Wednesday, 28 January 2015

What Pace Do I Need To Run A 1 hour 25 Half Marathon?

To run a half marathon in under 1 hour and 25 minutes you need to be averaging a pace of under 6 minutes 30 seconds per mile. And as tough as this sounds over a distance of 13.1 miles, it isn't made easier by the fact that an overcrowded start may hamper your first mile's pace.

And that's before we take into account that you may need a quick toilet break or fixing your laces along the way. A slow start, a toilet break and your laces coming undone may result in you having to run most of the race at a pace of under 6 minutes 20 seconds per mile. Although there are steps you can take to limit the chances of having to deal with any of these (more on that later).

How Fast Can I Run?


10k trail race
Shorter races are a great way of improving your pace

A good way of testing how close you are is by doing shorter races. If you run a 10K (6.25 miles) race at this pace you would be wanting to finish under 40 minutes 37 seconds. For a 5K (3.1 miles) race this would mean finishing in under 20 minutes 11 seconds.

However running for 3.1 miles and running for 13.1 miles are two very different races indeed. Even if you can run a 3.1 mile race in under 20 minutes, there is a good chance you wouldn't be able to sustain that pace for an extra 10 miles. The same applies to a 6 mile race, but to a lesser degree.

Race Pace Tempo Runs


When training for a half marathon you should be adding a race pace tempo run to your schedule. This lets you work on your pace for the big day, but over a shorter distance. Ideally this should even be slightly faster than 6.30 minutes per mile, preparing you for making up any time lost at the start and also giving you a confidence boost.

These should be around six to eight miles in distance, and you want to be hitting your target a good few weeks before the half marathon race. If you are running them in under 6.20 minutes per mile you should be confident of getting under the 1 hour 25 minutes. The faster you can run these, the greater chance you will have in finishing in sub 1.25.

Just remember to start the first mile or so slowly, to make sure you don't injure yourself.

Long Training Runs


Running more than the 13.1 miles on your long runs will also help. Knowing that you can run 14 - 16 miles a few weeks before the race, means that you will be able to run at a faster speed on the big day. If you only get up to half marathon distance during your training, you may find finishing the race at 6 minutes 30 seconds per mile a near impossible task.

You may find on the half marathon day that some miles will be slower than others due to overcrowding, hills or fatigue near the end of the race. Knowing that you can run at 6.20 minutes per mile for a sustained length of time will give you extra confidence.

Half Marathon Race Day Tips


To eliminate as many of the slow paced miles as you can there are a few things you can do:

Start as near to the front as you can. You have put the training in, you should be confident of your speed, so don't get caught behind runners just aiming to finish it. If you are hitting these times during training, you have earned the right to be at (or near) the front. Don't let anyone else slow you down.

Make sure your laces are tied properly. If you have had problems with them coming undone during training, perhaps investing in some running lace locks might be the answer. Just make sure to try them out properly before the race as you don't want anything letting you down.

Don't start out too fast. It's better to finish strong, so try not to run quicker than 6.30 minutes per mile on the first mile. Even if you run slower than this, you are still warming up and your tempo runs will insure that you can claw this back. You don't want to exhaust yourself on the first few miles.

Make sure you have been to the toilet before the race. This will cost you time if you need to stop for a break. It's a good idea not to drink too much fluid before the race, as what goes in must come out. Sip your water or sports drink rather than gulping it down.

You should also be eating your pre race meals during your training schedule, especially the night before and morning of your long runs. This will help to ensure that you don't have any stomach upsets. A hot spicy curry the night before could end in disaster...

Look at the actual course before applying, or attempting to beat 1 hour 25 minutes. The faster the course, the higher the chance of you achieving this time. Don't even think of attempting it on a trail race.

Sort your Garmin watch, Rukeeper, headphones or anything else out before the starting signal. You don't want to start the race fiddling with anything like this. Practice this during your long runs, so that it all becomes second nature to you.

It's a tough time to beat, but I hope that some of this will help you get the fastest time you can. If you want to follow me as I attempt it, just enter your email into the sign up form at the bottom of the page or on the sidebar.

Half Marathon James


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