Strategy for Running a Half Marathon

The time has finally come, the day of the race is here, and all your training days are now going to be put to the test. In this blog we will look at the best strategies to implement on race day of your half marathon. You have probably spent twelve or fourteen weeks in preparation and now it is time to put all that effort into a race scenario. It would be a great pity to put all those early mornings and after work runs to little use by having a poor strategy during the race and so in this blog we will give some pointers.

The Night Before

Start your build up to race day the night before, make sure your hydration levels are perfect and get a good night’s rest. Prepare your kit well in advance and anything you may need for the run.


Make sure you arrive at the race venue at least one hour before the race, this will ensure you have enough time to register and do a full warm up. Prepare as you do for all your training runs, this will help settle your nerves. Take a short even-paced ten-minute run, another ten minutes of easy stretching then three thirty second strides, you should start this about forty minutes before the race starts.

Overall Strategy

Try to replicate your last few weeks of training runs, run a patient and conservative race at the start for about five kilometers or so. After that relax and stay with the pack but keep your pace up, then attack the last kilometer and a half of the course. Most experienced runners and medal winners use this strategy, running negative splits, the first half slower than the second. You will of course practice this many time in training so it should be natural to you.

First 5K

At the start you should run a mile five or ten seconds slower  than your race tempo, this will feel slow and other runners may pass you but don’t get anxious, stick to your strategy. This may feel strange as you will not have experienced it in training but it is the correct way to run a half marathon.

Middle Section

As you get closer to the 5K mark increase your speed up to your race tempo and start to look at catching up on the competitors that passed you. A good way to do this is to find a group of runners that are running at your pace and keep up with them. Get into groove and keep up with this pack, it will take your mind off the distance you are running, this is the hardest part of the race. You will feel the pain at around 8K so be prepared for it and think confidently that you have done it all before in training.

Final Mile

A kilometer and a half to go and finish with a surge of speed, lift your head up and your first objective is to pass the runners immediately ahead of you. Outrun them in one by one, as you pass the first runner concentrate on the next, then the next after that etc. These tips should help for your race day strategy, remember that race day is all about being confident and knowing that you are in the best possible condition to race.

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