How fast could I run?

Hi, I'm a 42yo woman whose been running for 5 years having done no exercise for years before that. I currently train 3-4 times a week, a long run of around 2 hours, a club speed session, a threshold run and sometimes another steady hour. I eat reasonably well, but don't pay particular attention to my diet from a running perspective. My BMI is at the too end of normal. I also do two core sessions and a yoga class each week, plus 2 spin classes. My 10k pb is 48min, although currently running closer to 50min, half is 1:54. So, if I pay more attention to training specifically for running, get more consistent about the 4th run and maybe a 5th, lose a bit if weight, what might I be capable of? Is 45min for 10k and 1:45 for a half possible do you think?


  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Usual answer.

    I don't know. I'm not you.

  • quick answer, yes.

    you'd need to give a bit more details about the specifics of those runs....

  • I'm 42 female, running similar duration to you, but do much less than you on a weekly basis, and my most recent PBs are 46.58 for 10k and 1:46 for half, so at the rate you're going, you could probably do it! Good luck image

  • Thank you, I guess I was just after an idea of whether that amount of improvement might be possible or a ridiculous target.


    Sticky88, I suspect that means you have far more natural talent than me!


    Stevie, what else do you want to know? The reps sessions vary with long and short hill reps and long and short flat reps, sometimes farlek. About 60 mins per session including a good warm up and some stretching to finish.

    Threshold run is an hour - about 7 miles

    Long run will be very slow, off road 10-15 miles at 10:30 pace



  • Looks like a well balanced schedule. What pace do you run your intervals at? For your threshold run do you run the whole hour at an even pace, or do a warm up and cool down with a few miles at tempo pace?

    What were you doing different when you got your pbs?
  • Thanks Lou - the intervals aren't very scientific, basically as hard as I can with a reasonable chance of making it to the end of the session!

    Threshold run will generally have a warm up mile and then even pace at about 8:45 mm

    The HM PB was in March before an April marathon so my long runs were much longer and I was doing 4 runs every week, 5 some weeks (depending on exhaustion levels after the long runs). 10k, I was younger, but training much the same as now.


  • At 42 your performance shouldn't be dropping of that much due to age.  I think you probably just need to get a bit more scientific with your threshold paces.  Based on a 48min 10k time Mcmillian recommends 7:40-8:00mm for a tempo pace, but ~6 miles is probably too far for that initially, so perhaps run it at as a steady state threshold run at 8:00-8:20.  Whichever, you need to be running it faster to see much benefit.

    Other than that, as you say get more consistent with that 4th run and lose a bit of weight, if you have weight to lose, and I think you'll see improvement.

  • If you lose weight and up mileage, definitely.  A good tempo each week is key as well.  I went from a 1:57 HM to a 1:44 in less than 10 months by marathon training alone and long run and tempo was key.  Never did intervals.  I am a bit younger than you at nearly 38 but I know women in forties and fifties who keep getting faster.  If you want to get faster over HM, I would start with a 3 mile tempo at race pace (8m/m) as your tempo pace.  If you find that is too fast, drop the pace down slightly.  Then aim every other week to add more distance to the tempo until you can run it for an hour.

  • Freddy, thinking through your points, with the calculator out, I think you're actually not going too far wrong. You just need a few months training like this with slight tweaks and to target some fast races!

    You imply that the 48min 10k was a couple of years ago, and current 10k pb is near 50.

    Let's take 50.00 then, and that gives a 10k pace of 8:00-8.05

    From that, i'd roughly work out your zones as the below

    Easy                                                              9.30-10.00
    Steady                                                          8.50-9.25
    Marathon Pace                                             8.40-8.45
    Half Marathon Pace                                       8.20-8.25
    True Tempo/Threshold/10mile race pace      8.12-8.17     
    10k                                                                 8.00-8.05

    When you say Threshold at 8.45, it's actually top end MP. Threshold is generally the pace you can hold for 10miles within a race. As you can see it's a good 30secs a mile faster!
    6-7miles at MP is actually a good session, especially in base training, as it's never a doss, but not too demanding. However, when you've done a few in a row, you can increase the difficulty by throwing in some sections at HMP, perhaps 3-5min bursts alternating between the paces.

    The reps then are the unknown. Do you do these with a club? I ask, as they sound very simialr to when I trained with a club. Great fun and sociable with them, but with a 1 session fits all type set up, and no guidance on reps, recoveries and paces, not so good to improve with.

    You'd improve more if you did targetted sessions such as 10x400 with 90secs recoveries at 5k pace, 16x400 off 60secs at 10k pace etc.

    Short sharp hills tended to knacker me without giving me much benefit either....

    Just a few ideas. You have the basis of a good plan, although ideally I'd throw in extra easy paced running, but appreciate time might not allow!

  • Thank you all that's really helpful, although those paces sound scary it gives me something to aim for.

    Are the spin sessions helpful or detrimental to my running?I do them because I'm at the leisure centre for my kids swim club.I'm not supposed to leave the building so I can't run outside, it's either sit with coffee and chocolate, spin, treadmill or, some other gym session.

    I like to think the spin is a hard workout, good for stamina and burning calories without the stresses that running can cause?

    My BMI is 26, not over weight and lower than it's ever been since puberty hit, but to high to be a good runner?
  • Freddy - to be a better runner, it usually involves on doing more running!  (unfortunately!).  I would drop the spin and use the treadmill and do an easy paced hour run (if that is how long you have timewise?)  The spin session will help cardio wise but I always think it makes sense to run more if you want to gain more benefits (which you do).

  • I thought you might say that, but isn't cross trying supposed to be good?(clutches at straws). I can't run for an hour on a treadmill, 20 min is my max boredom threshold. I could do some reps, but using the treadmill feels like cheating.....
  • If it was me I'd keep the spinning if you enjoy it, but lose a little weight. I used to have a bmi of 27-ish, so a bit overweight, though not disastrously, and now it's been 21.5 for a couple of years. Hard to say how it affected my running because I used to run 3x  a week and was okay at it, but only started training in a more targeted way after losing a few stone. So I didn't lose weight to  help my running, but just found that despite being reasonably fit before, I suddenly had about 10x as much energy, and had to do something with it!

  • Yes there are circumstances where cross training is a good option. I've recently dropped my running mileage down as I was picking up too many injuries. Non weight bearing cardio sessions like spinning, rowing and swimming. These can compliment your running, but they won't make you a better runner (if you see what I mean)

    Having done this I get more out the running sessions.

    If you are ok to run more, then the treadmill is excellent for intervals and tempo runs. Withs degree or two of incline, you will struggle to match track reps
  • If you enjoy the spinning keep doing it.  It's good quality cross training without any additional stress on your running muscles.  If you were way short of a sensible weekly dose of running, and spinning three times a week, the answer would be different but IMO a couple of classes a week is a good compliment to the running.

    *Goes off the book Monday spin class*

  • Have you actually ran an organised 10k? The reason I ask is that I struggled to get below 49 minutes in training, then in my very first 10k race ran a 46:08.

    Additionally, RW's time estimator suggests someone capable of a 48 minute 10k should be aiming for a 1:45 HM, so I'd suggest both your targets are easily within your capabilities.

  • After all the great advice I got, I thought I'd give you an update.


    Hi Statt, sorry I didn't see your post before, yes I do lots of racing.


    I've lost half a stone (Rosemary Connolley's GI Jeans diet, if anyone's interested, surprisingly easy to stick to) which has brought by BMI to 20.5 (I was wrong before, it was 22, 26 was my body fat %.)


    I've introduced an extra run and made it a true threshold run. Have been building it up, but currently do 3m at 8:15 or 2 x 2m at 8:15. Sometimes take the kids with me on their bikes, when it will be more like fartlek with long intervals, as I have to run back to let the little one catch up.


    Still doing all the cross training


    Anyway Colchester half yesterday, I knocked nearly 1 and a half minutes off my PB!!! Am thrilled.

    BTW, Colchester is an excellent race, really well organised and friendly, excellent facilities (at Colchester Utd football ground)  loads of well marshalled parking, not too expensive, t-shirt and medal, plus lots of edible goodies and they have women's fit t-shirts, so I can actually wear it!


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