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A Breakdown Of How To Perfectly Pace Your Next Half Marathon

Here's the final piece of the puzzle in making sure you are ready to tackle your half marathon. Use this guide to finish strong.

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You’ve put in the miles, followed the training plan and you’re ready to tackle 13.1. But are you? Even the most through training can be sabotaged with bad pacing, which is why knowing how to pace your next half marathon is essential for a strong finish. Here are a few tips that will get you over the finish line feeling good!

Start Slow

A slow start is essential to a strong finish. It can be so hard to calm race nerves and set aside your adrenaline in the first few miles, but if you do you’ll set yourself up for a really great race.

Plan to pace your first three miles 30-60 seconds slower than your goal race pace. So, if you’re hoping to run a sub-two hour marathon, you’ll want to average about a nine-minute mile during the race. This means your first three miles should be anywhere form a 9:30-10:00 minute per mile pace. It may feel “painfully” slow, but you’ll save yourself a lot of real pain at the end of the race if you are patient in the beginning.

Break It Down

Tackling the race in sections is a great way to breakdown the race into mentally manageable chunks and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Having a strong mental game and approach to your half marathon can greatly influence your race.

Here’s a suggestion on how to break down 13.1:

Miles 1-3: This is your slow start. Focus on staying controlled, running your own race and not letting the pacing of the people around you influence your game plan.

Miles 4-10: In these miles you want to lock into a comfortable race pace. It’s important to keep your effort steady during these miles, and roll with the terrain as much as possible. Pay attention to your hydration and fueling and consider that you’re setting yourself up for a strong finish.

Miles 10-13: This is where you want to start to push the pace if you can. Pick runners or landmarks to “chase down” and try to keep your pacing up-tempo. Some will tell you, “It’s just a 5K left.” Instead of thinking about a 5K race, think of a three mile distance that you run on a regular basis. Maybe it’s three miles from your house and imagine that you’re “running home.” Think of the landmarks you’d pass and how close you feel to getting home when you’re on that run. Sometimes the last three miles of the race can feel brutally far, so if you can make them familiar with visualization you can make them much more manageable mentally.

Run By Feel

On varied terrain it’s best to go by perceived effort. If you’re running on rolling hills and trying to stick to your goal race pace on the uphill, chances are you’ll expend far too much energy in the middle of the race. Instead, focus on a a consistent effort that feels like race pace on the uphill and use the downhill to your advantage. In the end your uphill and downhill efforts will most likely average out.