How to run a half marathon faster
The old adage if you keep doing the same thing you will keep getting the same results is relatively true.
Of course, this is my humble opinion but if you have the question how to run a half marathon faster in your heart there are a few things you have to consider.
A 20 mile long run at 8 minute mile pace when your goal is to run 5.45 per mile pace for the distance isn’t the way to go.
You have to ditch the idea of thinking running a ton of miles far below what you are seeking to race at if you are to yield a mindboggling new half-marathon personal best time.
Why do I say that?
The focus has changed from simply preparing for the distance of 26.2 miles to preparing for the pace that would allow for running fast over that distance.
It should be the focus for the marathon or any distance.
A Game Changer
It doesn’t matter if you are training at the 5K distance, marathon or half-marathon, the game changer is race pace training.
I spent from 1992 to 2007 never fully understanding this, especially as it pertained to long distance races like the half-marathon.
My idea was that if I was doing 140 mile weeks and doing 24 mile long runs at 6.00 mile pace that I could surely run great at the half-marathon or marathon distances.
What you don’t know or fail to learn can have dramatic effects on your hard work
I was fortunate enough to have been given a great coach in Lisa Larsen Rainsberger.
Somehow, despite having never been coached by a female before, having the Boston Marathon champion as a mentor tends to change your perspective on life, on racing.
I had a half-marathon best of 1.11.44 from my collegiate days and a 2.43.36 marathon best when I started working with her.
I left with a 1.07.06 and 2.19.35 by implementating what I will share with you here.
I gained some interesting knowledge after 3 years of working with someone of that type of prowess.
How to run a half marathon faster involves understanding the energy systems of the body and training at high intensities for longer periods of time.
If your goal, for example, is to run 9 minute miles for 13.1 miles, you can’t expect to yield results from spending 90% of your training week devoted to intensities that don’t match or exceed that pace.
I was in total control when I ran my 2.19.35 marathon personal best, so much so that I hit the half-marathon point (1.07.09) three seconds off my best for the half-marathon distance (1.07.06).
I have said this numerous times on rundreamachieve and I firmly believe this.
What you experience in training, the pain, discomfort, loneliness if you will, must always be more challenging then you will ever experience in the race.
The race is the reward for your hard work.
When you are training heavily for a half marathon you are in a constant state of fatigue.
We heap volumes of miles run on top of track workouts, fartleks and hill sprints.
There is no rest period yet why the week leading into the race when we drop our intensity, work less do we spend more of our time worried about race day?
If you are going to worry, deal with it in training, not on race day.
You will certainly run a faster half marathon by knowing your hard work was left in the training, the doubts, concern and worry.
The race is where you will yield results for all of the endless hours of training you devoted to it.
You run faster by working longer at anaerobic levels.
Trading 20 mile long runs 2 to 3 minutes slower than you want to race at for the half marathon distance for 20 mile runs with 14 miles of it at your goal race effort is much more beneficial.
I talk about this at length in the Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon Manifesto.
You can’t second guess yourself into believing you aren’t talented enough to run fast times if you haven’t given yourself the chance by training at the proper intensities.
Running faster for 13.1 miles involves doing considerable work below goal pace.
For example, if your goal is to run at 6.30 mile pace for 13.1 miles, one of the best workouts you can do (among others) is longer fartkleks or track workouts that involve much faster efforts with short recoveries.
There are many runners who will run fast track workouts but are giving themselves too much time in recovery.
Is there any recovery in a race?
It doesn’t matter if you are on 6.30 mile pace for 9 miles of a half marathon and end up jogging at 11 mile miles the last 4 miles ruining your effort.
Where are you at the finish line?
Did you meet your objective and most importantly did you train adequately?
Training at faster paces
The problem runners have is they have it the other way around.
They will dutifully spend more time training the body to burn fat at slow speeds but when they get to the race, which involves greater emphasis on the anaerobic systems of the body (without oxygen) they slow down.
The faster we run the more carbohydrates we burn.
If you have trained for longer period of time at paces equal to or exceeding your race pace you will teach the body to rely less on carbohydrates.
Less reliance = massive improvements.
The kind of improvements you dream about.
We don’t have endless supply of carbohydrates but we do have more then enough fat stores.
Alternate long run efforts
Running at low HR WILL burn fat but at slow speeds, still important for building endurance but when it comes to specific race goals the pace itself has to be practiced, at or below goal pace with a very focused attentiveness on jog recovery runs to get the most bang for your buck from the hard sessions.
The kenyans I have trained with are almost walking on their recovery jogs but their hard days are extremely hard..they understand it well.
The Kenyan athletes are so good at what they do because they understand focused, fast running with equal attention payed to recovery yields the best returns.
If you are having trouble improving your half marathon efforts I strongly encourage you to read the Sub 2 Hour Manifesto or take this advice to heart.
Use fat, conserve carbs
You have a choice in the matter which is uplifting.
If you change your direction in training, start emphasizing more runs at paces closer to the intensities you seek to race at for 13 miles, for longer periods of time, the results are going to start to show.
Don’t leave your best efforts behind you thinking your prime years are a thing of the past.
That is a dilusion not worth your time and energy.
Change the intensity
This means longer runs at faster paces.
If you start out doing 18 miles runs with 2 miles of it at goal pace, so be it.
The idea is to extend the amount of time you spend at goal race pace.
It means devoting yourself to equal time and effort on race pace training and recovery
Recovery and anaerobic efforts
You can’t do one properly without equal focus on the other.
What I mean by that is you can’t expect to get any real results of continual days run too fast without backing off and giving the body enough time to recover.
Just because your the fastest guy or gal in training doesn’t mean you are going to be come race day.
Remember this, the smartest, not hardest working athlete most often times wins
How to run a half marathon faster involves training at faster speeds for longer durations so that you burn fat at relatively the same speeds you are seeking to race at.
Training faster longer will help you to never experience the wall in a half marathon race.
You have trained for longer periods of time at higher intensities and have taught yourself to burn fat and conserve carbohydrates.
The exact opposite of what you were doing in the past, slow running, burning fat at slow speeds will be flipped upside down.
You will experience faster workouts and races because your not burning carbohydrates as drastically as you were in the past.
You have trained properly and long enough at anaerobic levels, that more carbohydrates is conserved.
You now burn fat relative to the speeds you are seeking to race at.