Run Less Run Faster Half Marathon
If you are seeking to PR in 2016 for 13.1 miles the key is to master the run less run faster half marathon philosophy.
On of the best pieces of advice I have ever received as a half-marathon and marathon specialist was to focus on quality over quantity.
We hear that common-used term quite a bit in the running world but when you run less you can run faster at the half marathon distance because you have gone from focusing on junk miles to quality.
It isn't just about mileage.
Bruce Lee was quoted as saying that it was not the fighter that practiced 10,000 kicks once but the man that practiced one kick 10,000 times that scared him.
A lot of people thought my breaking the 2:20:00 marathon barrier was big the day I did it considering earlier that morning before the race started my best was 2:40:02.
It was not a shock to me.
I expected to perform at that level and knew my time was coming especially considering a few months prior I had set my half marathon best of 1:07:06.
The same philosophy Bruce is talking about was the exact reason I dropped that amount of time.
This philosophy to run less run faster half marathon efforts comes down to practicing your goal pace and getting used to be uncomfortable.
There are no short cuts with this.
I wish there was an easier method but then you wouldn't value it as much as if it wasn't challenging.
What Needs To Be Done To Run Faster At The Half Marathon?
The race is a combination of speed but moreso on stamina.
The key to running faster at any distance is a combination of training at, below or very close to the pace at which you wish to race the 13.1 mile distance.
You have to get away from easy running all the time.
Please, do not misunderstand me here.
You must run slow and recover but you also have to plan your work and work your plan meaning figure out what needs to be done and do whatever it takes to ensure that work is completed successfully.
Your main focus is to slow less than your competitors in the race, period.
This article is about how to run less and still run faster at the half marathon so you have to take your focus off of running mileage mileage for mileage sake.
Long, slow miles will make you a long, slow half marathoner.
You want to be razor sharp when you compete and you won't be in that form of fitness unless you train anaerobically.
Every runner is different.
I know very few runners like my wife who can run 3 days a week or take time off, jump in a race and still do relatively well considering her prep time.
She is a highly skilled and talented athlete having won a couple 50-milers and holds a 3:23:11 marathon best from the Boston Marathon.
She is a rarity in my book because I cannot do that and most other runners focusing on time goals have to put in speed work and she usually just puts in mileage and still runs well.
She performs better without speed work and now enjoys the sport much more not having to put so much pressure on herself as she did in the past.
Strategies To Master The Run Less Run Faster Marathon Mentality
- Focus less on the volume you are doing and more on the quality of mileage you are putting in.
Remember, racing means you must teach the body to handle ever increasing amounts of lactic acid and fighting off that pesky hydrogen ion within lactic acid which is the real culprit for shutting down muscle function.
High mileage won't do the trick regardless how competitive you are if you are not recovering.
I tried it and it didn't work.
My highest week ever was 142-miles and I did a 140-mile week once and it left me flat.
I ran 2:19:35 for the marathon off of 90-100 mile weeks.
The volume dropped but the quality went up.
Here are a few of the workouts I did prior to breaking 2:20:00 just to give you an idea of what you need to do (please, adjust paces for Heaven's sake) in order to run faster at the half marathon.
All workouts were done at 6050 to 7200ft elevation.
6x1mile at 4:48 per rep (6400ft) w/3 minute recovery.
3×2 mile at 9:50 each with 6 minute recovery
Long run (hardest workout I do) – 20-22 miles at 5:35-55 per mile running at 160 BPM
These were just a few but you can see that my goal was to race 26.2 miles at 5:25 per mile pace.
The first two sessions were much faster than goal pace and my long runs were just slightly slower then goal marathon race pace.
2. Change up your long run strategy
I had never done my long runs at such a high intensity in my life prior to working with the 1985 Boston Marathon champion (Lisa Rainsberger) from 2007-2010.
Lisa is the last American female to have won Boston and her strategy was the reason I went from 2:43:36 (which was my PR when I first met her) down to 2:19:35.
I had run 51:53 for 10-miles so knew I had some potential but my half-marathon best (1:10:13) was relatively weak (for my standards) in regards to wanting to run a 2:22:00 marathon.
A 2:22:00 marathon is far superior to a 1:10 half-marathon so something had to change.
I knew I would never take drugs as running was, as much as I love it, never that important to me but maximizing my capability to the fullest content was.
The way I conducted the long run.
If you want to master this run less run faster half marathon philosophy one of, if not the, top recommendation I can convey to you is to start running your long runs closer to your goal pace.
Do not start off doing 18-22 mile long runs trying to hold your goal pace.
Be gradual, work into your fitness and let it come to you.
I never got to that type of fitness overnight either.
I might do a 16 miler at a heart rate of 140-50 (easy) at the start of my half marathon or marathon specific training block running the first 12 miles relaxed and close the last 4 miles at a slightly faster pace (160BPM).
As time goes and I became fitter the distance might stay the same but the sustained, harder pace was lengthened and maintained.
As you know it takes 21 days for the body to physiologically adapt to the stress load you place on it.
The workouts you do today you will not get a real benefit from until 3 weeks from now so be patient with this.
Practice that goal pace 10,000 times just as Bruce Lee mentioned.
You'll get to the race in the same type of fitness that worried even him and that is what you are looking for.
You want to be confident, fully assured that the specific training you did will make your goal race pace feel in control.
It shouldn't feel labored.
It is fine to feel that way early on when you are not very fit but your race pace, when fit, should feel more like a moderate and controlled effort.
The latter parts of the race is going to suck no matter how fit you are but you are doing something challenging, expect it.
I could barely run the last 200 meters to the finish line when I broke the 2:20 marathon.
The race should be painful but you also want to be able to hold on longer then those around you.
3. Let go of what you cannot control
Forget what your competitors ran last week.
It doesn't matter.
How is that going to impact your own fitness?
It won't so don't give it one iota of your time and focus on what you can control.
You can watch less television.
You can get more sleep, drink more water, eat enough calories etc.
Focus on what you have control over and forget the rest.
If the guy or gal takes off the first two miles and blows you away early that is their problem, not yours.
You'll see them in no time and not know who they were by races end.
You will remember how they raced and know not what to do and hopefully they learned a few things as well.
There is more to life than running.
I have been fanatical, borderline obsessive about it for the past 24 years but that obsession helped me to run a half marathon and marathon time that not many people have.
I don't write this to brag because I have failed more times than I have succeeded and there are many runners who have still run faster than I have.
What I mean is you have to be obsessed, unrealistic and visualize what others deem impossible.
This is run dream achieve, remember.
It is not just about ‘kind of' wanting it but 100% commitment, whatever it takes until you get it.
I have been working on this site for over 4 years now and haven't gone away.
I am committed, not merely interested in creating value to my readers and to the marketplace.
I haven't quit and have been writing, creating products for runners around the world, a health and wellness business, even became a MOBE affiliate.
If I would have stopped blogging 4 years ago you wouldn't be reading this post and the RunDreamAchieve brand wouldn't be known as it is today.
Results don't come overnight either so if you have a tough goal you have set for yourself don't expect it come easily and don't second guess yourself if it doesn't come as fast as you would like.
I ran 2:19:35 for the marathon 8 years ago this month.
It took me 5 years to go from 2:43:36 to sub 2:20:00 and I am not under the delusion it is going to be any easier trying to better an already highly aggressive time of 2:19:35.
2016 will be my test to get that goal achieved before I retire from ‘competitive' running.
I'll always run but I, too, want to run faster at both the half and full marathon distances and help you get there as well.
You have to be obsessive about your running and your life.
We are all here one time and we had best live it up.
To get results at the half marathon distance is going to require a new mindset in the way you think and the way you prepare.
Average is everywhere and you can either accept it or focus on doing better.
I don't see a half marathon time in 3 hours as average.
If a man or woman had a best of 3:30 prior to that imaginary 3-hour time that is, by far, not average for that individual.
That is a huge improvement so I am of the mindset that if you are a little obsessive and focus on the fundamentals you are going to run an incredible half marathon effort.
4. Take some risks
We live in a society that is far too risk adversed.
People love their routines and there isn't necessarily anything wrong with that.
My wife and I are complete opposites when it comes to this.
I like living on the edge, traveling and can be obsessive over my goals, whereas she is much more calm and low-key.
She is like one of those ducks you see on the water, graceful and elegant but underneath that thing is just wagging its feet at 100 times a second.
When it comes to racing in the half marathon you do have to take some risks but only do so if you are 100% confident in the work you put in.
The 2007 California International Marathon was one morning when I just went for it.
The caught the leaders of the race by mile 5 after going out in a planned ‘slower mile' hit in 5:32.
We passed the 10-mile mark in 51:27 and the half-marathon point just three seconds slower than my best half-marathon (1:07:06) in 1:07:09 and were still on 5:11 pace through 20 miles.
I took a big risk that day because I was way out of my comfort zone but I had to try.
All I knew going into that race was that I had done the work.
I tapered perfectly and felt totally in control running with the lead Kenyans and the one Russian who was with me (a 2:12 marathoner).
These guys had 2:08 to 2:12 marathon PR's coming into the race.
In fact, in the VIP tent prior to the start of the race I overheard the elite Kenyans say
By 13 miles it will be all Kenya
I'm sorry but I broke up their plans.
I took some risks that morning and I am going to train in such a way in 2016 to do the same.
I want the same for you.
Follow these strategies and I can guarantee you will not only be following the run less run faster half marathon mindset but you more then likely will set an enormous half marathon best.