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This is for you running experts that have run a half-marathon in under two hours. I'd greatly appreciate it if you answered the following three questions...
First, there are no shortcuts, no "tricks", tips, drills, etc. that will make a big difference in a very short period of time. (Two months is short.) I don't know what your training has been like the last few months so I can't tell you what your chances are of getting under 2 hours. If this were my goal, I would want to start specific training 4 to 6 months before the target race.
The best thing you can do is run. Get your long run, gradually, up to about 14 miles. Increase one mile per week.
Do not introduce more than one of the following in any week. Then do it for at least two or three weeks (four would be bestter) before introducing anything else that's new.
Do one run a week at or near (current) race pace, not necessarily your long run but it could be several miles within your long run. This is basically a tempo run.
Interval workouts can also help. Pace on intervals is based on current race pace, not what you want to run. Over time you will find the pace getting easier, at which time you can run them a little faster - emphasis on little. I recommend 800s or longer for half-marrathon training. Some will say shorter intervals work as well. Check the McMillan Running Calculator to determine paces. http://www.mcmillanrunning.com/
Len, has given you some great advice! Shortcuts end up getting you a overuse injury and out of running. Best thing you can do is run more and most important run more smartly. Make a 6 month or year plan and do it correctly.
As usual Lenzlaw has given you very good advice.
I would just add a few things that worked for me:
- Distance. I have consistently run much more than I used to and it is helping me improve my paces and feel more comfortable in them. Important tip, do not increase your mileage too fast or you will get injuried. Build slowly!
- Learn to run slow too. Lately I have been running with my girfriend. One day she got tired of seeing me go running on my own and decided to come along. As a result, I have run many miles at a slightly slower pace that I would have. To my surprise I have found out that this has helped my preparation a great deal. On the one hand, it made it easier for me to reach higher mileages, on the other, learning to adapt to different paces has given me much more awareness of the state my body is in at every moment. By the way, my girlfriend also wanted to go sub 2h in half marathon and ran a 1:50:30 personal best two weeks ago, so go for it!
- Core training: these exercices do not look too important at the begining, but you end up noticing them, in my case, I have improved my running position and imporved some muscular problems.
- Last but not least, hills. For me they are a great way to make your legs stronger and give make improve your lung capacity. It is important to be very careful with this as it is pretty easy to overtrain. At this moment I am treating my hills session the same way as hard speed interval session, so I do one or the other every two or three days. In any case, be very carefull with this as it is easy to overtrain. At the begining I would not do more than one of these sessions every one or two weeks.
5k: 19:53 (December 31st 2014)
10k : 42:30 (March 9th 2014)
Half Marathon: 1:32:40 (February 1st 2015)
After completing my 10th HM it's marathon time! The goal is set for March 15th (after a difficult second half of the training plan goal is set to 3h 30min).
I realize that your post was 2 weeks ago, but I thought that I'd get my two cents in too.
First, everything that lenzlaw, bosnpm, and ydiez have mentioned is so true. You have to have the stamina to go the distance (build up your base miles), and you have to have a strong core. Those guys are right on.
But I'd like to add one other little thing: if you want to run a faster race, you have train that way. In other words, pick one day a week where you will run a specified distance (a distance that fits into your training and distance schedule) at a faster pace than you normally would have run. The net-net here is to get used to running faster - further. This is sort of an extension of doing speed intervals or even hills. The point being to get used to running a little faster for longer periods of time. It's a bit like that old adage: if you don't train hard, you won't run hard.
I try to pick one day a week where, depending on where I am on my program, I'll run that distance pretty hard. I will pre-plan my splits and my end goal time, and track my progress as I'm running. Sometimes I do good, and sometimes not so good (i.e. I don't have the stamina to continue at the pace I wanted), but overall, I know that I'm running a little faster.
Disclaimer: I'm in my 50's and I'll nevery win a medal in my age group - but damn, I'll never give up trying!
If your trying to shave some seconds on race day a few things that have helped me are running with your pace group if that's an option. They'll help keep you on track and motivated. Try not to waste time and enegry weaving in and out of people. Learn to drink your water and take in nutrition while running. Practice your nutrtition on your training runs to avoid pit stops. Don't wear a watch or GPS - run the pace that feels good and you'll find you end up running faster in the long run than if you are constantly looking at your watch and trying to hit a certain pace. The last one was advice I got from an ultra runner and it really works.
I have found the no watch to work best after 2/3 of the race from that point on you race other racers. I tend to like it for the 1st 2/3 so I don't go out to fast and not be able to to race the last 2/3's. good luck