Intervals/ Running

Running Intervals for Half Marathon Training

After I ran a PR at the Mistletoe Half Marathon last month, I’ve been motivated to actually train and push myself leading up to race day to see if I could get even faster if I ran a half marathon in the spring. I’ve learned from previous half marathons that I am prone to injury if I run every day or even 5 days a week, as many plans recommend. So I typically stick to 3-4 days of running.

My training currently looks like this:

  • Monday:  3 miles, easy pace
  • Wednesday:  4-6 miles, intervals/tempo
  • Saturday:  Long run – I started at 5 miles and have added 1 mile each week (and plan back down to a 3 miler every 3 weeks for extra recovery)

I’m trying to do yoga and weight training on the other days and take 1-2 complete rest days a week. For my mid-week run, I do intervals anywhere from half a mile to a full mile. The intervals are tough, but make the workout go by much faster. When I get tired, I tell myself, “The longer I hold this pace, the sooner I’ll reach the next mile mark and can slow down.” 

Even if you’re not training for a race, there are other reasons to kick up your pace:

  • Speed training strengthens your muscles in different ways than long, slow runs. I swear my hamstrings get stronger  and more defined when I do speed work, even more quickly than when I do traditional hamstring exercises in the weight room.
  • Interval work increases your calorie burn even after you’re done working out. Increased metabolism even when I’m not running? Yes please.
  • Ego boost. Plain and simple. 😉

I’ve been doing most of my interval work on the treadmill because it’s so dark before and after work. Long, slow runs on a treadmill are misery for me, but I actually really like speedwork on the treadmill because it forces me to hold a faster pace. I have to manually change the speed or step off the belt if I want to slow down whereas outside, I often back off the pace without even realizing it.

Training outside is very important when training for a race so I make sure to do my long runs on the pavement. And when I have more daylight hours, I’ll start doing more interval and tempo work outside too so I can train my body to hold the pace without the treadmill’s help.

Here was my interval workout last Wednesday.

Mile 0 – 1:  Warm up, very easy pace

Mile 1 – 2:  7:30 minute/mile

Mile 2 – 3:   recovery pace (9:15 – 9:30 minute mile)

Mile 3 – 4:   7:15 minute/mile

Mile 4 – 4.5:  recovery pace

Mile 4.5 – 5.0:  7:00 minute/mile pace

Mile 5 – 6:  Cool down, very easy pace

This week I’m going to work on doing longer intervals at a slightly slower pace, which is really more of a tempo run than an interval workout. I’m not sure I can hold sub-eight minute miles for more than 1 mile at a time when I don’t have race-day adrenaline, so we’ll see how it goes!

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  • Reply

    I am training for my first half marathon so this post was helpful! Thank you! 🙂

    • Reply

      oh good!!! 🙂

      good luck with training!

  • Reply
    Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed

    I’m training for my first half too! It’s not till May so I have a lot of time to build up my miles, but I’m trying to start super slow because I’m afraid of injuring myself.

  • Reply
    Rebekah Arnesen

    i have done 3 half marathons and want to do another one in april. it’s so cold where i live (and i am usually at school until after dark) that i only run on the treadmill. this seems like what you do. do you have any suggestions of how to make a treadmill workout more exciting? especially for long runs? thanks!

  • Reply
    Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run]

    I love that image – true for me too – and interval training rocks. It WILL make you faster + stronger 🙂

  • Reply

    I NEVER do interval training, but decided to try yours today just to see how I liked it! Slightly modified and a bit shorter…
    0-1: 9:45 pace
    1-2: 8:00 pace
    2-3: 9:15 pace
    3-4: 7:30 pace
    4-4.5: 9:00 pace
    It kicked my butt! Especially the 7:30 mile!! I normally just build up slowly from about a 10 minute pace to a 7:45ish pace at the very end of my run, so busting out “sprints” in the middle was a challenge. But guess what…I liked it! Thanks <3

  • Reply
    Mary @ Bites and Bliss

    Speedwork was the worst part of marathon training. Probably because the only place around here to do it and still stay on the pavement was pretty hilly. For some reason I had it set in my head not to run any of the training runs on treadmill. I wish I had for intervals!

  • Reply

    What perfect timing! I have a half marathon coming up in February and I’m doing Hal Higdon’s intermediate training. The plan has me running 5 days during the week and it does seem like a bit much. I usually scale it down to 4 but always, always make sure to get in some kind of speed and my long runs in. I’m hoping for a big PR for this race!

  • Reply

    Thanks for this post — I’m just starting to think about training for my first Half this spring, so this is great info for me! I agree about the treadmill being helpful for speedwork – it does the thinking for you so that you can’t just zone out/slow down without realizing it!

  • Reply
    Corrie Anne

    Hahaha. I feel superior when my treadmill is set faster. That cracked me up. Treadmills rock for speedwork!!! You have no choice but to just do it!

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