Using a half for pacing strategy

Have been considering this for a while now. If you're running a half in the next couple of weeks in your FLM build-up, what would your race strategy be?

Is it better to go at your hoped-for Marathon pace and judge by your condition at the end as to whether it is realistic/optimistic/pessimistic?

OR go full on for the half-marathon PB, and then assess your potential marathon pace using the various pace-judging charts around and/or the Horwill +16secs per mile strategy?

I'm undecided as I have also read it could take too much out of you to do a full half-marathon pB attempt this close to the marathon particularly considering that you may have v.long steadies planned for the weeks before and after the half.

opinions welcomed...


  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    I am wondering exactly the same thing, Chaos. I have half on 20th March but 20 milers on the Sundays either side. Can't decide whether to go for it in the half and risk a) completely knackering myself out and b) exacerbating an ongoing calf niggle, or playing it safe and running at intended marathon pace which I know I can easily manage for a half.

    Perhaps the best option would be to take a middle line approach - faster than marathon race pace but slower than half marathon PB attempt pace? Not quite sure what the purpose of that would be though!
  • Someone who used to come on here (top 25 uk marathon runner in 2003 with a sub 2:25 time) was of the oppinion that it was positively worth chasing PBs in the run up to your main marathon attempt, with the logic being that your training was so hard in this period you were likely to be in the best form of the year. By having more than one target race you weren't putting all your eggs in one basket, so if thing's didn't go right on the day, there was still every chance of having had one good run out the the campaign.

    I like this idea.
  • No expert myself, but have been following the RW personal training plan, and despite my reservations I have been advised to go flat out in the Silverstone half this Sunday.

    He thinks that would be of more benefit that another long slow run, so giving an indicator of target for the FLM. This is despite my longest run being only 17 miles so far, and it means I will only have two more long runs afterwards before tapering.

    Mmmm. I'll stick with the advice but we shall see....

  • I think go for PB because...

    1. The more intense workout over 13.1 miles will make you more efficient when running 26.2 mile at your slower marathon pace.

    2. It gives you a chance to try out proper racing conditions. i.e. at the end you can decide whether you went too hard or held back too much. It's a break from the long slow or steady runs on Sundays.
  • Interesting points; I expect to some degree that an ultimate PB isn't possible as you'd need to taper for it which you wouldn't want to do at this stage. That said unless your current half PB is quite recent or relatively good for your current fitness, then adopting Minks inbetween speed approach might yield one anyway and you'd have then notched up one egg in the basket as MikeB points out.

    Still leaves you not knowing what your ultimate marathon pace might be!

    My alternative is that I pace the girlf but this means a not very long run at well over steady run pace. Maybe a double is in order. 13.1 slow in the morning, 7m marathon pace in the evening?

    choices, choices, eh?
  • Hmmm, yeah, something else to think about, i.e. racing conditions.

    Recent race experience is pretty important in being able to judge your level of exertion. Got caught out with this last year when doing a stint of 4 races in October after a break from racing for well over a year. Started too far back, went off too easy in one, too fast in another, etc, etc...

    Without some hard racing, i.e. PB attempts, then that experience might not be there to draw on.
  • Compared to how badly I ran last years half at Silverstone I surely can only get a pb - but don't know if I am better getting a great new PB or a mediocre new PB. I am leaning on the mediocre - knowing my luck I will hurt myself and even with even pacing I think my confidence will be boosted for London. It's a tough call though
  • Dont know if this help or not but....
    I ran Reading Half last weekend and got a PB, by about 8 minutes, finishing in 1:39.

    I understand the theroy of not overdoing it and getting injued, but I would add into that the psychological effect of running well.

    I dont think I am alone in my thoughts about doing enough training, enough hills, speed work etc.

    A PB now is just the tonic needed to tell you that you are running well.
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    I'm still in two minds. The half race comes between the two highest-mileage weeks of my schedule with 20-mile runs both the Sunday before (this Sunday) and the Sunday after. With such a high volume of training over the next few weeks my fear is that I won't be rested enough to run at my best in the half. If I go for a PB and fail, the psychological effect is likely to be quite negative ("if I can't do that, how can I expect to be able to run 26.2 at such-and-such a pace ..."). There's also the increased risk of injury.

    On the other hand, it might not take that much effort to run a PB given the amount of training already under my belt, and given that the volume is much greater than if I were to be training only for a half.

    I'm think of starting at current half PB pace, then picking up after about 8 miles if I'm feeling good. If legs feel tired I'll just try to sustain the current pace.
  • Minks if it is any help I ran 22 miles the sunday before my half although a cut back a little in the week prior to it, and my running is nothing special I am only looking for a sub 4hr
  • I'm going to run Malaga (Spain) half on the 3rd april, just two weeks before FLM.

    My strategy is going to be running as fast as possible but without racing, I mean, at an even pace, faster than marathon pace, and hopefully PB half marathon pace.

    The point is not to get injured and to be able to train during the next week.

    I believe that it can give me confidence for the race day.
    Will run VMLM 2017 for Starlight Children Foundation
    From Seville, Spain.
    P.B: 2:29:12
  • As it's my first half and first marathon, I'm not putting much pressure on myself. At silverstone I plan to do the first 6 miles at goal marathon pace, and if I feel good in the second half I'll pick up the pace. I've been doing that in all my long runs, as I'm guessing that picking up the pace when you're tired is good practice for the full marathon. I'm all about negative splits.

    Good luck, Chaos!

  • Pin the number on and then show us what you can do. Go for it, Chaos!
  • Cheers all, one stumbling block is that if I went for it I'd have to talk very nicely to the lass having said I'd pace her in an unguarded moment. Plus the following week is due to be an exceptionally hard one training wise anyway!
  • How long have you been going out? Is she not used to you letting her down yet!?!?!? ;-)
  • My theory is to see how you feel.

    I also think it depends how fit you are now compared to when you last ran your half PB. I had a half last weekend, aimed to start out easy (but slightly faster than marathon pace). Felt so much fitter/easier than my last half (Oct 2004) so increased speed from mile 10 and did a PB of 2 minutes.

    Now I've got a 20m race this weekend, which I'm really aiming to do at marathon pace or slightly slower in the first half.

    If you're not sure and think missing a PB target will have a negative effect, then don't aim for it, but if you feel good on the day...go for it.

  • cheers BikingBird

    Pants - "Is she not used to you letting her down yet!?!?!? ;-)" . honestly, not sure I should even reply to that. So I won't!
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