below is a Q&A with coach jay from the nike plus blog, inside nike running. it's really relevant for me since i'm starting to increase my mileage, and ultimately (and hopefully) run a half-marathon before the 2009 ends.
I just ran the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville in a time of 1:55. I didn’t really train besides running 10 to 13 miles three to four times a week. I really want to improve my time. When and what training do I need to do so I can be ready for next year’s half marathon?
Wow, what an interesting email. My first thought? You need to be particular about your running routes and make sure they are truly 10 and 13 miles. You can obviously use Nike+ to do this or you can use some type of mapping software. Regardless, you should go back and map out your runs. If you’re off by even a half-mile on a 10+ mile run, it will significantly impact your pace.
Second, if you complete three runs per week at the distances you listed below that’s FANTASTIC work. You just have to work a little smarter and harder. You ran at about an 8:45 mile pace for the half marathon. That makes the ‘track math’ for a faster race as easy as an 8:00 minute pace. That’s simply 2:00 per lap (400m) or 1:00 per half lap (200m). So, find a local track to start and end your workout from. You can do a 10 mile run on local roads near the track, running easy for 3 miles, then running the next 3 miles at a pace that is comfortable but not easy, and ending at a local track. Once you’re at the track, do this succession: run 4 laps at 2:00 a lap for an 8:00 minute mile, jog 400m SLOWLY, run another mile in 8:00 minutes, jog 400m slowly, run a final mile in 8:00 minutes and then finally jog 800m-1,600m as your cool down. This will help you get a feel for the 8:00 minute pace, which is just under 1:45 for a half marathon. It will also help you learn how to run a little faster in training, even when you’re tired.
Finally, consider adding a longer long run in each week. 15 or 16 miles is not unrealistic for someone with your running background. Also, you can see if you can make the last 20-30 minutes of the run your goal half marathon pace.
The number of quality days you have are fine and you don’t need to change that, but you do need to do some running at your goal half marathon pace, even if it’s in your 10 to 13 mile training runs.
Good luck Kevin and thanks for the intriguing question.