Too Fast for a First Race


Got 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 currently training for my first half marathon and am into Week 9 on The Hal HigdonIntermediate Program. I run my once-a-week long run at 8:30 minutes-per-mile pace, which feels comfortable. Can you give me a better idea for a target pace? I want to be competitive, but not kill myself in the process. Does this pace seem reasonable? My Dad’s first half marathon time of 1:34 is looming over my head.


It really shouldn’t. Don’t worry how fast your Dad ran, at least not for a “first race.” Your main goal for a first race should be to get through it without falling into the trap of trying to match a specific time. Once you finish that first race (whether half marathon or whatever), then you can assess your performance. Was it comfortable? Was it fun? Am I going to do another running race, or is it back to surfing or bowling? But other than saying that, given your description of your long runs feeling “comfortable,” I suspect you’re already on course. At Week 9 in a 12-week program, you’re only 4 weeks out from the race, it is too late to make any radical changes in your training program. Just trust yourself, and we’ll talk in the finishing chute.

About the Author

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 more than a quarter 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 here'or on'his website.

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