How to hit your perfect half marathon pace

Brooks Shoe Finder

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A half marathon is a challenging race that requires both physical and mental preparation. One important aspect of this preparation is pacing. Nailing your half marathon pace can make all the difference between a strong finish and a painful last few miles. Ensure you think about your pacing before your half marathon.

Goal time

That all-important first step: set a finish time goal. For example, if you’re aiming for 1 hour 40 minutes, then this equates to an average pace of 4:44mins per km (Check out the Runna pace calculator here). Sticking to an exact pace to the second is a tough job, so I would recommend targeting a pace range of 3-4s on either side of your target pace. For the 1 hour 40mins runner, this would be a pace range of 4:41-4:47min per km. I would then break down your half marathon into three sections. Head Coach Ben breaks down his approach to pacing a half marathon into three chunks of 7km:

First 7km
For the first 7 km, you should be feeling fresh and free. Known as the ‘easy’ section, this is the time when you should be able to hold your pace relatively easily. However, don’t get complacent and slow down or over-confident and speed up – you might come to regret it later. Don’t let pace slip to the back of your mind – stay focused.

Second 7km
This is the ‘meaty” or ‘hard’ section. By this point, you’ll likely be feeling fatigue in your legs but it’s still important to aim to maintain your pace. If you’re holding back, allow yourself to speed up by 5 seconds per km. By reaching the 14 km mark, you’re two-thirds done. Focus on this mental achievement to help through this section.

Final 7 km
Welcome to the fun part – honestly! By the 15 or 16-kilometre point, there’s no doubt about it – you’re going to be tired. But if you can tell yourself that, this is it, the final stretch, it’ll be easier to maintain your form and enjoy the rest of the race. And don’t wait for the finish line to come into view before you start pushing yourself – whatever you’ve got left in the tank, spread it out throughout this entire 7km section.

Home straight

All of that said, though, the final 500m is the point of no return. Push on, go all out, and reward yourself for all your training. Now is your moment to smash it and get over that finish line in style!

Find out more about pacing a half marathon and the Runna app at Already training for an AJ Bell Great Run Series event? You can access your FREE two week Runna trial via the Great Run Rewards page.

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