We asked Jack why he doesn’t include half marathon pace in his training pace options.
Dr. Daniels: I added training at Marathon Pace as an option because M-pace is slower than any of the training paces used for improving a physiological function, except Long Easy runs, which produces the same physiological benefits as M-pace. Also, running at M-pace can provide psychological benefit for people who will be running a marathon for the first time.
Some runners also like to train at their 5k or 10k race pace, and I am sure others can justify training at 10-mile or 15k race pace or any other race pace that may lie ahead. Basically, I like to feel that every training session is benefiting some physiological system, and that M-pace can be beneficial for beginners since they will not be racing a marathon in preparation for another coming marathon. I am not against a runner spending some time at the pace of a coming race, but shorter-than-marathon race distances are also at paces that some type of training can accomplish.
If someone wants to spend a couple workouts practicing half-marathon pace, I see no problem in that, especially if there is a lot of time prior to the half-marathon race. Primarily, a runner can just assume half-marathon pace is a little slower than Threshold pace, and it’s better not try to race a half at T-pace.
I usually suggest that it is better to go a little slower than your VDOT equivalent for the first half of a half marathon. Try to negative-split the race. If you can negative split a half (or a full marathon for that matter) then you know what you can try doing in your next attempt over that distance. I hope this is helpful.
Do you like to incorporate half marathon pace in your training? Let us know in the comments.