First ever race! (HM) upcoming - advice needed (Read 66 times)


    Hi everyone,

    Looking for a little help as a novice runner. I have signed up to a half marathon on 19th Sept 21 and this will be my first ever real race, having only ever run against myself previously!


    Brief bio:

    41yr, 6', 183lbs (or thereabouts)

    RHR 47, maxHR 199.

    5k PB: 21:32 (2019); 22:21 (2021)

    10K PB: 48:30 (2019)

    Longest ever run: 12k


    I have been running for years on and off usually a few months at a time, but was not educated and just ran race pace 5K runs or sometimes longer up to 10k. I recently learned about developing an aerobic base (I had none to speak of!) and am 9 weeks into this after wasting the first 3 weeks with arbitrary MAF stuff that didn't work for me.  This last week I ran 5 days for 205mins and 32k, having built slowly from scratch.at wk1, adding 10% more minutes per week etc. I am running 70-80 minute long runs at this point and feeling good though I had to pare back a couple of weeks ago due to a small knee issue which is now gone. Fwiw, I'm really enjoying running at this intensity and generally without next-day soreness.


    My plan (barring injury) will take me to 370 minutes (around 60-70k) by WK18 on this trajectory with my long run at 2hrs by that point, and I have seen reasonable pace improvement running aerobically at always around 73-80% of maxHR. I've seen my running paces drop from 7:30/km to 6:15/km at this intensity in 9 weeks, and I was planning to just continue all runs in this range up until week 18 and re-evaluate, then possibly inject some subLT runs. If I could get to 5:00/km aerobic I would be really happy but not sure if current improvements will taper off?


    So anyway I stumbled across a half marathon in September (week18+5) of my plan and signed up!


    1) Should I just continue with my low heart rate aerobic training as planned given the reasonable improvements, or should I start to inject some quality runs? If so, how far out? Is it really need for the target paces I'm aiming for?


    2) I'm aiming (hoping) that I can run a 1hr45 - 1hr50 HM (i.e. around 5:00-5:10/km pace). Does this seem realistic on current progress and past PBs, vs lack of aerobic history? I have a slight fear that this pace which I used to always run at or faster for short runs, will be a shock to the system on race day after all the aerobic work. However I don't want to interfere with my aerobic gains by introducing speed work (apparently this is a thing...or maybe not?).


    Thanks in advance for any advice!

      However I don't want to interfere with my aerobic gains by introducing speed work (apparently this is a thing...or maybe not?)


      It's not really a thing.


      5:00/km seems like a reasonable goal given your current 5k fitness of 22:21 and the amount of time you have. Doing the mileage is definite the most important thing and will give you the most gains. But I would not forgo all speed, even during base building--even just weekly strides and and occasional fast finish long run will help a lot and make the transition to race specific workouts much less jarring.

      Runners run.


        Thanks MM! I've started to incorporate strides as of yesterday (will plan to include this twice a week), and will throw in some fast finish work along the line.


          Above all, have fun.  I remember my first half marathon in 2015 well, what a great experience it was and really got me hooked on running.


          1. Injecting a quality session each week will definitely help.  Even just one session with strides or some intervals will be beneficial.  On 60-70km/week and with a long run of up to 2 hours, you don't want to have all your eggs in the 'aerobic endurance' basket.  Some speed will help you make the most of the endurance you've built up.


          2.  I'd say 5:00/km seems realistic based on current PR's and planned training.  If you can get decent consistency in your training, that should be reasonable.

          5,000m: 15:39 (Dec-19) | 10,000m: 32:34 (Mar-20) | 10km: 33:15 (Sep-19) 

          HM: 1:09:41 (May-20)* | FM: 2:41:41 (Oct-20)

          * Net downhill course

          Last race: Southern Lakes Half Marathon, 1 May, 1:09:41 (1st place)

          Up next: Meridian Hydro Half Marathon (trail), 7 Aug


            I agree with Mike and Mark. Some faster stuff will help you get used to your half marathon race pace.

            I'm impressed with your disciplined training so far. Most people run too fast too soon.

            50+ PBs -  

            5k 18.21 Hagley Parkrun  July 21      82.27 % age grade

            10k TT 37.21 may 2nd 2021 strava run 82.51 % age grade

            Half marathon  1.23.30 may 21 80.11 % age grade

            " If you don't use it you lose it,  but if you use it, it wears out.

            Somewhere in between is about right "      




              I'm impressed with your disciplined training so far. Most people run too fast too soon.


              Thanks. Well, tbh I did 'too fast, too soon' for about 10 years coupled with no consistency and it got me basically nowhere, so at least I'm on the right track now lol! :-)


                Based on the above advice (thank you all!), and after trawling various other threads on this forum, I've amended my plan to include these in speed works alongside the aerobic/recovery work:


                Wk10 (now) - wk13: 2-3x strides per week

                Wk13 - wk16: 1x strides, 1x SubLT run, 1x 3-5km HMpace tempo long

                Wk17 - wk19: 1x Critical velocity repeats, 1x 5km HMpace tempo long

                Wk20 - Wk23: 1x 10k pace tempo, 1x 5-8k HMpace tempo long

                HM - end of week 23.


                (Tapering quantity from wk21)


                Hopefully this is sensible and the mix of various speed work will get me there!