How To Run A Faster Half Marathon With Less Training
How to run a faster half marathon with less training is a legitimate question most runners seek.
We all want a short cut to success. The silver bullet to figuring out how to master not only the half marathon distance but any distance for that matter.
Running fast at the half marathon distance is about quality, not quantity.
A lot of runners fall into the trap of believing they have to run faster every day higher mileage is needed.
This isn’t always the case.
Everyone is unique and what works for me may not work best for you but I can give clues and suggestions, for what it is worth.
I do know, from my own experience, if you want to run faster at the half marathon distance than you have to train at or below your goal pace, period.
There is no way around this.
For example, if you have as your goal to hold 7:00 mile pace for 13.1 miles, you must get accustomed to what that pace feels like.
Additionally, training at speeds far surpassing that 7:00 mile pace must be achieved in training.
7:00 mile pace must become a very manageable pace.
It will not feel manageable early on as you are just starting your training block.
I can assure you of this but I can also assure you of another fact.
If you train at and below that pace, over an extended period of time, you are going to become dangerous.
7 minute mile pace will feel more like a pace you could hold for the marathon, let alone the half marathon distance.
6:20 mile pace may feel more like the pace you will end up maintaining because you planned your work and worked your plan.
The body always adapts to the training load you place upon it.
It was the great Sebastian Coe, former world record holder for the 800m, who said it best.
I have always believed long, slow running produces long, slow runners
There has to be a focus more so on quality rather than just focusing all ones attention on how many miles one runs to succeed at the half marathon distance.
It takes 21 days for the body to adapt to a given stress load so nothing happens overnight.
My personal best for the half marathon distance is 1:07:06.
My second fastest time for the distance, oddly, is the 1:07:09 half-marathon split that I hit on my way to my marathon best of 2:19:35.
The body and mind are mysterious in that on any given day you can run or do something even you didn’t expect you could.
Hitting the half-way mark of my marathon only 3 seconds slower than my all-time best for the half marathon distance simply told me I was capable of a sub 1:05:00 half-marathon time.
That being said, these unique moments in our lives occur from a razor sharp focus on what we want.
The belief that whatever we want will occur before we have it is also critical.
I wanted to break the old 2008 USA Olympic Trials “B” standard time of 2:22:00 for the marathon distance.
The problem was I was still a 2:40:02.
What got me under not only 2:22:00 but 2:20:00 was the belief that what I wanted was going to occur, it has to.
The constant thinking about it, day in, day out and the willingness to put in the necessary work in order to make it a reality.
So lets get back to this question of how to run a faster half marathon with less training.
A Few Suggestions
Focus on quality over quantity – if someone is running 40 miles a week with much of that training at or below their goal race pace and someone else is jogging 100 miles a week with no specific training who wins?
The runner focused on running a larger percentage of his or her training at or below goal race pace or the one who runs easy every day?
I can tell you that long, slow mileage at a high volume still creates a large amount of strength.
Runners can still create some good, solid results with this form of training but at the end of the day, speed kills.
I can also tell you that when it comes to racing, speed and stamina preparation trumps easy running.
You have to be able to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up in your blood stream.
There is no way around this.
One must spend some quality time training at speeds that at least match the pace they wish to hold for the half marathon distance.
I realized for me to go from a 2:40:02 marathoner (6:06 pace) to a 2:22:00 marathoner (5:25) the most critical change had to be how I conducted my long run.
One, better running economy (how efficient ones running is over a long period of time) and two, better management of discomfort.
Success at the half marathon and marathon distance comes from training at uncomfortable paces.
It doesn’t come by way of running easy, every day and there is most certainly a place for that.
You absolutely must focus on recovery as it is just as important as running fast.
There has to be time to relax and recover.
The higher the mileage the more emphasis rest, hydration, nutrition and mental training comes into play.
I have run as high as 142 miles a week and as low as 70 miles a week while training for the half marathon and marathon distances.
Personally, my sweet spot was between 80-110 miles per week for half marathon and marathon success.
Don’t get so caught up in the mileage aspect.
Be very aware of the paces you are running at on the hard days and make sure they match or exceed your goal paces.
Also, be very mindful of the paces you are running on your easy days.
Do not get caught up with pace on recovery days.
They are meant to be easy for a reason.
Everything has its place when training for a half marathon if you want to set yourself up for success.
What do I mean?
If you have a plan in place, you have it written down for months in advance than you can have a better estimate of what need to be done.
You know what paces you are going to run at and even if you feel great on an easy day you will discipline yourself to calm down and stay relaxed.
I have training plans I created here that are designed specifically to set runners up for success.
Hard Vs Easy
The elite Kenyans I have trained with run so slow on their easy days they would not even be categorized as jogging.
That being said, the hard days were so hard I could not always keep up, even when I was in 2:19 marathon shape.
There is a training stimulus that has to occur and the most important thing to remember when training to run faster at the half marathon is you have to give yourself time.
Don’t get discouraged.
Be mindful of the fact that repeat 400’s or mile repeats on the track are going to hurt and hurt badly, especially in the beginning when you are just starting to get in shape.
Weeks and months down the line the same paces that caused you pain and heartache will feel in control and you’ll, naturally, run faster.
The important thing to remember is to not get discouraged early on.
This is where I have seen far too many runners lose the battle.
They beat themselves up too soon and never gave themselves a chance to see what was possible.
Success in the half marathon distance comes from patience.
It involves a combination of both endurance and speed.
You have more room to make mistakes in the race as compared to the mile or the 5K which involve a much higher anaerobic focus.
I really could go on about this but how to run a faster half marathon with less training involves planning your work and working your plan.
It may or may not be for you but I suggest at least taking a look and see how it can assist you in your half marathon