
Good luck on Sunday Snail, see you at Blackpool I'm doing the full. Don't forget to report back on this thread on Monday.
18/06/2003 at 17:24
SP, what pace are you starting with on Sunday? I've only just caught onto this thread and it's all very relevant!
18/06/2003 at 17:29
SP, what pace are you starting with on Sunday? I've only just caught onto this thread and it's all very relevant
18/06/2003 at 19:42
Sounds interesting - Blackpool this Sunday is my first half too, and I'll be making a determined effort to run slowly at the start (like that'll be hard for me!).
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