A half marathon is 13.1 miles; that is no easy feat. In this post we’ve got 5 half marathon training tips, and 3 half marathon workouts to get you ready for your race.
Half marathon workouts require a blend of endurance, speed, and stamina.
So, as a general rule, be sure you’re not favoring any one of those skillsets too much in your half marathon training.
1. Find A Half Marathon Training Plan
Outsource. A running training plan does a lot of the work for you.
A training plan will set up your mileage in a safe, gradual manner. But at the same time, that training plan will hold you accountable and push you to run farther and faster than you would on your own.
2. Earn Your Miles
13.1 miles – that’s a long way to run. Build a base and increase your miles gradually.
Don’t jump into a run several miles longer than anything you’ve done before. If you can, try to find a 5K race or a 10K race as you get into your training.
This will allow you to build your miles gradually, and to experience the environment of a race before your half marathon.
In addition, always remember that farther you run, the more you need to take care of yourself. More miles means more stretching, and more time on the foam roller.
This takes us right into Tip Number . . .
3. Be Diligent and Hold Yourself Accountable
Half marathon training requires diligence. Training off and on or simply when you feel like it can cause injuries, and it won’t allow you to achieve your running goals.
This means you need to hold yourself accountable. Find a training plan, and then go beyond that.
Tell your friends and family about your training, join a Facebook running group to share your training episodes with, whatever appeals to you. Maybe you can get a friend to train with you.
If people know about your running goals, you’ll be more likely to stick to your half marathon training plan.
And on the days where you’re not “feeling it,” you’ve got a support system to motivate you and get you out the door.
4. Don’t Forget About Cadence
Running your miles is great, but the task doesn’t end there. Even if you are not running for speed, a quick cadence will help prevent injuries.
Focus on proper run form and be sure that your pelvis is upright. This means your hip bones are facing forward, not down at the ground.
Once your posture is correct, you can turn your feet over more quickly.
This will help you avoid sitting in your hips, a tendency that tends to creep in when we “shuffle along,” and a tendency that often leads to knee problems.
A proper strength training routine will also be extremely helpful in correcting your run form.
5. Factor in Weather and Terrain
Know your half marathon course. Is it hilly? Muddy? Paved?
Half marathon workouts should be geared towards your race, if you are training for a race.
If your course is hilly, try some of the half marathon workouts featured below on a hill.
If your course is wet, try to work in some training days in the rain. The successful runner is the prepared runner.
Set yourself up so that there are no surprises on race day.
Now, let’s dive into 3 half marathon workouts to incorporate into your training plan.
Half Marathon Workout 1: Mile Repeats
Mile repeats are a perfect way to build speed and stamina simultaneously.
Unlike other running workouts, the mile repeat is just short enough for you to push your speed, but it is just long enough that your stamina will improve along the way.
The first week of your mile repeat workout is going to be a 3 x 1 mile repeat, resting 2 minutes in between, and aiming to maintain a half marathon to a 10k pace.
Exceeding your target half marathon speed is what’s really going to build that strength and stamina!
The next week, you’ll bump that up to 4 x 1 mile repeats, keeping that 2-minute rest.
Increase the workout by 1-mile repetition each week until you get to 6 x 1 mile repeats, always resting 2 minutes in between.
Your goal: consistency! Try to keep a similar pace across all of your mile repeats each week.
Coach Nate recommends approaching that first mile or two with caution, and then working hard to build your speed throughout the workout!
If any of the progressions are too much, no worries! Just repeat the previous week’s count, pushing yourself to be more consistent with your mile times.
Adding the element of a negative split to your long run is a tough but super effective way to crush it on race day! We’ve got two versions of this half marathon workout based on your experience.
For New to Intermediate Runners
A major focus for newer runners on a long run is simply building up that mileage, so keep things slow and steady for the majority of your long run.
Focus on staying tall and relaxed while you work your way up to those longer distances!
The difference in this workout is that you’re going to save a little purpose for the end of your workout, and run the last 20% of your distance at race pace.
If you’re not sure what your race pace is, guess! Try what you think you’re capable of, and adjust as needed from there.
This will help train your patience at the beginning of the run, and then that physical and mental strength you need to push through to the end!
For Advanced Runners
Because the mileage itself isn’t all that new to advanced runners, we’re going to focus on stamina and race pace here!
For these long runs, you still want to stay steady and conversational through the beginning of the run, always focusing on technique.
But for you guys, we’re going to increase the amount of time run at race pace.
So, for week 1, aim to run the last 20% of your run at race pace. Each week, increase that percentage by 5% – so Week 2 it will be 25%, Week 3 will be 30%, and on Week 4 you will run the last 35% of your long run at race pace.
Those percentages aren’t set in stone but push yourself so that by Week 4 you’re running a good amount of your run at race pace.
It won’t be easy, but you’ll be glad you did it come race day!
Drill Day is so vital because it allows us to zone in on mechanics so that we not only finish our race when we want, but we look and feel good doing it!
Drill #1: Toe Walking and Heel Walking
You’ll walk up high on your toes in one direction for about 20 meters and then walk on your heels with your toes up in the air on the way back.
These walks are all about lower leg strength, so focus on your calves and ankles on the way there, and on the muscles around your shin on the way back!
Drill #2: Straight Legged Run
This one may look a little silly, but it’s extremely effective for quad and hip flexor strength! All you do here is run with straight legs and flexed feet for 20 meters, and jog back nice and easy, and repeat that 3 times. You should be running at a higher cadence here, working with quick feet and straight legs!
Drill #3: Strides
For this drill, we’re going to put into practice those mechanics we just worked on with 5 x 100 meter easy sprints. The time goal for each repetition is between 15 and 20 seconds, so you adjust your distance accordingly!
For each effort, start slowly and work to accelerate throughout. Take a nice easy jog back and then repeat, aiming to free up your stride a bit more each time.
Looking for more half marathon training tips? Whether it’s your first or your 10th half, this free guide has all you need to know before your next race!