1/2 marathon strategy

I'm doing the Bedford half next Sun & have been thinking about running the race involving a fartlek strategy. Basicly the idea is I run the first quarter mile or as near as faster than race pace (30 to 40 secs faster) then resume a more comfortable pace. I would try to avoid the speed quarter mile on any substantial inclines.

I have done an 11 miler today adopting this & had it been race day I would have knocked at least 2 mins off my p.b.

Seems to work for me but wondered if anyone else runs this way? Any advice greatly appreciated!




  • Physiologically, drastically lowering or upping your speed causes your body to use more energy than carrying on at a stable pace. So theoretically any unnecessary change of pace is going to constitute wasted energy compared to running a flat time - and this is vindicated by elite athletes who tend to all run very even splits over all distances.

    With that said, the fact that you would've destroyed your PB is an interesting one (could be down to other factors - how old is your current PB?), and if it's worked in practice & you feel confident with it, then why not? it might give you the psychological boost too, knowing that it's worked in training. Run your own race, and you'll do well image good luck for Bedford!
  • Be interesting to see how it goes.
  • sounds an odd one, most races I have to get through the pack of people first, tend to run slower mile by 15-45 seconds then get to my preferred pace.. usually even splits for a half marathon +-15-20 seconds with inclines maybe.

    but if it works for you... try it. generally speaking most coaches recommend a negative split (faster second half) since it feels less painful than a (crazy?) positive split.

    RE: the even splits for elite runners, usually true, but I think gabreslasie was quoted as saying one tactic for marathon was slightly off marathon pace upto 20 miles, then go to 10k speed for the last 6.2m... bonkers!

    Maybe he was joking!

  • Thanks for responses!  Thought it might be a bit of a no no!

    My pb was set a year ago & I was also injured for 3/4 months earlier this year although I feel fully fit again.. I will let you know how I get on. Also new to Bedford half so running a bit in the dark in terms of ascents / decents so will play it by ear on the day!



  • If you can find out about the course, leave a bit of time for any hills or inclines, catch it up on the down.
    It may not be a PB type course also.

    Other point, its tempting to go out fast but more likely to get injured earlier or have to slow by time you saved anyway maybe more.

    Go out slower and increase pace gradually, with a bit of wiggle room for inclines... I always try and leave enough so my last mile or two are my fastest, and finish with a sprint to the line.

    Did this 4 weeks ago and knocked 4 mins off PB... Last full mile was joint fastest with 3rd or 4th, and finished the last bit with fastest pace of the entire race.
  • Thanks for that fit running cat. I know only too well what happens when you set off too fast!!! I'm a bit like you. First mile fairly steady & increase pace thereafter to desired 1/2 m pace. Also taking it easy on the hills. I will be aiming to do the 1/4 mile "faster" bits on flat or downhill sections. Obviously not knowing the course they may be followed by hills but thats the gamble I'm taking.

    I'll let you know how I get on, hopefully wont be snowing next Sun!!



  • Pete

    Last 4/5 miles pretty good terrain wise - once you go downhill out of Cranfield there is one short hill and then the hill at the finish, the rest is flat.

    Steady on the first half - wind it up at the end would be my advice..

  • Simon,

    Many thanks for that. Good to get a bit of advice on terrain. I will try to not get carried away & stick to your advice! 

  • Well that was a tough one. Didn't really get chance to try my " 1/2 m strategy " Too much traffic (people) & hillier than I expected. No p.b this time. 

    Can anyone suggest good potential 1/2 m p.b courses as I'm determined to beat mine!!

  • What about the White Horse Half on April 1st in Grove, Oxfordshire?  Flat as a pancake and billed as one of the best  image  I'm doing it......it'll be my first HM   image
  • Thanks for that Pretty polly! May well enter but need to be careful as doing Greater Manchester marathon end of April. image



    PS: If its your first 1/2 dont make the same mistake as I made at my debut 1/2 in Nottingham last year, set off way too fast & hit the wall about mile 9, limped home in approx 2:07:00. Best of luck for your first 1/2. Ive run 4 in the last 15 months so they are addictive!!!!image

  • Manchester is when, april 29th? Definitely too close doing a half before that. 6 weeks at a push maybe ?

    Cant vouch for flat, surely marathon is your main aim by march/ April anyway.

    Liverpool half is 18th march.. Silverstone one will be similar date at a guess. Where is best area for you?

    Perhaps pick something feb as a training run, there are a few 20 milers I noticed... One around valentines day I think... Will try find it for you.

    I PB-ed my half marathon after the full one - with all the benefit of the long run training fitness & heart rate wise. Zero injuries too image
  • Hi fit running cat,

    Thanks for advice. Live in East mids & already signed up for "ashby 20" end of Feb. Guess that rules out Silverstone & Liverpool would mean a mini break.

    Given that I am a novice when it comes to full marathons I am probobably under estimating effort required! I did a 16 mile xc (Seagrave challenge) recently & got on really well so perhaps lulled in to false sense of security.

    Back to drawing board but still want to beat 1/2 m p.bimage

  • If you can do 20 miles you'll be fine, run/ walking a bit.

    but you need to put the training in, get a good few long ones in and know how long you're going to be on your feet.

    What was your half PB time again? 

  • 1/2 p.b was at Worksop Oct 2010 - 1:53:43.

    I've been close early this year at Sleaford by a couple of mins but then spent 5 odd months injured. Ran yesterdays 1/2 in 1:58:11 but it seemed quite a tough course. Guess I'm still building up my fitness levels again.

    I enjoy the long slower training runs so perhaps marathons will be my thing. Maybe I will do as you did, go for another 1/2 after my marathon & see how I get on - ps signed up to Greater Manchester Marathon today at great expense!!  image

    Thanks again for advice!

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