Our Top 3 Training Tips for Half Marathon Beginners

Half marathon training for beginners sounds a little like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Fear not! We’re here to break it down for you, take away the doubt, and turn those vague hopes into a full-proof plan with three ESSENTIAL training tips that will have you feeling confident about reaching your personal goals for your first half marathon on race day.

You might even feel inspired to have your next race be a full marathon.

Our Top 3 Training Tips for Half Marathon Beginners

Tip #1: Half Marathon training for beginners should include a “Pre-Training” Plan

Half Marathon Training for Beginners- Pre-Training Plan

Don’t rush the process when you’re planning to run a half marathon!

If you are a less experienced runner and this is your first time taking a shot at a half marathon training plan, pick a race that’s four to six months down the road. If you’re going to commit to this, you want to do it CORRECTLY. Otherwise, you’ll risk getting injured by trying to pack in too many miles and too much intensity from the get-go.

This means taking at least three to five months before your official 8-12 week half-marathon training plan begins to work out the kinks in your fitness baseline, running technique, and of course your general role as an athlete. As a good rule of thumb, you want to be able to run for 30-45 minutes straight before you start training for a 13.1 mile race

Consider this your “Pre-Training” training plan:

  • Commit to training runs four days per week, keeping the weekly mileage 20-25 miles max at three to five miles per day.
  • Take multiple pairs of running shoes for a spin, before choosing a couple of pairs to rotate through. Consider visiting a local running store to try out different shoes and talk with an expert in fitting you with the right one.
  • Use the small aches and pains that come up along the way to serve you as indicators of weakness, poor habits in your form, and areas to focus your strength work on. It’s also helpful to incorporate regular mobility work and focus on your posture throughout the day, such as when you’re sitting at your desk.

Efficiency in your running form comes from a better understanding of the finer details and how they work together. Check out this video on our five-minute running form fix:

Tip #2: Half Marathon training plans should be adjusted to fit you, the runner!

Don’t follow a plan. Let a plan follow you.

There are thousands of half marathon training plans out there for you to use. Some great coaches, athletes, and half-marathoners have taken the time to map out a finite, week-by-week, mile-by-mile plan for you to use to reach that finish line.

These training schedules were maybe tailored to one specific person at the point of their creation and they certainly can be helpful, but have since been copied and pasted onto people of all shapes and sizes, procuring every injury and running habit you could possibly think of. However, there’s only one you–so you have to find the right balance that works for your training to get optimal results before you hit the starting line.

Success in half marathon race training for beginners comes from knowing how to listen to your body. Maybe the plan says to run hills on Wednesday.

The problem with that PDF file or page in the book is that it can’t hear you. It can’t hear that your quads are crazy tight that day, or that your knees feel super stiff and achy after your tempo run from the day before.


Listen to your body and rearrange things accordingly. By all means, get the work in, but NOT at the expense of an early injury or really crappy running form.You can supplement your plan with cross-training, running on a treadmill, or mixing up your rest days depending on how you feel.

Tip #3: Your Half Marathon training plan is only as good as the strength training you are using to support it


Strength train twice a week! Don’t be fooled into thinking that getting better at running can only come from running more. Running more can’t happen if your body can’t support you for it.

Strength training just twice a week, for 20-30 minutes per day is all you need to gain access to a full range of motion and stable control in all of the joints being impacted by those miles- i.e. hips, ankles, knees, you name it. Oh, and remember those little problem areas you discovered during your “Pre-Training” month? Here’s your chance to fix, fix, fix!

Good stuff to incorporate into your strength days:

  • Push-ups. A simple and effective way to find your midline, access your glutes, stabilize the shoulders…the list goes on.

man doing a push up

  • Squats. These strengthen the leg muscles that carry you through every stride.
  • Lunges. These improve mobility, engage your core, and build leg strength.
  • Planks. They engage your core, which helps you improve your running form.
  • Sit-ups. These also build stronger core muscles that strengthen your form.
  • Burpees. They are a great cardio activity to get your heart pumping and increase your cardiovascular ability!
  • And for some creative combinations of the list above, check out the Strength Training Playlist on our YouTube Channel 🙂

The best part…you don’t need even need a gym for most of this stuff!

Half Marathon training for beginners comes down to starting slow, not being afraid to adjust the plan and most importantly spending the time to actively support those miles with strength work.

We believe in you!

Looking for a place to put these tips to use? Check out our comprehensive Half Marathon Training Guide. Then…get after it! Finally, don’t forget to download our new mobile app for access to coaching advice, daily video workouts, injury prevention tips, and complete training programs that will help motivate and inspire your training program!