12-Week Half Marathon Training Plan That’s Perfect for Beginners

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We might be biased, but half marathons are one of the best and most fun distances to train for.

With a little bit of time, patience, but definitely no luck, anyone from a veteran runner to a new runner can train and work up to a half marathon.


A few weeks ago, we discussed why fall was one of the best times to start training for a half marathon, and now we will give you the tools to get you to the finish line (healthy of course!).

Whether you’re busy with work, friends, or family, if you are able to include 20-30 minutes of running into your life during the week with a longer run on weekends, you can train!

Work your way there — slowly

Like any running plan, the most critical aspect is to slowly work into training and gradually increase your mileage. If you increase too quickly, you’ll injure yourself. One of the best things is that half marathons are a happy medium to enjoy other hobbies.

You don’t need to run every day or even for hours when you do run! All you need are 3-4 days of running, cross training and a few rest days in between during the week.

The first plan we are introducing is a beginner plan. This is for someone who hasn’t run for a while, taken time off, or is just beginning to run for the first time.

Don’t know where to start but you’ve already signed up for a half marathon? Well, this plan is for you!

It’s a 12-week plan designed for anyone just beginning their half marathon journey or getting back into shape.

Week Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
1 Rest/30 minutes cross training 20 minutes easy Rest 45 minutes cross training 20 minutes easy Rest 3 miles easy
2 Rest/30 minutes cross training 22 minutes easy Rest 45 minutes cross training 22 minutes easy Rest 4 miles easy
3 Rest/30 minutes cross training 24 minutes easy Rest 45 minutes cross training 24 minutes easy Rest 5 miles easy
4 Rest/30 minutes cross training 20 minutes easy Rest 45 minutes cross training 20 minutes easy Rest 3 miles easy
5 Rest/30 minutes cross training 30 minutes easy Rest 1 hr cross training 30 minutes easy Rest 6 miles easy
6 Rest/30 minutes cross training 32 minutes easy Rest 1 hr cross training 32 minutes easy Rest 7 miles easy
7 Rest/30 minutes cross training 35 minutes easy Rest 1 hr cross training 35 minutes easy Rest 8 miles easy
8 Rest/30 minutes cross training 30 minutes easy Rest 30 minutes cross training 30 minutes easy Rest 3 miles easy
9 Rest/30 minutes cross training 40 minutes easy Rest 1 hr cross training 40 minutes easy Rest 9 miles easy
10 Rest/30 minutes cross training 42 minutes easy Rest 1 hr cross training 42 minutes easy Rest 10 miles easy
11 Rest/30 minutes cross training 40 minutes easy Rest 1 hr cross training 40 minutes easy Rest 5 miles easy
12 Rest/30 minutes cross training 30 minutes easy Rest 30 minutes cross training 20 minutes easy Rest RACE!

A few important terms

What are ‘easy’ runs?

Easy runs are supposed to be just that, easy! You can either run/walk them or completely run them at a pace that allows you to have a conversation. Some days are marked for time and long run days are marked with distance.

Cross-training makes you stronger

Cross training allows your body to build cardio strength and endurance without stressing your body as running and walking do. There are many different methods to cross training, but it’s always important to find one that works for you.

A few suggestions, but you’re certainly not limited to these, are spinning, swimming or using cardio equipment such as an elliptical. While weights are good as well, it is beneficial to stick to more cardio base for now.

Don’t forget to rest

As runners, we often hate the rest day, but that is one of the most critical days in training. You will not improve if you do not rest, in fact, you usually get injured.

Starting anything new is challenging. Believe me, the first time I began training for a half
marathon I was overwhelmed with where to start! Keep in mind this is just a guide for getting to both the start and finish of a half marathon healthy.

Sometimes life pops up, so don’t be afraid to alter the days you run. An important aspect of any training plan is first getting out there, but as always, the most important component is having fun, so don’t forget to do that!

Hollie Sick is an avid runner who’s completed more than 30 half marathons. Read her blog, or follow her on Facebook.

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