The Final Two Weeks Before the First Half Marathon

The Final Two Weeks Before the First Half Marathon

Posted on January 27, 2020 by Carey Nelson


What workouts will help you have a better race? The final two weeks are just as important as the past ten weeks of training. You can workout in a way that will slow down your final time. Or, you can workout in a way that will help you have a better race.

Your workouts should allow you to recover from the past ten weeks of hard training and allow fatigue levels to drop while improving race fitness. Your leg muscle tissues need an opportunity to recover. Over-training will not allow proper recovery and will nibble away at your final race time.

During the next two weeks you should taper back in your training and allow for muscle recovery. However you can use this time period to sharpen your fitness for a faster race. The final two weeks should include some high intensity training; but not too much volume. High intensity training is considered training faster or at your anaerobic threshold ie 15km race pace.

The half marathon pace is a little slower than 15km race pace and a little faster than marathon pace. It would be advantageous to include one or two workouts that include half marathon pace runs of 3km to 6km to maintain your familiarity with the pace and stay adapted to that pace. A 10 to 18km run that included 3km to 6km of half marathon pace would be helpful. 

What to avoid in training so that you are not stale on race day:

  1. A long run over 27km. Long runs over 27km cause leg muscle damage and require a recovery time period of three weeks. A run longer than 27km would slow you down on race day. During the final week before the race, a long run over 20km is too far for sufficient recovery.
  2. A long interval workout session. Long interval workouts that add up to more than 8km require too much recovery time such as 7 x 2km at 10km pace. There is not enough time to recover from a big interval workout.
  3. A 10km race the week before. A maximum effort 10 km race requires four to six days to recover and will impede your half marathon. The final week should be a tapering phase of recovery and sharpening.

What to do to be fresh and sharp on race day:

  1. Run long distances of 15km to 18km and include some half marathon pace efforts.
  2. Shorter duration interval workouts such as 6x3minutes or 10 x 400m at 10km to 5km pace will help to improve your VO2 max and sharpen you for the race.
  3. Run a 5km race or 5km tempo run to practice pushing the pace for a continuous duration. There is sufficient time to recover from a maximum 5km effort. Speedwork is helpful to sharpening and raise VO2 Max but has rest breaks. Continuous runs of 10 to 25 minutes will improve your concentration. Another beneficial workout is 2x15minutes or 3×10 minutes at half marathon pace or faster. 10 to 15 minute efforts will help you prepare to maintain your pace for a continuous time period.

As race day approaches long distances or long interval workouts will zap you strength for your race. A 30 percent to 50 percent reduction in training volume will allow your legs to rest. A moderate quantity of faster running will help boost your fitness while allowing for continued recovery. Plan your final two weeks well and you will have an excellent race.