Posted by: Jess | 2008/10/16

Better my 1/2 marathon time

Hi Ross,

I' m training towards improving my half marathon time. I' d like to do it in 2 hours, sub-2 would be great. My most recent time (Sept) was 2:20. How does one train sensibly to improve your times? I run 12k' s on Tuesdays, 12k' s on Thursday (trail run), 15k' s on Saturday and 20k' s on Sundays. Of late I' ve been feelinng rather tired so decided to take the runs easier and not push so hard to improve my times. I' m starting to feel much better.

I have noticed that after 15k' s fatigue sets in and the next 5k' s are a struggle plus my pace drops significantly. How should I be fueling my body during the week and during the race? Daily mealplan: breakfast = 1 slice toast with scrambled egg, fruit sald and yoghurt, coffee. mid-morning = powerade  lunch = green salad, couscous salad, beetroot and grilled chicken. snack = bran muffin and jam  before run at 6pm = 1xbanana  after run supper = small bowl of pasta or 2xtoast with avo. I use McNabs 5 tablet multivitamin every second day and drink lots of water.
Could you offer some suggestions to improve my time and energy levels during my long runs? Also wanting to lose some weight...height 1.5m weight 59kg.

Much appreciated,

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Our expert says:
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HI Jess/Carmen

I don't think that your problem is related to your diet in the week leading up to your long runs. Rather, it might have something to do with what you eat or drink either immediately before or during the run. But more on that later.

First, with regards to the training, I think you might consider making some changes to this programme, to do the following:

Keep your long run of about 20km on the weekends, but look at reducing this to between 16 and 18km for maybe the next couple of weeks. There's no need to be running the full race distance every week in training, especially when it's so difficult over the last 5km. There'll be plenty of time to get the long run up to 20km, but bring it down for a month or so, to 16, 17km.

Then, what I would try to do is to shorten the Tuesday run substantially, to beteen 5 and 8km, and rather run it faster. If you're going to knock 20 minutes off your time, you don't need to run further, you need to run faster. And so the pace you should be running has to increase. Therefore, my advice is that you should make the Tuesday run a 5km one, and try to run it a bit faster. If your normal effort level is 7 out of 10, this should be 8 or even 9 out of 10. Not flat out, but faster. You'll benefit from this kind of training because you'll find that your easy runs on Thursdays and Saturdays start to feel much easier, once you've learned how to run faster.

Then, finally, in terms of the long run, it might be that you're running out of energy after 15km. It could also just be that you're fatigued, because that's probably a good 2 hours into the run and it's not unusual to be tired at that stage. However, you might consider figuring out a way to get some energy during the run - perhaps you can run with some jelly babies, or plan the route so that after about 80 minutes, you stop at a store and pick up a fruit juice to top up your reserves for the final 40 minutes. I think that's really all you need to do. In terms of your normal diet, it looks a little low in energy to me. You are eating what seem to be very small portions and that lack of energy might also contribute. I'd say seeing a dietician is the best thing you can do for that particular area.

Good luck

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