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Help! I signed up for a half marathon....

 
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Judy Denver



Joined: 03 Jan 2006
Posts: 4123
Location: Mile High City

PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:58 am    Post subject: Help! I signed up for a half marathon.... Reply with quote

...and don't have a clue in the world how to run a half marathon. Especially since I have a specific goal (1:50 needed to qualify for NYC Marathon), and my normal MO is to go out and run based on how I feel, with a goal of having a good time and finishing strong.

How the heck does one approach a half marathon? (especially if Paul continues to refuse to come pace me....)
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Dawnie



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My MO for half marathons is pretty much what you described - go out based on feel and finish strong. Perhaps do a few tempo/pace runs at 1:50 pace to get the feel locked into your legs so that you know what you're aiming for on race day.
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1L



Joined: 23 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In training, I usually do some "pace" type runs in the weeks leading up so I know what "half marathon" pace feels like. These runs are ususally only 5-6 miles and I'll start slow (say 9:15 pace) and finish at less than HMP (which is 8:23 for a 1:50 - so my last mile would be in the 8 min range).

Add striders to your daily runs if you don't already do them to feel what turnover is about.

Don't get caught up running too fast (less than HMP) in the first few miles of the race. Even though half is exactly that, only half, you can indeed run the first 4-5 miles slower than HMP, and then pick it up from there. I know that you often run marathons like that, so since your mindset is used to it, you can accomplish it. Often I will start to approach by mile 5, keep it there until mile 8 - 9, and then " race" in the last 5K. There is a lot to be said for holding back a little and then passing lots of runners as you feel steady and strong over the last few miles. You will see lots of runners "dying" at this point since they went out too fast. For a 1:50, this means running the first few miles at 8:45-9 min pace, runnign the middle miles at 8:20-8:30, and running the last 5K at 8-8:15.

Does the race have pacers? A successful strategy can also be to align yourself with a pace group (and a marathon one if that is what they offer at the appropriate pace).
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no twitch muscles



Joined: 02 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1L wrote:
In training, I usually do some "pace" type runs in the weeks leading up so I know what "half marathon" pace feels like. These runs are ususally only 5-6 miles and I'll start slow (say 9:15 pace) and finish at less than HMP (which is 8:23 for a 1:50 - so my last mile would be in the 8 min range).

Add striders to your daily runs if you don't already do them to feel what turnover is about.

Don't get caught up running too fast (less than HMP) in the first few miles of the race. Even though half is exactly that, only half, you can indeed run the first 4-5 miles slower than HMP, and then pick it up from there. I know that you often run marathons like that, so since your mindset is used to it, you can accomplish it. Often I will start to approach by mile 5, keep it there until mile 8 - 9, and then " race" in the last 5K. There is a lot to be said for holding back a little and then passing lots of runners as you feel steady and strong over the last few miles. You will see lots of runners "dying" at this point since they went out too fast. For a 1:50, this means running the first few miles at 8:45-9 min pace, runnign the middle miles at 8:20-8:30, and running the last 5K at 8-8:15.

Does the race have pacers? A successful strategy can also be to align yourself with a pace group (and a marathon one if that is what they offer at the appropriate pace).


That is good, useable info 1L. I think I will appropriate it for me.

Good luck Judy.
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Tom L



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Based upon my vast experience of running two half marathons in the last two years, it seems to me that a half marathon is much more like a 10 KM than a marathon. Running a marathon, for almost anyone, involves a great deal of planning just to survive and not hit the wall etc. But, given your marathon and ultra experience, you will have no trouble with completing the distance and are mostly looking to maximize performance.

So, in training, you actually need to do some speed work, tempo runs like 1L suggests and also go the track a couple times and run some 800s, 1200s or mile intervals at faster than expected race pace. And, you don't really need a maximum long run of more than 12 or 14 miles so you won't need as much recovery from that and can do other runs at a harder effort.

On race day, given your marathon experience, you should be able to even split or even negative split at long as you don't run the first few miles too hard. So, just run the first 6 or 7 miles at a fairly comfortable pace and then ramp up the effort a lot over the last 5 or 6 miles. Because you will be running a lot faster those last few miles, it's a different kind of pain than the pain you get in a marathon so think about that beforehand so you are mentally ready for it. Also, you might want to really push the pace the last mile or two of those 12 to 14 mile "long" runs to simulate it a little.
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GBN



Joined: 27 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Must be the year of the half. Click


Edit: Judy, I now see that you were the very first to comment in that thread, so I guess you didn't find it that useful. Sorry.
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Judy Denver



Joined: 03 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GBN wrote:
Must be the year of the half. Click


Edit: Judy, I now see that you were the very first to comment in that thread, so I guess you didn't find it that useful. Sorry.


Well, as I said in that thread, I know nothing about the subject.

What y'all have assumed is that I would actually TRAIN for the half. Au contraire! That little race is coming up next Sunday, so the real question is not one of how many miles to put in, pace runs, etc., but more about how to actually run the thing. What HR to start at, nutrition (if any - guessing none?), how the pace should feel, etc. I know how I should feel in a full mary in the early miles if I don't want to bonk at mile 18 or 20; but what about a half?
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Dawnie



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd say you should feel like you're starting the second half of your marathon Smile

That said, if you're running for a specific goal time? I'd say go out at that pace for the first 3-4 miles. If it feels too hard at that point, re-evaluate. If it doesn't, keep going.

The last few halves that I've really raced, I've felt like I was going moderately fast at the beginning (not hard, but not walk-in-the-park easy) and it probably started feeling challenging around miles 9-10. By mile 10, the pace stayed the same but now felt much harder, and the last 5K felt like any 5K that I raced (although significantly slower). Hanging on to that pace felt like absolute hell during the last mile, but that's about par for the last mile of any race I run (5K, 10K, etc).

Does that make sense?
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goober



Joined: 15 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom L wrote:
it's a different kind of pain than the pain you get in a marathon so think about that beforehand so you are mentally ready for it


I will second this point. In my experience the pain in the last 3-4mi of a full is pretty much isolated to the effects of 20+ miles of pounding on the legs but your heartrate is still pretty relaxed. But in the half, since you are running at or at least closer to your lactate threshold, everything is elevated (heartrate, respiration) and it's even harder to keep the leg turnover necessary to maintain the faster pace.
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1L



Joined: 23 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I looked at the course, and since it is net downhill - that is in your favor especially since you love to run downhill as evidenced by your HTC jaunts of yore. You are an awesome downhill runner, so use that to your advantage here.

My advice would be to start off at pace or slightly slower than pace, make sure you are on pace (or slightly ahead given the terrain) in the middle miles (5-9), and then go for it (if you feel able) from mile 10. After all, anyone can run hard for a 5k, right?? Your HR should be elevated above marathon level at this point (for instance, I will run a marathon in the 75% range, and a half in the 85% range approaching 90% at the end if I've had a good day).

As far as nutrition goes, no need to carbo load or anything like that, but do eat in the morning if you are used to eating before a race and make sure you are plenty hydrated. I try not to take too much water during a half since I'm concentrating on pace, and since it is only 13 miles, I realize that my hydration can carry me. As for gels, I never took any during a half until this summer, and now I have taken one at mile 7-8 for my last two, and it seems to have helped. It might be psychological, but in the case of the ATC Half on Turkey Day, I volunteered at the start so I was there at 5:30 am for a 7:30 am race. Believe me, I was hungry by race time Wink.

I used to have an article on HM strategies which I will look for. A HM is my favorite race as it is just fast enough to be a race, just long enough that I'm not (usually) in oxygen debt until the end, and recovery is simple - it lasts about 2 hrs or the length of the race.

Good luck! Doc better look out as NYC, here we come.

Hope this helps.
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stihl going



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I beleive I offered to pace you for the mere cost of a plane ticket and sharing a hotel room. Where does that constitute a refusal?

I should be bothered by the fact that my professional services have been so greatly discounted here.

BTW Judy I should have called you as the MRS and I spent a wonderful 6 hours in your local airport yesterday because of an f-up on Frontier's part.
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Tom L



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whether you are capable of running a 1:50 or better now depends mostly on factors that you cannot change between now and race day. So, it seems that the question is how to run your optimal race, not how to run a 1:50 or better. From my limited half marathon experience, you can run your best race by running enough under your threshold pace that you can then run at threshold or above the last 5 or 6 miles. So, don’t get caught up in worrying about whether you are running at 1:50 pace or better the first 6 or 7 miles; worry about staying close to, but still definitely under threshold pace for those miles, then pick up the effort to threshold pace for the next 3 or 4 miles and then — to paraphrase something that Lance once told Floyd – run like you stole something until the end. You might end up running a negative split doing this or you might end up with fairly even splits, but this should give you a relatively optimal performance.
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Judy Denver



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, dang. That didn't work. Turns out you might actually have to train for these things...
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Current Tally:
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1L



Joined: 23 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You were close, but I'd love an assessment. I just amend my normal marathon training with a bit of speed, but half marathons are my most favorite distance, and probably the race I've actually raced the most in my life.
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Marathon Total: 46; States: 26; Provinces: 1; Countries: 2

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Judy Denver



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, on the day before the race, I finally consulted my coach for advice (what a novel thing to do - imagine this: the man actually knows something about racing and likes to impart his wisdom to me!), and here's what he advised. In marathons, he has me break the race into 3 sections: first 10 miles, second 10, final 10k. So he had me do the same with the half, just with 5s instead of 10s. First 5 miles, second 5, final 5k. It gave me a great way to frame my effort.

I wore my HRM, and figured that I could start out at the point where I normally target my HR in the middle 10 of a marathon. In reality, I hit the high end of that range, and felt like it was a good level of effort, so I kept it there. In fact, I had to struggle to keep it that low (low being a relative term; we're talking right at 90-91% of MHR. When I hit 10 miles, I gave it everything I had and finished with my HR at 98%.

So I don't think I can fault my approach. I didn't fade in the end, but I definitely didn't take it easy. I just didn't have a 1:50 in me on Sunday.

While there's something to be said for finishing and not feeling completely done in for the rest of the day, I question the sanity of all those who have raved to me about halfs. I *was* very sore Monday. Maybe not marathon-sore, but I knew I had stressed my body. And on the other side of that coin - I felt like a poseur. I really felt like I was a big wuss for not going the full distance.

Guess I have to think about that distance. Maybe for a local race, it would be a good thing. But traveling long distance to run a half seems a little anticlimactic.
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"Through the years, I have learned that there is no harm in charging oneself up with delusions between moments of valid inspiration." - Steve Martin

Marathon Maniac #835. Check out my 50 states progress at: MarathonGeeks

Current Tally:
64 Marathons, 2 Ultras
50 States, 1 Province, 2 Countries, 1 Continent
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