How Do I Improve My Half Marathon Time?

I’m more of a 3 hour half marathon runner. I do have a goal of setting a 2:45 PR by the end of this year or really 2:30 by end of year … How do I get faster and build endurance to make it to a 2:45 race finish by April? I am not running the Country Music Half Marathon, but I am doing a race in Kentucky that day. Also, I seem to have great time the first 10 miles. The last 5K takes me to that 3 hour window. By mile 11, no amount of nutrition, hydration, or willpower can help me maintain my sub-3 hour time. I end up with at 17-minute overall pace. I want to take that down to at least 14 or 15. Any advice?”
~LaTamera in Nashville

Hi, LaTamera. What’s your 5K pace? It can help determine what your half marathon pace will be.

The best way to get fast is to run faster. That means adding interval training, fartleks and speed sessions to your weekly training. Read more about those kind of runs here.

Click here to download an Excel file of speed sessions I used two years ago to improve my half marathon time by about 15 minutes. Find a track, run two miles at 100 percent and plug your time into cell C6. The Excel sheet will automatically populate what your times should be for all of the workouts over 10 weeks. I hope this helps.

I know how it feels to hit the wall. The top issues that come to my mind that could be keeping you from maintaining your goal pace for the last 5K are nutrition, endurance and motivation. Are you fueling the right way in the days before the race and during the race? Is your longest training run at least 14 miles? Are you giving yourself time to taper in the last weeks before the race? Do you have the mental stamina for 13 miles? I’ll help you answer all these questions over the next few weeks in a series written for runners training for their first long-distance race.

I am leading a half marathon training group of mostly first timers again this year with East Nasty to train for the Country Music Half Marathon on April 25. Click here to sign up for the training group and view the schedule.

Please don’t hesitate to shoot me more questions as you continue training. I’d be happy to answer them here.


Harvest Half Marathon Race Recap

What? Harvest Half Marathon
Who? 211 runners
When? Nov. 1, 2014
Where? Brentwood, Tennessee
How much? $55 to $75

the bRUNcher at the start line

My Finish? 2:42:17
The Swag? Long-sleeved technical shirt, medal and bumper sticker
The Good? comradery
The Bad? wind chill

Much like the Franklin Half Marathon in June, this month’s Harvest Half Marathon reminded me that I need to get out of the city and enjoy landscapes other than my comfortable urban corridor. The 13.1 miles of rolling hills were an out-and-back course that started at the Brentwood YMCA and took runners on a greenway connecting McMansion suburbia and a public high school.


It was a terribly cold morning, with the temperature hovering just above freezing. Thankfully, the YMCA was a warm shelter before the race, and the first few miles of the greenway were sandwiched between tall trees. But the middle of the course, especially around Ravenwood High School was wide open, and without the protection of the trees, the wind was brutal.

Since the Harvest Half is a small, community race, runners crossed the start line in self-appointed waves beginning with sub 7-minute miles. I took off with the 11-minute plus wave. Since my runs have been spotty at best lately, I again used a run/walk interval of 2:30/1, which was fine until the last mile, which seemed to take forever. As I was lapped by runners on the “back” of the course, they yelled encouraging words as I slowed to a walk. Not only were the faster runners crazy encouraging but also the slower folks I passed, who also shared motivational words and made it difficult to stay mad at the wind.
signs along the trail

The Harvest Half would make a great course for a first-time half marathoner. You’d be able to enjoy your first half marathon without experiencing heal crushing, crowed water stations and parking problems I’ve experience with other popular, mega half marathons while still being challenged with hills and receiving perks like pizza and medals for finishers. The scenery and comradery are enough to push you to the finish line.

Women’s Running Series Nashville Half Marathon Race Recap

wrsnash swag

What? Women’s Running Series Half Marathon Who? 2,292 runners When? Sept. 27, 2014 Where? Nashville, Tennessee How much? $90 My Finish? 2:46:12 The Swag? technical T-shirt, medal and tote bag The Good? bottomless mimosas The Bad? … [Continue reading]

Running Undertrained

So I am running the Women's Running Nashville Half Marathon this fall, and to say that I am undertrained would be a bit of an understatement. It's a bit of déjà vu to when the race was my first half marathon three years ago. Back in 2012, I … [Continue reading]

Disneyland Half Marathon Race Recap

antique car

What? Disneyland Half Marathon (part two of the Dumbo Double Dare) Who? 15,977 runners When? Aug. 31, 2014 Where? Anaheim, California How much? $341.30 for the Dumbo Double Dare My Finish? 3:14:12 fun run The Swag? technical T-shirt and … [Continue reading]

Disneyland 10K Race Recap

with lilo and stitch

What? Disneyland 10K (part one of the Dumbo Double Dare) Who? 9,607 runners When? Aug. 30, 2014 Where? Disneyland in Anaheim, California How much? $341.30 for the Dumbo Double Dare My Finish? 1:33:55 fun run The Swag? technical T-shirt … [Continue reading]

Boston Runcation

boston freedom trail

Earlier this month, Traughber and I went to Boston for a mini runcation. Actually, he was there for business, and I tagged along to explore the city in my running shoes. With our busy schedules and the stress of wedding planning, it was a much needed … [Continue reading]

Peachtree Road Race Recap

ajc peachtree road race 2014

What? AJC Peachtree Road Race 10K Who? 60,000 runners and 200,000 spectators When? July 4, 2014 Where? Peachtree Road in Atlanta from Lenox Square Mall to Piedmont Park Who? 60,000 runners and walkers How much? $38 registration plus $12 for … [Continue reading]

Franklin Half Marathon Race Recap

the bRUNcher

What? Franklin Half Marathon Where? rural Franklin, Tennessee When? June 7, 2014 Who? 664 runners How much? $60 to $80 depending on registration date My finish? 2:33:23 Swag? technical T-shirt, medal, peaches The Good: scenery, water … [Continue reading]

Second Quarter 2014 Fitness Goal Check In

2014-07-09 06.36.53

Contrary to appearances, I have not abandoned my blog. I'm still running, although not enjoying bRUNch as much. To prove it, and to help with accountability this year, I’m checking in on my 2014 fitness goals. 1. I am a vegetarian. It has been … [Continue reading]