Half Marathon Lactate Threshold Workouts and Stamina Training Runs

By Rick Morris

There are few types of workouts that more specifically match the race distance goal than lactate threshold training and half marathon race. 5K and 10K races are performed at faster than lactate threshold pace. The marathon is raced at slower than lactate threshold pace. But the half marathon, one of my personal favorites, is raced at very close to lactate threshold pace. That makes half marathon lactate threshold workouts a nearly ideal type of training run for the half marathon.

Your lactate threshold is the approximate effort level at which your body is no longer able to maintain a balanced state and you begin to suffer from the metabolic and central nervous system affects of distance running fatigue. Improving your lactate threshold will have a direct and positive influence on your half marathon racing performance.

The title of this piece is lactate threshold and stamina training runs. Are lactate threshold training and stamina training the same thing? As with many coaching questions, the answer to that is a very confident yes and no. Yes, improving your lactate threshold will also improve your stamina or speed endurance ability. No, stamina training and lactate threshold training aren’t always the same thing. True lactate threshold training involves workouts performed at very close to your lactate threshold pace or faster. True stamina training incorporates workouts at very close to your lactate threshold pace or slower. Generally speaking, lactate threshold workouts are short to moderate in length and high in intensity while stamina training workouts are moderate too long in duration and more moderate in intensity.

Are one of these types of half marathon workouts more important than the other? No, not really. You need both. You need the higher intensity lactate threshold workouts to build lofty lactate threshold levels and the longer duration stamina workouts to increase your speed endurance and your goal pace performance levels.

As usual, there are an unlimited number of possible workouts. Here are just a few to get you started. Try these and once your are comfortable with the basics, try designing your own.

Half Marathon Stacker

Stacker workouts are usually very short and intense repeats that consistently build up greater levels of metabolic fatigue. This half marathon stamina stacker workouts uses the same philosophy with longer and slower repeats to improve your lactate threshold and speed endurance.

  • Description: 4 miles or 6.5K alternating goal half marathon pace and 10K pace
  • Pace: Alternate between .5 miles or 800 meters at goal half marathon pace and .5 miles or 800 meters at 10K pace
  • Recovery: No recovery

Half Marathon Simulator

This is a great goal specific workout that will build your stamina, lactate threshold and goal pace performance. This half marathon simulator is also an excellent test of your half marathon fitness level.

  • Description: 6 x 2 mile repeats at half marathon pace.
  • Pace: Run each 2 mile repeat at half marathon pace.
  • Recovery: Four minutes of rest after repeat 1 and 2, three minutes of rest after repeat 3, two minutes of rest after repeat 4 and 1 minute of rest after repeat 5.

Half Marathon Fartlek

Here is a fun and effect half marathon run that will improve your stamina and ability to change pace.

  • Description: 60 minute non-stop run at various paces.
  • Pace: Alternate pace at will ranging from easy endurance pace to sprint pace. There is no structure to this run. The only rules are to change pace frequently and keep in mind that you need to finish a full 60 minutes without stopping.
  • Recovery: None

800/1600 Meter Compound Sets

Most compound sets are done on the track because of the ease in judging distance, but feel free to do this on the trail, road, park or anywhere you wish. The exact distance of the repeats aren’t critical, so you can safely estimate them.

  • Description: 8 x 800/1600 meter compound sets using goal marathon pace and 5K pace. Compound sets are workouts that combine two or more distances and paces with no recovery.
  • Pace: Run the 800 meter repeats at 5K pace and the 1600 meter repeats at goal half marathon pace.
  • Recovery: No recovery between the components of each set. Recover with 4 minutes of rest between each compound set.

Half a Loaf

Did you ever hear the saying “Half a Loaf is Better Than None”. In this case half loaf is perfect. This long tempo run is a great half marathon stamina workout.

  • Description: 13.1 mile steady state tempo run.
  • Pace: Run the entire distance at marathon or tempo pace
  • Recovery: No recovery.

Half Marathon Long Run

Most long runs aren’t considered a stamina workout because they are performed at slower than tempo pace. This one is a bit different.

  • Description: A 20 mile, fast finish half marathon long run.
  • Pace: Run the first 14 miles at easy pace, the next 5 miles at goal half marathon pace and the final mile at 10K pace. Run the last 400 meters as fast as possible.
  • Recovery: No recovery