Will running a half marathon improve your marathon?

 

Running a half marathon during a marathon preparation is both a common and a logical stepping stone to the marathon. But will it help improve your running if running the marathon is your true goal?

Personally, I am running a half marathon in ten days which will feature in week 9 of my 14 week marathon preparation. Do I believe running the half marathon will help me run a better marathon?  No and yes.

The reason I don’t believe the half marathon helps improve the marathon is because the marathon doesn’t really start to well after half way. When you run through halfway in a marathon you’ll need to be feeling pretty fresh if you plan to run a solid second half. This won’t be the case when you race a half marathon, as the pace should be faster and you’ll give your best effort over the half marathon distance. You shouldn’t get to the end of the half marathon and feel like you can run it again.

Having said that, racing a half marathon gives an opportunity to have a better then race pace effort and test your fitness. If you can run a hard half marathon and finish in good shape then training must be going well and confidence can be gained from this race performance.

On the flip side, running a hard half marathon may result in you needing to take a day or two off training post race that could be used to continue to train for the marathon. You could be better advised to skip the half marathon and put in a longer then half marathon distance long run on the weekend of the race.

Running a half marathon isn’t easy though and has it’s own set of challenges. It is not half as much effort or half as hard to run a half marathon to a marathon. Naturally you will run at a faster pace when running a half marathon and being able to hold this pace consistently becomes difficult. Arguably just as difficult as holding your pace at the end of a marathon. This is where the benefit of racing can help you improve for your next race.

Ultimately when holding your pace becomes difficult during the end of a race of any distance the mind is what needs the training. Running a half marathon and fighting off the mental thoughts to give up can certainly help you run better at the marathon. When self doubt creeps in it’s important to shut that door quickly and give your best effort. Really it’s only racing where you get to test this out, you can’t get this from training.

Whilst running a half marathon won’t physically improve you on the way to a marathon, racing gives the strength and confidence that you’ll need during a marathon. Racing gives a valuable experience in staying in the moment and not giving up, this is an ingredient that has to be present during a marathon.

In ten days time I’ll race a half marathon and while I’m not expecting to gain any physical benefit that will help in the marathon the practise of racing will help when the mental battles start in the marathon. And this is the reason why a race during a marathon preparation is valuable.

Let me know if you have any questions or feedback.

Run well.

 

 

Marathon Training – Week 8

Another good week of marathon training. The run is going well with six runs this week and just over 80km covered. Unfortunately the swim and bike components have not gone well and today I have made the decision to not progress with training for the Ironman 70.3 in May. Whilst I am disappointed I haven’t been able to put it together and get my triathlon training on track it gives me time to focus purely on running a good marathon in Canberra. I may revisit my triathlon goals at a time in the near future when a marathon isn’t in the midst and requiring my focus.

Running this week started on Tuesday with my usual hill session. Hills went well and half way through this preparation I can feel the strength needed for a good marathon returning nicely. Wednesday was a 10km aerobic run that helped the legs recover and be ready for intervals on Thursday. I had a real purpose with intervals this week of 20 x 1 min with 1 min rest to keep every interval under 3:30 min/km. I failed on two of these intervals and stupidly one of them was the first, the other was the last which I can cop because I was spent after this session. All the other intervals were run between 3:20 and 3:30 min/km.

Friday was another aerobic run, this time only 7km. I knew I had a tough long run planned so ticking the legs over was the purpose of this run. Long run on Saturday had a purpose of 5km aerobic then 5km at my threshold pace of 4:10 min/km x 3. Meaning every 45 min contained a 5km effort with a 3km warm down afterwards to give me 2 hours 30 min overall. Really happy with this run, the efforts felt hard, particularly the 3rd but I was able to hold the pace and finish the session feeling confident. I rounded out the week with an 11km aerobic run on Sunday over grass. The grass was nice on the legs and a good way to finish my biggest week of the year so far.

Getting through my three key runs every week is a goal for every preparation of mine. I continue to believe that developing speed, strength and endurance is the best way to run best on race day. This week i was happy with all three of my key sessions and how my running has progressed in the seven weeks of this marathon preparation so far.

Week 8

With triathlon off my mind it’s now purely focussing on running and this marathon. Working hard over the next 5-6 weeks before tearing for the race.

Monday – Aerobic – 1 Hour

Tuesday – Hills – 1 Hour

Wednesday – Aerobic – 1 Hour

Thursday – Rest Day

Friday – Long Run – 2 Hours 40 min (Aerobic)

Saturday – Aerobic – 45-60 min

Sunday – Intervals – 14 x 2 min with 1 min recovery

 

I have also decided to compete in the Port Macquarie Running Festival half marathon, March 11th, just two weeks away. Looking forward to a solid week of training before a race that will test my fitness. Aim of this race will be to stick to a consistent pace, quicker than marathon pace and try and hold this pace of the duration. There will be no taper for this race, it will be a good test of my current fitness deep into marathon training.

I’ll also run this race in Gladsoles sandals, most likely the trail 8mm model. Looking forward to testing my speed over 21.1km in sandals. I haven’t raced a pure half marathon for a while and I haven’t decided yet whether Canberra marathon will be in sandals or shoes. This half may make the decision for me.

Looking forward to another week of marathon training. Feeling like my fitness is coming together.

Run well.

 

Marathon Training – Week 7

Week 6 of marathon training was a disjointed week and the schedule changed from what was planned. Travelling for work early in the week left me fatigued mid week and I had to reassess the plan as the week unfolded.

Running went to plan while I travelled for work with runs in Penrith in Sydney. Aerobic on Monday and intervals on Tuesday were run to plan. After a few weeks of longer (3 min) intervals I enjoyed the shorter intervals at 1 min and had fun with this session. Albeit I ran it mostly in an industrial area as I wasn’t sure of where I was running.

Took a rest day on Wednesday as I was feeling fatigued instead of cycling. Thursday with my long run planned I woke up early with a bad headache and it was very hot and humid. Didn’t have a long effort in me this day so I took another unscheduled rest day.

From here I changed the schedule up so i can fit in my hills and long run into the week. Friday I ran hills over my usual terrain. Still hot and humid this was an uncomfortable run. Saturday I ran a short aerobic run followed by 2 hour long run on Sunday before I went to work. Normally I don’t run long runs before work but needed to get this one in. Overall this meant my running went quite good for the week but no cycling or swimming this week.

Sometimes you do have to change the plan when things don’t go to plan and taking the two rest days meant the quality of my runs was better later in the week.

Week 7 now and after this week we are half way through the scheduled plan. Starting to feel like my running is coming together. The triathlon side of things isn’t going to plan this week and I may reassess and abandon plans for the Ironman 70.3 race, will decide this in the next week or so whether to continue or whether to just focus on the marathon only.

Week 7

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Run – Hills – 1 hour ( 3 x 2km repeats)

Wednesday – Bike – Aerobic 1 hour

Thursday – Run – Intervals 1 hour ( 20 x 1 min with 1 min rest)

Friday – Bike – Aerobic 1 hour

Saturday – Run – Long Run 2 hour 30 min (Including 3 x 5km at 4:20 min/km threshold)

Sunday – Run – Aerobic 45min – 1 hour

During Thursday’s interval session I am increasing the rest component from the previous week. Aim of this session is to run each effort below 3:30 min/km with increasing the rest to assist I am able to give my best effort every interval.

Long run on Saturday needs to hit 2 hour 30 min. Within each of the first three 45 min periods I will run 5km at my threshold pace. Will try and keep this run over a relatively flat terrain.

Looking forward to another strong week of building towards the Canberra Marathon. Feeling like my training is heading in the right direction currently and want to keep this feeling. Feeling ready to run when you step on the start line is a big advantage for later when the race becomes a mental battle.

Train well, run well.

reach out if you have any questions or concerns about your running.

Photos from week 6 of marathon training

 

Marathon Training – Week 6

Another marathon training week passed and one where I gained a lot of confidence in my running currently.

Four runs this week and two cycles. Didn’t swim this week as I just didn’t have the motivation to get to the pool on Wednesday so cycled instead. Planned to swim in Friday although motivation didn’t return and I took a rest day. This gives me doubts about whether Ironman 70.3 is a good idea as the swimming is certainly dragging to this point.

Running is going well though, my hill session on Tuesday felt great. I added a third repeat of my 2km Hill which I train on. The third was my 50th repeat on this hill over the past 12 months.

Intervals on Thursday was another strong session. 8 x 3 min at 3:30min/km with 1 min rest. Struggled to hit a couple of my splits but felt mostly good throughout.

Long run on Saturday was my best session and the one that gives confidence moving forward. 2 Hours 20 min with 2 x 12km at 3 hour marathon pace. Felt my pacing was good for both efforts. Ran into some hills in the last 3km of the second effort close to home which slowed me down although my effort didn’t change through this period.

Running a strong long run capped off a good week. Cycled twice for an hour each time, Sunday the legs felt average so I dropped the Sunday ride back from 1:30 to 1 hour.

This week I am away for work for a couple of days so will run early in the week and may not swim again. Trying to increase my run mileage over the next 2-3 weeks so a little less cycling too.

Monday – Run – Aerobic (1 hour 15min)

Tuesday – Run – Intervals (20 x 1 min 30 sec rest)

Wednesday – Cycle – Aerobic (1 hour)

Thursday – Run – Aerobic Long Run (2 hour 30 min Last 10km at 4:20min/km)

Friday – Rest or swim (30min)

Saturday – Cycle – Aerobic (1 hour)

Sunday – Run – Hills (1 Hour 15 min)

Looking forward to this week. Main highlights are continuing to increase my long run time and also increasing the time of my aerobic run and hill sessions. Overall trying to increase my mileage.

The end of this week will mark half way to my fitness building stage of the marathon preparation. Building endurance will stop after week 9 and then the focus becomes maintaining endurance and increasing speed through tempo and interval sessions.

Run well this week.

Reach out if you have any feedback or questions.

When does a marathon hurt?

The short answer is a marathon will hurt at some stage between the start and the finish. The long answer is difficult to quantify, it will be determined by how committed you were to training and how ambitious you’ve run the race to this point.

If you’ve trained well and run your race at a consistent pace then the marathon will hurt somewhere between half way and 35km. If you haven’t done the training or run too quick early then this point may arrive somewhat earlier then you like or expect. Ultimately at some point during a marathon you’ll hurt and you’ll be asked some questions of yourself.

How you respond to these questions ultimately determines the outcome of your race.

If you run your marathon smartly or strategically you’ll have run a consistent pace throughout, the effect of this will mean running will be relatively comfortable for the first half of the race before the effort required to maintain this consistent pace becomes more difficult. The elastic band gets tighter as the race unfolds, with the goal being for the hypothetical elastic band breaks.

How do you do this?

Know when the marathon is going to hurt.

There is no an exact science as every race is different and every run can unfold differently. But knowing your ability and being smart about goals and execution will help.

  • Understand the pace you can run. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, but also don’t be too conservative and leave time on the course.
  • Run the race consistently – Running too fast early is a recipe for disaster
  • When the elastic tightens – Be ready to give your best effort

 

Know your Pace

Knowing your best race pace is difficult. We all want to run personal bests and improve our race times. A couple of marathon specific training sessions you can run to test your marathon ready fitness are;

  • 3 x 14km with 30 min rest between each. Run each effort at marathon goal pace. If you can hold this pace for each of the efforts then you can run this pace in a marathon. The third effort should feel hard and simulate the end of the marathon.
  • 5 x 5km with 5 min stationery or 1km jog rest between each. Run each effort at goal marathon goal pace. Another session where the difficulty becomes harder as the run increases. Again, the final effort should feel difficult but not too hard.

These session should be run no closer than three weeks before the marathon. Particularly the 3 x 14km as it is a tough session and has 42km of running within it.

 

Run the race consistently

Running consistent pace throughout your marathon is the best way to maximise the time before the marathon begins to bite back. If you run too fast you’ll suffer in the back end, if you run too slow you’ll give yourself too much deficit to make up when things get tougher and also risk leaving time on the course.

The best marathoners in the world use this method when they attempt to run fast marathons. Eliud Kipchoge in berlin last year is a perfect example of this method of marathon running.

 

Be ready to give your best

When the marathon hurts and the elastic begins to tighten be ready. And be ready mentally to give your best effort. If you’ve done the training and ran the race consistently to this point then you’ve given yourself the best chance to succeed.

This point in the marathon is when you need to give everything you have, dig deep and ask yourself why you are doing this in the first place. We all have different motivations to run a marathon and these motivations can be what helps you through when the marathon bites back.

Be ready and be prepared to give everything you’ve got when the moment arrives.

Good luck in your next marathon. Reach out if you have any questions preparing for your next race.

Run well

 


Marathon Training – Week 5

A solid week of marathon training this week, being able to hit each of my sessions as planned. Running consisted of my three key sessions being hills, intervals and the long run. Feel the regularity of completing these sessions has kept me in good shape moving forward toward the next stage of my training.

The triathlon segment of my training isn’t quite going as well as planned. I am struggling with the swimming component and motivating myself to regularly swim. The cycle is going better, however I think I need more time on the bike but don’t want to sacrifice running time with a marathon now nine weeks away. My main goal is to run a good race in Canberra and then do my best in the Ironman 70.3.

This week I have decided to focus a bit more on the run with four run sessions, two bike and just one swim.

Monday – Run – Aerobic 1 hour

Tuesday – Run – Hills 1 hour

Wednesday – Swim – 40 mins

Thursday – Run – Intervals (8 x 3 min         – 1 min recovery)

Friday – Bike – Aerobic – 1 hour

Saturday – Run – Long Run (2:20 including 2 x 12 km at goal race pace)

Sunday – Bike – Aerobic – 1 hour 30 min

Looking to push the run along a bit this week, particularly the long run with a more marathon specific session. 2 x 12km at race pace while still completing the duration of the long run will be a good test of exactly where my running is currently. With less mileage this marathon preparation while incorporating cycling and swimming it’s a risk that this effects the marathon preparation. This run is about trying to see how I shape up as we get close to the middle of the marathon training phase. Currently I am a third of the way through the 12 weeks marathon phase before a 10-14 day taper.

Another decision I will make closer to the marathon is whether to run in shoes or sandals. Most of my training is being completed in sandals, however I haven’t run a road marathon in sandals yet. I need to be comfortable to run the marathon as fast in sandals as shoes. If I can tick that box then I’ll happily run in sandals.

Looking forward to another strong training week and finding out exactly where my run fitness is currently.

Hope your training is also going well. Reach out if you have any questions.

Run well.

Does swimming ever get enjoyable?

As a runner returning to triathlon I’ve been asking myself this question recently. Does swimming ever get enjoyable?

This morning I went to my pool session and can’t say I enjoyed it at all. Firstly I thought of some excuses to get out of going but couldn’t find one. In the car on the way to the pool I thought about turning the car around and going home because I wasn’t looking forward to it. Lets face it, for a runner swimming is hard. It’s hard to because it’s a different muscle and skill set to running that currently feels a bit foreign. Hopefully once my fitness for swimming return so will some of the enjoyment.

Can’t say I’m expecting that to happen. This morning I swam 1500 metres, 30 laps of the Olympic pool. I didn’t enjoy any one of these lap, some were easier than others but all were boring and sometimes painful. There were plenty of other people at the pool and some even looked like they were enjoying it, so maybe there is some hope.

One of the things I love about running is the solitude, one of the things I hate about swimming is the solitude. Thats a weird thing to say but very true. I can run for hours by myself and don’t need to see, hear or talk to another person but half an hour in the pool is another story.

Even though I’d been off the bike for a long time I’ve enjoyed getting back on the bike. Obviously it’s a closer skill set and fitness to running which has made it easier to adjust. Returning to the pool has been a different experience.

Clearly if I want to train for triathlon I am going to have to go swimming. It’s a necessary requirement of the sport and one I hope I start to enjoy in the near future.

Do you swim and how do you find it enjoyable?

Plenty of people in the pool enjoying their swim.

Marathon Training – Week 4

After three weeks of marathon training aiming towards Canberra Marathon in April I’m starting to feel good about my progress. As I’ve documented in previous posts I’m incorporating triathlon training into the program aimed at Ironman Australia 70.3 in May three weeks after Canberra.

This week I started with a sore foot and decided to take a couple of days off on Monday and Tuesday to rest it. This did the trick and the foot was fine from these two rest days. Wednesday I returned to my normal hill repeat location for strength building hill repeats. Thursday I made a rookie mistake and forgot that I’d planned swimming and went cycling. With a public holiday on Friday and the pool not open to 9am on weekends I wasn’t able to get a swim in this week. On my weekends with my family I like to get my training completed early so we can spend the rest of the day together. Friday running was intervals and 8 x 3 min at 3:30 min/km felt good, tough during the last couple of efforts but mostly a good, confidence building run.

The weekend I was up early on both days for 2 hours on the bike on Saturday and a 2 hour long run on Sunday. Felt a bit sore in my calves on Sunday so I decided to not run my long run at goal pace and keep it aerobic to get through the time required. I will schedule this again next week and see how the week plans out, if I’m feeling good will run at goal pace but otherwise keep it aerobic. Each of these sessions went well and I go into week 4 with a confidence that I’m ready for what is ahead. Really happy with my run at the moment, bike is feeling good also and behind schedule in the pool for obvious reasons.

Important to be able to change the plan if things don’t go to plan. After feeling a bit sore after my Friday intervals in my calves they felt worse after Saturdays bike. Changing the plan from a goal pace long run to an aerobic long run allowed me to get through the time and build endurance rather then cut the run short due to soreness and miss valuable time building endurance.

Weather has been hot and extremely humid for most of the week and training in these conditions has been tough. Hopefully a bit of respite from the heat this week.

Week 4

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Running – Hills (1 Hour)

Wednesday – Swim – Aerobic (40 min)

Thursday – Bike – Aerobic (1 Hour)

Friday – Running – Aerobic (2 Hour 15 min or 1 hour 45 min @ goal marathon pace)

Saturday – Bike – Aerobic (1 Hour 30 min)

Sunday – Running – Intervals (9 x 3 min with 45 sec recovery)

Looking forward to challenging myself again this week.

How is your training going? What races do you have coming up?

 

 

 

Some photos from this weeks training.

 

Marathon training week 3

 

A successful week of marathon training getting through all my scheduled training. All my training went to plan, however after my long run on Friday I have been a little sore in my right foot. Nothing dramatic but some pain on the outside of my foot that hasn’t gone away as quickly as I’d like. Not an injury just a grumpy foot that needs some monitoring.

I have decided to take a couple of days off and rest the foot and make sure at this early stage of my marathon preparation that it doesn’t become an injury. So far no running, cycling or swimming this yet this week. Training will start again tomorrow and follow this pattern this week.

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – Run – Hills

Thursday – Swim – 40 min aerobic

Friday – Run – Intervals

Saturday – Bike – Long ride (2 hours)

Sunday – Run – Long run ( 2 hours – Goal marathon pace)

This week I am due to run my first goal pace long run of this preparation, this will depend on how my foot feels after the rest of the training this week. If there is still some pain I may revert back to an aerobic long run and run the goal pace run in week 4. There is plenty of time to get the training right for this marathon and making sure my grumpy foot doesn’t become and injury is important. taking a couple of days off is certainly not going to pose any problem but if it were to get worse and more time off was needed it would not be ideal.

Looking forward to getting back into to training tomorrow.

How is your training going? Are you on track for your goal races?

The Long Run

 

The long run has been the staple of running training ever since competitive running began. Every training guide ever written for running includes regular long runs. This is because it is the tried and tested method of increasing endurance for overall running improvement.

Every runner, regardless of the distance of races they run should run regular long runs. If you only ever race 5km races then a long run will give you the same benefit as a marathoner. The benefit is increased endurance. In running terms endurance is the ability to sustain a prolonged effort or activity.  Increasing endurance will help you give your best effort towards the end of your runs and races.

The long run length should be long relative to your overall mileage and race goals. There is no point pushing through a two hour long run if you only ever race up to 5km. A good rule of thumb is to schedule your long run to be roughly 20% of your overall weekly mileage. For a 5km runner who does 35-40km a week an 8-10km long run is more than sufficient. However for the runner training for longer races putting in 80-100km a week they will need a longer run to get the benefits.

As you run longer races the long run should build in time. I am currently in week two of a 14 week marathon preparation, my long run this week was at 1 hour 45 min and will build over the next 10 weeks until I reach a three hour long run. If I’m not focussed on a specific race distance then just maintaining a weekly long run that is roughly 20% of my total weekly mileage still has a  great effect on your overall endurance .

Focus on keeping your running at an aerobic pace. Pace doesn’t matter during a long run, keep the pace comfortable and ensure you get through the time. The seeds of endurance are harvested at an aerobic pace. This should also help make the long run the most enjoyable run of the week. Keeping the pace aerobic allows you to enjoy your run and the surroundings your running in.

Run long, run often and then run long again.

How did your long run go this week?