Hi, I'm training for my first race, a half-marathon. I've been building kilometers with little attention to speed for the last couple months. Just got a brand new sportsband yesterday and, yikes, now I can see, approximately, my time and pace! Will I see any benefit to doing speed work in the last month before the race? If so, what kind of work do you recommend? I hear over and over that I shouldn't be too focused on time this first race, but sub 2 hours shouldn't be too ambitious.
. . . Will I see any benefit to doing speed work in the last month before the race? If so, what kind of work do you recommend? . . .
You won't see much, if any, benefit in a month. You could start now anyway, just don't expect to see much improvement. Add speedwork carefully, one day a week. Fartlek is probably the best way to go for now. Do random pickups during one of your regular runs. Pick a spot down the road - say, a sign, a power pole, or an intersection. Run at a faster pace until you reach it, then go easy until you recover. Repeat as needed. After your race, check into intervals and tempo runs. These are much more structured and take a little planning to work them into your training.
I hear over and over that I shouldn't be too focused on time this first race, but sub 2 hours shouldn't be too ambitious.
Only if your training and fitness are at that level. There are a lot of regular runners who would be very happy to get under 2:15, or 2:30, or 3:00!
I agree with Len, and want to add a suggested workout and a big warning about trying to add speedwork in the month before your race.
First, the suggestion -- hills. Hills serve many of the same purposes as speedwork, but are easier on your body.
Second, the warning. Speedwork, especially when introduced too soon (i.e., before your body is fully conditioned), frequently leads to injuries.
I would take it easy with the idea of speed, adding only hills or fartlek, before your 1/2 marathon.
"Victory through attrition!"
Charleston Half-Marathon 1/15/2011 -- 1:52:03
The Scream! Half-Marathon 7/16/2011 -- 1:56:00