First ever race! (HM) upcoming - advice needed (Read 84 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-21)* | FM: 2:41:41 (Oct-20)

          * Net downhill course

          Last race: Meridian Hydro Half Marathon (trail), 7 Aug, 1:19:44 (2nd)

          Up next: Run Orewa 10km, 17 Oct (COVID-permitting)


            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!


                  Updates from you would be nice! Good luck on your journey!


                    Hi, thanks for being interested! :-)


                    Ok, so my update is quite lengthy and has some good and bad...


                    Firstly, I played around with my program a bit more and ended up throwing in some mile repeat workouts and latterly intervals, using Daniels calculators for pacing. These worked great and I was progressing really well with them.


                    I stuck with general rules of 10% increase per week. 5 days/week, 1 workout, 1 long run at around 30% of weekly mileage. The usual stuff. All easy runs at around 75% MaxHR, and almost all runs fasted.


                    The good:

                    I progressed up to 300 minutes and 54km per week at week 15 of my program. My long run at this point was 18.6km at 5:28/km and was easy running, unfuelled straight out of bed, and I felt I could definitely have done 21.2km that day and at a faster pace if I needed to.


                    In the 6 weeks between my original post up to the above mentioned week, the pace of my easy runs improved from average 6:15/km to 5:40/km at the same effort. I worked on increasing cadence in this time as well and this definitely a made a difference, along with the mile reps and intervals.


                    I was logging and charting all my runs and my average pace improvements were trending very much towards achieving a 5:00/km HM.


                    The bad:

                    Around wk12 I started picking up medial thigh pain and hip pain. It didn't affect my running so I kept plugging away. It was generally only sore after or until a started running and I didn't want to stop my program. Kept, going and eventually and to stop completely in week 16 as I was really struggling to get downstairs and other basic things (but could still run, weirdly).


                    Around the same time a Covid outbreak in Sydney put the HM date in major doubt and this was enough for me to then stop, and use some time to recover (and find out what was wrong!). The HM has since been cancelled until next year with no new date.


                    The injury:

                    I went to a physio and discovered the pain is due to a tight hip and trigger points were the extreme thigh pain issue. This explains for me, why I was able to run on it as there was no muscle strain/tear.


                    The source of the issue, it turns out is my RH tibia is 8mm longer than my left, and I have uneven hips and a slight twist in my spine as a result of my body compensating all my life. None of which was ever problem enough for me to be aware of until higher mileage running. The physio gave me a few 6mm hard foam wedges to put in my LH shoes. My body will take care of the other 2mm. Not sure what this will do to the 'engineered' cushioning of my Saucony's under high mileage but I'll find out in due course.


                    I definitely exacerbated the issue (and the recovery time) by continuing on, instead of getting it check out early. No shocks there.


                    So I've been doing physio for the hip and zero running for 4 weeks under physio instruction, until 2 days ago when I finally went out a trial 40 minute easy run (including with LH shoe wedge) and had no trigger point or hip pain.


                    Yesterday I wrote myself a new training program. :-)


                    I'll be building up slowly from a couple of days a week this week, and monitoring for pain. Quite a way to go to get back to where I was based on that one trial run 2 days ago, but I'm trusting all the adaptations haven't gone away in 4 weeks...


                    Probably not the update you were looking for, but I've certainly learned a lot in the last couple of months.


                    Kicking Asphalt for 2021

                      Any training plan that you walk away from with some lessons is a good one. Sorry to hear it didn't end with a race, but I'm glad you got checked out and can move forward. There will be other races! Smile

                      Half Fanatic #9292.