Most runners find themselves wanting to run a faster half marathon after finishing a race with relative ease. Regardless of whether goals were met or exceeded on race day, it is natural to want to increase speed for the next.
Running is a sport that provides opportunities for endless improvement. Some runners spend years trying to get a faster half marathon finish, while others get faster with each and every race.
How do I increase my speed for a half marathon?
Running a faster half marathon requires an increase in fitness. Strength, mobility, mental toughness and mileage all play a role in increasing running speed.
In order to increase your half marathon speed, you’ll need to complete weekly long runs, run intervals and tempo miles, all while fitting in time to rest, recover and strength train.
What is a fast time for a half marathon?
According to RunRepeat, the average half marathon finish time in the United States is around 2 hours and 10 minutes. In order to be considered “above average”, which could arguably be considered fast, you’ll need to finish in less than two hours and ten minutes.
This same study also showed that half marathon finish times have been steadily increasing throughout the 1900s. This could be due to the popularity of races increasing, as more and more people are completing the half marathon distance.
If you’re not competing on an elite level, or running for the prize money, a fast half marathon is relative. Finishing even a few seconds faster than your previous half marathon time is certainly worthy of celebration.
8 Tips to Run a Faster Half Marathon
Whether you’re hoping to chop ten minutes or more off your half marathon finish time, or simply aiming to improve by a few seconds, staying focused and consistent during training is crucial. Here are a few strategies to help you run a faster half marathon in no time.
Vary your workouts
Without variety, your body is never given the chance to adapt to different stressors. Each type of workout and run serves a specific purpose. Including as many long runs, easy runs, hill workouts, intervals, tempo runs and strides as possible will help you gain optimal strength and endurance.
Stay consistent with long runs
Regardless of whether you’re training to run a faster half marathon or finish your first, long runs are key to success. If nothing else, be sure to fit in that weekly long run.
Keep the easy runs easy
One of the biggest mistakes runners make when training for a distance race is to run too fast during their easy runs and long runs. Long and easy runs should be completed slowly. As in, 90 – 120 seconds slower per mile than your goal pace. It might feel dreadfully slow, but your body will thank you on race day.
Include hill runs
Hill workouts are actually speedwork in disguise. While you may not actually be running that fast on the uphill, you’ll be building those fast-twitch muscle fibers to help you nail a faster half marathon finish on race day.
Practice your fueling
Even if you complete every single workout during training, it’ll be nearly impossible to increase your speed without proper fueling. In order to nail your fueling on race day, you’ll need to practice during training.
Complete a few trial runs with your water and fuel strategy during those last few long runs to ensure you’re prepared for race day.
Make time for strength and rest
Training to for a goal half marathon will no doubt be exhausting. As your body is pushed to new limits, be sure to listen to its cues and take time to rest and strength train each week.
Running alone is not enough to improve your fitness; adding in a weekly strength workout as well as a complete rest day will help balance your fitness.
Practice at race pace
While most of the training will be spent running significantly faster or slower than your goal pace, it’s helpful to sprinkle in a few miles at race pace. Throwing a mile or two into a couple different long runs will help boost your mental strength and gain confidence for race day.
Envision your finish
If you can’t picture your finish, it probably won’t happen. A big part of running a faster half marathon is believing in yourself and envisioning it happening. Take time to picture yourself crossing the finish line and meeting your goals – and you’ll set yourself up for it to happen.
Race Day Strategies for a Faster Half Marathon Finish
Once the training is complete, most runners feel that they are at the mercy of race day conditions. Something as simple as unprecedented humidity or large crowds can really throw us for a loop.
However, you can set yourself up to overcome the hurdles by creating a simple strategy to conquer all of the “known” on race day. Here are a few tactics to consider on race day which will help you nail a faster finish.
- Run the tangents
- Skip the aid stations
- Follow a pacer
- Conquer the hills
- Stay focused on your goals
It might take one or many different training cycles to improve your half marathon finish time, but when it happens, it’s always worth celebrating. Enjoy the journey, celebrate the successes and learn from the process each time.