Shaving 8 minutes Off 1/2 Marathon Time

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17/09/2012 at 16:07

I'm wondering if it is possible to shave 8(ish) minutes off my half marathon time within the next 5 weeks through interval/speed training? I'm signed up to my first half marathon & made it a personal goal to acheive a time under 2 hours but I'm currently just outside of it.

Today I ran my first 13 mile plus run, 13.63 miles in 02:13:06 which I would have been about 8 & half mins over time. Last week I done 12.41 miles in 02:00:45 which probably would have seen a time 7+ mins over the 2 hour mark. It never really seemed like much, but when I broke it down per mile and realised I'd need to be running over 30s/mile quicker it put it into perspective a little more.

My current plan is to introduce another interval/tempo run day in place of one of my easier runs and look at a bit more hill running (last weeks long route was quite hilly as it was). As I increase my speed training I'll reduce my long runs down to 8-10 mile max as its more speed than endurance I'm looking to improve on, maybe one more long run a couple weeks before race day 7 then tapering off the week leading up to it.

If anyone has got any advice (or wants to shoot me down for having silly goals ) I'd love to hear it

17/09/2012 at 16:13

Goals are fine, but you are likely to wear yourself out (or injure yourself) if you keep trying to run the race distance in your target time on your training runs.

The long runs should be slower, a lot slower, than race pace.  Your speedwork and tempo sessions should be much shorter than race distance.

17/09/2012 at 16:20

Kevin, what's your total mileage and how long have you been doing that consistently?

How old are you, and do you have any injuries or problems that might change things?

If you're a male 18-40, run 25miles a week, have done for 3months, and have no injuries/handicaps, I would expect 2hours to be smashed through.

And that's without any designated speedwork or tempo stuff.

17/09/2012 at 16:22

To be honest I probably have pushed myself more than I should have this past week doing those runs back to back but I haven't ever pushed myself too hard. I have a running partner & we talk through the whole run, just trying to maintain a steady pace.

Cutting down my long runs over the next few weeks I'll probably drop the pace too as the last thing I want to do is have to pull out due to injury.

17/09/2012 at 16:32
Stevie G . wrote (see)

Kevin, what's your total mileage and how long have you been doing that consistently?

How old are you, and do you have any injuries or problems that might change things?

If you're a male 18-40, run 25miles a week, have done for 3months, and have no injuries/handicaps, I would expect 2hours to be smashed through.

And that's without any designated speedwork or tempo stuff.

Stevie, I'm 29 (soon to be hitting the dreaded milestone!!) and admittedly only been running regular on the road for a few weeks. I used to do daily 5k runs and a weekly 10k, albeit in the gym, kept that regime up for a couple of years and had some decent times, but never really ventured above 12k. Used to suffer with trapped nerve when I was younger due to a tennis injury, but once I started running and strengthened my core I seemed to become more injury free.

Have done 62 miles in last 2 weeks so guess 30 miles a week is a fair average given I'll be dropping my long run distances.

Edited: 17/09/2012 at 16:33
17/09/2012 at 16:37

Should also say prior to the last couple of weeks I'd had a good couple of months off but had been playing football weekly as well as semi regular runs in the gym 5k+ to get my fitness back up as it had been a few years since my daily 5/10k runs. The main difference being the increase in mileage and moving to the road

17/09/2012 at 16:45

At your age, with what I think I read was an 18min 5k years back you have plenty of potential and speed? I would however, be cautious claiming treadmill times as pbs...

But anyway, a couple of months at 30miles a week, making sure you're getting a regular 10-12mile run in, and I guarantee that in 6months we'll laugh about you ever thinking 2hours was any kind of challenge for you.

Once you smash 2hours, and get an idea of your true all out race pace, then you can start splitting out your pace zones and doing tempos and speedwork etc

Edited: 17/09/2012 at 16:46
17/09/2012 at 17:07

Oh yes I know theres a huge gulf between treadmill and road, I'd be delighted to run a 20 min 5k on the road. Cheers Stevie, its a confidence booster to know that its not an unrealsitc goal. I know from before, that when I get the bug for running I'm dedicated to  sticking to a good routine and trying to improve myself. Saddo note: I've actually logged all my runs so far into a spreadsheet so I can track my progress, keep a check on average as well as fastest k/miles, make sure I'm maintaining a steady pace over longer runs etc 

Edited: 17/09/2012 at 17:08
17/09/2012 at 17:23

dont run your long training runs too fast. aim for around 1min per mile slower, that works for me. In normal training i very rarely get much under 1.45 for 13 miles but on the day in a race I know I can get under 1.30 if i give it a good push.

If you push yourself in your long runs then you won`t have enough energy to complete your "speed" sessions in the week.

17/09/2012 at 17:32

Kevin, 100% realistic. If you offered to pay me £50 to get you sub 2hours I'd go and spend the money now it's such a given 

Choice is yours really on approach.

1) run all runs as fast as you like, vague ideas on speedwork and tempo paces. Will get you short term gains, whilst knackering yourself.

2)do a regular 30miles a week, at an easy pace. Go and race a half marathon flat out, and afterwards, create some target pace zones afterwards.

Will build a base, and then start working you out to your designated time zones.

Without getting too heavy too early, your easy pace would be an absolute minimum of 1min 20 slower than your half marathon pace, all the way up to 2+mins slower.


A lot of runners worry running slower in training will make them lose pace in a race.

This doesn't happen as once or twice a week you run a hard session based on your own current pace zones...

i'll stop there for now, as we're all getting too excited with the anorakity of this!


when's your target half marathon?


17/09/2012 at 17:49

Half marathon is the Great Birmingham Run 21st October, 5 weeks as of yesterday. To be honest the only real goal I set myself prior to signing up was the 2 hour marker, anyhting above and beyond that I would consider long term goals. If this can be acheived initially by maintaining what I am currently doing then I probably would stick with option 2.

Theres a wealth of information out there and I've spent a while trawling through training programs trying to plan out a program to suit my current situation which I would consider above some of the easier beginner programs but maybe less demanding than intermediate ones so its great to get some first hand advice from other runners

17/09/2012 at 18:29

i simply wouldn't worry about any plans at your situation Kevin. For one thing, it takes 6 weeks to get the benefit of a new training, so the current way is fine.

I'd focus on 30mile weeks, ideally having a 10-12miler as your weekend run, a medium long run, 6-8, and a couple of 4-5s.. It really is just about mileage at your age/gender/experience, whereas those other sub 2hour plans I feel are more tailored to naturally slower runners.

Maybe just add a fartlek section in the middle of one of the shorter runs, running as fast as you like for short periods.

The last long run you can maybe do a few miles harder within the 10-12.

Then when you finish Birmingham, we'll see what time you've got, and it can get a bit more considered then.


17/09/2012 at 19:55
Hi Kevin! I had the same problems but only I stuck 1h53m for half marathon twice.. I did twice in July and August in Devon (very hilly) and in Slough (almost flat).
I started to do my long, easy, tempo and interval running with my "tempo trainer" which I used in my swimming lessons. It will cost to you ??20. So, I found my personal tempo for long easy run 166 strides/ min and I put 60/166=0,36 (beep per stride) on my tempo trainer. And then I started build up my temp for speedwork. Usually 5 min warm up 0,36, then 10 min 60 sec/171stride=0,35, then 15 min 60/176=0,34 and finished 3-5 min 0,32. This is for 5 miles. Basically you playing with yourself. But you must have on your hand heart rate watch-monitor cos this little tempo trainer will kick you ass really hard. And no music of course for proper hearing sound on your hat with this device.
I am practising only a month and easy can see my improvement and can't wait in two week next half marathon in Ealing, London. I am 44. 184 cm and 88kg. Very recommend tou you to try this little crazy bastard and I promise you it's gonna be very fun.
17/09/2012 at 22:19
Gleb Shataylo wrote (see)
This is for 5 miles. Basically you playing with yourself. 

17/09/2012 at 22:22

Best first post ever.

Funny, a little mad, some doubt about whether it's a real person or a spambot, and an all round good post!

17/09/2012 at 23:07
I am real. But I am worry if I gonna keep speed up my tempo trainer and run as fast as large russian wolfhound, from current my max speed 60cek/181s=0.33 to Kenyan marathon tempo 200 strides per min=0,3 it will hurt me.
Kevin, buy this thing, attach to your running hat and fly.
17/09/2012 at 23:14
This is link for you and all. I am not selling I am user.
18/09/2012 at 07:42

kevinr1....good luck with your goal of 2hours i really do hope you get there

im also doing the birmingham half in october and also set myself a challenge of 2 hours finish time.

i only started a training plan with 13 weeks to go till race day of which im into week 8 now,my longest run is nearly the same as yours i did 13.6miles in back out this sunday and going to try the 13.1 in 2hours :-0

im really excitied but nervous about this race as iv never done any kind of race before....again good luck,keep us posted about how your training is going

21/09/2012 at 14:09

Cheers Scotty & all the best to yourself too. If we're starting out the same time maybe we'll be seeing each other at the finishing line 

Looks like you're as good as there already so can't see you not killing that 2 hour mark.

Probably won't be going over the 13 mile mark again beforerace day, maybe up to a 12+ a couple of weeks prior. Done 7 miles today in little over an hour in what I would consider a steady pace & feel i could have kept that up for the back half so know the target is in reaching distance, The only real issue I had today was running in the rain I hadn't considered how much chaffing a running top can nipples are raw as anything, ouch haha!! Will be getting the tape out next time before running I'm thinking!!

Edited: 21/09/2012 at 14:09
24/09/2012 at 15:07

hey kevinr1,

thats good to see your still had more to give after your 7miles you say it just trying to get the distance up now and getting the legs used to it.

i done a 15km jog saturday in 1h20mins,which was a massive improvement on my last attempt at that distance,knocked about 8 mins off previous time,really pushed myself on that though.

im going to try and do 2 more long runs this weekend and next then im going to bring it down alot which will be with 2 weeks left to the big day

i never been out running in the rain yet, but i think il take your advice if i decide to,maybe stick some vasline in my pocket.

cant beleive it less than 4 weeks now

do you know when we get our race numbers sent through or do you have to collect them?

good luck with the training mate and keep injury free

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