Half Marathon - Need 11 Minutes Improvement

by Marianne
(West Lafayette, IN)

half marathon need 11 minutes improvement
I ran my first half marathon yesterday. I'm a 48 y/o female and my time was 2:11 (gun time). I trained with one long run a week and two short runs - combined with some strength training. If I increase training efforts would it be possible - in two months - to cut my time by eleven minutes?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,

First of all, a huge congratulations on completing your first half marathon! That's a fantastic achievement, and you should be really proud of yourself.

Now, let's talk about your goal of cutting your half marathon time by eleven minutes in two months. I have broken my answer down as follows:

1. Understanding Your Current Fitness Level
2. Key Training Adjustments
3. Final Words of Encouragement

Understanding Your Current Fitness Level

half marathon need 11 minutes improvement
Before making any changes to your training, it's important to understand your current fitness level. Finishing a half marathon in 2:11 is great, especially for your first attempt.

You've already laid a great foundation by combining long runs, short runs, and strength training. This means your body has started to adapt to the demands of running long distances.

Reducing your time by eleven minutes means running approximately 35 seconds faster per kilometer (56 seconds per mile). That's a significant improvement over just two months.

I'd be curious to know how well the second half went. How much time did you lose in the second part of the race? I imagine it might have been a fair bit. And if that is the case, then we can possibly rectify some stuff short-term.

With more time, I wouldn't hesitate to say we can likely get you there. With only two months to go, an 11 minute improvement is not entirely out of reach, but may be challenging. I'll provide you with some ideas of how to improve your training going forward.

Key Training Adjustments

half marathon need 11 minutes improvement
1. More running
I like you do a weekly long run. But three runs per week is quite little for a half marathon. I'd recommend bringing in at least one more run per week. Generally, good things happen when we increase mileage. The half marathon relies on your endurance and more running will improve your endurance.

The good thing is that as part of your half marathon training you will have already build up the length of your long run. Now is a great time to capitalise on that, by continuing to build the length of that run!

2. Maintain and Build the Long Run
Your weekly long run is crucial for building endurance. Continue with this, but aim to gradually increase the distance. If your longest run so far is around 10 miles, try to build up to around 13-15 miles over the next two months. Increasing your long run gradually helps your body adapt and makes the half marathon distance feel easier on race day. Racing a half marathon becomes so much easier when you run the distance regularly in training!

3. Introduce Goal Pace Runs and Tempo Runs
When you are starting to have time goals for your races, it is a good idea to start building in some speed work in your training. With a short time to go till the next half marathon, I'd recommend focusing on goal pace workouts and tempo runs.

Goal pace and tempo pace should be reasonably close together when you are doing half marathon training. Start doing some of your mileage at that target pace. It gets you used to what it feels like and it gets you used to feeling slight uncomfortable while running.

Initially, you can start with shorter distances at your goal pace, such as 2-3 miles or intervals at goal pace, and gradually build up the distance as you get more comfortable.

half marathon need 11 minutes improvement
4. Cross-Training
I suggested more running. I stand by that, but if you find that it is too hard to bring in more running, compensate for it by doing more cross-training. This can help you build fitness without overloading your body.

5. Continued Strength Training
Keep up with your strength training routine, focusing on exercises that enhance your running performance. Key areas to target include your core, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Strong muscles help improve your running form and reduce the risk of injury.

6. Listen to Your Body
While increasing your training intensity and volume, it's crucial to listen to your body. Watch out for injuries and signs of overtraining such as persistent fatigue, difficulty sleeping, or muscle aches that don't go away. Giving your body enough time to rest and recover is just as important as the workouts themselves.

Final Words of Encouragement

Achieving a significant time drop in a short period is ambitious and challenging. But I don't think it is completely out of reach with dedicated training. Increase your training efforts, stay consistent and good things will come. Even if you don't quite to your sub-2 half marathon in two months time, don't give up. I am convinced that you can reach this goal eventually.

Best of luck with your training!
Kind regards,

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