How to Run Your Best Half

You have been training for weeks and race day is finally here.  But what exactly is your plan for the actual race day?  Maybe you have calculated the exact splits that you need to run to do your best.  Personally, I believe in running based on how your body feels rather than the strict time-measurements.


There are so, so many articles out there that tell you exactly how to prep for and run a half-marathon to your fullest potential.  They are usually written by coaches, doctors, trainers, and so on, people that know what they are talking about.  It’s hard to take someone’s word for it though when it comes to running your best race.


I decided to test out a theory myself a few months back and I ended up running my best half (1:46)!  Other factors (weather, injuries, health issues, etc.) may hinder your chances of achieving a PR so this method is obviously not 100% guaranteed but it has worked for me in terms of running my BEST race given the circumstances.


Miles 1-3:  Warm-up.  These first few miles should be used to simply warm up your body before you settle into the race.

Miles 4-7:  Keep it slow.  Don’t worry about all of those other hot shots passing you.  They don’t know something you don’t and chances are, if you keep it easy in the beginning by going slower than you think you should, you’ll be passing them on the sidelines later down the road.  Just remember, now is not the time to speed up, even if you feel like you may be able to.  Keep it as a nice, comfortable pace and remember that you still have half the race left to run your fastest and you don’t want to hit the wall early.

Miles 8-10:  Around the halfway point (mile 7.5ish), you can start boosting your speed.  My strategy is to try to not let anyone else pass me at this point.  I can pass others, but I’m going to push it just hard enough to keep everyone else behind me.

Mile 11-13.1:  It’s go time!  If you can, start boosting your speed even more.  Let your mind wonder to the scenery around you, the music on your iPod, what you’re going to eat after the race, etc.  You only have about 2 miles left so who cares?  If you held back the first half of the race, you should have reserved energy to give it all you’ve got til the finish line.

Mile 13.2:  Drink a beer (or water), eat a piece of chocolate cake, and rest those legs – you’ve earned it, now enjoy it 🙂

4 thoughts on “How to Run Your Best Half

  1. myrunspiration says:

    It’s in theory a good advice but I find it quite hard in practice. Especially when you orientate yourself around pacers… to judge in the beginning e.g. how slow is slow enough so you can still achieve your goal time…

    • wholefoodrunner says:

      You’re right, it is very hard to judge which is why I try to ignore the pacers (and watches and clocks and anything timing me) altogether and I basically try to hold back so I’m running as comfortably as possible. I’m not saying my method is guaranteed to achieve a goal time (my goal is usually 1:45 and I have yet to hit that) but it’s a way I can race and ensure I’m feeling like I did my best. Best of luck in all your training!!

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