A half marathon is a challenging race that requires both physical and mental preparation. One important aspect of this preparation is pacing. Nailing your pacing can make all the difference between a strong finish and a painful last few miles. Ensure you think about your pacing prior to your half marathon.
Start by working out what time you are aiming to finish in. For example, if you are aiming for 1 hour 40mins, then this is an average pace of 4:44mins per km. Sticking to an exact pace to the second is a tough job, so I would recommend targeting a pace range of 3-4s either side of your target pace. For the 1hour 40mins runner, this would be a pace range of 4:41-4:47min per km. I would then break down your half marathon into three sections. Head Coach Ben breaks down his approach to pacing a half marathon into three chunks of 7km:
The first 7 km is the 'easy' or 'free' section. At this point, you're fresh and it should be relatively easy to hold your target pace. It's important not to get ahead of yourself and start running too fast, as this can lead to regret later in the race. This can be an easily done.
This is the 'meaty" or 'hard' section. By this point, you'll likely be feeling fatigue in your legs but it's still important to aim to maintain your pace. If you're holding back, allow yourself to speed up by 5 seconds per km. By reaching the 14 km mark, you're two-thirds done. Focus on this mental achievement to help through this section.
Final 7 km
This is the fun part! By this point, you'll be physically tired. However, if you can get into the mindset that it's the final stretch, it'll be easier to maintain good form and enjoy the rest of the race. If you have anything left in the tank, increase your pace for this entire section, instead of saving it all for the last 1 km.
The final 500m is a chance to reward yourself for all the hard work you've put into training and completing the race. Use this thought to push yourself to the finish line in style!
Best of luck for race day! You've got this.