Finding the proper half marathon training pace is a matter of trial and error.
It all depends on what your motives are in your preparation.
What do I mean?
Well, it is safe to bet that if you have as your goal to run a sub 2 hour half marathon, than learning to train at or below 9.09 per mile pace is the key.
That being said training hard all the time will not get you any closer to your goal.
There has to be an equal attention to the paces you are running at slower paces as well, so it isn’t all just about race pace training as I advocate here at rundreamachieve.
You may have heard your friends or family members talking up their great workout.
Why is it in training that we sometimes nail our half marathon training pace perfectly?
Obviously it feels great to run promising workouts but far too often runners run far faster in training than they do in the race itself.
Why is that?
It could be for many different reasons but a big factor is that they aren’t over thinking the process.
How often do we usually lose sleep over thinking about splits, wondering what the weather conditions might be or how fast that invisible runner running beside us in training is going to run next to us on our training runs?
The answer is far less than the night before a big race or especially the morning of.
One of the best ways to set a new personal best at the half marathon distance is by racing with the same mindset you have in training.
I ran my personal best for the marathon distance (2.19.35) on a day that felt no different than any other training day.
In fact, I was eerily as relaxed as I have been in any other of my longer hard runs.
If you have a specific time goal in mind that you have to train at a specific half marathon training pace.
If, on the other hand, you want to complete the half marathon distance and not have to stop at mile 7 or 8 than building your stamina and endurance is where your focus should be.
Runners can complete a half marathon with as little as 20 miles a week.
Don’t be intimidated by it.
Today 20 miles per week may feel like a mountain you simply cannot climb.
Two months down the road you may accomplish that distance in two days.
It is all about progression and allowing your body to build on each days training.
It doesn’t happen overnight but if you are patient your body will let you know what your half marathon training pace is.
What if your goal is to run a 1.18.30 half marathon?
This is 6.00 per mile pace.
Far too many runners who clearly have all the tools, motivation and ability miss their specific race goals not on account of quantity training but quality effort in preparation.
It is far better to do a 7 mile run at 6.00 mile pace in training than a 24 miler at 8.30 pace.
Which of these two do you truly feel is going to prepare a runner with a specific time goal in mind to reach that goal?
Which is going to make half marathon pace feel more controlled?
One will burn fat, the other will not only burn fat relative to race speeds but assist the runner in sustaining race pace.
The problem is far too many runners who are training at paces too slow do not teach the body to conserve carbohydrate at race pace.
The body has been taught to rely on carbohydrates, not on what it has far more stores of, fat.
Long runs are vital to any half marathon training schedule but long slow running will not produce long fast efforts.
Only faster running can help runners burn fat more economically (more efficient) and rely less on what it has less of, carbohydrates.
The faster we run the faster we burn carbohydrates, by learning to extend (over time) the amount of time spent at faster speeds the less you will have to rely on carbohydrates and the longer you will be able to sustain race pace efforts.
Runners are simply not training at the proper heart rate and at a high enough anaerobic effort to achieve the results they seek.
Athletes begin to doubt and second guess themselves.
They begin to lose hope, possibly that their best days are behind them.
Nothing could be farther from the truth but there has to be enough emphasis on high end training efforts with equal emphasis on recovery.
Let your friends and your competitors brag about how many miles they ran last week.
Aks them how much of a percentage did they spend training at 90% or higher during that week?
If someone is running 80 miles per week and 90% of it is aerobic (running easy) and 10% is anaerobic (harder efforts) how prepared do you think that athlete is going to be in going after a specific race time?
You answered correctly, not that great.
Will that runner be prepared to easily complete the 13.1 mile distance?
Absolutely. In fact, a half marathon will probably be far too easy.
It is only when we begin to talk sustained pace at very high anaerobic efforts where percentages should come into question.
Now, let’s switch it around.
If the same runner is spending 40% of his or her weekly volume at an aerobic effort and 60% at an anaerobic level that runner is going to be better prepared to handle their race pace during competition.
I have always believed that long slow running, produces long slow runners – Sebastion Coe, 3.47 miler and former world record holder at 800 meters (1.41.73)
Patience is big.
One of the best ways to separate yourself from your competition is to believe in delayed gratification.
Everyone wants results.
Those that are patient enough to see them through will be at the finish line far faster and reach a level far higher than someone who is impatient and doesn’t have the confidence that only a persistent, focused individual possesses.
I know you are that individual.