Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Half Marathon race pace

In 18 days time I will be running my 3rd ever half marathon and my first since 2009.

The main reason for planning this half marathon was purely to make me train hard over the last 2 months. I wouldn't say I have trained too hard, but I have at least done good mileage, my two highest monthly figures ever in fact, being up around 270 miles for the year to date as I type.

My current half marathon PB is 1:33:47 (I think) and my first aim is to beat this. Most people would think a PB was a sufficient target!

However, given my 10km PB (36:47) I feel that a new PB should be the least I should aim for.

My second target is to go under 1 hour and 30 minutes as this seems quite a significant milestone and a nice target, but I don't even want to stop there.

Thirdly and finally, my ultimate aim is for a time around 1:25. This is the aim that I am not sure if I can do. I believe that my first two targets should be relatively comfortable, whereas I really don't know if I am capable of 1 hour 25 minutes.

To achieve my 1:25 target I need to run roughly 6:30 per mile which equates to 4 parkruns of 20:10 back-to-back, plus an extra 4 minute final 1km. Not easy!

So today I decided to try to run this pace for 2 parkruns back-to-back, really in an attempt to learn my target pace so that I can easily drop into it on race day.

I ran a 1 mile warm-up, had a quick stretch and then set off, quickly getting the pace pretty close to, but slightly faster than my target (based on known parkrun distance landmarks).

I ran my first parkrun in 19:51, 19 seconds faster than my target. During the second parkrun I noticed the pace drop slightly but hoped that it was closer to target. At 20:11 and only 1 second over, it certainly was!

At this point I decided, in for a penny - in for a pound, what better way to give myself confidence than to run 9.3 miles at target pace, rather than 6.2 miles. With that in mind I carried on straight into my third back-to-back parkrun.

The third parkrun did start to get slightly tougher, but I still managed to stay on target pace and even up the pace slightly in the last 5 minutes for a 19:54.

This gave me a total triple parkrun freedom run time of 59:58. Under an hour for 15km (9.3 miles) is not to be sniffed at, especially considering it was a training run and I never felt troubled.

That time equates to a time of 6:28 per mile for those 9.3 miles, almost three-quarters half marathon distance and still under my target pace.

This gives me great confidence that I can run 6:30 per mile for 13.1 miles on race day. Possibly even faster!


  1. I don't mean to come over all mathematical, but I have to take issue with your 'in for a penny, in for a pound', in this case running 50% further than was your initial intent. According to the Wilkinson parkrun school of economics, that means there is 1.5 pence to the pound and, therefore, according to my penny jar, I am now immeasurably rich. When I try to book my holiday to the Caribbean with my penny jar and am turned away, it is at you that I shall point the frosty digit of blame. Be warned.

    1. Dan, you are indeed immeasurably rich in so many ways. And anyone who says you aren't is a poor fool.
      Will we see you are Cov parkrun sometime soon?

  2. A 10k best of 36:47 would suggest that a HM time of 1:25 is conservative. Most of the runners in my club who have run that kind of time for 10k have run 1:21 or better for a half. If you look at the age grading then the equivalent is just under 1:21 at 30, just under 1:20 at 40 and just over 1:20 at 50.

    1. Thanks for that David, I think! I have to say I favour my 1:25 as 1:20 just sounds horribly hard. You may well be right, I just don't think I have the mental toughness for that pace for that long. Let's face it a PB (sub 1:33) would be a good start!


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