I recently ran the BMO half-marathon here in Vancouver and now I'm gearing up for the Lululemon Seawheeze in August. What's the best way to train between now and then? Do I scale back my long runs and ramp them up slowly like I would if I were starting from scratch, or keep running long distances and work on upping my pace?
For reference, I've run two half-marathons ever: one last year with a time of 1:51 and the one this past weekend with a time of 1:42. How can I keep whittling that time down?
Thanks in advance!
There are many different concepts on how one should learn to run faster so depending on your coach and what works for you, it will vary. Aerobic base training is a multiyear commitment so those long, slow runs are very important for the first few years of your training but it is when you want to become faster that speed work becomes the focus.
What I suggest you do is take the current mileage you are running each week and break it up over more days, so instead of running 3 or 4 days a week start to run 5 or 6 days a week. For example, a typical week of beginner running program consists of 1 interval workout, either hill or track training, one tempo run, a recovery run and then a long, slow run on weekend. Running this way will help you build up your miles and you will get faster to a point but there comes a time when you need to ramp up the intensity. You are now going to run more of your runs at race pace and your longer runs will be a bit shorter, but faster. You are also going to start to push yourself harder in your interval training. As I have said many times, you need to get comfortable at being uncomfortable and create situations in your training where you have to push through and persevere because if you are not trained at doing that, it is much easier to give up when things get tough on race day.
Here is what a week for you should look like. You will do one track workout each week where you are running faster than your race pace for distances of 400 and 800 meters. If your fastest time right now is 1:41 and you want to get to 1:39 you should be running your intervals faster than the 1:39 pace. According to this interval calculator you will run your 400m at 1 minute and 52 seconds and your 800m at 3 minutes and 45 seconds. You will do a medium distance 8km run at your goal race pace with a long warm up and cool down; an 8 or 10km hilly run where you focus on pushing yourself hard up the hills; a longer tempo run of around 12 or 14km and then one long run around 14-18km where you stay just slightly below your race pace heart rate for the majority of the run. If you feel up for it, you could add a recovery run and/or a yoga class. Each week increase your total weekly mileage by no more than 10% and keep pushing yourself on the pace.
As you get faster you are going to have to start working harder for lesser gains. Novice runners can take tens of minutes off of their times without even trying but as you start getting into the 1:30 half marathon times it could take 6 months of hard work to knock off less than a minute. Good luck!
Attached- Busy Philipps leaving the gym the other day.