Half marathon race day pace!

Hi all

Im totally new to running, in fact I used to hate it with a passion being a cyclist instead.  So I decide to do a half marathon to see what it was all about, well in 3 weeks I will be.  Ive been training for a few months and really enjoying it but need some advice.

Im looking to run it in under 2 hours but Ive no idea if I can acheive this and how to pace myself.  Currently Ive run 13.1 miles as part of my traning last week and did it in 2 hour 7 mins.  The first hour I ran at 6.7 mph but then the last hour my knees were really painful and my speed dropped.  I can run 45mins at 7mph.  Any advice/thought on if under 2 hours is achicveable on race day and how to go about doing it - both training wise in these last few weeks and how to pace myself race day eg. run fast 1st then slow or what?  Also should I buy a joggging watch?  At the mo I carry my cycling gps with me....

Lastly on race day itself how should I hydrate and energise myself....Should I carry a bottle or will drinks be provided and how much water/gels should I consume?

Sorry if these are standard boring begineers questions!  Any help appriacted.



  • It depends on how much training you've done on long runs. 6.7 mph is 9min/mile which is good. Race day adrenalin will make the first section easier for you but watch you don't go out too quickly.

    Race day don't do anything different to what you've been doing in training.

    Have you been following a plan?
  • thanks for reply.

    ok glad 6.7 is good.  im just worried as after an hour my pace slows and the knee pain worries me.  the plan i followed is this http://www.runbristol.com/App_Files/Downloads/BEGINNERS_WEB_HALF%20MARATHON.pdf but live I say Ive done 13.1miles already and ive probably done more than the plan says generally.

    so race day you dont think its best to blitx the 1st hour really fast given that in my second hour in training I slowed alot? or would that be counter productive.

  • No. If you go too fast in the first half you will slow down even more in the second half. It's your first half marathon. The emphasis is getting round, the time is secondary. You know you can do 2:07 in training there is every chance you can do a sub 2:00.

    Your main difficulty is going to be maintaining the 9min/mile pace because you are fairly new to running and won't have built up the endurance. If you can stick to 9min/mile (or slightly faster) for the first hour that leaves you a few minutes to slow in the second half.
  • ok great advice thanky you.  Im doing 1hour and 45 this sunday so shall try to do the first hour at 9min/mile or faster and see how the last bit goes!


  • That's generally not a good idea. The plan has runs with short sections of HM pace for a reason. The long runs should be done slowly which trains your endurance.

    At this stage I would stick to the plan. Trust your training and save yourself for race day. If you are careful and don't get too carried away at the start the worst you will do is 2:07. If you get to the last 3 miles and still have some in the tank you can speed up.
  • Given my 5 1/2s completed there is nothing worse than over cooking the 1st half of the race. It just spoils the run & makes it a big struggle to finish.

    I did notts 1/2 in 2010 (1st one) & got carried away for 7 or 8 miles & found I was running on empty at mile 10. Horrible feeling as you just want to pack in. I did complete by walk/jogging.

    Stick to a steady pace throughout whole race & just enjoy the feeling of completing it given its your first 1/2!




  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    As the others have said, its your first HM so the best advice is to take it easy and not get carried away at the start.  Its very easy to try and keep up with the faster runners at the start, but you will pay for this later.

    As its your first race, I wouldn't worry about buying a fancy running watch.  A basic stopwatch would be useful so that you can check if you are maintaining 9min/miles at each mile marker. If you enjoy the race and want to continue improving your running, then you could consider splashing out on a runnin watch as they are a great aid.

    For race day, make sure you are well hydrated for the few days before the event, e.g. maybe add an additional 1 litre of water to your daily consumption to make sure your pee is clear.  Then on race day, have a drink between 1 hour and 2 hours before (resist the temptation to have a drink in the last half hour before the race, as the inevitable urge to go means a long queue at the portaloos).  Assuming its a large(ish) event, then there will be drink stops along the route (check event info for confirmation) so you don't have to carry your own.  For a half marathon, you don't need to take additional energy drinks/gels, but if you have been using them in training its not going to hurt to have them with you.  If you haven't been using them in your training runs, I wouldn't take them in the race.

  • Ok great thanks guys all good advice. So would you say just aim for 9min miles or should I just jog at a pace that feels comfortable what ever that maybe?

    Water that's good to hear as I don't really want to carry a bottle or gels.

    How about this knee injury any ideas? I jogged to work and back today 5.5 miles each way and on the way back 10min I'm left knee was hurting and it got pretty bad. Just below then knee cap and to the left (outside) of leg. Hurts now going up and down stairs. Also to seems to be less painful when I run faster and on level ground. The path I run on is sloping slightly so not sure that helps.

  • I think you should be ok at 9mins/mile.

    The knee sounds a bit like ITBS. Loads of advice on here or google it. It's a type of overuse injury/lack of proper stretching/footwear. Did you get your gait analysed before you bought new shoes or are you running in old trainers?
  • I also have a knee niggle, physio (in my case) suggested itbs stretches amongst other excercises which I have to say do help. Also just run every other day to rest the knee. In terms of pace although 9 min mile sounds ok it depends on the course profile.

     I'm doing Maccelsfield half in a month which has some good hills. Based on this I'm leaving the gps watch at home and just going to (as best as possible)  enjoy & complete the run & not aim for any records!

    Best of luck with your first half, great feeling when you finish & well deserved cold beer when you recover!

  • Race day advice:

    If there are anticipated finish time markers or similar get into the right group and stick with it. If not then start right at the back. This is important and will not effect your finish time esp if it is chip timed. You want to finish strong so a few seconds or even a minute over the start line is going to hurt you a lot less than setting off to fast and blowing up half way through.

    Start slowly, build up to your race pace slowly, don't try to make up lost time. If you are using a stop watch or app on your mobile phone, just keep checking your pace making sure that you are not running too fast. This way you will have all the energy you need to finish strong. If you've kept something in reserve you should be able to pick up the pace in the last few miles. It will more than make up for anytime lost over the first half mile or mile.

    Good luck and have fun.

  • Agree with all of the above- find a group running at about your planned pace, start with them- not too far forward. Don't sprint away, esae into it. Print off a pace band for your target pace, (make sure whether you have mile or KM markers) , then, as long as you have a normal watch, and know what time the race started, you're fine. When it gets tough at 10 miles, keep going, you'll beat your training pace, becuase that's what race day does!


  • I can heartily recommend a cheap gps watch that gives realtime (or average over your split) pace (rather than a cycling computer that gives speed or working out from a normal watch), in the race you will no doubt go out much faster than than you should but also, more importantly, much faster than you realise you are running due to the excitement, adrenaline, nerves, and keeping up with the people around you.

    By knowing your pace at the time over a short distance you'll save more energy than waiting for a mile marker at the side of the road and realising you were 1 and a half minutes per mile too quick - that's energy wasted you can't get back. I did it in Last years GNR, ran a 7 min start mile followed by two 8's and probably ran lots of extra distance weaving in and out overtaking for no reason, way up on my 9:15/mile plan and I paid for it in the last 3 miles and ended up walking bits and nearly collapsing at the finish.

    Some runners know their pace innately, but I've no idea if I'm running 7 min miles or 9:30s ones until a few miles in when I'm more tired and it's too late.
  • great thank you all for the advice, very very useful!

    The knee I went for a 1.45min run on sunday and didnt have any problems!  I stretched for much longer like you suggest and although it twinged once or twice I was never in pain. I also changed route so the path was more level. Pace wise i average 6.4mph.  I took it slow but still felt like I had plenty in the tank - I ran 7.2mph for the last 10 mins.  So the advice of start slow end strong seems to be the best best to hit my under 2 hour target!

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