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6 Half-Marathon Tips from Kim Conley

Kim shares tips around preparation and strategy for 13.1

Unlike many professional runners, Team NB’s Kim Conley refuses to limit herself to just one distance event. Instead, she embraces opportunities to train for and race new distances because to her, they’re a part of her goal of becoming the strongest athlete she can be.

Although she is one of the top U.S. 5,000m and 10,000m runner, Kim has impressive wheels when she drops down in distance, boasting a mile PB of 4:24.54. However, when she decided to bump up to the half marathon, she 

 

chose to focus on the half marathon  the U.S. Half Marathon Championships in 2015

 

On January 18th, she raced her first half marathon ever in Houston, Texas, at the U.S. Half Marathon Championships. Although she was a rookie at the distance, Kim relied on hard work and guile to best a field of decorated road runners. In the end, she crossed the finish line at 1:09:44, which averages to just under 5:20 per mile, capturing her first U.S. Half Marathon title.

A native track runner, Kim is known for her seeking out new races outside of her usual 5,000m and 10,000m distances, especially during the winter months. Boasting a mile PR of 4:24.54,

 

and a U.S. Half Marathon title, Kim has proved she can be lethal at any distance. 

Kim shares what she learned with runners who are looking to take on 13.1 for the first time. 

From Kim:

“This was my first time racing the half marathon, so I can certainly empathize with anyone who is taking on the distance for the first time. The following are some insights I gathered about the process leading up to and during the race.”

Preparation: “There is a lot of preparation that takes place in the months and weeks leading up to a big race. The most obvious is the training necessary for you to get to the line fit enough to reach your goal, but some are less obvious, like practicing taking fluids on the run, deciding what is best to eat on race morning, how to structure pre-race warmup and deciding which shoe to wear. I had practice sessions that involved experimenting with all of these components so I had a firm plan in place for race day.”

Pacing: “Rehearse race pace during training, but include paces slower and faster than race pace in your workouts, as well. My goal pace per mile for this half marathon was 5:20, so we did many workouts centered around that pace. However, we also did some higher-volume workouts at a slightly slower pace, as well as some shorter workouts at my 5k pace.

“On race day, the women's pack spent the first few miles running slower than my goal pace, but I wound the pace down a lot once I broke away in the final miles and ended up averaging my goal pace. It felt really comfortable to be controlled early and run fast later in the race, so I was glad I had rehearsed a full spectrum of paces in my training.”

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Patience: “The half marathon is a long race! I waited a full 10 miles before I started pushing the pace and left enough in the tank to be able to give everything I had in the last mile, so patience is important.”

Practice racing: “A tune-up race, especially one shorter than the 13.1-mile goal, puts you in a race setting and gives you the chance to rehearse all the 'preparation' details. I did a road race 'double' about a month out from the half marathon and experimented with my pre-race meal, warm-up routine and shoe choice.

“I tried to run 10k at my half marathon goal pace before racing a 5k an hour later with whatever I had left. The 10k felt harder than I hoped it would, but it provided me with valuable feedback about my training and gave me an idea of work I still needed to do in the month ahead. I had been running my workouts in the RC1600, the RC1400 and the Fresh Foam Zante, so this gave me a chance to consider what I should wear on race day for the half marathon. I love wearing all of them, but ended up selecting the RC1400.”

Know the course: “Before the U.S. Half Marathon Championships, I studied the course map carefully, watched video coverage from last year and then wrote out directions for a taxi driver to take me on a course preview the day before. I definitely felt like my approach was worth the investment on race day because it allowed me to visualize the course in advance and recognize certain landmarks during the race to help me execute my race plan.”

Remain calm: “During the race, don't panic about the pace or how your feeling, and if plan “A” isn't working, don't be afraid to adjust your plan, as needed. I was slower than my goal pace for a lot of race but elected to race the field and I waited until I knew I was feeling really good late in the race to pick up the pace.”

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