Half marathon - 95mins to 90 mins in 5 weeks

Hello all,

This is my first post so please go easy! 

I have always kept fit but am new to running a bit more seriously. On Sunday I completed the Maidenhead Half Marathon in 1 hour 32 mins 15 secs. It was my first race but I had trained hard 4 days a week for 11 weeks. 

I loved the experience of racing and am now going to sign up to the Peterborough half on October 13th. My question is, how can I give myself the best possible chance of breaking 90 mins?

I got my training program from the Asics website and it served me well but was pretty basic: a mix of very slow jog (circa 9:30/mi), tempo run (circa 7:20/mi) and long weekend run (7:45/mi to 8:30/mi).

So far I've done no intervals, hills or any of that good stuff.

I realise it's a tight schedule, but any advice on how to use my time over the next 4-5 weeks would be much appreciated. Again, I will have 4 days a week (possibly 5 for two of the weeks.)




  • Speed work . 

    On a running track if you can.  Or on the treadmill  Try doing a few really fast back to back miles

    with a couple of minutes break in between each one. Do that twice a week and

     I bet you'll have no problems doing 7 minute miles before too long.

    Well done on your Maidenhead half debut. That's a very good time.

  • what's with the thread title?

    I steamed in thinking 95mins to 85mins within 5 weeks!? That'd be insane.

    Instead your actual post is abut 92 mins to 90...so I'm a lil confused!?

  • 92 to 90 is probably achievable.

    95 to 85 is probably not in the timescale.
  • Its Taken me 5 months hard training to get down to 1:30 from 1:32:30 but it wasnt my first run either id dont a few half's before so it might be possible to get those 2 mins if you felt you had more left in the last race ?

  • Thanks for your responses. 

    Apologies for the confusing title! Was originally planning to ask for advice getting down to 85 mins but then realised that was probably highly unrealistic in the time-frame and forgot to rewrite the title....

    Looking to go from 92:15 to sub 90 in 4/5 weeks.

    In terms of the race, I felt really good on the day and conditions were perfect so I wonder whether it was a bit of a flattering time. I was shattered by the finish because I tried to push hard for the last couple of miles but the first 11 were pretty comfortable (while still being challenging). 

  • I suspect if you go out much harder at the start you will fell the strain much earlier in the race so could even be slower overall.You could try a few tempos ,one a week at around 6:30 to 6:40 pace or my preference would be race a parkrun every week to get the speed up.

  • Excellent - thanks Paul, Leslie. Will add one speed session in a week and hope for the best..


  • I don't know what the Maidenhead course is like but you might find some time just from Peterborough being flat and fast.  (That's why I'm doing it!)  Your best bet for running sub-1:30 is to run the required pace as evenly as possible all the way round, so at this stage I would vote for some tempo runs at that pace.  Maybe start off with 4 miles and build up to 6/7 (plus warm-up, cool-down) over 3 or 4 weeks. Take mile splits and try to run them as close to 6:50 - 6:55/m as possible. If you can hold that pace for 6+ miles in the middle of training without flagging too much there's a good chance you can do it for the race. Plus you'll get used to what the pace feels like, so hopefully avoid going off too quickly.

  • Phil, i'm told Maidenhead is pretty flat indeed...so might not be any mileage from that angle, but the rest of what you say stands...

  • In fact it'll probably be blowing a gale and therefore slower.  image

  • Ok cool, thanks. Phil - so your suggestion is to scrap intervals for now and instead look to increase the pace on my tempo runs from circa 7:20 to circs 6:40, starting at around 4 miles? That keeps things simpler with such a short time to go, so I'll give it a go. 

    Re Maidenhead, yes -- very flat and fast I would say. 

  • Yes, if you're only doing one faster session each week, then adding one might be a bit of a strain, so yes, I would work on getting your tempo run closer to race pace.  Or maybe alternate weekly, so a four mile tempo run, then do the same a couple of weeks later with an extra mile or two, with some longer intervals the week in between - e.g. Paulie suggests mile reps, you could do these (x5 maybe?) at about 10k pace (~6:30/m).  And make the tempo runs 6:50/m rather than 6:40/m; 10 seconds faster might not sound a lot but could be a tough ask if you're not used to doing faster tempo runs in training, plus you really want to practise nailing the correct race pace.

  • You will slow down though in the last 2 miles  so starting of a half at 6:50 will probally see you finish over 90 mins , I know too starting too fast will have the same effect, I started out at 6:45 and just managed to creep under with 7 secs to spare.image

  • Maidenhead official results just came out and I actually got 1.31 and 41 secs ( I gained 45 secs from the provisional ones) so getting closer already...

    Thanks again all.

  • Looking quite possible now then if you get a  good run on the day and conditions are right.

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