Smash A Sub-2 Half-Marathon!
Break 2 hours in your next half marathon with these top tips. – By Dave Spence
Set clear goals.
And keep them to yourself. Talking about your goals will never help you achieve them. Likewise, I’ve heard plenty of people talk a big game and then never deliver. You should have clear goals, such as setting yourself a 1:58 finish time, and then spend your time working toward achieving that.
If you’re a casual runner, commit to running a certain number of days a week and stick to it. If you are a competitive runner, try training twice a day.
I’m not saying you should be a running hermit. Try doing 50% of your training alone. I believe this helps in several ways: It allows you to stick to your game plan of running easy or hard, short or long, without ever adjusting to whoever you happen to be running with. You’re simply less likely to be distracted. It also helps you to be stricter when it comes to sticking to your running training schedule. It will make you tougher on race day. Even if you’re a casual competitor, this tactic could help you on race day.
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Your programme includes weekly ‘fartlek’ sessions. Fartlek is the Swedish term for speed play. It’s fast growing into a popular form of training to provide a satisfying and effective alternative to simply pounding the streets with no purpose or plan. Fartlek can provide an excellent endurance and strength exercise as well as helping to improve your speed and race tactics. The beauty of fartlek training is that you don’t need to run over a specifically measured route as it is simply a case of altering your running speeds over varying distances.
The easiest way to explain a typical fartlek run would be to jog for five minutes to warm up, before picking a landmark like the next lamp post or tree and then running at a pre-decided speed (example 70% of maximum speed) until you reach that landmark. Once there you change your speed back down to a jog until you have recovered. Then, when ready, you will choose another landmark at a slightly different distance away and then run at another pre-determined speed (example 90% of maximum speed) until you reach it. This practice would continue until you have finished your workout with the predetermined speeds altering as you see fit between faster and slower than jogging pace.
It is easy to see why fartlek training has grown in popularity as you simply listen to what your body says and decide how intense or easy to make the session. The benefit of this is that you are not racing against a clock or running a certain distance: You are the deciding factor in how hard or easy the run is and it can become a useful part of your training schedule.
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Mental strength is needed in just about any race, especially when you’re attempting to dip under two hours. No matter what your view is, the simple fact is that mental toughness is learned, not inherited. General personality type is also unrelated to mental toughness. Athletes do not need to move out of their own normal and comfortable personality types to achieve a high degree of mental toughness. There are mental skills that most tough competitors have in common. They are:
- Being self motivated and self-directed
- Positive but realistic
- In control of emotions
- Calm and relaxed when the going gets tough
- Highly energetic and ready for action
- Mentally alert and focused
- Doggedly self-confident
- Fully responsible