It’s been a goal of mine for awhile now to run a half marathon in under 2 hours.
Almost month ago, I accomplished that goal – I ran one in 1:57:34.
I know there are a quite a few people out there who’d also like to go under 2 hours in the half marathon, so I thought I’d share how I did it.
For some people, a strict training schedule filled with speed work, long runs, recovery runs, and maybe some hills will work. I’ll admit, that’s how I took over an hour off of my marathon time.
But, this time around, going sub-2 was almost by accident. After the Flying Pig, I backed way off running and concentrated on strength training, specifically heavy (for me) lifting in preparation for the Alpha Showdown.
Since then, that kind of training schedule just kinda stuck – I kept running, but never any more than 3 – sometimes 4 – days, totaling anywhere between 10 and 20 miles a week. Compared to my 30+ miles a week during marathon training and before, it feels a bit like slacking.
But, in addition to those 3-4 running days, I’ve also been strength training 2-3 days a week for an hour each session. These days, I do everything from the classic Olympic lifts (squat, deadlift, clean & press), TRX training, kettlebells and more, focusing on high weight/low reps – quality over quantity, if you will. Typically, I do 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps, occasionally 10, and rarely 12 or more.
A couple months ago, I upped my personal training at Life Time to once a week, which has seriously helped in terms of strength gains. I’ve been working with my trainer since February, and I cannot say enough about what it has done for my fitness – without his help and knowledge, I’d likely still have raging ITBS and I never would have discovered my new love for lifting. If you’re reading this, Trainer, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
Along the way, without even really trying, my pace dropped drastically.
My “slow” runs these days fall just under 10:00 minutes a mile, and my easy runs are consistently between 9:15 and 9:30. I felt strong running intervals and hills, and after not racing since May, September rolled around and I was eager to put this new training regime to the test.
Clearly, it passed with flying colors – I took 10 minutes off my half marathon time, and went under 2 hours, to boot.
With Trainer’s help, I’ve realized that my body responds amazingly well to lower mileage and more intense weighted workouts. I keep telling Trainer that he’s made a strength believer out of me. When I shared the news about my back-to-back PRs, he asked if I would be available as his spokesperson when clients tell him they don’t need to strength train to be better runners/cyclists/swimmers. It would be my pleasure, if only my work schedule would allow it!
To make a long story short, it doesn’t have to mean miles and miles of pounding the pavement, grueling hill repeats, or interval workouts. Think outside the usual training box and experiment with other forms of training – especially strength training!
For me,all it took was some good old fashioned lifting to get these legs (and the rest of me, too!) in top shape.