Training for sub 1.30 half marathon

I got a PB by nearly 4 minutes in a half marathon last weekend - 1.34.53. This was off the back of less than 3 months of only easy running after a fractured pelvis early May. I took training easy but built up to higher mileage slowly (about 40 per week in month before race). This result brings my HM time more in line with shorter distance results, although due to haing a baby and the fractures I've never been able to get a decent few months of training in.

I've been running on and off for nearly 4 years and feel like I can get a lot faster with the right training (HM on Sunday felt very easy until last 2 miles). So, 2 questions - a) what kind of quality work would people advise to improve my time, given that I've only done easy running til now? b) is a sub 1.30 a realistic goal for say, March/April next year?

Never done a 5k but other PBs are: 5 miles- 33.35 (Feb 2013) and 10k-42.55 (Feb 2011). These are the only road races I've done in the last 2.5 years!

Thanks in advance for any advice more experienced runners might have for me...



  • Run Mum - keep with the easy running....  The long and short of it is that 6+ months of consistent running should give you what you if you can stick at 40 miles a week for that period you will see further improvement..... and ultimatley will give you a good base to do speed work in the spring without getting injured. 

    if you get bored throw in a session of faster running every couple of weeks. Mix those sessions up - eg race a parkrun, or do a few mile reps as close to 6mm as possible etc, try some hill reps off road.  In short - do what you fancy. you could use a plan but they tend to introduce weekly speed sessions and are quite presciptive. Thats fine but maybe too stressful on your body if you easily break - best to keep it easy for a few months with the odd faster sessions to feel good rather than break yourself. 

    ( note - this is just a view - probably others disagree ) 

    Good luck...

  • I'd say that sub 1:30 is more than doable for you.  How about cutting your mileage back and incorporating a speed session per week, maybe focussing on longer intervals to build up some speed endurance over the winter? just make sure that you are doing them on grass / trail and have a decent warm up beforehand.

  • I'd say keep up your easy running for another month, then start to introduce weekly tempo runs. They'll make the difference  IMO.

  • StylishStylish ✭✭✭

    Hi guys, I'm coaching someone who is looking to do sub 1.30 in March 2014. Her best HM is 1.38.26 but that was done in 2011 and she's just done a marathon in 3.31. So as it stands we're probably looking to improve HM by about 5 mins too. Last 3 months we've done weekly interval training and it's improved her 5k, 10k and Marathon times by quite a bit. This will continue but I'm going to introduce HIIT to and also some long runs where you're increasing speed each mile.

  • Stylish - I'd be interested in knowing what intervals you recommend for HM training? I've always run by best HM (PB 1.34) in the middle of a marathon build up (marathon PB is 3.16) and never really properly focused on a HM. But I would also like to go under 1.30 and think it should be possible from my marathon time.

    I tend to focus on longer intervals when I am training for a marathon - anything from 800m up to 1 mile. What length intervals do you tend to use for HM training?
  • StylishStylish ✭✭✭

    Hi Freemers, great times you have there and sub 90mins is definitely in your range.

    We shall still be doing the longer intervals of 800m to 1m but we're going to introduce lots of 100m, 200m, 300m & 400m intervals at high intensity. Basically you run them flat out. You'll need a longer recovery period than usual but 3/4 of those after a 1m warm up and a couple of 1m tempo intervals should get you running faster. Be careful to avoid injury especially with cold weather around the corner. 12 x 400m intervals with 90 sec recoveries and a 1m warm up and 1m cool down is an excellent session too.

    it would be good to compare how the training goes.

  • Thanks Stylish - I'll incorporate some of the shorter sessions into my training and see what happens. It's more long term for me - I'm in VLM next year, aiming for sub 3.15 but then have a few HMs in the late summer/autumn to try for the sub 90. So I expect for the marathon programme I will tend to stick to longer intervals, but then add in shorter high intensity ones after that.
  • StylishStylish ✭✭✭

    No worries; there's no reason why you can't do a few now and again Even for the Mara training.

    As a matter of interest what will be your longest slow run in your sub 3-15 attempt and what pace will you be doing them.

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    Like Freemers (hello Freemers!) I'm desperate to go under 1:30 but just can't seem to manage it.  Is there not just a pill you can take...?  image

  • I know I'm obviously of the opposite sex here but I'm at 1:30 at the mo and it was my first half attemp too.

    im in the same opinion of KK here by just running consistent miles each week.

    my marathon P.b is 3:45

    embarrassing I know! image

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    And looking at your profile pic I'd say you're quite young. image

  • I'm a long way off sub 1:30 but will follow this thread as really want to shave some time off my HM time of 1:35, set in Feb this year. It's the only HM I've done (during marathon training) and I don't feel that I've made much improvement speed wise since then for this distance. Only marathon is 3:29. My BMI is already considered underweight so not sure that losing any weight would help me.

  • image Yes 24. So I know I've got plenty of time to improve the Mara.

  • I'm the same digits but the other way round! image

  • Runmum 30's peak marathon age so I can't see sub 1:30 being so hard ( that's only 6:52 m/m anyway)


  • Hi everyone image After reading all of this thread, I am positive all of you guys and girls can break 1.30, a few tweaks and you could all see positive results...

    Unfortunately easy running will not get you their though image Firstly you will all need to enter more half marathons, a lot can go wrong at this distance so confidence and being comfortable with running this distance is huge. It took me 4 attempts to get under 1.30.

    If sub 1.30 is your goal then consistent 25+ miles a week with at least one interval session/hill session and one long run session is a must image

    You all know you can do it, its the leap into the unknown which is the big step image


  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    I run around 50 miles a week when not marathon training. I've run 1:32 loads of times in the last 2 years and managed 1:31 last month. I really think a lot of it is in my head. It took me years break 3:30 for the marathon and once I did I carried on and got faster so I'm hoping it's the same with the HM.   Just need to sort the head. 

    Oh and runmum I've run both my marathon and HM pb this year and I am 44! image image I'm sure you'll do it much sooner. 

  • Whoops, I ran mine on less than 30 a week image

    Thats probably why I exploded in a pitiful fail at my marathon attempt

    I should break that half P.B on the 3rd. So I'm not too bothered for now.

  • Stylish - to answer your question on the long runs, I usually max at around 22 -23 miles, run at around 8.30 average pace. So it's more or less the same time on feet as a 3.15 marathon.

    And if we are confessing ages I'm 45 (and my marathon PB was set at 44 earlier this year....came in half a minute behind Minni to be precise image) definitely seems to be getting harder to improve but I think I have another year or two if I keep injury free.
  • Minni and Freemers, what do you put your PBs this year down to? Did you up the miles, more longer runs or more speedwork? Or was it just down to consistent, injury free training? It definitely gets harder to improve but not sure if that's entirely down to age. I think with anything you notice much steeper improvement in the first couple of years and then it gets harder!

  • Slowkoala - I didn't specifically do more miles or speedwork, but I definitely had the best block of training with no injuries. It helped me that I had done an autumn marathon in 2012, which I'd not done before, because it meant that after a short-ish period for recovery I could get back into it very quickly. And one good thing I found was getting the first 20 mile long run banked early (January) - so I managed I think 7 or 8 runs of at least 20 miles but didn't do them every week. So I managed to fit in a few cut back weeks which were really good.

    This isn't for everyone but I also did a 20 mile race at marathon pace, about 7 weeks before VLM. I also did a 21 mile race 4 weeks out, which I did as a progressive run - 9 miles @ 8.15-8.30, 6 mile @ 8.00 and 6 miles @ 7.20 pace. That was probably my best run of the whole schedule, and I felt like I was flying in that last section. It's a bit of a risk to do it only 4 weeks out but I recovered well enough.

    I'm good at getting the interval sessions done - I really enjoy them in a sadistic kinda way. The one session I tended to slack off a bit was the tempo running - I think that will be key for me if I am to sustain the pace for a sub 3.15 time.

    Mileage-wise, I peak at somewhere between 55 and 60 usually. So pretty high but not mega.
  • Thanks Freemers. I agree re getting the first 20 miler in early - I think it helps because you can do more of them and also they don't seem like such a huge deal. Which 20 mile race did you do before London? I did the Finchley 20 and felt this really helped - want to do it again next year but Reading HM is the previous week which some friends are doing and don't want to overdo the races! That progressive run you did sounds tough but obviously helped. Sounds like  you should be able to smash 1:30 for a HM with that marathon time. Good luck!

  • MinniMinni ✭✭✭

    Slowkaola - For me it’s a case of consistent and smart training over a few years.  I have been running for 14 years but have made massive improvements in the last 2-3. 

    Agree regarding the 20 milers and I’m always in a position to start them as soon as marathon training starts. Usually I do about 9 of 20 or more miles, a couple of which are duration runs.

    The type of 20 miler Freemers mentions is a great tester for the marathon.  If you can achieve something like that in training then it all looking good for the marathon.  And as for holding the pace Freemers, I seem to remember you [and me] running a 7:09 m/m at mile 24 of the marathon! image

    If only a sub 1:30 half could be nailed as easily.

  • Slowkoala - mine was the Wymondham 20 in Norfolk. I did a HM the week after that, which wasn't that successful and I agree about the need to choose races carefully!

    Minni - yes I still don't know where that 7.09 came from! image
  • I went the speed route to my sub 90 mins this year.

    My targets were sub 20 - 5km; sub 40 - 10k and sub 90 HM this year and I got them all in that order July, September & September.

    I was running 25-30m/wks through the summer and much of that at tempo and I also ran 10 or 12 consecutive parkruns flat out. Longest run was in the 10-12m range.

    At the sharp end, I trained for the Marathon Talk Magic mile (30th Aug) and was running 200 metre reps where the pace occasionally began with a 4:xx but usually 5:xx min/m. My mile time (proper track) was 5:43. 

    I've been back into running since July 2010 and none of you should worry about age yet as I am now 64, and still improving. 

  • Minni, 7:09 pace in mile 24 is just mad! What's a 'duration' run - is this like Freemer's progressive one where you keep upping the pace?

    Mike, well done on achieving all your goals this year and good to hear that you are atill getting PBs at 64! Interesting that you put much of your improvement down to lots of parkruns. I'd like to do one regularly but my nearest one is a 40 min drive. We have a timed mile at my club every few months, in a park though rather than a track. I just want a time which starts with a 5 as my fastest is a few seconds over 6 mins image

Sign In or Register to comment.