A Running Coach’s Half Marathon Tips for Experienced Runners

Half Marathon Tips: A running coach shares a round up of half marathon tips for experienced runners

The half marathon is a true test of a runner’s fitness. In order to race a half marathon well, you need endurance, a high lactate threshold, and the ability to pace yourself well. If your training volume or your top-end speed are lacking, you will underperform to your potential.

Half marathon training involves training multiple aspects of fitness: endurance, speed, and fatigue resistance. Refining a nutrition plan and gut training are also important during a half marathon training cycle, even for faster runners. All of this can seem intimidating – but it doesn’t have to be so. This collection of half marathon tips will help any intermediate to experienced runner train for their best half marathon yet.

If you are a new runner, read this article for half marathon tips for your first 13.1!

Focus Specifically on the Half Marathon Distance

Many runners only race a half marathon as a tune-up race during marathon training. While there is nothing wrong with this approach if you enjoy it, you may be able to run a faster half marathon if you focus specifically on the distance. Depending on your training base, you may only need eight to twelve weeks to specifically train for a half marathon. Since half marathon training involves higher intensity than marathon training, you will likely get faster – both at this distance and in general.

These half marathon tips guide you through how to train specifically for the distance:

Build Your Endurance

Yes, it’s “only” half of a marathon – but 13.1 miles is a far distance to run. Whether you finish in 1:30 hour or 2:30 hour, you need endurance to cover the distance. While there is no minimum weekly mileage for half marathon runners, you need to run enough to have a well-developed aerobic system.

How do you do this? Both long runs and your overall training volume will contribute to aerobic development. While you can complete a half marathon off of short weekday runs and a 10 mile long run, higher weekly mileage and long runs will aid in truly racing a fast half marathon.

These half marathon tips aid in developing endurance:

Do Both Interval and Tempo Runs

Overemphasizing one aspect of fitness over another will shortchange you in the half marathon. If you only do tempo runs, you may lack the fast-twitch muscle recruitment necessary to have a strong finishing kick. If you only do short, fast intervals, you may lack the fatigue resistance and pacing skills necessary to maintain half marathon pace on race day.

While half marathon training can look different and still be effective, most runners thrive with a variety of workouts throughout training. Short intervals, 10K pace repeats, tempo runs, and long run workouts all have a place.

These half marathon tips aid in developing workouts and training progression in your plan:

Develop a Race Day Fueling Strategy

Sure, you could run a half marathon without taking any gels during – but that approach may not lead to your fastest half marathon. Low glycogen levels, central fatigue, and peripheral fatigue can all limit performance in the half marathon. Taking in carbohydrates (gels, sports, drink, etc) during the half marathon can overcome all these limiting factors. Carbohydrates provide glucose (which spares glycogen), stimulate the central nervous system (delaying fatigue), and may reduce muscle breakdown or even cramping risk (reducing peripheral fatigue).

Of course, you should not wait until race day to use your fueling strategy. You want to practice this strategy on long runs throughout your whole training build. This approach yields three large benefits. Firstly, you train your gut to ensure you tolerate fuel on race day. Secondly, you recover better from your long runs – which means you adapt better to training. Thirdly, you are able to have higher work output on your long runs, especially any long run workouts – which further leads to better adaptation.

These half marathon tips aid in nutrition for race day and training:

Have a Strategy for Tapering and Pacing

No matter how fit you are, you can’t just wing it on race day and expect a breakthrough performance. Having a strategy for tapering in the two weeks before the half marathon and a strategy for race day pacing will support your best possible performance.

These half marathon tips address tapering, pacing, and racing:

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