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Running a half-marathon? Try this alternating tempo run

This tough session will help you crush your half-marathon PB

Nate Brannen Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

The half-marathon is a unique distance. Thanks to its blend of speed and endurance, runners need to include workouts that improve their stamina as well as workouts that improve their long speed, if they want to see their finish time come down. If you’ve got a half-marathon on the calendar, try this alternating tempo run to help you practise nailing your goal pace, even when you’re tired.

The goal of this workout is to improve your stamina, or your ability to run faster for longer. The working part of the session is five miles (8 km) in length, during which you alternate between half-marathon pace and marathon pace each mile (every 1.6 kilometres). 

Mississauga Half Marathon
2023 Mississauga Half Marathon start. Photo: Mississauga Half Marathon

Because there is no rest during the workout, it’s very important to be vigilant about your pace. You may be tempted to run too fast at the beginning of the workout (a common mistake runners make during half-marathons), but the miles will start to add up. This workout requires you to know both your half-marathon pace and your marathon pace. If you haven’t run a marathon yet, you can plug your half-marathon pace into a pace calculator to get your target marathon pace (spoiler alert: it will likely be 15-30 seconds per mile slower than your half-marathon pace).

Note: If this is your first half-marathon and your goal is just to make it to the finish line, the amount of time you spend running (at an easy pace) leading up to your goal race is the most important thing. In that case, this workout may not be necessary. If you’re chasing a specific time goal or looking to improve on your last performance, keep reading.

Monterey Bay Half Marathon
Photo: Big Sur Marathon Foundation

The workout

Warmup: 15-20 minutes easy jog

Workout: 

1 mile at half-marathon pace

1 mile at marathon pace

1 mile at half-marathon pace

1 mile at marathon pace

1 mile at half-marathon pace

Cooldown: 10-15 minutes easy jog

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