Road to my first half marathon – Week 12

It’s the 12th week of my 15 week half marathon plan with Garmin Coach and I’m feeling very good. My longest run of the week was last week at 17,5K and this week is focusing more on speed work. We’ve got a tempo run, stride repeats (or hill repeats, keep reading!) and a progression run. I’m experimenting with different breathing methods that are looking very promising. I’m excited! 

Easy run

After yesterday’s very long run I decided to skip this morning’s run. Coach Greg wanted a 60 minute easy run, I wanted to sleep in. I won. Or lost, it depends a little on how you look at it. I felt a little bad since tonight’s aquapower was actually postponed until Wednesday. So, somewhere during the day I decided to leave work 30 minutes early and go for my run as soon I got home. 

It felt a bit unnatural going running in the evening, after work. I usually run on an (almost) empty stomach so this is different. As soon as I’m out the door I see at least one similarity to running in the morning though, the darkness. I decide to focus on a low heart rate today to make sure I’m not going too fast, my legs are still a little sore from yesterday’s long run. 

It’s 18:30 when I leave for my run and it’s a lot busier as it usually is at 6:30 in the morning. I’m running on sidewalks where I can usually get away with running on the side of the road and instead of timing my crossings to pass them without stopping, I’m now waiting at a crossing until all the cars pass by. I have to pay a lot more attention to what is going on and clearly others don’t share that awareness. It’s a good thing I forgot to charge my headphones. 

Over the weekend I read an article on how you should be breathing while running. I normally don’t pay too much attention to articles trying to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing while running, but this one somehow caught my attention. There are many theories on breathing while running and many don’t agree with each other (should you be breathing through your mouth or your nose?). There might be truth in all of them, but it couldn’t hurt to try something out, right? One of the suggested techniques was something called rhythmic breathing, which I’m probably not doing justice by saying it has something to do with aligning your breathing with your cadence. According to many articles on cadence, mine is bad so this was probably not going to work. It didn’t work. It kept me busy, but I couldn’t figure out the breathing, the counting, etc. Maybe I should do some more research. 

I ran 4,5K at an average pace of 8:41 min/km, which I still felt really good about. 

Tempo run

I’m working from home today and that means I get to leave a little later for my morning run. I set my alarm for 7:30 so I would be on time to see the sunrise at my favorite spot. Unfortunately I did not get out of bed fast enough. When I got out the door I saw an amazing bright red sunrise. But, I was still at my house. This must’ve been the fastest warming up I’ve ever done, but by the time I reached the open spot in the woods most of the colors had faded already. I still got a few good pictures, but I was a little disappointed that I didn’t catch the best part. I had a little photo session with my cute, little tripod and caught a few strange looks from some (dog) walkers. Oh well. Time for my run. 

Today is a tempo run and I think it’s the first one of the plan. The pace is set as slightly faster as goal pace, 6:41 – 6:54 min/km. Except, Coach Greg still doesn’t know my actual goal pace. I had changed my time goal to make the speed repeats a little more challenging, but my last 10K race proved that running a half marathon at an average pace of 7:07 min/km would be impossible for me right now. I’ve now changed my time goal so the goal pace is back at 7:35 min/km, which will be enough of a challenge. 

I leave the trails and skip the last few minutes of the warming up. I’m warm and ready to speed up. Of course I start too fast, but I adjust quickly. I find a comfortably hard pace at around 6:45 min/km and stick to it. For some reason Monday’s breathing ‘exercises’ (attempts?) are kicking in. I didn’t do any more research, I didn’t think about it or focus on it, but for some reason I’m breathing completely different from usual during this run. And it feels good. I can’t really describe it well, but it felt a little like I was making mini-duckfaces. Is that what I was supposed to be doing? I did not remember reading that. Whatever, it seems to be working. What looked like an incredible hard pace before was feeling pretty good right now. 


I ran the first part at an average pace of 6:50 min/km and the second part at 6:40 min/km. Way too fast considering my changed goal pace, but it felt good. Like I could go on for a bit longer actually. I really need to plan a new 5K race to beat that 34:59 PR. 

Hill repeats

The plan said stride repeats today, but my Strava feed has been filling up with other people’s hill repeats reminding me that even though hill repeats are not part of my current training plan, they are useful for my upcoming race. Thank you Strava buddies! So, Coach Greg, you can blame them for me not following the plan today. 

The last time I did hill repeats was on November 29, a little before my 15K bridge run. This time I’m doing 10 repeats up and down my little ‘hill’. It’s actually a bridge that crosses a highway, but it’s good enough for this purpose. I really like doing hill repeats as they really push me and I feel like they make me stronger (which is actually backed up by lots of research). But, I also often feel a little awkward doing them. There are dog walkers, cyclists, runners who are just trying to cross the road. And then there is me, running up and down this little bridge just outside of town, for fun. They see me running up, clearly fighting with this bridge, I imagine them thinking “Oh she made it up! Huh, wait, she’s going back…?”. But, even though they probably think I’m at least a little crazy, they might also be a little impressed with that craziness. And maybe not, I feel good about it though. 



1. 0,17 km, 5:29 min/km
2. 0,14 km, 5:42 min/km
3. 0,13 km, 5:47 min/km
4. 0,13 km, 5:31 min/km
5. 0,13 km, 5:31 min/km
6. 0,14 km, 5:10 min/km
7. 0,14 km, 5:21 min/km
8. 0,14 km, 5:02 min/km
9. 0,14 km, 5:23 min/km
10. 0,14 km, 5:05 min/km


1. 0,15 km, 5:38 min/km
2. 0,16 km, 4:50 min/km
3. 0,17 km, 5:28 min/km
4. 0,17 km, 5:17 min/km
5. 0,15 km, 5:37 min/km
6. 0,16 km, 5:30 min/km
7. 0,17 km, 5:14 min/km
8. 0,16 km, 5:24 min/km

Progression run

Coach Greg’s longest run of the plan is a 120 minute long run and that is already behind me. Today he has a 95 minute progression scheduled for me. A 5 minute warming up, 70 minutes at easy pace, 10 minutes at goal pace, 5 minutes at fast pace and a 5 minute cooling down. Since I changed my goal pace this week, all workouts that were already scheduled (4) are still based on the old goal pace so I had to calculate them myself. My goal for the easy pace part: 8:30 min/km, goal pace: 7:30 min/km, fast pace: 7:00 min/km. 

I’m doing an adaption of my normal 10K route today. Garmin Courses told me this run would be around 11,5-12K so I added an extra loop. I ran the first 70 minutes at an average pace of 8:05 min/km, the next 10 minutes at 7:28 min/km and the last 5 minutes at 6:54 min/km. Not bad. 

This week’s tempo run definitely made me want to run a 5K race to see how much I can take off that 34:59 PR I ran in April 2019. I know I’ve made a lot of progress since then and I think I can scrape quite a bit off. So, obviously, I signed up for another race: March 29 I will be running the Venloop. Annemarieke and Sabine with whom I ran the Genneper Parken Loop Eindhoven will be joining me, but on different distances. Looking forward to it! 
My Vo2max reading from my Garmin watch has been going up this week. After Friday’s hill repeats it went up a point and after my long run it increased a bit again. My fitness age is now at 38, which is still 6 years above my actual age, but it’s progress! I’ve been focusing on my breathing the entire week and I feel like it’s definitely helping me perform better. My runs feel easier and this is confirmed by faster paces and a lower heart rate. Very interesting. 

Only 3 weeks until my first half marathon!! 

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