Busy life? Try the extended warm down

Ideally, I like to spread my training out over 4 to 6  days of the week, but practicalities can dictate otherwise.

When I am trying to introduce more intense work such as intervals, hills or sustained tempo runs, whilst also building up the mileage, it can be a squeeze.  The extended warm down can be a solution to this, effectively giving ‘two sessions for the price of one’.  Here’s an example.

Yesterday, having been unable to train for two days due to having very long working  hours, I decided to do a thirty minute tempo run.  As usual, I did ten minutes easy running as warm up before beginning my more intense effort.  However, on completing the thirty minutes at a higher tempo, I continued running at an easy pace for a further forty minutes, giving a total of eighty minutes running, which equates to a decent endurance session.  I noticed during the ‘warm down’ that my legs initially felt fairly heavy, as one might expect after a relatively hard effort, but after about ten minutes this feeling disappeared and my running felt as easy as if I had been running at this speed for the whole session.   Which perhaps suggests that the extended warm down might actually be more effective at clearing any lactic acid in the muscles, in comparison to a more standard warm down of say ten minutes.  Today I went out for a 45 minute easy run and felt fine, with no obvious carry over fatigue or stiffness from yesterday’s session, which perhaps provides further evidence for the effectiveness of the ‘two for the price of one’ session in terms of recovery.  It’s as if the two elements complement each other.  The faster work makes the steady running seem easy, at least psychologically, whilst the sustained period of slower running more effectively clears the muscles of lactic acid.

First marathon target time setting

If you have trained for and completed a half-marathon then you can work out your target time in a number of ways:

  • Double your half-marathon time and add 10-15 mins.
  • Add 30-45 seconds per mile to your half-marathon pace
  • Multiply your half-marathon time by 2.1.


I prefer the last method.  Here is an example using the x 2.1 method:

Kelly has a half marathon best of 1hr 45 minutes

Convert this into just minutes:  60 + 45 = 105 minutes

Multiply by 2.1  =  210 + 10.5  =  220.5 minutes

So Kelly could realistically aim to complete the marathon in 3 hours 40.5 mins or 3hours 40 minutes 30 seconds.

To calculate the target pace, go back to the 220.5 minutes version of the target time and divide it by 26.2 to get the target pace per mile.  Calculator needed here!

ie.  220.5/26.2   =  8.416 minutes per mile

But what is 0.416 of a minute in seconds?

0.416 x 60 = 25 seconds

So if Kelly can arrive at the start line as well prepared for the marathon as they had been for their half-marathon best performance, then they should be aiming for even 8 minutes 25 second miles. However, the marathon can be a cruel event, and if you agree with the concept of discretion being the better part of valour, then perhaps 8 minutes 30 second miles might be a safer bet for Kelly in the early stages (especially as the numbers are nicer!).  This would only equate to two extra minutes over the whole distance, and this could easily be clawed back in the second half of the race if it turned out to be too conservative.

My running story

Many runners have completed multiple marathons, but to me it represents a huge personal challenge.

I want to complete the distance, but I also want to be able do it  in under three and a half hours, which is a fairly conservative target given my one and only half marathon time of 1 hour 33 minutes.  In other words, I don’t just want to do it, I want to do it well.  I am guessing that I am not alone in this ambition and that there are others like me who are contemplating attempting their first marathon some years after what would normally be considered their physical prime. My First Marathon will provide a centre for information links and shared ideas, including topics such as training methods and schedules, long term and pre-race diet, footwear and other kit, injury treatment and prevention, and psychological approach.