Have you plateaued at the marathon? Frustrated with not having enough time to train for a full?

The half-marathon is a powerful race distance. Long enough to be challenging and a very good predictor of marathon times yet short enough that recovery is quick.

My challenge?

Stop running full marathons and start running some half-marathons. 

Why?

Running several half-marathons sets you up in a great place to PR your next full marathon. 

The amount of time and energy needed to complete marathon training is being highly underestimated across the running community. It’s ALL about hitting that 26.2, whether or not, frankly, you are ready.

Too many people sign up for a marathon not ready to dedicate the time to training or, they simply have not had an honest conversation with himself/herself about that commitment.

Marathon training takes time. A lot of time and a lot of miles.

The trend revolves around seeking out the least amount of running to cross the finish line.

In fact, most of my marathon cycles last 16-20 weeks. A solid four to five months of training leading up to one race. Those training cycles include all types of workouts and different phases inside of the full cycle to ensure each athlete reaches that race within their full potential and achieve their goals.

If your goal is to get faster, and you cannot adequately train to get faster, than why do it?

As a coach, there is a dance between combining an athlete’s goals with their available time into a individualized, concise training plan that makes sense. 

Runners would see faster times and more success by running more half-marathons and shorter races before taking on another full marathon.

I guarantee everyone reading this article has not maxed out their performance at a half-marathon. I’ve had this conversation with many of my athletes and there are a few who I have advised not take on another marathon until they can commit to the distance and time it takes to properly train for another marathon.

In other words, we are done with just completing the race, we are now focusing on going faster.

Running a faster half-marathon will help you run a faster marathon. 

Let’s take a look at Jack Daniels’ VDOT tables as a predictor of half-marathon and full marathon times.

2:21:04 Half Marathon –> 4:49:17 Marathon
1:58:24 Half Marathon –> 4:04:00 Marathon
1:46:27 Half Marathon –> 3:40:43 Marathon

Let’s say you ran your last full marathon in 4:49, which is an equivalent 2:21 half-marathon. If you went out and trained for a half-marathon and dropped your time down to 1:58, and then jumped into a full marathon cycle, you are predicted to finish somewhere around 4:04.

That would be a 45 minute marathon PR for a 20 minute half-marathon gain.

I’m not naive in believing 100% if-you-run-x-you’ll-run-y? You have to WORK for all of those times in the half and in the full, but the premise is still there.

Why?

Half-marathon incorporates all of the same training principles as a marathon, so long as you build a training plan correctly. Half-marathon training adds in shorter amounts of speed work since you are running a shorter distance. The focus isn’t on constantly increasing the long run, but rather becoming very efficient at running 13.1 miles.

If you become very good at half-marathon, then the marathon training cycle is much easier. The 16-20 weeks can be spent increasing distance but also increasing intensity at a longer distance, something that many people forgo for only long, slow weekend runs. While those are important, to get faster you add in intensity on top of those runs or in the middle and now you begin to train a little different.

So, instead of finishing your next marathon, why not try on a half? You would be surprised at the results!

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