Half Marathon Training

This half marathon training is a very simple way to train for and run your first race.

The 12-week Half Marathon Training is designed to get new runners 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 multiple times per week, so you should be ready to do that. The Beginner Half Marathon Training helps to boost running gradually over the course of 12 weeks, but this plan prepares you to run a half marathon if you have some running experience under your belt.

half marathon training

About the half marathon training plan

Most training programs are goal-oriented. 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 distance and pace

This plan will lay out how many miles to run each day. On some days, this training does require you to run at a race pace speed. You are building a mileage base, gaining road running experience, and adding race pace speed workouts.

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.

Half marathon training plan structure

In these 12-weeks of training, you will start with 13 total weekly miles in week 1 to 27 total weekly miles by week 11, which is the week before your half marathon race. The training is composed of the following:

  • Daily Runs
  • Pace Runs
  • Long Runs
  • Cross-Training exercises (XT)
  • Rest and Sleep

Daily Runs

This plan is designed to help you run consistently,  focusing on completion. Run at a comfortable pace, a conversational pace, which means you’re not too winded to carry on a conversation. If you can’t do that, you’re running too fast. Your body will become stronger and more conditioned throughout the program, as will your confidence in running. Speed will come with time.

Race pace runs

Race pace is simply the pace you plan to run in the half marathon race you’re training for. 

For example, if you want to run the half marathon in 2.5 hours, your average pace per mile is 11:45. So you would run that same pace on the pace run days.

Long runs

Since you are training for a long race, the key to the program is the long run. 

There is one 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.

Long runs help to take your training to the next level. Read 3 Ways to Up Your Running Game for the full list.

cross training ideas

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 Sleep

As you’re getting started on this fitness journey, understand the importance of rest. In this plan, rest is twofold:

  • Recovery after the Saturday long run
  • Rest your body when the plan calls for an increased mileage

Many scientists suggest that the rest period is when muscles get stronger. 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 half marathon training plan

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

half marathon training