How to Train for a Half Marathon - Interval Training

In the concluding part of this series of posts we are going to look at Interval Training as the fourth element after gym work, endurance and hill training.

The reason for using interval training as you train for your half marathon is to get your body used to running faster over longer periods of time or distance.

Photo Credit: NY Real Estate Buzz

As with the hill training you should aim to include your interval training in two ways :


Include interval runs within your longer training runs that we looked at in our second post  so that you get used to having spells of running faster during a long distance training run.

For example, you may be on a 5-6 mile run and within this distance you could include 1-2 miles at your actual race pace i.e. take the first 2 miles slow and steady, then run the next two miles at the pace you want to do on race day, finishing with a slow and steady last two miles. For this type of training you need to know what pace you are aiming for on race day of course; let's say that your race day pace is going to be 8 min/mile then your slow and steady pace for this particular training run would be 9min/mile.

You can split it up another way as well by running 1 mile slow and steady (eg 9min/mile) and then 1 mile at race pace (8min/mile)  repeating this for 6 miles. So, the principle remains the same, you just set your pace according to where you are with your training.

If you don't know what your fastest pace is you can very easily find out! Find a fairly flat route around your local park or area and measure out 1 mile ( a lot of parks now have 100/200mtr posts or you can us a running app on your phone). Once you have warmed up, run that mile as fast as you can and I mean as fast as you can, so that you can barely breathe at the end! Record the time and you now have your fastest mile time; you can work everything else out from this fastest time.


You need to include specific speed sessions as part of your overall training as with the hill sessions we looked at in our previous post

The best place to do your speed interval sessions is a running track and some running/athletic clubs will host track nights where you can pay a small fee and turn up to train with other members, alternatively check out your local park to see if they have the 100mtr marker posts. Another option is to measure out some distances using a phone running app.

So, for your speed interval sessions, as with all training sessions, you need to warm up correctly and then run to your park/running track so that when you start your speed intervals you are nicely warmed up. There are so many combinations to choose from for speed interval work we couldn't possibly look at them all here but here a few that you might like to try:

 Distance/Time                                                 Pace                            Frequency                                            Notes

2min on/ 2min off on: faster than race pace/ off: slow jog 6-8 times Maintain same “faster than race pace” for every 2 mins on
400m on/ 400m off on: faster than race pace/ off :slow jog 6-8 times Maintain same “faster than race pace” for every 400m on
1 min on/ 1min off on: faster than race pace/ off : slow jog 6-8 times Maintain same “faster than race pace” for every 1 min on
3 min on/ 1 min off on: faster than race pace/ off : slow jog 6-8 times Maintain same “faster than race pace” for every 3 mins on
200m/400m/600m/ 800m/1000m/800m/600m/400m/ 200m much faster than race pace for all Just do once, with 60secs recovery after each distance Aim to maintain same “much faster than race pace” for each distance

We have now covered all main areas of training for a half marathon so if you follow these four posts you will be more than prepared to complete the 13.1 miles. Hopefully you have found these articles useful and if you would like to discuss anything in more detail, or would like a bespoke training programme designed for you, then just get in touch and I will be happy to help you!

A huge thank you to Roy Summers and the team at BodyLine Studios. Stay tuned for further posts from Roy and his team in the New Year.

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