HALF MARATHON TRAINING PROGRAMME – 5 WEEKS OF SPEED

by

Having put in a lot of hard work to prepare for Paris I am now trying to transition to a fast half marathon in late May. Edinburgh is the venue, and weather permitting, it is a fast course. The intention is a PB and I am convinced I am in the shape to do it. I am intent on achieving the goal after missing out in Paris. I haven’t quite decided yet whether to go for a big PB and take on something as close to 1:15 as I can muster, or to be more conservative and go for a more smaller one just to try and check the box. It is a year and a half since my last PB, so ticking it off is quite appealing at the minute rather than going for broke. I will make a final decision based on how training goes and how the legs feel.

Two weeks on from Paris and I am feeling good. The sickness feeling in the last 10k prevented me going fast, but has possibly saved the legs a little bit as well. I don’t want to relive it but maybe it might be a positive when upping the miles again this week.  I am totally convinced I was in the shape to do a sub 2:45 marathon.  Analysing things has led me to think that I probably did not take enough water on a hot day.  The gels may have caused issues as a result of dehydration.  I have learnt from it and will come back stronger.  Watching the elites in London they seem to consume significantly more fluid than I did that day.  Lessons definitely still being learned!!!

The focus is speed rather than crazy distance. I need to go below 1:17:35 to hit a PB. And so the mission begins. Like so many other people I have a busy job and an amazing family life to juggle with the training, so what I am putting on paper below is the ideal. Like anyone I will need to be flexible. With this in mind I have started my mission to become a more regular morning runner – check out my article on what I hope will help me achieve this goal here.

With the London Marathon last weekend and the amazing Eliud Kipchoge taking first place in the men’s race, I have been doing some research on his training. I am looking for the principles rather than trying to emulate his training (that would not be physically possible). One thing that has stuck in my mind has been that his recovery runs seem to be pretty slow. Incorporating this into my training I am going to make sure that there are no junk miles. It will either be speed work, or much slower recovery runs than in recent times to guarantee recovery.

The Plan…


To give the numbers below a context my half marathon PB pace is currently 3:39/km pace. Anything faster than that for 21.1km in Edinburgh will make me very happy.

MONDAY – Recovery

With Sunday being a key running day for me Monday takes on quite a flexible look. The primary focus is on recovery. I will allow myself to have a complete rest day if needed. I will include some mobility work to stay loose, but running will be very optional. A recovery run will be anything from 5-8k at 5min/km pace.

TUESDAY – Double Day

As part of my mission to crack the early morning running habit I will be up with the larks. 4 miles recovery will start the day at 6am, with 5min/km pace being the rough guide.

Tuesday evening it is for the first “performance” run of the week. This will include a variety of interval sessions done over 8 – 16km. The focus will be on “overspeed” training here with reps ranging from 400m to 1600m. I may even include a few 100m reps to really test the legs, having recently read some interesting information on how the efficiency of the muscle in producing energy can increase with sprint type training. Some ideas for the speeds I will be looking to run at are:

  • 400 reps – these reps will be close flat out for a really tough workout.
  • 800m reps – running at or below 3:20/km pace.
  • 1600m reps – all reps at below 3:40/km pace.

WEDNESDAY – Recovery

After a tough interval session later on the Tuesday recovery will be the focus. Distance will be determined by the length of the interval session the previous evening, running anything from 8-16km at recovery pace (5min/km).

THURSDAY – Double Day

Up with the larks again for an early morning recovery run. 5 – 6.4km distance at a nice easy pace (5min/km).

The second run of the day will be TEMPO – after a couple of K to warm up, followed by some drills and mobility work it will be time to test the legs. 8-10km of effort at what I hope will be better than 3:40/km pace. Then a nice easy cool down. 12 – 14km total distance.

FRIDAY – Recovery

6.4 – 10km of out and out recovery running (5min/km pace).  No more detail required.

SATURDAY – Rest/Recovery

It is time to listen to the legs. Cumulative fatigue has its place but the quality of Sunday’s run is important. Any running will be at recovery pace and will be 5-10km in total. Rest will be more than acceptable.

SUNDAY – Long Run

The format of the run is likely to vary a little bit with three main ideas in my head at this stage.

  1. 21.1km in under 90 minutes to develop race specific endurance at a moderate pace.
  2. 15-25km with 3 x 3-5km intervals. The number and distance of intervals will vary depending on the total distance. The speed for the intervals will be at 3:35/km pace to really start to develop race specific speed. Recovery intervals will be very slow with all of the effort focussed on developing fast intervals.
  3. Finally it will be back recovery running – only if the body is desperately in need with 16km as a rough target.

This is a 4 week plan with a one week taper before the race.  A maximum distance of around 90km in a week if I were to hit the maximum numbers, with about 20-30km at a “performance pace”.  The speed sessions will be tough but they will be the defining factor when it comes to running quickly in Edinburgh.  I am hoping that with nice easy recovery runs that it will be more than manageable.  It is worth pointing out that I am now in my 6th year of continuous marathon training.  Although the distance is manageable the speed work is difficult.  Building up more gradually if you are less experienced may be the way to go.

Please read our Disclaimer before following any exercise plans on this website.