Creating a training plan for a half marathon can be daunting for an experienced runner, developing a training program your first half marathon can seem even more challenging. If you’re new to the half marathon, we’re here to help you get prepared and confident for race day!
The most important thing you need to know about half marathon training is that you need to build up gradually. If you are a new runner and you try to start out running 40-50 miles per week, you’re most likely going to end up getting injured. Give yourself at least 12 weeks to get ready for your first half marathon and get through the finish line strong.
Let’s break it down week-by-week:
Plan on starting out by running three days this week. For example, Monday can be a rest day–but that doesn’t mean you should be doing nothing. Engage your muscles with yoga, pilates, or swimming–low impact activity.
On Tuesday, run an easy two miles at a conversational pace. On Wednesday, take a rest day or do some low-impact cross-training, like riding a stationary bike for 20-30 minutes. On Thursday, do another easy run, but this time up it to three miles.
Rest or cross-train on Friday and Saturday–remember, you’re just getting warmed up here. Every Sunday, you’ll do your long run. One week one, make it four miles–at the same pace you ran on Tuesday and Thursday.
Total miles: 9
We’re going to keep the number of days you run the same here, but up the mileage a little. You’ll recover from your long run with a rest day on Monday. On Tuesday you’ll run two miles at an easy pace. Wednesday is another rest day, but you can also do some core work or strength training.
On Thursday, run three miles at a conversational pace. But, kick it up a notch the last half mile. Friday and Saturday will also be rest days to help your body get used training. Sunday is your long run–this time you’ll be running five miles.
Total miles: 10
Rest on Monday to recover from your first five-mile run. If you’re feeling strong, cross-train. Run an easy two miler on Tuesday. Rest or do some low-impact cross-training on Wednesday. On Thursday, run four miles and increase the intensity/effort by about 10 percent for the last mile.
Rest or cross-train on Friday and Saturday to prepare for your long run on Sunday, where you’ll run six miles.
Total miles: 12
Depending on how you’re feeling, you can start to customize things from here. Always plan on resting or cross-training on Monday after your long run. On Tuesday, run two to three miles and quicken your speed the last half mile. Rest on Wednesday and run five miles on Thursday. Make this run a little faster, but you will still be able to talk.
Friday and Saturday will still both be rest days, but cross-train on at least one of them. On Sunday, run seven miles at a conversational pace.
Total miles: 14-15
Take a day off on Monday. Run three to four easily miles on Tuesday–this builds your aerobic base. Rest or cross-train on Wednesday, because we are heading for the hills tomorrow. On Thursday, run six miles and incorporate five to six hills that take about a minute to get up each to build leg strength.
Rest or cross-train on Friday and Saturday. Finish up your week with a long run of eight miles on Sunday.
Total miles: 16-17
You know the drill–rest Monday to recover from that long run. Knock out an easy two to three miles on Tuesday. Rest on Wednesday.
On Thursday, you’ll do a type of tempo run. Run one mile at an easy pace, then four miles at your half-marathon goal race pace to get you used to the feel of it. Rest or cross-train on Friday and Saturday, and run a steady seven miles on Sunday.
Total Miles: 15-16
Rest Monday. On Tuesday, run four miles and up the effort by 15% for the last mile. Cross-train on Wednesday. On Thursday, bring back the hills. Run six miles and incorporate six to eight hills that are a little steeper than last time to build lung and leg power.
Rest or cross-train on Friday and Saturday, Sunday’s long run will be a seven-miler at a steady, conversational pace.
Total Miles: 17
Rest those legs on Monday. Bring it down to an easy two-miler on Tuesday–the rest of the week will be a little harder. Cross-train with something cardiovascular but low impact on Wednesday, like swimming or the elliptical machine.
On Thursday, tackle another tempo run but this time, increase it to seven miles with five of them at half-marathon race pace. Rest or cross-train Friday and Saturday, and run an eight-mile-long run Sunday.
Total Miles: 17
You’ll still rest on Monday, but you’ll run a total of four days this week. On Tuesday, run two to three miles with a strong finish. Rest or cross-train Wednesday. On Thursday, bring back the hills on a seven-mile run, increasing the intensity and length of the hills from last time.
On Friday, instead of resting, run an easy two miles. Rest on Saturday and run your first double-digit run of 10 miles on Sunday.
Total miles: 21-22
Rest on Monday and run an easy three miles on Tuesday. Rest or cross-train on Wednesday. On Thursday, amp things up with a seven or eight-mile run that with five to six miles at your marathon race pace.
On Friday, run an easy two to three miles, depending how you feel. Rest on Saturday to get ready for your long run. Finish strong with another 10-mile long run, increasing your effort the last two miles by about 10 percent.
Total Miles: 22-24
With two weeks until race day, it’s time to start tapering a bit. Rest on Monday and run an easy two-miler on Tuesday. Rest or cross-train on Wednesday and duplicate the tempo run from last week on Thursday. Run another two easy miles on Friday, rest Saturday, and wrap with a nine-mile long run on Sunday.
Total Miles: 20-21
One week until race day! You want to keep your legs fresh, but also get some more rest. Take a normal rest day on Monday and run and easy two miles on Tuesday. Rest or cross-train on Wednesday and run a five-mile tempo run on Thursday.
Rest, cross-train, or, do some stretching and core work on Friday and Saturday. Replace your long run with RACE DAY! You’ve got this!
The day before the race, make sure to get plenty of sleep, but not too much. Eight hours is fine. Hydrate appropriately, lay your racing outfit and gear the night before and try to relax. Wake up at least two hours before the race and get to the location at least an hour beforehand.
Warm-up with a light 10-minute jog, do some stretching, and launch into the race knowing you’re prepared and ready! Don’t forget to check out our video on half-marathon race day logistics!
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