First Half Marathon in 8 weeks

Hello all was wondering if I can get a bit of advice?

I've entered the St Albans half in June and was wondering if I could get any pointers on training and food. So background is - I started running last October after doing 0 exercise for about 12 years, culminating in a 10k race in March (56 mins).

I'm currently doing this:

Monday - rest

Tuesday - 4m - 35mins

Weds - 5k as fast as I can!

Thurs - 4m

Fri - 4m

Saterday - 9.5k

Sunday - 8m - 1:12 (done for the first time last week....first run over an hour long!)

Now I have a plan to up sunday to about 10 miles in a few weeks, then 12 miles a few weeks after that. Does this sound about right? All I really want to do in June is get round running at the pace I always seem to run at which points to about 2:15ish.

Also food, I haven't really experimented with what to eat before my long run though takeaway pizza seems to be good as was the huge amount of chicken-bacon-pasta that I ate before my longest run last saterday night. Any tips on what's good I can try out now and get used to?

Any advice appreciated, thanks



  • Porridge before your long run. It's the running food of the gods. I make mine with water and stick a big glob of honey in there, all the fuel you need for an LSR up to about 12 miles.

    You're already doing nearly 30 miles a week which seems a lot to me. I only got up to about 20 a week before my first (recent and only!) half.  If I was you I'd stick at least another rest day in there, possibly Saturday? Doing too much is a good way to hurt yourself.

    The pace you're doing for your long run is also quite fast considering your target time - consider taking it slower, you want to build up the endurance rather than speed on the long run.

  • Oh, and do some cross training too.

  • Thanks Nicky, well done on doing your first half. Porridge is nice and I do eat it with my daughters, I just can't imagine eating before running - all my runs are at 6am pretty much as soon as I get up. Will give it a go though and see what happens.

    And yes I might be doing a few too many miles, I just get itchy feet when I don't get out. As for the pace, I agree after reading alot of posts with advice on here I should be going slower, just seems to be my natural pace as I'm always +/- 1 min on my runs no matter how I 'feel' I'm running. Will try and chill out on saterday and sunday!

  • stu jstu j ✭✭✭


    there are some good schedules that you could look to maybe join along with on this site:

    Sounds like your miles are up from what they suggest, but as Nicky pointed out above, you could always look to swap one of your run days for a rest / cross trainer day.

    Good luck with your race, I'm hoping to complete a HM come september time - though quite a lot of training for me before then!

  • Hi Stu, that training schedule was kind of what I was baseing it on, but adapting it a little  to how I feel if you see what I mean.  I'd actually really like to do some kind of cross training for variety if nothing else. I've got an exercise bike, not sure if it's really different enough though! Thanks for the encouragement...feels a bit daunting doesn't it?

  • You don't really *need* to eat anything before a "long" slow run of up to 12 miles really, I don't for runs up to 15/16 miles (though I'll load up a little more the night before but only as I'll do some faster miles as part of it and its an excuse to eat).  I'd imagine not eating before running will help your body burn fat more efficiently and even the thinnest athletes enough fat to run miles beyond anything you can do in training (as long as you run slowly)!

    If you can run 4 miles in 35 minutes in training each week, and 5K even faster with a recent 10K in 56 min, you should be on for *much* nearer 2 hours than 2:15 just work on your long slow runs for endurance which is the key to a decent HM time I found (I improved by 20 minutes from 2:06 to 1:46 by ditching the faster stuff and doing more miles slowly over 3 months).  I'm not sure running 5K "as fast as you can" each week is particularly helpful for HM training and may even be counter productive, I'm not even doing that at the moment as I train for a 5K.

  • If you're going out at 6am, I wouldn't eat beforehand as you want to have finished eating a good hour (at least) before you run.

    Personally I think doing anything other than snoring at 6am is a bad idea!

  • Deave, thanks for the advice. I agree I doubt running a 5k once a week all out does much but it's a bit different than the plodding around and breaks up the routine a bit. Did it yesterday morning and got to about 3.5km before I had to slow down to normal pace, really amazes me how people can keep up the speed ove long distances!  As for aiming for 2 hours, well we'll see. I'm going to make an effort to try and slow it down but do a few extra miles tomorrow and see how it feels.


    And Nicky, even if I wasn't out running the kids would have me up by half past!

  • If you want to break it up a bit, you could try some intervals like 5x1Km or 1.2K with breaks (couple of minutes?) in between at a walk or slow jog rather than racing 5K every week - you'll get a similar amount of training at higher speeds, but will recover much quicker enabling you to train better the rest of the week.

  • Might just try that daeve image

  • Went out yesterday for my weekly 8 miler - 75 mins. Felt pretty tired after the massive hill at about mile 3....but made it all the way up without stopping image . Sweating buckets by the end though as I forgot it was warm enough for just t-shirt. So same, if not a few mins slower than last week...and I was trying to slow down a bit more. Good news is that there were absolutly no niggly pains anywhere.

    I think I'm going to knock the 10k on a saterday on the head and just do an easy 5k so I can get a really good (slow) long 10m run in on sunday. After I get used to that it's only a smallish step up to the half marathon distance isn't it?

  • That's quite a lot of miles for a half.i run 3 times mon wed fri for halfs
  • jeremy lucas 2 wrote (see)
    That's quite a lot of miles for a half.i run 3 times mon wed fri for halfs

    Yeh I'm starting to understand that. This week I've been mixing it up so that it looks like:

    Mon - nothing

    Tue - 4m (am)

    Wed - 10k (pm)

    Thur - nothing

    Friday - 4m (am)

    Saterday - 8m+ (am)

    Sunday - easy 5k (pm)

    So far the runs have felt alot better with the fresher legs. Going to try 10 miles tomorrow as I really want to get used to running nearer 13 miles before actually trying to do it on the day.


  • Hi guys, the half is now next week. I've been doing weekly 10.5 mile runs every saterday for a good few weeks now so for my last lsr tomorrow do you think it's worth doing an extra bit and getting up to 12 miles?

    I think the half is going to be ok, just going to plod round it I think and stick to aiming for 2:15.

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    The going over 10.5 won't actually physically make any difference as it's only a week away, but it's more i guess it will help you mentally to know that you can do it but realistically it's less than 5k extra and you do 10.5 miles each week you know you can just stick 5k on top of that.... So you aren't going to make yourself any fitter for the half, and might make yourself a bit more tired... but if you want the psychological cusion of knowing you can go further then I guess go for it.  But only if you know you can recover and not be tired? If there is the slightest chance of that then it seems a bit daft to be to knackered on the day because you've overtrained.


  • would be for the psychological benefit only. I think i'd recover ok, not going to alot of running next week anyhow. Only 5k more....thinking of it like that it doesn't sound too bad at all!

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    If you want more boost it's actualy only another 4.3km on top if you are doing a full 10.5m (16.8km) image

    That's how I did my first marathon when I hit new territory I told myself it's only 10k to go... after all that training of course I can stagger around 10k.  So the same applies for you.  You know the training you've put in, and so another 4.3km is a breeze image

    Do it if you want but don't get hung up about it.  Just relax and know you've put the hard work in, and you just have the fun ahead of passing the finishing line in just over a week.

  • booktrunk - I like you, you say good things! 4.3km pah! I think I'll leave it and when I see that 11 mile marker next week laugh out loud in regards to the distance remaining....

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭


  • My longest lsr before my first half this year was 10 miles and I only did two of them thanks to a cold disrupting my build up, so you've probably done enough miles really.

    I would cut back your lsr this week to give yourself a rest leading up to the big day.


    Enjoy it!

  • Thanks Nicky, gonna run my usual 10 miles but then only little bits for the rest of the week. Will try and enjoy it!

  • You`ll be fine by the sounds of it.

    The first 2 I did were absolutely murderous for the last 4 miles but both were on warm days and I`d not run more than 10 miles in training.

    My tip would be not to drink too much. Make sure you are well fed and hydrated the day before. Have a drink in the morning but don`t drink much in the hour before running.

  • Egyptian Toe....Won't drink too much as I don't usually before a run anyway so it would seem odd. If it's hot I might have a few gulps of water 3/4 through it. Quite like running in hot weather though for some reason image

  • Well I did it, thanks all for the advice! 2:03:20 which I am hugely proud of! Turns out that doing a fair few 10 milers was easily enough, I got to 11 miles and felt fine, though obviously a little tired by then so though I'd pick up the pace which I did until the end. Kept thinking I was going to suddenly get super knackered but it didn't happen....must've been the pizza I ate saterday night!

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    Well done CP31 image

  • Well done, glad it went off okay!

    Now you've done that one and felt good you know you can go faster next time!

  • thanks both. Yep, got another in October on a completely flat course so hopefully I can crack that 2 hour mark.

  • My second half is in October too - Birmingham. Not sure how flat that is but hoping for a 1:50

  • Good for you Nicky, you going to change/up your training at all? I'm thinking I'm just going to carry on as I do now and let an extra few months of work naturally speed me up.

  • I have a friend who has done a leader in running fitness course and he's put a program together for me - I'm his guinea pig - it's building up gently and has more structure with bits of interval training, hill work and the like. Long runs are only up to 8 miles so far but I must say I'm finding them very much easier than I did back in February when I first got up to that sort of distance. Weekly mileage was about 17 last week. I'm not sure what my friend will recommend I get up to eventually as I've only got the next 3 weeks of the program at the moment!

    I am also targetting a 22 minute 5k this year (current PB is 24:56 which was about 5 weeks ago, I reckon I could knock a minute off that now)

    My knees are my limiting factor which is why the mileage is going up very very slowly this time. I really rushed increasing the miles last time and had a lot of pain some weeks.

    I do feel a lot stronger now than I was when I did my first half. With another 4 months to go, and taking it steady, I should be feeling like Superman by the time it rolls around!

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