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Execute Two Oceans Half Marathon Like a Boss!

Coach Kathleen Shuttleworth tells us how to make a plan for the Totalsports Two Oceans Half Marathon – and stick to it.

The half marathon may be small on distance compared to the ultra, but it is definitely

not small on vibe, scenery, challenge and prestige. The route even boasts its own big climbs

in the form of Edinburgh Drive and the infamous Southern Cross Drive.

Two Ocean Marathon Runners

It is therefore no wonder that the Two Oceans Half Marathon has steadily grown into a bucket-list event for many runners, from newbies to elites. While the Two Oceans Half is not a route on which you are likely to run a PB, I really love this route due to the variety of challenges it presents and find it to be one of the most exciting courses to take on. With the race having something of everything thrown in: uphill (lots of this), downhill (also lots of this!), a little bit of flat (okay, very little), and even two dog legs to make you loopy, the route will truly test all of your gears.

So how do you run Oceans like a boss?

A quote from one of my runners on what they had learnt, which I will never forget, is this,

“Have a plan, stick to the plan”.

Whether you are racing up front, challenging for club honours, or hanging with the back of the packers, to get the most out of this amazing route and cross the finish line with a smile, you need to have a plan, and you need to stick to your plan.

Wondering where to even start? Here are some guidelines to help you.

Set a smart target time

Runners will often tell me that they are aiming to run a sub x hour race, but they do not even know what pace that is per kilometre, or if it is even a realistic time for them based on their current ability and training. Having a target time that is calculated based on YOU will:

a) give you the mental confidence that it is possible, and

b) help you to pace your race smartly for a strong finish.

There are many calculators on the internet that you can use to get an estimated half marathon time based on your most recent 10km or 5km time.

Two calculations that you can do yourself that are simple and give a good estimation are:

Take your 10km pace and add 10-15 seconds per kilometre.

For example, if you run 40 minutes for10 kilometres (4 min/km), then a good target for the half marathon would be an average of 4:10 – 4:15/km. This calculation works well for the more experienced and well-trained athlete with a high level of endurance. 2x 10km time plus 10-15 minutes. This is a good estimation for inexperienced runners and runners whose endurance level is not that high.

For the Two Oceans Half, you would then also add a little extra for the hills. If you are on the speedy end of the race, add an extra 2-3 minutes to the time calculated. If you are on the slower end, add an extra 3 – 8 minutes to the time calculated.

You will not be running even pace – most of this race will be on gauging your effort, but having a guide of your average pace will help you not to start too hard or go too fast on the early downs which will result in you blowing up by halfway.

Divide the race into 'focus zones"

Sport psychologist, Bennie Louw, has a famous saying: “Where your focus goes, your energy flows.” We all know the huge role that the mind plays in sport, and we also know that there are a lot of thoughts vying for attention during the course of a half marathon.

To execute well, you need to be able to remain present in the moment and focused on what you need to do now. This can be quite overwhelming, but if you break the race up into small zones with specific tasks for that zone (a bit like the proverbial eating an elephant), your brain will find it easier to stay focused, and the kays will fly by.

  • 0–2 kilometres - Ease into your groove.

  • 2–4 kilometres- It’s a hill, get over it.

  • 4–6 kilometres- Have fun, but not too much.

  • 6 kilometres to halfway The grind.

  • Halfway to 16 kilometres- Turn up the mental heat.

  • 16 kilometres to thef inish - Only one parkrun to go!

Final thoughts: Have a B and a C plan, so you know what to focus on if things go a little otherwise, that way your brain stays happy, and you won’t fall apart. And, as always, smile – it has been scientifically proven to enhance performance! Have a blast out there

The current issue of RUN magazine is on sale now. To read it simply download the mag to read at your leisure, or find it at one of our stockists.


An accomplished athlete herself (a previous winner of the Peninsula, 2x Cango, Knysna and West Coast marathons, and a 9x Two Oceans Ultra finisher), Coach Kathleen specialises in middle and long distance running coaching for all levels. 

Living out her core value “Driven by passion, pursuing excellence”, she has guided numerous athletes to achieving provincial and national medals in track, biathlon and cross country, as well as helped many to conquer that first marathon or get that elusive personal best. Find her at Active4Life School of Running.


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