Three tips to Running a Faster Half Marathon
Runners usually want to get faster. Once you have a few races under your belt, the thought of “just finishing” no longer feels like a challenge. Once you have a target in mind, it’s important to have a good training plan to execute your goal.
I set the goal of running a 1:35 half marathon this year. At the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon in May, I ran a 1:35:47 – so close (and that included a 65 second potty stop). In order to shave almost a minute off my time, I decided to step up my training. I set out to complete a more advanced training plan, but was disappointed when my race at the Urban Wildland Half Marathon barely broke 1:37.
What Went Wrong?
I didn’t completely fall apart, but during the last three miles my legs felt like lead and I could have easily quit. If you run long enough, you will eventually experience this. I’m making some adjustments that will hopefully help my next half marathon this fall.
I just completed the first week of a twelve week training plan for the Minneapolis Monster Dash on October 27. To see where I went wrong last time, I went over my training journal to figure some things out. Since I run with a Garmin, looking back at past training runs is super easy.
Three things I need to change to get faster:
- Get More Sleep. I didn’t get nearly enough sleep this summer. There’s a lot of information out there suggesting that sleep deprivation can hinder athletic performance. Runners should be getting between 7.5-9 hours of sleep a night. I think I average less than 7. This is tough to do, but something you must make a priority if you have a goal that is just out of reach.
- Run Long Runs Faster. The other big thing I noticed was that I was running my weekly long runs considerably slower than my goal race pace. Looking at my past several races, when I run my long runs 15-30 seconds slower than goal race pace, I had a better race. All of my long runs in this past cycle were 60-75 seconds slower than my goal. No wonder.
- Be Consistent. I had weeks where I followed my plan exactly and others where I took serious liberty. Sometimes I would do intervals at the suggested time, sometimes not. Occasionally I would do the mid-week recovery runs. This happened mostly as a result of my crazy busy summer travel schedule and isn’t a good recipe for setting a personal best on race day. Plan ahead and make sure you can get in your training regardless of your schedule.
Half Marathon Training Plan
Here is a great half marathon training plan that has a schedule for both beginners, and those who have a few under their belts. Sign up and we’ll send it to you for free. (Also, let us know if you have questions!)
What I learned from Lake Minnetonka was that you don’t need to set a personal best every time you race. You can actually learn from NOT setting a PR. I think we learn the most when things don’t go as planned; it’s an opportunity to sharpen your skills to make yourself a better runner.
What is holding you back from running your best race?