RW’s 10-week sub-1:50 half-marathon schedules

This time range takes you up to a regular 40 miles a week, though many runners would still be able to do themselves justice by substituting one easy run for a rest day and running closer to 35 miles a week. The key here is to get used to good-quality sessions, particularly repetition runs, where you are running fast (at about 10K pace) for several minutes at a stretch.

Slightly less strenuous are the ‘zapping’ sessions, which are a type of interval training. You put in a fast burst lasting either 30 seconds or one minute, then drop to a steady jog to recover for the next one. If you don’t like using a watch, you can base the burst on a certain number of strides; 50 double strides are equivalent to a 30-second burst.

You’re allowed one low-mileage week to let your body absorb the training. This can be taken at any point in the schedule, but it’s best to do it when you have a race at the end of the week.

What you do in the last two weeks depends very much on how your body has reacted to Weeks 7 and 8. If you’re feeling tired, take Week 9 very easily. The Week 10 schedule is very light, and by the time the race comes around, you should be fully recovered and feeling bouncy.

The most useful thing you can do in these weeks is to get your pace judgement right. Work out the pace you need to achieve your best possible race time. Practise this over a measured mile, in your racing shoes, so that you know what it feels like. The first mile of your race should not be faster than this. The closer you can get to level pace, the more efficiently you will be running.

  Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
WEEK 1 5M easy 5M, a little faster than Mon 5M, inc 15 mins of 30 secs fast, 60 secs jogging 5M easy, off-road Rest 5M easy, inc some strides 7-8M easy
WEEK 2 4M easy 6M steady, on a hilly course 5M, inc 16 mins of 1 min fast, 1 min jogging 5M easy Rest Warm up, then 3M fast (timed). Warm down 7-8M easy
WEEK 3 4M easy 6M steady, finishing faster 4M easy Warm up, then 8 x 90 secs fast, 90 secs slow Rest Warm up, then 4 x 800m (or 4 x 3 mins), with 3-min recovery jogs 7-8M slow
WEEK 4 4M easy 6M, fairly fast Repetitions: 4 x 3 mins fast, with 2-min recoveries 5M easy Rest 1M jog, then 5M fairly fast, then 1M jog 10M slow
WEEK 5 5M easy, off-road 6M, starting slow, finishing faster 3 x 5 mins fast, with 5-min jog recoveries 5M easy, inc 6 x 150m fast strides Rest or 3M jog 2M slow, then 1M fast, then 2M slow Warm up, then 10K race or 5M pace run (timed)
WEEK 6 5M easy 5M, inc 16 x 1 min fast, 1 min slow 2 x 2M (approx), timed, at threshold pace 5-6M easy Rest or 3M jog 1M easy, then 4-5M fairly fast, then 1M jog 10M steady
WEEK 7 5M easy, off-road if possible Rest 8M, fairly fast 4M easy Rest or 3M jog 4M on grass, inc 6 x 200m strides Warm up, then 10K race. Warm down
WEEK 8 5M easy, off-road 6M steady, inc bursts up hills 3 x 1M (or 3 x 5 mins), with 5-min recoveries 5M easy 5M easy 6-7M, inc 10 x 30 secs fast, 30 secs slow 10-12M steady
WEEK 9 5M easy 5M, inc 16 x 1 min fast, 1 min slow Warm up, then 2 x 2M (approx), timed, at threshold pace 5-6M easy Rest or 3M jog 1M easy, then 4-5M fairly fast, then 1M jog 10M steady
WEEK 10 5M easy 6-7M at a comfortable pace Warm up, then 2M at race pace, then 2M jog 5M easy, inc 6 x 30 secs fast Rest 3M, in race kit Race day

Half-Marathon Race Preparation

Although nothing like as taxing as a full marathon, the 21K distance does need to be treated with respect, particularly if the weather is hot. You should finish your breakfast three hours before the start, but there is nothing wrong with drinking tea, coffee, water or squash up to an hour before the start, and if it is really hot, I suggest drinking half a pint of water five minutes before the start. Don’t drink half an hour before the start, or you’ll be bursting for a pee while waiting for the gun!

If you’re aiming to run fast, you should go through a gentle warm-up routine during the 20 minutes leading up to the start – jogging, stretching and striding. If you’re doing an event with a large field, you’ll probably find yourself running very fast in the first mile, so try to keep warm and loose during the final few minutes when you are wedged in the crowd.