A couple of years ago, I ran 3:10/3:12 marathons. My last race was in August 2011 and I ran a half marathon in 1:33:00. For health reasons, I had to stop running completely for three months. I have now been back running for about eight months - three to four times a week and swimming one to two times per week.
I am running a half marathon in five weeks.
I have consistently been running long runs once a week (missing a couple of weeks but not many) of about 20 to 24km for the past three months - averaging a pace of between 5:00min and 5:16 min per km - two of the last three Sundays I ran 22km at a 5min/km pace.
In the past seven weeks, I have done six weeks of 10-12 x 300m hill repeats (one session per week) and in the last three weeks one speed work session per week for two weeks - the first was 5 x 800m and the second was 6 x 800m.
This past week, I took it easy and did not do a hill or speed session, but did do a long run of 23km (at a 5:13min/km pace).
With five weeks to go, how can I get faster? I want to do 1:33:00, but is that unrealistic? I have not been timing anything but my long runs, which is what I did when I ran 3:10:3:12 marathons - I just focus on effort.
I was planning on running four runs per week for the next four weeks:
Sunday - long run 23 - 24km (5:00 - 5:13 min pace) Monday - recovery run - 9 - 11km easy effort Tuesday - off Wednesday - speed work alternating one week of 8 x 800m (400m jogs between) with 4 x 1600m (800m jogs between) Thursday - swim of 2.5k alternating fast and slow laps Friday - 14 -15km run with moderate to hard effort Saturday - swim of 2.5k alternating fast and slow laps
Personally I wouldn't change anything that you're already doing. Sprints and hill repeats are the fastest way to build strength and raise your aerobic threshold which will allow you to hold a higher level of effort during the race. At 5 weeks out with the distance part of the equation complete I'd just focus on threshold work with one more longer run around 15 to 18 km 2 or 3 weeks out from the big day. Be sure to allow that 2 week taper and then relax on race day ready to reap the rewards of your hard work.
Will you make 1:33? I have no idea, but you'll have a great day and will always have another race later to try and improve on regardless of how you do this time. I do triathlons for fun and I don't feel my 42 years either given I can run the legs off my nephew who's a high school football star.