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Workouts to break 2 hours in the half-marathon

2:10 marathoner Reid Coolsaet offers several workouts designed for those aiming for a sub-two half

Reid Coolsaet is a 2:10 marathoner and two-time Olympian who has moved into the coaching world. The Hamilton native runs a group called Bayfront Endurance on Tuesday evenings and is helping recreational runners reach their goals. Many of the athletes he coaches are hoping to break two hours in the half-marathon. Here are some workouts he recommends for them, and other runners wanting to do the same. Coolsaet says runners should progress volume and pace over the course of a 12- to 16-week build – these paces are a guide. 

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Photo: Maxine Gravina

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Breaking 2 (hours in the half) key workouts

The long run is a key aspect of any training program. Coolsaet recommends that the long run for a half-marathoner reach 24K by the peak of their build. 

Long Run – Run 24K at 5:55 to 6:05 per kilometre. 
 
Tempo is another key system to engage while training for a race or time trial. Coolsaet says runners are looking for about one hour of tempo, slightly ahead of their race pace.
 
SeaWheeze Half-Marathon 2019. Photo: lululemon
 
Tempo workout – Start with a 15-minute warmup at 6:10 per kilometre, one hour of tempo at 5:25 to 5:35 per kilometre and a five- to 15-minute cooldown, depending on the runner’s mileage target (roughly 6:10 per kilometre pace for cooldown).
 
Ahead of a VO2 max workouts (see below), runners should be doing some strides to get their legs ready to move quickly. This is the most efficient way to work speed training into their weekly routine. Strides are 80- to 100-metre accelerations that should feel smooth but fast. Ideally, they’re done on a soft surface like loose gravel or turf. 
 
 
VO2 max workout – Start with a 15-minute warmup at 6:05 per kilometre and four strides. The workout is 4 x 1.2K in 6:00 (which is 5 minutes per kilometre pace) with four minutes’ rest at 6:30 to 7:00 per kilometre (or even a walk) between intervals. Then do a 10- to 15-minute cooldown at around 6:10 per kilometre. 
 
Speedwork is a critical aspect of training, even for a long-distance runner. Speedwork is a great way to get in quality training without all of the volume. 
 
Speed workout – Start with a 15- to 20-minute warmup at 6:05 per kilometre with four strides. Then get into the workout, which is 15 x one minute at 5:10 to 5:20 per kilometre with one minute of active rest (jogging at 6:20 per kilometre between intervals). Finish up with a 10- to 20-minute cooldown at around 6:10 per kilometre.