Half Marathon Training Schedule for Beginner Runners

Before starting any training for running the 13.1-mile half marathon distance, whether it’s in an organized race or on your own, you should be regularly running approximately 10 to 15 miles per week.

If you’re a beginning runner, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before starting anything as strenuous as training for a half marathon, especially if you’re over age 35 or 40.

(MORE: 16-Week Training Schedule | 20-Week Training Schedule)

With that in mind, below is the training schedule that the publisher of this site has followed in past races, one that’s worked out well. It’s based on a simple philosophy — using the mid-week runs for conditioning and feeling out your proper pace, and using the once-per-week long runs to get you mentally prepared for running 13 miles.

  Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Week
1
off 3 miles 3 miles 3 miles off 3 miles 4 miles
Week
2
off 3 miles 4 miles 3 miles off 3 miles 4 miles
Week
3
off 3 miles 4 miles 3 miles off 3 miles 5 miles
Week
4
off 3 miles 5 miles 3 miles off 4 miles 6 miles
Week
5
off 4 miles 5 miles 4 miles off 3 miles 7 miles
Week
6
off 4 miles 4 miles 4 miles off 4 miles 8 miles
Week
7
off 4 miles 6 miles 4 miles off 4 miles 9 miles
Week
8
off 4 miles 6 miles 4 miles off 4 miles 10 miles
Week
9
off 4 miles 6 miles 4 miles off 3 miles 11 miles
Week
10
off 4 miles 5 miles 4 miles off 4 miles 12 miles
Week
11
off 4 miles 5 miles 4 miles off 3 miles 6 miles
Week
12
off 3 miles 5 miles 3 miles off 2 miles 13.1
miles!

Rest Days

Especially for beginning runners or those who may be experienced at running but training for their first half marathon, it’s important to take two days off from running during the week to allow your joints and muscles adequate time to rest. I’ve always taken two days off during the week, on Mondays and Fridays, as that allows a day off after your long run as well as a day off after your three mid-week running days.

Water

On your weekend long runs, make sure to bring plenty of water to drink after your run and during your run. It’s important especially when your long runs start reaching distances of seven, eight and nine miles or longer, to have water at the mid-point of your long run as well as at the end.

Sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade are fine as well, but you can’t go wrong with water. Also, this will get your body accustomed to what your race conditions will be like, when you’ll be able to have water most likely at every two miles in the race.

Walking & Taking Breaks

If you feel the need to walk or take a break in your long run or during any of your training runs, by all means don’t feel guilty or hesitant about doing so. Especially for beginners, the goal is to complete the race more so than to compete, and when finishing is your goal, it’s perfectly fine to take walking breaks here and there. Listen to what your body is telling you, as it’s quite possible that perhaps you’re trying to maintain too fast a pace; consider slowing yours or using the run-walk method popularized by Jeff Galloway.

Consult the Experts

Remember that the training schedule above is just one recommendation on how to structure a half marathon training plan. You should also consult the training schedules put together by the famed and highly accomplished runners Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway for more perspectives on how to train for this enjoyable and challenging race distance.

3 comments… add one

  • sam July 10, 2014, 1:21 am

    Is this age specific?

  • Terrell Johnson July 10, 2014, 4:45 pm

    Hi Sam, no it isn’t. But that’s a factor we should consider, and perhaps incorporate into training programs for runners at different ages. Great idea.

  • Michael L Bradley July 14, 2014, 9:58 am

    I have signed up to do the St.Jude half on December 6 2014.I walk a 5k every morning.I finish them in 46 minutes or less.I want to improve my miles but scared to death.I have done 5 5k this year.I can’t afford a coaching coach.Any suggestion that you can give me will help me out a lot.I recon that I put this on my Bucket list to do.Am I crazy?Thanks for all of the information.
    Mike

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