How to pick the right half marathon training plan

Once you have decided to run a half marathon, next you need to find the right half marathon training plan. There are so many plans out there. Some plans are free, some are paid. So, how do you pick the right one for your individual goals? As you well know, running can be an expensive pursuit. From top-of-the-line running shoes, to race entry fees, and an Apple Watch can cost a small fortune. Where can you save some money is on your training program. There are coaches and gurus out there that will gladly take your money, but is it even worth it? Not really. I’ll list go over some things to look for in a half marathon training program.

What are your goals

Half marathon training is a very personal goal and the training is based on your own individual level of fitness. When choosing a plan find one that meets you at your current ability level and goal mileage.

Beginner plan

If you’re just starting out, find a program that slowly incorporates walking into the running program.

More experienced plan

If you are comfortably running 4 times per week, choose one that fits that frequency. Don’t overtrain yourself by choosing one that has more than 5 days of running in a week.

Mark your calendar with a half marathon training plan

There is something psychological about writing race on the calendar. Subconsciously you are preparing yourself for that date in the future. Once it’s on the calendar work backward to see when you should begin training.

Easy steps in a half marathon training plan

When I commit myself to a race, I do the following:

  • I write it on the calendar (or type into iCal, if you wish)
  • Next, find a 16 week or 12-week training program by working backward
  • Put any obligations or events that may prevent you from completing an important run

This way you can plan ahead and switch things around.

Pre-race race

Try to run in a shorter race during the training regimen can help you get used to a race environment. There are a lot of training plans that have, say a 5K race included in the schedule. If it works out that you can do a pre-race race then great. If not, it’s not a big deal.

Find your stride

One of the most difficult aspects of training is figuring out your pace. In order to run the race at a particular speed, you need to incorporate it into your training. If you have a time goal in mind for your half marathon, then you’ll need to train accordingly. If you just want to finish and have no race time in mind that’s fine too.

How to determine your pace during your half marathon training plan

If you are completely new to the sport, your race pace is a balance between challenging and doable for you. You can use this calculator to help find your pace. 


Now that you’ve determined your training pace, it’s time to get to work. Your training program should have some variety.

1. Mix up the monotony

2. Help improve overall health and fitness

Your program should include:

  • Tempo runs
  • Cardio
  • Long-runs
  • Rest days
  • Avoid doing back-to-back long run days

Add some shorter speed work or switch it up with some cardio swimming or cycling.

You will need an easy (or rest) day between those workouts.

Try to up your weekly mileage by at least 10%. For example, if you ran 30 miles last week, shoot for 33 miles total miles the following week.

Slowly increase long run distance. If you have to skip a long run, you may want to shuffle long runs. Just so you aren’t going from, something like 14 to 18 miles, on back-to-back weekends.

Flexibility in your half marathon training plan

A half marathon training plan is very rigid and we as people are not. Stick to your schedule. But also remember sickness, injury, work, and family life, etc are factors. They can easily throw curveballs into a training program. Be flexible. If the training calls for 4 miles run on Monday and you’ve got a conflict. Move the run to another day. Remember to look at your training more organically so that you can be flexible with whatever may come up.