Thursday, March 26, 2015

Achieving a Sub-2 Hour Half Marathon (A Few Tips)

While training for this year’s half marathon season, I did a lot of reading on achieving a sub 2 and I studied the steps that others took to reach that goal. Today, I’m going to share with you a few of the tips I used and what worked for me!

Sub 2 Hour Half (4)

(Please know that I’m not trying to come off as if I’m bragging or praising myself in any way, shape, or form in this blog post.  I debated on writing this post, but I’ve decided to share it anyway, in hopes it will help someone with their half marathon journey! )

Prior to this half marathon season, I was so close to a sub 2 hour half…and it remained that way for three years (my best time was a 2:01). Every year, I tried and tried to reach my goal but it never happened. From IT Band problems to sickness and crazy weather, it just didn’t seem possible for me.

This past fall, I did a lot of reading from a google search and I came across a Jeff Galloway runDisney plan. I noticed that his plans from past rD events utilized a strategy I didn’t think was necessary. (Sounds funny, right?! How silly I was…) On all of his training plans and on the longest training run days, he had runners train at least a mile over the distance they were trying to achieve on race day. For instance, I turned two of my 12 mile training runs into 14 mile training runs last fall. What good did that do? Well, I noticed that my legs weren’t as fatigued during the race and I felt like I was able to run 13.1 faster! 

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(Side note here – While participating in the events for the Castaway Challenge, I was able to thank Jeff for his advice and share my accomplishment with him. He was SO excited for me it really made me feel great – he’s such a standup guy and a class act. I respect him even more now than I did before!)

Ok back to the reason for my post…

I also cleaned up a my diet a bit about 2 weeks before the race. Yes, I should have started earlier but it was right around the holidays and lets face it, I wanted to eat all the delicious things!

Mid December (for my mid-January race), I broke in a new pair of running shoes. I always perform better when my shoes are at the front end of their lifespan, not the back end.

I had two half’s on the schedule for January of this year and I knew I wanted to try and sub 2 in one of them. I’d run both courses in the past and the Louisiana Half was the flattest from what I could remember. If the weather decided not to cooperate, I figured I’d try the following weekend at Rock N Roll New Orleans instead. Rock N Roll NOLA became my back-up plan…just incase!

Last but not least, I found a pacer to run with for the half marathon. (Not all races have them, but most do.) I know that all of my efforts prior to race day, plus the assistance of the pacer is what helped me achieve my goal. The pacer kept us right on target and I’m definitely glad I chose to run with him and the 2 hour group because I couldn’t have done it on my own!

Sub 2 hour Half

So, to recap….

  • On two occasions, I ran a mile longer than my planned race distance.  (These were not back to back weekends, they were about six weeks apart with the last one being three weeks before my half marathon.)
  • Cleaned up my diet – no processed bad garbage, I tried to “eat clean” for two weeks and reduce sugar intake.
  • New-ish shoes (but still broken in)
  • Picked a race and had a back-up plan
  • 2 Hour pacer to run with during the race – he was essential!

Want to read a recap of my version of the Louisiana Half Marathon? Click here. This is such a great race – if you’re debating on running a race in the Louisiana area, it’s a fantastic one to choose! :)

Sub 2 Hour Half (1)

*Please note, I’m not a coach nor a training expert, I’m just sharing a few of the things I did to help myself achieve my goal of a sub 2 hour half marathon.

What is/was the best tip you ever received on obtaining a running/race related goal?

28 comments:

  1. Soooo proud of you Karen! I'm amazed that I have been able to run a sub 2 twice. Hard work definitely pays off! It's a great feeling! And I've never thought about running longer than the distance...that makes such perfect sense! Jeff is such a smart guy!

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    1. Thanks so much, Mindy! You've rocked the Half Marathon distance this year!!

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  2. First of all - CONGRATULATIONS! I know how hard that sub-2 can be, especially when you are so close to it :) Second, THANK YOU for this information! I go after my sub-2 (again) in a few weeks, and many of these are on my list too. I'm hoping to have the same result!!!

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    1. Thanks Megan! Best of luck! I'm crossing my fingers for you! :)

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  3. I think sub 2 is such a huge barrier for so many runners. I was thrilled in February when I accomplished it for my second time. As you probably know, runners slow down each year after 40, so I have to work lots harder to keep up with you young runners! Congrats on achieving that goal.I really think it is as much a mental barrier as a physical one. I love Jeff Galloway and his run walk run strategy is what helped me run my BQ qualifier. He hugged me when he learned the news! :)

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    1. I couldn't agree more about the barrier - it eluded me for so long! You are super fast, Pam!! Awww I love that he hugged you - he's so sweet!

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  4. That's awesome advice Karen. I'm going to do those to reduce my times.

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    1. Thanks, Ken...best of luck to you!! :)

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  5. Thanks for the advice! It doesn't sound like you're bragging at all...we're all here to help each other! :) I want a sub-2 soooo badly. The best I've ever done is 2:03, so I know it's possible for me. I'll bet sometimes even the smallest little tweak to your training could be what you need to make it happen. Thanks again for the tips!

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    1. I appreciate it, Jennifer! I know you're going to get a sub-2...I'm rooting for you!! :D

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  6. All great tips for being best prepared for race day. I ran one 14 miler during this past training cycle, and I definitely think it helped me on race day. Limiting processed foods and sugar was also helpful.

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    1. Isn't it crazy the difference a few extra miles in a training run makes?

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  7. Great tips Karen. I have been wanting to improve my half time for awhile. I will try some of these.

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    1. Thanks so much! Best of luck to you!!

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  8. Congrats to you on this achievement! I honestly have no plans to PR anytime soon and i'm ok with that. I just need my body to get healthy and use to running again.

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    1. I completely understand where you're coming from! Part of the reason I didn't PR sooner was my ITBand. I hope yours is recovering well! Keeping my fingers crossed for you!! :)

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  9. Great tips! One of these days I won't be injured or pregnant and can try for it! Maybe next fall/winter?

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  10. That is AMAZING.

    sub two is my goal as well - currently my best is 2:03 - uggggg so stinkin close but yet sooooooo far away

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    1. SO close! I have no doubt you can do it, Sarah!

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  11. My next big running goal is to achieve a sub-2 half marathon so this was really helpful! Did you do a lot of speed work in preparation?

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    1. I actually didn't do a lot of speed work, but I know that helps as well. I tried to incorporate speed work once a week for about 4 weeks prior to the race.

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  12. I need to work on the diet part, I think that is my biggest struggle.

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  13. That's a really great idea to run longer than the race distance. I'm trying to get a sub 2:30 this summer, so I might try a plan that does that!

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    1. Good luck! I know you can do it!! :)

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  14. Congratulations! All of your hard work definitely paid off. A sub 2 is on my list of goals sometime in the future (I need to shave off about 20 min!)
    Karen @karenlovestorun

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