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How to Shave Time Off Your Half Marathon PR

Squeezing in one more race before it gets cold and you're trapped on a treadmill? Here are 9 tips from a running expert on how to improve your long-distance time.

3. Catch Your Breath – Skip the urge to take quick, shallow breaths. Instead, follow a 2,2 breathing rhythm. Take two steps (right, left) while you breathe in and two steps (right, left) while you breathe out. Not sure if you’re running too fast? Try this test. On an easy run, you should be able to follow a slower 3,3 breathing rhythm. Can’t? Slow down.

4. Train Anaerobically – Once you’ve done a few races, push yourself with interval training. Run hard for three minutes, then rest for two at a speed you could race at for 12 to 15 minutes. New to intervals? Try running relatively hard for ten right foot falls, then walk for five or push yourself to jog for ten. Repeat by increments of 10 up to 100, and come back down. Because you’re not tracking miles, this workout gets your mind off of immediate mile markers.

5. Push Yourself – For the biggest benefit, train with threshold training. Go out for runs that incorporate sets of six to 20 minutes at a pace 12-20 seconds faster than the pace you’re planning to run the half. (If you’re running shorter sets at pace, run 4-5 sets. Or, choose 1-2 sustained sets at for a longer time frame.) This sustained pace at threshold mimics the benefits of explosive cardio training, so your legs will get used to the pace and you’ll be able to run more comfortably in your desired race pace on race day.

6. Forget Runs Less Than 30 Minutes– A 10 to 15 minute run means you’re likely spending more time showering and changing clothes, so for a real benefit, pick up the mileage and put down the soap. Try to get to the point where the least you run is 30 minutes. That way, you’ll have a solid sustained cardio foundation to work from on race day—the extra mileage pays off because your body will be used to sustained running. Anything below 30 minutes will likely be a waste of time.

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