Beginner Half Marathon Training

Prepare yourself mentally and physically to train for and run a successful half marathon.

The 12-week Beginner Half Marathon Training helps beginner runners get in shape to run a half marathon.

Getting prepared to run a half marathon

This plan helps you get mentally and physically prepared to run a half marathon, which is 13.1 miles. Many half marathon training programs start with the assumption that you can run at least 3 miles a few days per week, so you should be ready to do that. The Beginner Running Plan helps to boost your running level gradually over the course of 12 weeks, this plan prepares you to run a half marathon.

About the beginner half marathon training

Many running programs are focused on distance goals. You train for a certain number of weeks and then show up at the starting line of a half marathon ready to run. 

This 12-week program will provide structure to build your running level and get you ready to run a half marathon.

Measured in Miles

This plan will lay out how many miles to run each day, but it does not determine the speed of those runs. You are building a mileage base and gaining road running experience. Run the mileage at your level of running.

Learn more about sprinting and speed during training in this article, Is speed work good for half marathon training?  

For example, if the training calls for a long run of 6 miles, run 6 miles. Some people can do 6 miles in 60 minutes, while others may be able to complete 6 miles in 90 minutes. That’s okay. You’re working from your own running level. We’re all in this together.

Beginner half marathon training structure

In these 12 weeks of training, you will start with 10 total weekly miles in week 1 to 25 total weekly miles by week 11, which is the week before your half marathon race. In this training you do the following:

  1. Daily Running
  2. Long Runs
  3. Cross-Training (XT)
  4. Rest

Daily Running

This plan will help you run consistently, focusing on completion, not speed. Your body will become stronger and more conditioned throughout the program, as will your confidence in running. Speed will come with time.

Long runs

When training for a long race, the key to success is completing the long run. 

There long run every week on Saturday. It begins with 4 miles in Week 1 to 12 miles in Week 11. The training then tapers off a week so that you arrive at the half marathon prepped and well-rested. You can skip an occasional workout, or change up the schedule depending on other commitments. But don’t cheat on your long runs. The schedule has a long run on Saturdays, but if you need to you can switch to Sundays or even other days of the week to suit your schedule.

Cross-Training mixes it up

Cardio and aerobic workouts, like brisk walks or slow jogs, expand your lungs and your heart pumping. The reason the duration of each workout increases is to help you build endurance, which is a measure of how long you can keep it up. Cross-training helps increase your aerobic activity while changing things up with other exercises. Cross-training sessions allow you to be creative and do things that you like or try things for the first time. Here’s a list of great cross-training workouts to boost your cardio and aerobic activity:

  • Cycling
  • Spinning Class
  • Rowing
  • Swimming
  • Elliptical Trainer
  • Rope Jumping
  • Stair Climb
  • Aerobics Class (Zumba, Step, Kickboxing, Dance)
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Hiking 
  • Climbing

Importance of Rest and Good Sleep

Running is important but you also need to understand the importance of rest. In this plan, rest is twofold:

  • To recover after the Saturday long run
  • Give your body a break when the plan calls for an increased mileage

Many scientists suggest that the rest period is when muscles get stronger. Running with resting has been shown to lead to a breakdown in the body’s immune response. And many prominent running coaches say that you shouldn’t run hard unless your body is well-rested. The secret to success in any training program is consistency, so as long as you remain consistent through the full 12 weeks, you can benefit from sufficient rest periods.

Get started with the beginner half marathon training

Now that you have a plan in place, it’s time to get running. Start today. 

The Chubby Runner Beginner Half Marathon Training

beginner half marathon training