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Pace advice?

I would like to finish somewhere in the 2.2-2.5hr mark for my HM in May, but I need to focus on speeding up a little bit to make that happen. I used to have a quicker pace on the short runs in C25 and C210, but I had distance endurance problems, so I slowed my pace intentionally. That helped me get the distances, but I’ve never been able to recover my pace again. Been afraid of injury to push really hard. Just wondering if there are things I can work into my training to help pick up my speed. I’ve been trying the odd shorter run at quicker paces, but I’ve not tried it on the longer runs yet, afraid I will burn out or get injured. I run alone and this group is my only source for training knowledge. This is my first HM too. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Are you keeping up with the paces the MyAsics plan is giving you?

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I am usually in line or a little faster than their paces. But the long runs are thrown in by me in this second plan. The final 21.5 race pace is asking for a 6:46 pace and that us a long way off my 7:22 pace that my 18k was at last week. I know there is a lot of time between now and then.

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One thing I thought was missing from the MA plan was the hills and intervals element (although I can't absolutely speak for their half marathon plan as I haven't done one). Are you running any hills? One point to make is that running uphill will slow you down, so that might be influencing your results. But another point I could possibly make is that if you aren't running on hills, then do so, because it's a great way of getting faster! Similarly with intervals, and you can add in some fartleks or suchlike during a MA run.

But as Wobble said, it's not really a great idea to think about a specific time for your first half marathon, better to just go along with no expectations and see how you do, because you won't know what it's really like until you've done it! After that, if you loved it, go and get that personal best! And as you said yourself, you're hitting the prescribed paces, and have several months left to train :)

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I have included some hills in my outdoor short runs, though most of my short runs have been on the flat indoor track nearby. I will try some interval running too. Thank you!

Yes I will be really happy just to complete the race. Its so far off in May that I figured I may as well work on speed too while I have some time now. But I don’t want to be too intense about it and injure anything.

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I'd be surprised if many people DIDN'T have a certain time in the back of their minds tbh ;)

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I'd be lying if I said I didn't care at all :)

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Erm. I was gonna say it’s your first half so just think about finishing without worrying about the time

However, that said, if you are meeting your myasics plan pace times then there’s no reason to doubt yourself

A lot can depend in the day itself. There are variables, eg bad weather, too hot, too cold, windy, stitch, too hilly blah blah. Be prepared to be flexible

You want to foremost enjoy the experience. Busting your ass the whole way could put you off for life

To be faster you have to be stronger 💪 running legs take time to build and slow running does that. Core and upper body strength hold you up and stop your form going to pot when you’re tired.

Your plan will mix up the distances so you should be ready if you follow it while doing the strength stuff You could do Rig’s squat challenge!

Your diet is key too! If you’re not on top of of it then sort it and make it as good as can be

Good luck!

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Thanks as always for the great advice MW. Yes I am keeping an open mind and will still be very happy to finish no matter what. I also picked a downhill road course for this first HM on purpose :). I want to enjoy this one.

I started a workout routine on off days too. I figured that might have something to do with it. It has squats and pushups mixed in too.

I am slowly trying to get the diet in better shape too. Trying to cut out white bread and starches at the moment. Cant see myself lasting long on that front as I love fresh baked bread 😀. Mostly stay away from packaged food too.

I added some hills into my outdoor short runs too. Its-20 again so today will be an indoor track run I think.

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If you want to increase your pace, but don't want to burn out then you need to do some interval runs.

To start with do this on short runs and keep your recovery time the same as your interval run i.e 3min fast/ 3min recovery. As you get stronger, iInstead of increasing your fast runs, gradually shorten your recovery runs until you can (or almost can) link it up.

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Thank you for this l. Forgive my ignorance but recovery is just walking between the fast sessions or is it a slower run?

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Intervals: fixed timed or distance "efforts" (they should feel hard) followed by "recovery", e.g. jogging.

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Thanks John

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Intervals are one of the most effective ways to improve speed. They are also called 'efforts' - for a reason! You need to push yourself :-)

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Yes I found that out this morning when I tried them in my run. :) I only managed around 20 min of interval switches at 5:50-6:30 before I had to switch back to my slower 7 min pace! Would you say increasing the overall interval time ie moving up to 30 min from 20, or shortening the times between intervals (switching from 3min fast/slow to 3min fast/2 min slow) - or a little of both makes more sense at this point?

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You can do them in any number of different ways. I do 2 types on the treadmill:

- a pyramid 'speed' session: 5 min warm up walk, then 3 mins warm up jog, then 1 min 'sprints' with 1 min jogs in between. 8 repeats. It's a 'pyramid' session cos I go increasingly faster up to a max then progressively reduce the speed. So reps 4 &5 are max speed. Good session and doesn't burn too many calories. It's a form of HIIT (high intensity interval training)

- 'endurance' intervals: these are longer intervals, more like kilometer reps. 5 min warmup walk, then 3 mins warm up jog - then 4 mins are faster than my 5k PB pace, 2 min jog to recover, then repeat 3 more times. It's HARD work. But very efffective. With the cool down, it's about 38 mins in total for me.

On your indoor track, you could try fixed distance intervals - so 1 lap efforts with 1 lap recovery. It's not the overall time that's important, it's the actual effort you put in on the efforts :-)

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Thank you for this advice John. It really is invaluable. I will try the one lap efforts next time around

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No problem. Important point - my sessions are/were aimed at improving my 5k time, not a HM time. The lap efforts will suit you best - but you need to do them at faster than your HM pace, ok?

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Will do and good to know how to improve the 5k times, that is something I wanted to look at later in the year

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have you look at Runners World at all? Some good stuff on there - this may be useful:

runnersworld.co.uk/training...

You can see that interval work is an integral part of improving pace.

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I had not seen that article, but I did come across this one after we last talked:

runnersworld.co.uk/training...

Thanks, will be reading this article for sure.

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It could be a walk, but at your level I would keep it to a slow paced run.

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Thank you. Tried Intervals this morn on the indoor track - hard work! Could only keep them going for about 20 min before switching back to my regular run. Looks like I need to be doing more of these.

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Whatever you feel you need to do re the walk or jog thing. keep your legs gently turning

White bread actually has its place. It’s more readily digested than whole grain or wholemeal, which is a good thing if you need a pre or a post run snack. A slice or two of good white bread toast, with butter and/or peanut butter is good and does the trick. This is only a runners’ long distance fix 🙂

I make bread of all kinds. I’ve lost a lot of weight but you can still eat healthily and eat good bread. Vogel is ok if you’re buying your daily bread. It keeps hardly at all, so best freeze some of the loaf right off so you don’t waste it.

Starch wise, again unrefined starchy foods ok sweet potatoes, potato, corn, popcorn you pop yourself, bulgar wheat, brown rice etc. Lots of fresh greens and veg are carb-rich Once you get into it, it’s easy to eat well but healthily.

Runners doing long distances don’t want to fill, up or chow down post run, on any old crap 🙂

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Thank you - this is all new to me. Nice to know I don't have to give up the bread as that likely was not going to happen :)

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Having just recently done my first HM, I am certainly no expert but I think you’ll probably find you’re quicker on the day than you ever imagined you could be. I’m still wondering if I missed out part of the course! I agree with the advice about intervals - on the advice of someone on here (or it might have been B210k), I started interval training by using the week 1 of C25k but running hard on the ‘run’ bits and easy pace on the ‘walk’. It absolutely broke me to begin with but it definitely made me faster. I also worked quite hard to get my overall weekly mileage up to 25+miles and I’m convinced that helped too. Sounds like you’re doing all the right things! Good luck with the rest of your training!

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Thank you Gabby - Yes you smashed your HM didn't you? I'm just playing around with training ideas as I have the luxury of time right now, and I don't really have a clue about what I'm doing. I tried intervals for the first time on the advice of Whatsapp this morn - no kidding they are hard work! I think I went out full bore on the first one and slowly faded after that :) I only did around 20 min worth of 3min fast and 3 min slow sets, before I switched to a regular pace to finish the 7 for today. But on the bright side my shins are feeling good. I am only at around 28-32km/week on mileage at the moment, running 3 times a week which seems to feel about right at the moment.

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It was certainly much faster than I’d planned! Well done on the interval training; I found it really tough to start with. Actually, I still find it really tough. That’s some serious mileage and it’s great that you have plenty of time. I feel like time is running out ahead of my next HM and I’m terrified about this one 😬

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Well you did something right for sure! Hoping I will slowly get used to the Intervals. It is fun to just open up and slow down. At least the first two times...🙂 When is your next HM? I have faith you will be great.

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Yep, I agree, it’s great fun the first couple of times...and then it hurts! Next one is Feb 25th (🤢) but it’s billed as an ‘extremely hilly’ trail run - and I *don’t* do hills. I’ve also not run much the last couple of weeks, having had an awful virus. Still, I’ll give it a go...

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Oh that is soon, but in light of your recent virus, maybe you just take it easy and not worry about the time on it with a few rest breaks? With all those hills, it sounds like you may need them. You’ve already got a great HM time in the bag, maybe this one is just for fun? Easy for me to say, I know😁

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Totally agree! I’m planning to just lark about in the mud for a few hours this time. If my disastrous run on Sunday has taught me anything, it’s that I need to practise on the darn trails!

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I think after my HM, I may sign up for a trail run or two.

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It sounds like your main aim for your first HM is your speed? If you are really sure about this then I’d say get the miles in, do lots of intervals and hill repeats and gym training, and use a training plan for speed rather than distance. As it’s your first one could you consider aiming to finish as it puts a lot of pressure on you to make speed your focus for your first one?

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Thanks ju-ju. Hope it didn’t come across that way. I’m not really that hung up on the speed, I’ve just noticed my pace fading some and had the time to improve it a bit now, so I thought I would ask around on the right way to go about it. I do really just want to get through the race :). I have added some hills and intervals and off day training into my routine. But nothing too serious. Just looking to improve the pace a little. I’m not a big lover of too much pressure either. There is a ton of great advice here that I will be referring back to in years to come, I am sure.

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I too have a HM in May and have some pace issues. Like you, I used to run far too quickly (for my fitness level) at 25:00 for 5km but slowed right down andlearned to jog with the help of this forum etc. Slowing down has helped my progress to longer distances well. The issue now is I seem to have "forgotten" how to pick up the pace! Maybe it is just that I won't allow myself to go into the red-faced spiral of doom anymore (hr zone 4/5).

Anyway, the pace issue relates to my My Asics HM plan. Based on my 5km time it suggests 1:48:00 for HM which I think is nuts so ignored that and plugged in 1:59:59 for obvious reasons. Now the early plan runs are far too slow and jogs glacial...BUT the later runs and race pace around 5:00 seem far too optimistic! 5:00 is my fastest 5km pace and I'm not sure I'd manage to maintain that for a HM...or do we really improve that much during the training phase these plans? I know I CAN run fast (did a 4:30 1km to to test it out a while back at about 75% effort).

I suppose my question is do the Asics plans work out and have any of us experienced the same disbelief in the Asics predicted time only to see it achieved under race conditions etc?

My Garmin watch also has some highly optimistic race prediction times too! 5k 23:10, 10k 48:03, HM 1:46:29...Do the Garmin predictions work out in the end also? Maybe they will settle down/reduce as I run longer and longer distances?

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I don’t know the answers to all those questions, but you are REALLY fast, so I don’t think you have much to worry about at all. 😀 More experienced runners would know more. One thing I did notice on the Asics plan I finished were the slowness of the early runs, which picked up later on. My plan called for a 2:23 HM, and towards the end of the plan the pace did pick up quite a lot.

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Last year I did my first HM (although I did run a marathon before that) I trained for a time and my end goal was to break the 2hr mark.

Before I did my HM I only did a few 5 and 7.5k runs at the pace I needed to do, I live in quite a hilly area and my HM was flat so I could not reproduce the same setting. But doing a few runs at the pace I needed (5.30k) helped me find the rhythm in the race.

I would also say if you have a time in mind, then go for it and try and do your best.

You also have to remember that you always get a little boost of energy from being in a race and not just plodding around on your own.

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Thanks Ben, I’m going to do my best for sure. I remember gaining some momentum in my 10k race from the group setting, so hoping that will be the case here too :). This is my first year running (or consistent exercise) of any kind so my expectations are realistic.

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Hills and intervals. Also I tend to go off too fast, try to even out your pace so it is consistent.

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Thank you, yes I’ve been trying to work both in lately.

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