Run Your Fastest 21.1km!
This plan was created by Andrew Kastor, head coach of the Mammoth Track Club, an elite training team. It emphasises race-pace kays, which train the body to be super-efficient at your target goal pace, and long runs for endurance – a combination that prepares you for fast times.
The programme includes four to six days of running and is designed for speedwork newbies and veterans alike. The weekday workouts are in minutes for convenience, with the long run in kays to ensure that you get enough in your legs.
If you’ve been regularly running 40km a week and can cover at least 8km on your long run, you’re ready for this programme.
To find your goal half-marathon pace, plug a recent race time into our calculator at staging.runnersworld.co.za/tools.
Tuesday is a rest day! Ignore the listed workouts. You will have plenty of faster-paced running by doing strides on Mondays and race-pace kays once a week, says Kastor.
If you regularly run 50-plus kilometres a week, and 12km for your long run, add 4km to 5km to each long run. The boost in volume will help you reach a fast target, says Kastor.
Run at a conversational pace.
These are gentle sprints lasting 15 to 20 seconds. Strides help improve form, inject some speed into training without the workout being overly taxing, and work to strengthen and prepare muscles and tendons for faster running. To do them, accelerate by quickening your turnover (rather than reaching with your foot) and aim for a smooth, relaxed upper body. You should reach about 80 per cent of your maximum by the end of each stride (i.e. you should be breathing hard). Rest for one to two minutes between strides.
FF! (Fast Friends!)
Three runs a week are designated as potential ‘FF’ days: faster-paced workouts you could run with training partners, ideally.
GHMP (Goal Half-Marathon Pace)
This is the pace you’re aiming to sustain in the race. The pace should feel ‘comfortably hard’. Start and end Thursday GHMP workouts with 10 to 20 minutes of easy running.
These long repeats are ideal for developing speed over distance. Do them on the road to better mimic race conditions. Start with a 15- to 20-minute warm-up with four strides, and end with a cool-down of 10 to 20 minutes of easy running.
These Sunday workouts build endurance. Run them a minute per kilometre slower than your goal half-marathon pace (GHMP). Every other long run, you’ll finish at GHMP. These ‘simulation runs’ train the body to hold your goal pace when the kays get tough. If you can, run them on roads that mimic the course you’ll be racing on.