Half Marathon Workout
#1: The Long Run
Every runner must run a weekly long run – no matter what distance you’re training to complete. They build general endurance so you can:
• run further
• complete longer and more intense workouts
• maintain faster paces for longer periods of time
In other words, long runs build your capacity for work. They increase your ability to tolerate a high workload.
Beginners should particularly focus on long runs because their lack of endurance is the top obstacle to faster racing.
Long runs increase running economy (efficiency) so that you can run faster with less effort. It’s like increasing your car’s fuel economy – you can go further on the same amount of fuel.
They also make the half marathon distance comfortable – so you can then worry about running it fast rather than just completing the distance.
During a 12-20 week training period, add a mile to your long run every 1-2 weeks but take a “recovery week” every 4-6 weeks where the long run distance dips by 2-3 miles. Run at least 10-11 miles during training to ensure you can complete the half marathon comfortably.
More advanced runners will want to run significantly more than 13.1 miles during their peak long run – even up to 20 miles.
The longer you can safely run, the more you can focus on speed on race day.
#2: The Tempo Run
Tempo runs are what I consider “bread and butter” workouts for any runner training for the 10k – 42.2 Km. They’re that useful!
This is because they help push your endurance to new levels. More specifically, they increase your body’s ability to clear lactate from your blood stream, which is a by-product of hard exercise.
Tempo runs help you run at a faster pace without accumulating excessive lactate, ultimately helping you maintain a faster pace for a longer period of time.
There are quite a few definitions of “Tempo:”
• The pace that you can hold for about an hour (often correlating with 10k Pace for some runners)
• A “comfortably hard” pace (for those who like to run by perceived effort)
• The pace that causes your heart rate to reach 85-90% of maximum
Beginners can start with tempo intervals which are simply 2-5 minutes at tempo pace with 1-2 minutes of easy running as recovery. Aim to complete roughly 15-20 minutes at tempo pace.
Advanced runners can skip the recovery running and instead run 3-5 miles at tempo pace with no rest.
And of course, you’ll want to run a few easy miles before and after any tempo workout to ensure you have a proper warm-up and cool-down.
Specificity is the golden rule in running: training must be specific to the goal race.
These workouts are slightly more advanced, so if you’re a beginner, you can just run easy mileage, long runs, and tempo workouts.
But advanced runners need an extra challenge for a new personal best. Half marathon-specific workouts closely resemble the race. At its most basic, you’ll run at half marathon pace for 6-8 miles.
Here are two more examples:
• Two repetitions of 5km at goal half marathon pace, with 2 minutes of easy running as recovery.
• End a long run of 13-18 miles with 3-6 miles at goal half marathon pace (this workout makes you run fast in a fatigued condition, making it even more specific to the half).
Workouts like these should be done in the final 4-6 weeks before the goal race so you don’t get too fatigued or burned out too early in the season
Most beginners will see rapid improvement without these challenging sessions. If you’re not ready for workouts like this yet, that’s ok! You can simply skip them.
These workouts help you build a foundation of endurance so that your next 13.1 miles can be your best.
Focus, prepare intelligently, and run strong!