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Progressive Half-Mile Repeats

November 2, 2009

That’s what I’m calling them, anyway.

Found the workout in Women’s Running magazine and today seemed a good day to try them. I figure I’m well-trained on endurance for the half but need to sharpen speed as much as I can, so I set out to run 8 x ½ repeats. The last time I did this workout I was running Yasso’s 800’s, where you aim to run 800 meters in the same minutes:seconds as you intend to run your marathon. I ran my 800’s at about 8:00 pace. Though doing a half-mile at my 10k pace wasn’t tough, doing it eight times proved quite a challenge.

Today, I decided to make it even tougher. I set out to run the first interval at 8:00, but then would progressively increase my speed by 15-second increments. Second repeat at 7:45, third at 7:30, fourth at 7:15. After this I’d do another interval at 7:15 (pretty much my mile PR), then back to 7:30, then 7:45, and finish up with another 8:00-pace repeat before my cooldown.

What a fabulous workout! First of all, the increasing speed works for me because I do get faster as I run, so though hitting 7:30 would have been hard right out of the gate, it was easier since I’d already run two intervals at somewhat slower paces. I was primed for what speed I’d need to hit–the speed I’d been cruising at before, only a little faster.

The other great advantage of this workout, for this particular runner, is that it forced me to slow down and pace myself on the way home. I normally burn my last repeats as my fastest, but this time I really had to learn and pay attention to how my body felt running that 7:30, that 7:45, that 8:00-minute mile.

In the end, my paces for the intervals were almost dead-on:
1–goal 8:00–actual 8:00
2–goal 7:45–actual 7:45
3–goal 7:30–actual 7:30
4–goal 7:15–actual 7:16
5–goal 7:15–actual 7:10 (oops)
6–goal 7:30–actual 7:36 (have a few seconds back)
7–goal 7:45–actual 7:45
8–goal 8:00–actual 7:59

I recovered for a quarter-mile after each interval. I also discovered that longer warm-ups and cool-downs seem to be better for me, so I’ve lengthened my standard pre- and post-speedwork routine to a mile and a half.

Tomorrow, hoping for an easy 6 with Little G. After the tough 9 today, I could use an easy run.

Oh, I forgot to mention this–with the 18-miler on Halloween morning, I closed out October with 197 miles. Last year, I did not close in on 200 miles in one month until January, pre-marathon month, when I ran 207.

How did I manage to run more miles when I’ve felt busier and crazier than ever? In my life, it’s reflective of God’s promises and goodness to me that He’s stretching my time to give me time with family, time with Him, time in ministry, and–still!–time with my sport. Praise Him! He loves me well!

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Brad permalink
    November 8, 2009 11:41 pm

    Hmmm wondering your advice….I have been running 4 days a week for about 6 months….I am in relatively good shape, although I don’t feel like im in great shape!!! I ran 10 miles for the 1st time the other day…I try to do a long run once a week, but normally they range between 6 and 8…..I have been “training” for the 1/2 marathon of the PB’s….so anyways, i ran my 10 miles the other night, and did it 14 seconds per mile faster than my “planned” 1/2 marathon pace…should i run the 1/2??? I’ve never ran farther than 12 miles (and that was almost 10 years back)…..10 miles is the furthest ive run in my adult life…Anyways, wondering your advice….Thanks…Brad

  2. the Ringmaster permalink*
    November 9, 2009 9:18 am

    Brad, congrats on your first “adult” double-digit run! I hope you took the appropriate time to celebrate that accomplishment–it should be a huge milestone in the life of a runner. You are in great shape for Palm Beach. Many first-time half marathon training plans have no long runs longer than 10 miles, and you’re already there, with a few weeks to go before your race. I think you’re in great shape, and I *absolutely* think you should do the race.

    I hope you’re not taking my training schedule as what is typical of every half-marathoner’s expected training. Maybe I should put a warning label at the top of some of my posts. I’m planning to run the A1A Marathon in late February. Since marathoners usually “taper,” or slow down their training, for the last three weeks before the race, this really only gives me ten weeks after my half to get my long runs to marathon-length. This is why I’ve been running such long long runs. I do find it helps with endurance once you’re *racing* the half marathon distance, but I think it’s WAY overkill for the typical runner.

    If you don’t mind my asking, how did you pick your target pace for the race? Most coaches suggest you run your long runs more slowly than you intend to race, not faster–even up to a minute per mile slower. It’s been my experience that the adrenaline of race day always manages to make your pace pick up. Having said that, make sure you don’t go out too fast, or those 13 miles will seem really, really long!

    You’ve got three weekends for long runs, Brad–plenty of time! For my first half, my first-ever long run was 7 miles. Then I started stretching the distance. I ran 7, then 8. The day I was supposed to do 9 was cool and beautiful and I went ahead and did 10. Then the next time out I meant to do 12 and put in 13.1, just to test myself. And my last long run I went 14, just to overrun the distance. Though at the time I knew nothing about pacing–I just went out and ran–I ended up running the race about 15 seconds faster per mile than I’d run in my long runs.

    Okay, as usual, I’ve said too much. You’re in great shape even if you don’t run anything more than 10 miles until December 6. And hey, if I don’t get my PR at Fort Lauderdale this Sunday, I might see you there . . . still gunning for my own best race! Congrats again on your distance milestone.

  3. Brad permalink
    November 9, 2009 3:14 pm

    Well 1st off, congrats on your training and good luck with a PR….if its not too windy, the weather has been beautiful lately….

    So my target race pace…I just kinda conjured it up….I told myself 9 minute miles would be my pace….Whenever I do runs longer than 6 miles, I start off around a 9 minute pace and maintain that pace…the other day when I ran 10, my first mile was 851, the next timed i stared at my watch was at 6 miles (which I was at an 850 pace) and my last 3 miles were run around 830 pace….I do have to say, I felt really good on that run…I was definitely in the zone….

    So I really have no clue how to pace myself in a race that ranges longer than 5k haha….In the last 7 years, ive only raced one race (dreher dash 5k)…..but in HS, i ran cross country and track, so im familiar with racing….So I think im going to go out around 9minute miles, not let myself get crazy and see how I do…..My only goal is to finish, and to finish under 2 hours….During the dreher park dash, i aimed for 8minute mile pace, and ended up running 720’s…..I know im capable of running probably an 840/mile 1/2 marathon, but I don’t wanna go out to fast and be dead at the end….any advice is welcome…..im def going to run it, im looking forward to it now!!! THanks, Brad 🙂

  4. November 11, 2009 1:34 pm

    Sounds like a good workout. Half-mile intervals are tough but they really pay off for a half marathon.

  5. Brad permalink
    December 6, 2009 11:43 am

    Hey, don’t know if you will read this! But I ran a 1:45:32 today at Marathon of the Palm Beaches…..I felt really strong up until about mile 11….the last 2 miles were very hard for me….But I managed to finish…AND PR, since it was my first time =)….

  6. the Ringmaster permalink*
    December 28, 2009 12:46 pm

    LOL Well done, Brad! I knew you had a way-under-two in ya! So, when’s the next one?

  7. Brad permalink
    January 7, 2010 6:51 pm

    Thanks =) Im not sure i have the *time* to train properly for 1/2 marathons….im running Race for the Cure 5k at the end of the month….and then I know a lady thats organizing a race at John Prince Park on 1-30 or 2-6 (think its 2-6) and either run the 5k or 10k there….

    Honestly, I think ill do another 1/2 maybe later in the year….this time of the year, when it gets dark so early, makes it hard for me to find ample running time….

    Missed your blogging, glad you’re back!

  8. the Ringmaster permalink*
    January 8, 2010 11:00 am

    LOL I know what you mean . . . and it being in the mid-30s to upper 40s doesn’t make ME eager to get out there, either! Half marathons can take quite a bit of training; it’s so different from the pure adrenaline-racing of the shorter distances. I’m thinking I need to do that long season and then race several in a row . . . seems like once you’re trained, you might as well do it as many times as you can. And for me, May and its hotter temps always derails my training anyway for a few weeks, so I’d rather wait until I’m acclimated before beginning the really tough training. I’m considering myself not officially in distance training for now.

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