Predicting Performance

BY Hal Higdon

The half marathon has provided us with an effective predictor distance. I agree that it is difficult to motivate yourself doing a "time trial" half marathon vs. a real half marathon.

Have a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I am using your Novice 2 program with bits of Boston Bound put in to help with the hills. Today I had scheduled a half marathon race, but sadly it got cancelled two minutes from start time due to power lines coming down. So I went home and ran my own half—a 13-mile workout–but it was just not then same. I had planned to use the half as a predictor for Boston, but I could not motivate myself to run 13 miles as fast in a workout compared to in a race. Unfortunately, there are no other convenient halfs that would fit into my training plan. Do you have any suggestions on how I can come up with a race pace for the Boston Marathon?


The various prediction engines work best if you feed them a time from a race distance as close to the goal distance as possible. Thus, given their availability, the half marathon has provided us with an effective predictor distance. I agree that it is difficult to motivate yourself doing a “time trial” half marathon vs. a real half marathon. There’s something about pinning a number on your singlet that motivates you to run faster, to hit 100 percent, to achieve a race time that translates to other distances—and that includes downward in distance too. But time-trialing is better than nothing. And maybe you will arrive at a conservative prediction, which is not always a bad idea given all the things that can happen in the closing miles if you go out to fast. The other option would be to do a race at a different distance. Even a 5-K or a 10-K time may allow yourself some insight into your current level of fitness.

Avatar1501767801 7
About Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for ‘Runner’s World‘ and author of 34 books, including the best-selling ‘Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide’. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that over a quarter of a million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks. Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans — check out more of Hal Higdon’s training plans on his website.