Speed Work Training For Your Half Marathon

Run a faster half marathon with the best speed work training for 13.1

The Windsor Half Marathon is a great place to grab a new personal best. Whether this is going to be your second half marathon or your 100th go at the 13.1 distance, here’s how to go for (personal) gold.

See you in September!


Make Strides


Strides are a great way to up your pace for a half marathon. And they’re so easy to use as part of your training programme. Strides are essentially a running drill, helping strengthen the neuromuscular pathways between your brain and your legs. The aim is to develop more powerful running strides which cover more ground, which translates in to a faster half marathon with less effort.


Do them after a short easy run. Find a flat path or section of pavement around 100m long. Build up speed until you are running fast (but not flat out) and strong with a good running technique. You should be running at around 85% of your max effort pace, with a smooth stride, and calm focus. Do 6-8 efforts of strides (100m maximum distance) with a walk or jog in between.


Interval Training


Internal sessions are short, fast, and intense. They help boost your regular running pace and give you the ability to tolerate lactic acid build up so you can kick at the end of a race. Remember, proper interval are between 30-90 seconds of running – the kind of training you would do on a running track. Aim for 85%-90% intensity. These should feel challenging but not so difficult that you can’t complete the session.


Focus on the intensity of the “effort”, even if this means recovering for 4 x the length of time. The important bit is putting everything into the interval.


Try 8-10 x 45 seconds fast running, with 2-3 minutes walk/jog in between. Warm up before the intervals with 8-10 minutes steady paced running, and cool down properly afterwards.


Do intervals once a fortnight, or once a week if you are an advanced runner with a high level of fitness.


Hill Speed Work


Hill sessions are a great way to boost your fitness and increase your pace. And if your half marathon is undulating – as the Windsor Half Marathon is – then they should be part of your training plan anyway.


Hill sessions could be considered the easiest type of speed work, because the hill provides all the challenge you need. Include both uphill and downhill speed work in your hill sessions, so you don’t lose speed on downhill sections of a hilly race. Try one of these, once or twice a week:


1 Hill sprints – find a steep hill (100m or so), warm up, then do 8-12 “reps” of running hard up the hill. Walk or jog back down as your recovery.

2 Run a hilly route as one of your weekly mid-distance runs and pledge not to slow down or walk on the uphills or the downhills

3 Find a long (800m+) hill, warm up, then run it 3-5 times. You won’t be able to sprint it, but try not to slow down too much. Power up and keep the pace steady.