Ask the Experts: Half-Marathon Q+A with coach Bud Baldaro



  • Hi Bud,

    My current pb is 1 24 08 obtained last Feb when I was training for a marathon.

    Course was flat.

    I have another flat half in mid Sep and am hoping to break my PB.

    Have another hilly half in October and finally an extremely hilly half in November.

    My current training includes 8 miles fairly hilly tempo at 6 25 pace, 8 miles steady at 6 40 pace; 10 miles steady at 6 40; a speed session at the club, usually VO 2 max and a long run of 18 miles at 7 30 pace. I also do a weights session in gym. Is this training regime sufficient to ensure I break my PB?


  • Hi Bud, I'm doing the Birmingham half marathon in October and am sticking to a training plan which includes tempo runs and speed work. I'm gradually decreasing my minute miles through the tempo runs (to about 7:50 min miles), but I really struggle with speed work.

    My questions are: what is the difference between speed work? Can I substitute speed work for a tempo run?

    Many thanks.


  • Hi Bud

    I am running in a HM early November, and aiming to go sub 1 hr 42 mins, which was my time last year for the same race.  It is a hilly course, with temps in the mid 20s (Hong Kong).  

    I just completed my first 10K race of the season with a disappointing 52 mins, though it was a very tough course, 80% humidity at 30 degrees.  I found I needed quite a lot of 'rests'.

    Do you reckon long tempo runs would better my endurance?  At what pace and for how long would you recommend?  And should be these be done on a flat route? I essentially run 5x/week, including a long run, speed session, mini hill session, plus one medium run of 1 hour, and one recovery run.  


  • Hi there,

    My questions are pretty broad but I'll try and include as much info as possible...

    I've made a late entry into the Birmingham Half-marathon on 21st Oct. I've never raced before but I'm a regular runner and I run every other day. I only entered to raise money for Care of Police Survivors given the incident in Manchester last week, but I also want to take the opportunity to give it a real good effort and get a great time.

    My runs vary between 7m - 13m. My times fluctuate from around 8:30 - 9:00mpm. I'm slim/fit but I am a 15-20 a day smoker and just eat whatever I want. I also probably don't hydrate properly - I tend not to drink a few hours before a run as I find I need a toilet stop if I do! I wear cheap £25 trainers which I've had for 2 years with no issues - I've been told to get specialist ones (Asics?) but should I really switch at less than 4 weeks out?

    I don't know what foods to eat, when to eat them, when the best times are to train, or even how to train. I've always just run for fun. Although I am confident running, I feel like I know nothing about it, and don't have a clue how to improve my performance/time. How many days should I be resting between my last half-marathon and the actual race day? What should I eat/drink that morning?

    Desperate for some good advice on how I should prepare and what I should be doing for the next 4 weeks....


  • Oh right sorry - first day, forgive my ignorance.


  • i got a pb of 1 47 for half marathon, do you think it is possible to get sub 1 40 by february

  • Hi,

    I am doing a 'dirt' half marathon which is basically up hill for the first half and down hill the second half. This is my first half for nearly 25 years.

    I have run about 1hr50 for 13.1 whilst running a 15 mile steady run across much hillier ground than the event is over. On this basis I am going to set out to run at 1h50 pace for the first half of the dirt half marathon and something like 1hr35 for the second half.

    This is on the 17th November. I am then probably doing the London marathon. My first marathon. There are many training programs on runners world and I am not quite certain what pace marathon to aim for. They are mainly 16 week programs which therefore starts about first week of Jan 2013. My running is still improving from when I started 13 weeks ago so I am uncertain whether to embark on a more ambitious program based on what I think I will run on the day in 5/6 months time from now, or whether I should base it on the dirt half marathon time (albeit off road and probably more hilly), so that's one problem.

    The other problem is that after the November 17th half marathon, I have 6 weeks 'to kill' between that and the start of the 16 week London marathon program. What do do with this time? I don't want to 'sit still' and want to push on so that I go fast in the marathon. I did think of trying to do another half around Christmas/New year but there isn't one on - and I can't find a six week program. Problem 2. Any ideas greatfully received!

  • Hello I would like advice on dedicated 5km training:

    im following a programme that involves interval traning on one of the days, this week I ran 5 x 1/2 mile intervals with 3mins recovery imbetween as stated on the plan.  On average each one took 3mins, now if i was aiming for a 5k time of 18 minutes surely this would mean that my times aren't in that ball park currently?  i would assume that if im running 1/2 mile intervals with recovery that my time should be far less than 3minutes?

    It is only week 2 of a 12 week 5km programme so I'm not too ashamed but lets say by week 6/7/8 surely i should be looking at running training 1/2 mile intervals in 2min45secs?

    The 12 week plan is great but there are no target times so it is hard to know whether i am meeting, exceeding or being under performing?  I have experience in running so have a fair idea.

    Appreciate your time in reviewing this,


  • Hi



    I have just started training for a half marathon and was looking for guidance on a good target to set myself. I am a fairly fit 19 year old with a little experience running shorter distances, and any expert advice you could give me as a novice would be brilliant


    I know that sub 2 hours is an ambitious target for a first half marathon but my easy pace is around 8:40 and my medium pace is around 8:00. This is the pace I feel comfortable running at. Would it be sensible to maintain this pace and slowly up the mileage, or slow the pace down first?


    I have started training before but it was ruined by s broken arm two weeks in. Before Friday I hadn't run since last summer. I did a moderate intensity 5k run, where I upped the pace to 7:15 for the last mile and felt strong. Today I did a 7k run in 35:40 and ran the last mile in 7:34.


    Am I going the right way about my training early on? I feel like I have to be exhausted when I stop my run so I always up the pace in my last mile. Should I be focusing more on slowing the pace down? Or should I continue upping the mileage at the same pace?" I ask because I anticipate that I'll hit a wall at some point where I won't be able to maintain this pace. It's concerning me slightly because an "easy/slightly moderate "pace would project to a finishing time of 1:45-1:50 which seems absurd and out of reach.


    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated at this early stage




  • Yes, Tom, you should probably make sure you don't always race the 5k, ie don't always speed up otherwise it will hurt your half mara time at the end.

    You sound like you are well on track time wise for a 1:50 half, as your miles per minute is at a great pace! And gosh you're so young. Long distance is supposed to peak around age 27!

  • I presume they are in minute miles not minute kilometres?!?

  • Oops, sorry, I'm not an expert at all. But have done lots! image

  • Hi I've just completed my first half marathon on 3rd march I did a beginners app which worked well. I'm doing a second half marathon on 12 may and want to add onto the training I've done without starting again with the small miles. I would like to improve on my 2.18 time, what is the best training plan to follow. I ran the race on a negative split 12 min miles to 6 then near 9 min miles after but know I could have run faster earlier if the race wasn't so busy to start with. Any help greatly received. I'm also doing a marathon in oct so building up miles over 13 will be happening soon.
  • I Ran my first Half Marathon on Sunday 17/03/2013, it felt really good, I now want to do more of them, but I want to run faster, what is the best training programme to follow to increase my speed, a few details, I am 53 and my time was 1 hr 54 min and 36 sec for the half marathon

  • I am going to attempt the GNR next September and I was thinking of doing the classic 12 week training programme. It does say the programme is for ppl who can already do the 1/2 marathon in around 2 hours and want to improve their time. However the programme consists of many 3 and 4 mile weekday runs and long runs at the weekend, but these long runs are at the longest 7 miles and to be done at an "easy"/""slow" pace.

    I am not sure how this programme is going to help improve ppl's time - hopefully someone can explain.

    Also there is a marathon but I notice the trainee never has to run more than 20 miles at one time in the entire programme.

    Maybe it is never necessary to run the entire length of the run when training, just to do short runs often (and interval training).??

    Please advise. Thank you.



  • my advice is go on runnersworld smart coach i find the training plans very sutiable after entering my details

  • so it seem when taining for a race it is not necessary to run the full length of the race (the smart coach longest run is 7 miles for the half marathon) and to do many short runs (2 or 3 miles)  thank you for the reply

  • gareth how many weeks did you put down & how many miles a week did you put that you run. I put 12 weeks & 30-50 miles. My shortest runs are 6 miles which were done in the first week. My average runs are 8-11 miles. Rest on mondays. Training for hm. I am in my 4th week i ran hm yesterday in 1hr 28min very happy with that. 6 miles today at a slow pace.

  • Hi Bud,

    I am new to running being predominantly a skier! I ski about 5 days per week for about 5 - 6 months per year - great for strength but not enough cardio-pulmonary excercise, hence the running. Have signed up for an HM in October in Lyon, which is virtually sea level.  I am following the Couch to Half Marathon programme. Should I alter this programme at all to take into account the fact that most of my training is done at fairly high altitude 1850m or more? (I am well acclimatised but my lungs are struggling on the hills even for fairly short distances).

    Second question: What is the best iphone app for this programme - there are so many I am confused! I am looking for something that I can program for iterval training so that it will tell me when to run and when to walk (i.e this week I need to run for 1/4 mile then walk for 1/4 mile and so on for 3 miles) without having to keep looking at my phone to see the distance I have travelled ( there seem to be lots of aps for 'time' based intervals but I am looking for distance.

    thanks in advance any advice gratefully received!



  • Hi - I have started training for my first marathon in Athens in November. I currently run aprox 42k per week and have a plan to increase it over the next few months. it includes a speedwork session and hill reps plus a long run and moderate runs. The problem I have is that I am a fitness instructor and the training is exhausting my legs. I teach x5 cardio sessions per week and x4 yoga classes. Should my training plan be adjusted to allow for this? Also what time should i expect to achieve? i run a half marathon in 1hr 45 mins and 10k's in 45-50 minutes.

    I would really appreciate your advice. Thank you.


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