Half Marathon Training Plan


Half Marathon Training Plan


Here’s the right half marathon training plan for you, whether your goal is to get your best time or just complete the 13.1 miles. Half marathons have really gained a lot in popularity in recent years and aside from being a lifetime achievement, they can also be a whole lot of fun. Some have bands, cook-outs, carnivals…and all of them have plenty of runners, crowds & enthusiasm! So whether your goal is the Rock n Roll ½ , the Disney ½, the Philly Distance Run, or anyone of the hundreds of other races in between…train hard & have a blast! Below the half marathon training plan there’s a table with links and information on some of the more popular half marathons.

There is no one-size-fits-all half marathon training plan out there, so make sure that you adapt a plan to meet your physical condition, schedule, and training timeline. The components and training principles of these sample plans are discussed below, so that you can modify each plan to meet your needs and goals, if needed.

There are two sample half marathon training plans below: One, to finish the race, and the second to achieve a goal time. And while these plans have some significant differences, they have the same elements that all good long-distance training plans should have. There are 3 primary components of any good half marathon training plan:

  1. Endurance: The long, slow distance runs will gradually build up your stamina. Run these at an easy pace – don’t concentrate on time as much as just completing the distance with a nice even pace. For the daily runs, these should be slightly faster but still at a comfortable pace (you should be able to talk while running…not out of breath)
  2. Speed: As your weekly mileage builds up, the tempo runs are designed for you to push yourself a little faster. Make sure you run a pace which won’t completely exhaust you…just pick up the pace a bit faster than your normal runs. You’ll build speed this way.
  3. Rest: Your muscles heal and grow stronger during these times. Without rest, we risk burn-out and even some serious injuries. A successful half marathon training plan needs to have down-time built into it…don’t skip the rest!

Half Marathon Training Plan (finish 13.1 miles)

If your goal is to finish a half marathon, the 10-week schedule below can get you ready to do just that. This plan is for you if….

  • You can run 3 miles without stopping
  • You currently run at least 2-3 times per week
  • Your weekly mileage is at least 10-12 miles

If you are more advanced than this criteria, see the plan below this one (goal time). If these criteria are a bit more advanced than where you are now…don’t worry…check out the 10-week Start Running plan. Pick up this schedule wherever you feel your current training status is and tack it onto the 10-week schedule below. For example, if you’re currently running 2 miles twice a week, you may be able to pick-up at Week 7 of the Start Running schedule and then roll right into Week 1 of the half marathon training plan below. The best preparation tool that you can implement is time. If you include enough rest and time to gradually build up your mileage, this can be a very enjoyable and injury-free venture. Evaluate your situation and see what combination of plans makes the most sense for you.

You’ll notice that the plan below references a “goal pace”…and you may be thinking, “I really don’t care…I just want a finisher’s medal”. And that’s fine. When you start your training, keep track of your different paces and “back-into” a goal pace based on what feels comfortable. This will help you on race day. Many runners get that adrenaline rush and take off at a rather brisk pace and they feel great…until mile 7! Having a goal pace will help ground you and if you have something left, you can pick it up in the last 2 miles.

1 3 0 3 0 3 0 4
2 3 0 3 0 3 0 5
3 3 0 3 0 3 0 6
4 3 0 3 0 3 0 7
5 3 3 3 0 3 0 8
6 3 3 3 0 3 0 9
7 3 3 3 0 3 0 10
8 4 4 4 0 4 0 11
9 4 4 4 0 4 0 5
10 4 0 4 4 0 0 13.1
Long Slow Distance: 1-2 minutes slower than half-marathon goal pace (GP)
Brisk pace: Try running these workouts slightly faster than your normal pace.
Rest – let your muscles heal
Comfortable pace (45-75 seconds slower than GP)

Half Marathon Training Plan (get your best time!)

If your goal is to get a certain time in the half marathon, the plan below might be for you if…

  • You can run 4-5 miles without stopping.
  • You have been running for more than 6 months with some speed work
  • Your weekly mileage is greater than 15 miles a week.

If you’re still building up to the points above, you may want to add some more time to the 14-week half marathon training plan below. It’s much better to give yourself some time to build up to your goal than it is to rush into a training plan that could be very frustrating and even harmful.

1 3 4 3 XT / Rest 3 4
2 3 4 3 XT / Rest 3 5
3 3 4 3 XT / Rest 3 6
4 3 4 3 XT / Rest 3 7
5 3 4 3 XT / Rest 3 8
6 3 4 3 XT / Rest 3 9
7 3 4 3 XT / Rest 3 10
8 4 4 3 XT / Rest 4 11
9 4 5 3 XT / Rest 4 4×1-mile
10 4 5 3 XT / Rest 4 13
11 4 5 3 XT / Rest 4 5×1-mile
12 4 5 3 XT / Rest 4 15
13 4 5 3 XT / Rest 4 6
14 4 3 3 13.1
Long Slow Distance:  1-2 minutes slower than half-marathon goal pace (GP).
Tempo Runs:  These runs should be run 0-15 seconds slower than GP.
Mile Intervals:  Run these 15-30 seconds faster than GP.
Rest or Cross-Train (XT):  Bike, Elliptical, Rowing (non-running cardiovascular exercise).
Rest – let your muscles heal!
Comfortable pace: 45-75 seconds slower than GP.

You’ll notice that the primary difference between the two half marathon training plans is the additional weekly mileage and speed workouts. And depending on your ability level, you may be working out 6 times a week instead of 4-5. This can be a significant amount of stress for your body if you’re not used to working out that many days per week. If that’s the case, add some more time to gradually build up to running 4-5 days per week then start this 14-week schedule.

The table below lists some or the more popular half marathons that you can run. Most of the links have the race’s registration, course, archive results, and other information:

Popular Half Marathons

Half Marathon Month Race Size Highlight
Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon
VA Beach, VA
September 20,000 Bands, beach, boardwalk…what else do you want?
Bristol Half Marathon
Bristol City, UK
September 15,000 Running through the Avon Gorge…with some elite company
Philadelphia Distance Run
Philadelphia, PA
September 13,000 A nice fast & flat course through historic Philadelphia
Disney World Half Marathon
WDW – Orlando, FL
January 11,000 C’mon…it’s the happiest place on earth ;-)!
Chicago Half Marathon
Chicago, IL
September 10,000 Lake Shore Drive & views of Lake Michigan
Spirit of St. Louis Half Marathon
St. Louis, MO
April 8,000 Nice running course through downtown St. Louis
America’s Finest City Half Marathon
San Diego, CA
August 6,000 Great views of San Diego Bay
Big Sur Half Marathon
Monterey, CA
November 5,000 Nice run along the scenic Monterey Bay coastline
Canyonlands Half-Marathon
Moab, UT
March 4,000 Beautful run through Moab along the Colorado River
Maui Half Marathon
Island of Maui, HI
March 3,000 Running along the breath-taking Pacific Island coastline