How to Smash a Sub-2 Hour Half-Marathon

How to Smash a Sub-2 Hour Half-Marathon

  • 21 October 2020
  • |
  • First Ascent

With better weather making a welcome comeback, and most South Africans embracing the outdoors like never before, we want to share a tried-and-tested 14-week training programme to give you the best possible chance of smashing a sub-2hour 21km run.

*Important to note, this training programme is to be followed if you already possess a moderate level of fitness. Always consult your healthcare practitioner if you're concerned about injuries or niggles.

Running Jargon Explained

Tempo Run: Aim to run between 10 and 15 seconds faster per km than your race pace. This is generally fast enough to make it uncomfortable to have a conversation - which is great, considering you'll want to scale back on any chatting, and focus more on maintaining your tempo.

Race Pace: This is the speed you're aiming to run on D-Day. If you're aiming for a sub-2 hour half, you should be reasonably comfortable with maintaining 5.40/km.

Long Run: This generally refers to a continuous run of approximately 2 hours at moderate intensity. Distance covered is not always something to be concerned about when planning long runs, as time spent on legs can prove to be just as valuable for smashing your goal.

Speed Sessions: Shorter distance reps at 75%-85% of your maximum effort. The effort you put into your speed sessions will greatly improve how you perceive the ideal race pace of 5.40/km (i.e. making this pace feel more manageable over a longer distance).

Recovery Run: Purposefully slowing down your pace to avoid injury, yet still building mileage on tired legs to improve your endurance. Recovery runs should generally not exceed 6km in distance.

Hill Reps: Nothing forces your muscles to burn like hill repeats. This conditioning assists with preparing your muscles for virtually any terrain. The key here is to keep your uphill speed consistent, while the downhills are there for a slower trot to allow you to catch your breath.

Warming Up - The Stiff, The Sore and The Ugly

Gallops: Gallop sideways for approximately 80-100m, then change direction.

Side Gallops_FA_Running_Blog_2020
High Knees: Stand in one spot and lift your knees to roughly waist height and combine with exaggerated jumps.

High Knees_Running_Blog_2020

Walking Lunges: Focus on maintaining your posture and keeping your core activated. Alternate legs for approximately 40m, then change direction.

Walking_Lunges_Running_Warmup_Blog_2020

Butt Kicks: Legs shoulder width apart, flex your right knee and kick your right heel up towards your glute. Alternate both legs for roughly 40m.

Butt_Kicks_Running_Warmup_Blog_2020

Your 21km Training Programme Broken Down

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Son Time
1 Rest Easy Run
30min 
@6.00-6.45
Rest Easy Run
30min 
@6.00-6.45
Hill Reps
40min

10min warmup
4x (4min up, 3min easy down)
10min cool down
Rest Long Run
55min
@6.00-6.45
+-2hr30
2 Rest Easy Run 
35min 
@6.00-6.45
Rest Easy Run
30min 
@6.00-6.45
Hill Reps 
40min

10min warmup
4x (4min up, 3min easy down)
10min cool down
Rest Long Run 
60min 
@6.00-6.45
+-2hr45
3 Rest Easy Run
40min @6.00-6.45
Rest Easy Run 
35min @6.00-6.45
Tempo Run
35min

10min @6.00-6.45
15min @5.20-5.30
10min cool down
Rest Long Run 
1hr10 @6.00-6.45
+-3hr
4 Rest Easy Run 
35min @6.00-6.45
Rest Easy Run
30min @6.00-6.45
Hill Reps
45min

10min warmup
8x (2min up, 2min easy down)
10min cool down
Rest Long Run 
60min @6.00-6.45
+- 2hr50
5 Rest Tempo Intervals
45min

10min @6.00-6.45
3x (8min @5:15-5:25, 3min @6.00-6.45)
10min cool down
Rest Easy Run
40min @6.00-6.45
Hill Reps
45min

10min @6.00-6.45
6x (3min up, 2min easy down)
10min cool down
Rest Long Run
1hr15 @6.00-6.45
+- 3hr25
6 Rest Tempo Run 
40min

10min @6.00-6.45
20min @5.20-5.30
10min cool down
Rest Easy Run
40min @6.00-6.45
Hill Reps
50min

10min @6.00-6.45
5x (4min up, 3min easy down)
10min cool down
Rest Long Run 
1hr30 @6.00-6.45
+- 3hr40
7 Rest Tempo Intervals 
55min

10min @6.00-6.45
3x (10min @5:15-5:25, 4min @6.00-6.45)
10min cool down
Rest Easy Run 
40min @6.00-6.45
Hill Reps
45min

10min @6.00-6.45
3x (6min up, 5min easy down)
10min cool down
Rest Long Run 
1hr40 @6.00-6.45
+- 4hr
8 Rest Tempo Run 
40min

10min @6.00-6.45
20min @5.20-5.30
10min cool down
Rest Easy Run 
40min @6.00-6.45
Hill Reps
50min

10min @6.00-6.45
4x (5min up, 4min easy down)
10min cool down
Rest Long Run 
1hr10 @6.00-6.45
+- 3hr20
9 Rest Speed Intervals 
55min

15mins @6.00-6.45 + warmup
8x (800m @5.05-5.10, 2min walk recovery)
10min cool down
Rest Easy Run 
45min @6.00-6.45
Tempo Intervals
55min

10min @6.00-6.45
4x (8min @5:15-5:25, 2min @6.00-6.45)
10min cool down
Rest Long Run 
1hr35 @6.00-6.45
+- 4hr20
10 Rest Speed Intervals 
1hr10

15mins @6.00-6.45 + warmup
10x 600m @5.00-5.05, 2min walk recovery
10min cool down
Rest Easy Run 
50min @6.00-6.45
Tempo Intervals
55min

10min @6.00-6.45
2x (15min @5:20-5:30, 5min @6.00-6.45)
10min cool down
Rest Long Run 
1hr50 @6.00-6.45
+- 4hr35
11 Rest Speed Intervals 
55min

15mins @6.00-6.45 + warmup
6x (1000m @5.05-5.10, 2min walk recovery)
10min cool down
Rest Easy Run 
50min @6.00-6.45
Hill Reps
45min

10min warmup
8x (2min up, 2min easy down)
10min cool down
Rest Long Run
2hr @6.00-6.45
+- 4hr45
12 Rest Tempo Run
50min

10min @6.00-6.45
20min @5.20-5.30
10min cool down
Rest Easy Run 
50min @6.00-6.45
Hill Reps
50min

10min warmup
6x (3min up, 3min easy down)
10min cool down
Rest Long Run 
1hr30 @6.00-6.45
+- 4hr
13 Rest Speed Intervals 
60min

15mins @6.00-6.45 + warmup
6x (1200m @5.05-5.10, 2min walk recovery)
10min cool down
Rest Easy Run 
50min @6.00-6.45
Tempo Intervals 
60min

10min @6.00-6.45
2x (20min @5:20-5:30, 5min @6.00-6.45)
10min cool down
Rest Race Simulator
2hr

25min @6.00-6.45
70min @5.35-5.40
25min @6.00-6.45
+- 4hr50
14 Rest Speed Intervals 
60min

15mins @6.00-6.45 + warmup
8x (800m @5.00-5.05, 2min walk recovery)
10min cool down
Rest Easy Run 
50min @6.00-6.45
Easy Run 
60min @6.00-6.45
Rest 10km Race
(similar to half-marathon route)

Warm up well
Finish: 52-53mins
+- 4hr05

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