Chasing a sub-1:30 half marathon

Hello again, it’s been a while. I’ve run a marathon since we last spoke. It was hard, especially the last five miles when I was just trying to keep myself sane and motivated. But I made it, and in under the four hour time that I’d set myself as a target. 3h55m was my time over the line.

Me and my loyal supporters at the finish line of the Windsor Trail Marathon in October having completed my first marathon ever in just under four hours

The Windsor Trail Marathon course itself was great, I love running along the river and there was lots of that, but the organisation of the day itself left an awful lot to be desired. It’s put my off any future F3 events that’s for sure. I don’t want to get into the detail here, but you can read my review of the race here along with reviews of the two other races I ran in 2018 which goes into it.

So given that all-in-all the whole ‘marathon thing’ went pretty well, I’ve started looking at what devilish challenge I can find to put my body and mind through in 2019. And I’ve come up with three main challenges:

  1. Run a half marathon in under 90 minutes. My current PB is 96 minutes, but shaving those 6 minutes off is going to require a monster effort. I’m planning on attempting this at The Big Half in March 2019.
  2. Run a marathon in under three hours 30 minutes. Another big ask and one I’m currently thinking of doing at the Richmond Runfest Marathon in September 2019.
  3. Complete a Half Ironman Triathlon. As my first triathlon this might be the craziest one on this list, but nevertheless I’ve already signed up for the UK Ultimate 1/2 Triathlon in June 2019. A 1.2 mile lake swim, followed by a 56 mile cycle ride, finishing off with a half marathon run. It takes a typical triathlete around six hours to complete, so should be fun.

The first challenge is to smash The Big Half in March. I started my training last week – loosely following the Runners World sub-1:30 plan – but with one less run a week.

The Big Half Training – Week One

Training started on Tuesday morning with a 1000m swim at the local leisure centre, which has a brilliant 50m pool open every weekday from 7-8am. This time I’m aiming to use swimming as my cross-training.

Tuesday lunchtime was my first running session, starting off with a speedwork session that nearly killed me. 5x 800m sprints with a 200m jog in between. I did this around Osterley Park but hit a bit of traffic crossing the road during the last sprint.

Wednesday and Thursday I ran 8km steady in the dark December evening. Aimed for a 4:40/km pace, but on Thursday I went a bit too fast because my new watch was still set up for miles/minute which got me all confused.

The Severn Valley Railway path that set the scene for my PB-bursting 10k – 41:34!!

I finished the week’s running on Saturday in Bridgnorth by running a time-trial’d 10k along the old Severn Valley Railway route. I was aiming for a 42 minute 10k, so I was super-chuffed to manage it in 41:34. In two weeks time I have to knock another 100 seconds off that… not looking forward to that!

On Sunday I wound-down with my second early-morning swim of the week, this time at Bridgnorth Leisure Centre. The centre has been recently renovated with thanks to lottery funding so the changing rooms were very clean. I was one of only three people in the pool – I guess it’s not everyone’s idea of fun at 7am the Sunday before Christmas, but it was a great start to the day!

Merry Christmas