Run day Monday: Hangang half-marathon training circuit

Hangang river circuit: 23km

Map courtesy of Route 496229.

All those great intentions after the dizzy heights of my first half marathon last September have come to nought in the intervening five months of intercontinental travel. However, in the absence of any interesting recent routes, it does leave me with a great route to describe for this month’s runventure.

Over the course of three months from June to September 2015, I went from being a jogger who enjoyed two or three runs a week with a maximum distance 10km in one go and maybe around 20 – 25km a week, to a dedicated runner. I sacrificed two days a week of cycling to work so that I could instead jog home, gradually extending the route from 4.5km (office to home) to between 7 and 10km (office in Gwanghwamun to Han river, along Han river, home). I also continued to enjoy my weekly running group runs of 10km, and I added a distance run every Monday, gradually extending the distance from the 14km route which kicked off this Run day Monday feature back in June, to a frankly ridiculous 27km route which I ran three weeks before the DMZ run in September. By the end of June I was running around 40km a week. By the end of August I was running around 55km a week.

Advice I’ve commonly seen on how to build up for a race is to train to near the distance you’ll be running, but not actually run that distance until race day. While that is probably all well and good for marathoners and ultra-marathon runners as running that distance every weekend would take up an inordinate amount of time, I felt that a half marathon is nowhere near a super-human effort if you’re already accustomed to regular jogging. I wanted to build up my distance so that a half marathon would seem like a regular walk in the park, so to speak. It certainly worked a treat at the time, although some lasting wear and tear in my knees since the race might be evidence against building up so quickly.

I’ve opted to share the 23km version of my training run as it’s a neat and easy route. You can really start from any point in the circuit as the route is circular. The map above starts from Gwangheungchang station (line 6), where you can turn up, bung your stuff in a locker, and set out for the river a five minute jog away. Most subway stations have a set of lockers you can rent for around 2000 won, so anywhere near the river will suit your purpose.

Running in the summer, you really need to set out before 10am or later in the evening as there is little shade on the route. Thankfully, there are many water fountains and public bathrooms along the way, so hydration isn’t an issue and you won’t need to carry water with you – or toilet paper!

The route:

Hangang half - Seogang bridge

Hangang half – Seogang bridge

I ran down to the river from the station and entered Hangang park under Seogang bridge. From there, I ran left towards Banpo bridge, around 8km away straight along the river. Banpo is great as there are running and cycling tracks for you to cross on the lower span with little traffic.

Hangang half - Banpo bridge

Hangang half – Banpo bridge

On the far side, turn right and you’re into the longest stretch of the run; 11km along the river until you reach Yanghwa bridge. There is some shade here for a long stretch as the running track is next to the river and beneath the main expressway for about two kilometres before you cross on to Yeoido.

Once you get on to the island, the hardest work is done and you’re over the halfway point. Also, there’s a lot more going on if you need external distraction, and there are plenty of water fountains and small convenience stores if you really need a hydration break. If you’re really struggling, you can take the 18km option by crossing back across Seogang bridge, which takes you directly back to the station.

If you continue past Seogang bridge, Yanghwa bridge is the very next one, a further 3km. I always got a second wind at this point as I realised I was almost done, and the final stretch over the bridge and back to Seogang bridge is exhilarating.

Hangang half at Yanghwa


18km – leave off the run up to Yanghwa bridge and cross at Seogang.

24.5km – run on from Seogang bridge to Mapo bridge.

27km – stretch the Yanghwa bridge end of the run by adding a circuit of Seonyudo park before crossing the bridge, and finishing at Mapo bridge rather than Seogang bridge.

What are your tips for increasing your training for a new distance?

Hangang half in Mapo-gu




3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shelley @Travel-Stained
    Feb 22, 2016 @ 11:47:43

    Hubby just signed up for the Cherry Blossom marathon on April 9th, but has only left himself about 6 weeks to train…he’s done a half before without much training, but this should be…um…interesting. Hope he doesn’t hurt himself. 🙂



    • Pieces of 8
      Feb 23, 2016 @ 17:44:36

      That’s a tall order! Although it’s the kind of ambitious lunatic manouevre I’m thoroughly prone to as well. Good luck to him!



      • Shelley @Travel-Stained
        Feb 26, 2016 @ 08:59:05

        He was pretty blasé about the half – didn’t train and still managed to do it in 1:43 without suffering too much. He is one of those annoying naturally athletic types…but he’s stressing about the full. Hee hee. Is it wrong that I’m kind of enjoying it? :p


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