Hold the back page! Have you seen how fast this year's Great Birmingham Run course is? That dastardly hill of yesteryear is no more. Instead, they've changed the route so your first few miles will be a downhill delight. Game, as they say, on.

Certainly, this is a course where speed is of the essence. With your new PB in the offing, it's a capital idea to get your legs moving before the big day. Below you'll find some suggestions on sharpening up sensibly.

Each suggestion is a little harder than the one before. Take it easy and find out which options work best for you. One speed session each week is perfect. So what are we waiting for, runner? Let's get to work...

Faster finish long runs

As with anything new in your training, introduce speed gradually. Picking up the last mile of your long run is a fine start. Nothing crazy, simply finish with a little more gusto.

Strides after a steady run

Done once a week, five strides after a steady run will work wonders. Find a 100m or so flat stretch on the grass. Stride out - no sprinting please - then walk back. That's the ticket.

Diagonals in the park

Head to the park, and stride diagonally across a football pitch. (Pro tip: avoid this session when there's a match on.) Jog the width and repeat. 10-20 minutes in total will do.

Downhill all the way

Many elites love downhill efforts. They help you keep some pace when you're logging lots of miles. 5 x 600m on a gentle grass decline is ideal. Take them steady, and enjoy the ride.

Gone in sixty seconds

For a tougher session, run a rolling set of one minute hard/ one minute slow efforts in your local park. Stay relaxed and think about your form. Ten hard reps in total is all you need.

Track attack 

Track reps at your 5K or 10k pace can be the magic sauce in your half marathon recipe. But if you're reckless, they'll wreck you. Please treat the track with respect.

To stretch and roll is a daily goal

When you're feeling the need for speed, remember to give your body a little more TLC. Schedule in some nice long stretches, maybe a massage - and jump on that foam roller!

Gauge your effort

Fast courses are splendid fun, but remember to gauge your effort. Make sure you control the downhills - and not the other way round. That way you'll still be flying come the finish.

Have confidence in yourself

When event day arrives, think only positive thoughts. Nerves jangling? Take a few nice deep breaths. Find your rhythm early, and use those downhills to your advantage.

Like every runner, you're bound to have a few ups and downs during your race. Keep your spirits high, soak up the fantastic Birmingham atmosphere, and smash that PB to bits!

See you on the startline,

Johnny Cullen

Instagram @true_distance.