Couch to Half Marathon: 12-Week Training Program, Nutrition & Tips

If you’re thinking about going from sitting on your couch to a half marathon in 12 weeks, I have great news. You can do it! And, we have a training plan and just enough time to get you ready for this incredible achievement. 

This beginner’s couch to half marathon training plan will get you to the finish line safely by following a gentle progression. You’ll get started with a few 30-minute run-walks made up of a brief period of running followed by walking intervals.

Before you know it, you’ll be running seven miles at a time with no problem at all. 

This plan includes training, nutrition, and psychological tips and tricks to help you for the next three months. Our best advice? Take the training step by step. Celebrate your hard work and many accomplishments along the way. 

If you’re an older runner just starting your running journey, seek a physician’s opinion or age-specific guidance on how to starting running after 50.

In this article:

  • Week-by-Week Half Marathon Training Strategy
    • Week One
    • Week Two 
    • Week Three
    • Week Four
    • Week Five
    • Week Six
    • Week Seven
    • Week Eight
    • Week Nine
    • Week Ten
    • Week Eleven
    • Week Twelve
  • Couch to Half Marathon Training Plan
  • Frequently Asked Questions
Runner's legs with adidas running shoes who has gone from couch to half marathon with a training plan.

Week One

During the first week of the couch-to-half marathon training schedule, you’ll start the process of priming your body and mind for the higher volume weeks and longer runs ahead. The best way to start running is the run-walk method, which allows your muscles and joints time to adjust to the new physical impact stress while developing your aerobic capacity for running workouts. You’ll also be building overall strength through weekly body weight exercise sessions.

Regardless of how difficult your first week of training is, you shouldn’t be asking yourself can I run a marathon without training. In short, it’s a bad idea.

Monday

Run 30 mins: Walk 1 min + run 2 mins x 10

Tuesday

Rest Day

Wednesday

Run 30 mins: Walk 1 min + run 2 mins x 10

Thursday

Strength Training

Friday

Rest Day

Saturday

Long Run: 2 miles (run as long as you can walk as needed)

Sunday

Rest Day

Week One Nutrition

As you begin your new training program, keep in mind that you will be burning more calories than your life pre-running – and perhaps many more than you ever have before. Nutrition is the other part of your training plan, and we’ll go over some basics before we dive into the rest of the weeks. 

The key to keeping your energy stores up is to maintain balance and variety. Studies show that runners should eat the same way that’s advised for everyone else.

The recommended runner diet is that 50% to 60% of your calories should come from carbohydrates, 15% to 20% of your calories should come from protein, and 15% to 20% from healthy fats. 

Carbohydrates: When carbs are digested, they are broken down into smaller sugar molecules called glucose, which is then stored as usable fuel in the liver and muscles. Carbohydrates delay fatigue. It also aids in muscle repair helping protein do its job. 

Protein is made up of amino acids, which are support building and repairing muscles. Here’s a formula to figure out how much protein you need.

Eat for your longest distances. Don’t overthink short run nutrition but invest into perfecting what you eat before your long runs.


I am…
I workout My workout duration is… Protein needs:

Active

4-5 days per week Averaging 30-50 minutes per session .5 grams of protein per lb of body weight

Super active

5-6 days per week Averaging 50 minutes or more per session .75 grams of protein per lb of bodyweight

Week Two Nutrition

As your running miles increase so too will your calorie burn. Because the half marathon distance is a beast, training is the time to fuel and not the time to diet. Continue to eat well-balanced, nutrient-rich foods and snacks to keep your energy up – check out some ideas below. Drink water throughout the day to maintain hydration. 

Meal and Snack Ideas 

  • Breakfast: Egg and smoked salmon scramble, side of spinach 
  • Snack: Carrot sticks and hummus 
  • Lunch: Black bean and quinoa bowl with zucchini, salsa, and shredded cheese 
  • Snack: Chocolate milk
  • Dinner: Chicken and veggie skillet with brown rice
  • Our entire list of recommended meals for runners (with recipes)

Week Two Training Tips

In week two, runs will get longer but should still feel manageable. If they are so difficult that you’re gasping for air at the end of each segment, you’re likely running too fast and above your fitness level.

If you don’t have one, you need to get a running watch to see just how fast you’re going. Running apps are also super motivating and helpful with pace.

Our favorite running app is Runna. Runna is like having a coach in your pocket providing detailed, dynamic feedback on your training. Readers receive 2-weeks of free training with code HALFMARATHON.

Next, use the talk test to gauge how well you are handling the speed. Basically, can you talk at the pace you’re running at? We call this conversational pace. If you cannot sustain conversation for the entirety of your run, you need to slow down. Going too fast is not optimal for your training and could lead to pain and overuse injuries. 

  • Use a pace calculator. Pace calculators can be helpful to find your easy pace based on goal half marathon race time.
  • Run with a friend. Find a friend to run with and carry on a conversation. This will ensure you are running within in a good heart rate zone
  • Consider a heart rate monitor. Grab a heart rate monitor or running watch. Getting feedback on your pace and heart rate will help you establish a good training pace. 

Week Three

In week three, you’re running time versus walking time increases. Your long run, too, will likely be the longest in both distance and duration that you’ve faced so far as you learn how to train for your first half marathon. If you are struggling and need to walk, it’s fine. The time on your feet and aerobic exercise is still adding to the training bank. 

Monday

Run 30 mins: Walk 1 min + Run 4 mins X 6

Tuesday

Rest Day

Wednesday

Run 30 min: Walk 1 min + Run 4 mins X 6

Thursday

Strength Day

Friday

Run 30 min: Walk 1 min + Run 4 mins X 6

Saturday

Long Run: 4 miles

Sunday

Rest Day

Week Three Nutrition

By week three, your body might be telling you what it wants and needs, meaning you might be super hungry. You’re burning a lot of calories and you have to make sure you are addressing your hunger needs.

If you are running in heat and humidity or if you’re just a person who sweats a lot no matter what, you’re going to need to intentionally replenish your electrolytes.

Now is the time to start testing out what sports drinks work for you. Find one with sugar (yes really!) and sodium.

Meal and Snack Ideas 

  • Breakfast: Whole wheat bagel, cream cheese or butter, eggs 
  • Snack: Rice cake sandwich with nut butter
  • Lunch: Tuna and pita pockets with lettuce 
  • Snack: Hard Boiled egg with crackers and grapes 
  • Dinner: Steak fajitas with colorful bell peppers
  • Our entire list of recommended meals for runners (with recipes)

Week Three Training Tips

This is the week to address any pain points before they become too much to bear.

Investigate muscle rubs for aches, better socks for blisters, and KT tape for tight muscles. Home remedies are awesome, but if you’re able, it’s so useful to have a physical therapist on your training team. They can stretch and massage tight muscles and teach you strength and stretching exercises to complement your running and strength plan.

  • Celebrate your accomplishments! Sports psychologists say this attitude will keep you in a positive mindset. 
  • Pay attention to pain. Invest in home remedies, strength training for runners, and stretching to address pain points before they become injuries. 
  • Build your team. Research and reach out to a physical therapist and/or a running coach to support you along your journey.
  • Find the right apps. Apps like Strava are great for tracking distance and pace. Apps like Runna are great for adaptive training plans. Audible and Spotify are great for keeping a wandering mind occupied.

Week Four 

Your plan no longer has run-walking breaks. You’ve graduated to reaching mile distances. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon the run-walk method. In fact, some experienced runners use run-walking to hit personal bests at races.

Experiment. Determine what pacing strategy works best in order to ensure you’re getting the miles in without the pain.

This week, if you are feeling any aches or tender muscles, swap in a few runs for cross-training days, like biking, hiking, swimming, or walking. 

Monday

Run: 2.5 miles

Tuesday

Rest Day

Wednesday

Run: 3 miles

Thursday

Cross-Training or Rest Day

Friday

Run: 2.5 miles

Saturday

Run: 5 miles

Sunday

Rest Day

Week Four Nutrition

Now that you’re one-third of the way through this plan, your distances are getting longer.

It’s time to pay attention to how you’re timing your meals and snacks especially on the days of your long runs.

On long run days, eat a light breakfast two to four hours before you begin. Have a light snack 30 minutes before.

Then, if you are going to be running longer than one hour, bring some sort of calories with you on the run. These calories take the form of sugary gels, sports jelly beans, honey sticks infused with electrolytes, gummies, and sports drinks. You can see our entire list of best electrolytes for runners here.

Sports scientists recommend taking in calories 45 minutes into your run and then every 30 or so minutes after that for the duration of the run. 

Every time you eat, you should take a sip of water. Starting right now, begin testing these sports foods. Some will not sit right with you, others will taste awful – you need to know what will work for you on race day so there are no bodily surprises.

It’s good to also note that for your short, easy runs, it’s helpful to eat a light snack 30 min before you begin. No weird gels or goos necessary. 

Meal and Snack Ideas 

  • Breakfast: Whole grain toast, two eggs, avocado
  • Snack: Apple and nut butter
  • Lunch: Big salad with baked turkey, veggies, and crackers 
  • Snack: Greek yogurt with granola and berries 
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken, avocado, and brown rice
  • Our entire list of recommended meals for runners (with recipes)

Week Four Training Tips

Long runs are especially important now not just for training but for figuring out everything about race day. Start planning your wardrobe and wear things during your long runs to make sure they make you feel confident, comfy, and chafe-free. And if you’ve been running in basketball shorts and a cotton top, invest in quality running gear ASAP.

Related: Stability Running Shoes for Newer Runners

If you’re finding the miles difficult, put together a running playlist that’s about 50 minutes long. (You’ll need to add more songs later!) 

  • Invest into running gear. Buy good running attire for both practice long runs and race day. Focus on materials that don’t chafe and wick-sweat.
  • Build a playlist. Hype yourself up with an awesome playlist. A good rule of thumb is to choose songs based on your target cadence – somewhere between 160 to 180 bpm.
  • Test your fueling strategies. Test out the experience of running while consuming a gel every 5 miles or 45 minutes. Your gastrointestinal system will need to get used to consuming fuel while running.

Week Five

During this phase of the training cycle, the volume is going to increase at a faster rate than before. This is a good time to learn how to control your breathing to keep your heart rate in a steady aerobic state. 

Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 3 miles
Thursday Strength Training
Friday Run: 3 miles
Saturday Run: 6 miles
Sunday Rest Day

Week Five Nutrition

Longer distances will lead to more and more fluid loss.

Bring a water bottle with you even on your shorter runs. Our preference is the Flipbelt water bottle which fits snuggly against your body during a run. Running with a water bottle will get you used to carrying whatever vessel you choose. Hydration when you’re in week 5, is not rocket science. If you feel thirsty, drink something. Let your thirst (and the color of your pee) be your guide. Keep up with your balanced diet and try these:

Meal and Snack Ideas 

  • Breakfast: Veggie omelet with a slice of toast 
  • Snack: Protein bar 
  • Lunch: Turkey BLT sandwich on whole wheat 
  • Snack: Cheese and crackers 
  • Dinner: Grilled salmon, sweet potatoes, and asparagus
  • Our entire list of recommended meals for runners (with recipes) 

Week Five Training Tips

Breath work while running will be your best friend as training gets harder.

Think about it like this: breathe in for three steps, then out for two. That’s your easy run cadence.

You’ll be controlling your breath and keeping your steps short and light. Paying attention to your breath can help you turn inward and notice how your body is feeling. 

If you’ve continued to do body scans, it will be easy to check in and ask each body part how it’s feeling. Now, you can add to this practice by coaching any tired or tight muscles with your mind.

For example, if your feet feel like concrete, and you notice that you can send a message down to your feet to try to take that heaviness away. Send breath down to your feet and repeat in your head “my feet feel light and cool.” Will it work every time? Not every time, but this matched with breathing patterns can really help. 

  • Water bottle work. For each run this week, bring a water bottle, water pack, or have a hydration plan.  
  • Breath work. Focus on your breath and practice the 3-2 pattern. 
  • Body scanning tune up. Add on to your body scan practice by practicing sending positive thoughts to your physical body. 

Week Six

You’re halfway through, which means you are six weeks away from the big race! This week will be a bit of a step-back week to give your body time to recover and get stronger to tackle the rest of the plan. Take your rest days seriously! 

Monday Run: 2.5 miles
Tuesday Strength Training
Wednesday Run: 4 miles
Thursday Rest Day
Friday Run: 2.5 miles
Saturday Run: 5 miles
Sunday Rest Day

Week Six Nutrition

Eat with intention, focusing on foods that make you feel good and that your mind equates with recovery. 

Meal and Snack Ideas 

  • Breakfast: Nut butter and banana sandwich 
  • Snack: Pickled beets, crackers, and goat cheese 
  • Lunch: Cobb salad 
  • Snack: Mozzarella stick and grapes 
  • Dinner: Chicken stir fry 

Week Six Training Tips

Your body will be feeling the accumulated miles by this point. This is good!

Think about it this way – at mile 10 during a half marathon, your legs will be tired. You should get used to the feeling of running on tired legs.

Make it a point to notice anything that might be standing in the way of your rest during training. Are you getting a good night’s sleep? Are you spending extra time on your feet when you’re not running? How is your stress level? Finding ways to remedy lifestyle issues that might be causing you more fatigue can be really helpful in getting to the finish line. 

  • Prioritize sleep. Establish a bedtime routine and make it a goal to get at least seven hours of rest per night. 
  • Monitor stress. Start a training journal to record any extra activities and your stress level. 
  • Half way self-care. Prioritize your rest by meditating, napping, taking a bath – make this a week of self-care. 

Week Seven 

Hopefully your legs will feel fresh-ish and you’ll be ready to tackle some new distance records. We’ll focus on optimizing the long run so you feel ready to go the full half marathon distance. 

Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 3 miles
Thursday Strength Training
Friday Run: 3 miles
Saturday Run: 7 miles
Sunday Rest Day

Week Seven Nutrition

On days following long runs, you might feel ravenous. That endless hunger is your body telling your brain that your energy stores are depleted. Plan what you’re going to eat post-long-run the day before.. 

Meal and Snack Ideas 

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, whole wheat toast 
  • Snack: Protein smoothie 
  • Lunch: Pasta, white beans, spinach, and sundried tomatoes 
  • Snack: Spring mix salad with canned tuna, avocado, walnuts, seeds, dressing 
  • Dinner: Sheet pan flank steak and broccoli with brown rice 

Week Seven Training Tips

Long runs give you time on the road to mentally reach past your limits and get comfortable being in a new place physically. Sometimes new runners get discouraged and think they cannot go one more step. To prep for moments like this, determine your “why” for running and training for this race. Keep asking yourself why the race is important to you, and when things get hard, think about that reason. Also, add more songs to your playlist! 

  • Calories, calories, calories. Make sure you are replenishing your calories and fluids. 
  • Connect with your purpose. Find your “why” for running and write it down. 
  • Train smart. Break it up – think about it, you’re only running three-ish 2.5-mile stretches. Take breaks and get it done! 

Week Eight 

With only a month left until race day, it’s time to start thinking about what your average race pace, or pace per mile for the half marathon,  will be. Use an online pace calculator to plug in your easy run pace and it will spit out an approximate race pace. This will just give you a general idea of how fast you should race. 

Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 3 miles
Thursday Strength Training
Friday Run: 4 miles
Saturday Run: 9 miles
Sunday Rest Day

Week Eight Nutrition

Week eight is a really good time to start tinkering with your pre-race dinner. Gastrointestinal issues are so common for distance runners but often small dietary changes will fix that poop-in-your-pants feeling. If your stomach is bothersome, try lessening the amount of veg you’re eating the day before a long run and see if it helps. Watch out for refined carbs and sugars that can also mess with your belly. 

Meal and Snack Ideas 

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with a whole wheat English muffin with butter and jelly 
  • Snack: Grapes, crackers, and string cheese 
  • Lunch: Six-inch turkey sub 
  • Snack: Cottage cheese and pineapple cubes 
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken breast, baked potato, and a small portion of string beans  

Week Eight Training Tips

Use your race pace data to see if you think that pace is reasonable for 13.1 miles. To safely test out and try on your race pace, run a half-mile of your long run at this pace and see how it feels. Then slow right back down, there’s no need to run at that pace at this time in your training. 

  • Practice at your pace. Use a pace calculator to determine a race pace range. And then, try your race pace during your long run. 
  • Then forget it. For now. Don’t obsess about it – there is still work to be done!   

Week Nine 

Get ready for your first double-digit long run and first 20-mile week! Getting this far indicates that most of your training is in the bag. You are almost ready for the start line. 

Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 4 miles
Thursday Strength Training
Friday Run: 3 miles
Saturday Run: 10 miles
Sunday Rest Day

Week Nine Nutrition

During these high-mileage weeks, many beginner runners start to feel fatigued. Way too often it’s because they are not consuming enough calories. Pay close attention to your calories in vs. calories out and make sure you are not training at a deficit.

Meal and Snack Ideas 

  • Breakfast: Spinach frittata 
  • Snack: Wasa crackers with soft cheese and apple slices 
  • Lunch: Tuna on a whole wheat wrap and carrot sticks 
  • Snack: Almonds 
  • Dinner: Sirloin steak, broccoli rabe, and sweet potato 

Week Nine Training Tips

Hitting a 10-mile run is an awesome feeling. To make sure you’re successful, it’s a good idea to prep before you step out the door. To take the guesswork out of it, spend time planning a route. If you are worried about making it through the whole 10 miles, find a running group – your local running store can help you find one. 

  • Eat enough. No other comments!
  • Prepare. You’ll improve the enjoyment of your long runs if you find a route that you enjoy.
  • Find community. Stay motivated and build confidence by finding a group to run with.

Week Ten 

Week 10 is taper week. The taper is when you drop down the volume and intensity of your running and strength plan to give your muscles time to heal and restore themselves to be stronger and ready to race. 

Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 2 miles
Thursday Stretch Day
Friday Run: 3 miles
Saturday Run: 9 miles
Sunday Rest Day

Week Ten Nutrition

Just because you’re running less doesn’t mean you should eat less. Stick with the meal plan that’s been working for you. Continue to hydrate. 

  • Breakfast: Protein banana nut muffins 
  • Snack: Mini cucumber tea sandwiches on whole wheat bread
  • Lunch: Sirloin steak on top of spring mix and ginger dressing 
  • Snack: Cottage cheese mixed with a packet of sour cream and onion dip with a few baked potato chips
  • Dinner: Roasted turkey breast, mashed sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts 

Week Ten Training Tips

The taper can make some people anxious. They call these “taper tantrums.” So, they start thinking that in order to prepare, they should be running more and running harder. Don’t fall into this trap. Use the extra energy you have to make plans for race day. Think about the logistics (i.e. where and when to pick up your bib, where to park on race day, and reservations for a celebratory post-race meal.) 

  • Don’t overtrain. Taper weeks are designed for rest. Rest optimizes performance.
  • More of the same. Do eat the same amount you’ve been eating to aid in recovery. 
  • Prepare for race day. Start packing for race weekend

Week Eleven 

This week, we’ll introduce strides to one of your easy runs. The purpose of strides is to help your running form and cadence. While running these shorter, faster bursts, focus on driving your knees up, having a solid arm swing, and staying light on your feet. 

Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 2 miles + 5 X 20-second strides with 10-second rests
Thursday Stretch Day
Friday Run: 2 miles
Saturday Run: 7 miles
Sunday Rest Day

Week Eleven Nutrition

Eat well-balanced, nutrient-dense meals. Do not change your on-the-run fueling method if it has been working. If, for whatever reason, it’s not working well, use your last long run to find something you can tolerate and that keeps your energy up. Continue to hydrate. 

Meal and Snack Ideas 

  • Breakfast: Over easy egg on avocado toast 
  • Snack: Turkey jerky with grapes 
  • Lunch: Greek salad with grilled chicken and/or garbanzo beans 
  • Snack: Dried apricots, celery sticks, and nut butter 
  • Dinner: Baked chicken, roasted potatoes, and baby carrots 

Week Eleven Training Tips

You do not have to sprint strides. Just go a bit faster than your easy pace with good form. While you’re doing them, visualize your finishing kick – meaning speeding up as you approach the finish line.

Pair that with a few “I am” statements that you can use as a mantra. Try out “I am strong” or “I am a half marathoner” or “I am smooth.” You’ll be able to call on these words during the race for a burst of good mental energy. 

  • Strides. Incorporate strides into one easy run.
  • Slow. Keep all your runs nice and slow. 
  • Self-talk. Try out a few mantras to keep your mind focused when things get hard.

A runner finishing at the Padova Marathon with his hands in the air to screaming crowds. The runner has gone from couch to half marathon.

Week Twelve 

It’s race week! Trust the plan, trust your progress, and trust this final week of relative rest before the big day. 

Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Rest Day/Stretch Day
Thursday Run: 2 miles
Friday Rest Day
Saturday Run: 2 miles (shakeout run)
Sunday Run 13.1 mile race!

Week Twelve Nutrition

Keep doing the exact thing you’ve been doing if it’s working. Do not try new foods. Do not eat new gels. Trust your nutrition plan and hydrate. 

Meal and Snack Ideas 

  • Breakfast: English muffin and nut butter 
  • Snack: Apple and string cheese
  • Lunch: Spring mix salad with veggies and shredded chicken 
  • Snack: Cottage cheese and berries 
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken and grilled veggies with brown rice 

Week Twelve Training Tips

You won’t be able to control the weather, the crowds, or anything outside yourself on race day. So acknowledge that and be prepared to roll with whatever the day throws at you. Chances are, it will go better than you could’ve ever imagined. 

  • Do nothing. Don’t change anything in the last week before the race! 
  • Visualize. Imagine your race. Visualize your definition of success the night before. 
  • Don’t rush! On race morning, don’t go out too fast. 

12-Week Couch to Half Marathon Training Program

Couch to Half Marathon: Week One
Monday Run 30 mins: Walk 1 min + run 2 mins x 10
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run 30 mins: Walk 1 min + run 2 mins x 10
Thursday Strength Training
Friday Rest Day
Saturday Long Run: 2 miles (run as long as you can walk as needed)
Sunday Rest Day
Nutrition Tips Make sure your diet is 50 to 60 percent healthy carbohydrates 15 to 20 percent proteins and 15 to 20 percent healthy fats.
Training Tips Get new running shoes. Start strengthening and stretching.
Couch to Half Marathon: Week Two
Monday Run 30 mins: Walk 1 minute + run 3 mins x 8
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run 30 mins: Walk 1 minute + run 3 mins x 8
Thursday Strength Training
Friday Run 30 mins: Walk 1 minute + run 3 mins x 8
Saturday Long Run: 3 miles
Sunday Rest Day
Nutrition Tips Track your calories to make sure you’re eating enough.
Training Tips Find your easy conversational run pace and don’t run too fast.
Couch to Half Marathon: Week Three
Monday Run 30 mins: Walk 1 min + Run 4 mins X 6
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run 30 min: Walk 1 min + Run 4 mins X 6
Thursday Rest Day
Friday Run 30 min: Walk 1 min + Run 4 mins X 6
Saturday Long Run: 4 miles
Sunday Rest Day
Nutrition Tips Find a sports drink that works for you.
Training Tips Treat yourself to celebrate your hard work so far.
Couch to Half Marathon: Week Four
Monday Run: 2.5 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 3 miles
Thursday Cross-Training or Rest Day
Friday Run: 2.5 miles
Saturday Run: 5 miles
Sunday Rest Day
Nutrition Tips Time your snacks to be 30 mins before your run and meals three to four hours before.
Training Tips Start treating your long run like a dress rehearsal for your goal race.
Couch to Half Marathon: Week Five
Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 3 miles
Thursday Strength Training
Friday Run: 3 miles
Saturday Run: 6 miles
Sunday Rest Day
Nutrition Tips Practice carrying water with you on runs.
Training Tips Try out the 3-2 breathing pattern.
Couch to Half Marathon: Week Six
Monday Run: 2.5 miles
Tuesday Strength Training
Wednesday Run: 4 miles
Thursday Rest Day
Friday Run: 2.5 miles
Saturday Run: 5 miles
Sunday Rest Day
Nutrition Tips Try a new recipe that you equate with replenishment and recovery.
Training Tips Use this step-down week to practice self-care.
Couch to Half Marathon: Week Seven
Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 3 miles
Thursday Strength Training
Friday Run: 3 miles
Saturday Run: 7 miles
Sunday Rest Day
Nutrition Tips Plan your post-long run meal the day before you go the distance.
Training Tips Find your “why” for running the race.
Couch to Half Marathon: Week Eight
Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 3 miles
Thursday Strength Training
Friday Run: 4 miles
Saturday Run: 9 miles
Sunday Rest Day
Nutrition Tips Find a pre-long run dinner that works and eat it each week before your long run.
Training Tips Figure out a race pace range.
Couch to Half Marathon: Week Nine
Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 4 miles
Thursday Strength Training
Friday Run: 3 miles
Saturday Run: 10 miles
Sunday Rest Day
Nutrition Tips Eat enough to keep your energy up.
Training Tips Break the long run into parts. You’re just running two miles five times.
Couch to Half Marathon: Week Ten
Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 2 miles
Thursday Stretch Day
Friday Run: 3 miles
Saturday Run: 9 miles
Sunday Rest Day
Nutrition Tips Continue eating the same amount even if you’re running slightly less.
Training Tips Don’t overdo it even if you feel like you want to run more.
Couch to Half Marathon: Week Eleven
Monday Run: 3 miles
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run: 2 miles + 5 X 20-second strides with 10-second rests
Thursday Stretch Day
Friday Run: 2 miles
Saturday Run: 7 miles
Sunday Rest Day
Nutrition Tips Don’t change a thing!
Training Tips Put strides into your easy run to keep your legs activated.
Couch to Half Marathon: Week Twelve
Monday Run 30 mins: Walk 1 min + run 2 mins x 10
Tuesday Rest Day
Wednesday Run 30 mins: Walk 1 min + run 2 mins x 10
Thursday Strength Training
Friday Rest Day
Saturday Long Run: 2 miles (run as long as you can walk as needed)
Sunday Rest Day
Nutrition Tips Make sure you have plenty of your on-the-run fuel for race day.
Training Tips Visualize your definition of success for the race and don’t go out too fast!

Frequently asked questions

How long should I train for a half marathon? 

A 12-week couch to half marathon plan is sufficient for first time runners whose half marathon goal is to reach the finish line. But a good running coach will tell you that a longer build up will get you better results. A 16-week plan is optimal and allows beginning and intermediate runners a solid amount of time for base building. 

What’s a good half marathon time for a beginner? 

A “good half marathon time” for any level of runner relies on various factors such as age, gender, previous athletic endeavors, and the nature of the course (e.g., hilly or flat). Beginners would be better off not worrying about time for their first half marathon. That being said, many runners make it a goal to beat two hours. 

In terms of “good” half marathon times, non-elite males between 20 and 60 years old might shoot for a time ranging from 1:30 to 1:51. Women in the same age group should target a time of 1:46 to 2:16.

Once you complete your 12-week couch to half marathon plan and finish your big race, you’ll want to set a new goal. You might set your sites on a full marathon or become determined to run a sub-two-hour half marathon. Get ready to add tempo runs and speed work to your running repertoire – we’ll see you out on the road.

Everything featured on Half Marathon Guide is independently selected and curated. We may receive a small commission on purchases made from some of our links. 

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