If you’ve ever found it difficult to stick to an intensive training plan for a race, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
For nearly all runners who have jobs to go to and families to take care of — which of course means nearly all runners — it can be next to impossible to adhere to a training plan that requires you to run multiple days each week, many weeks and months in a row.
That’s why we’ve developed this 16-week training plan specifically for intermediate level runners and people whose schedules don’t allow for running five days a week — a variation on our 12-week training plan for beginners, with an additional day off during the week:
|1||off||3 miles||off||3 miles||off||4 miles||3 miles|
|2||off||3 miles||off||3 miles||off||5 miles||3 miles|
|3||off||4 miles||off||4 miles||off||6 miles||3 miles|
|4||off||4 miles||off||4 miles||off||6 miles||3 miles|
|5||off||5 miles||off||5 miles||off||7 miles||2-3 miles|
|6||off||5 miles||off||5 miles||off||7 miles||2-3 miles|
|7||off||6 miles||off||4 miles||off||8 miles||2-3 miles|
|8||off||6 miles||off||4 miles||off||8 miles||2-3 miles|
|9||off||5-6 miles||off||4-5 miles||off||9 miles||2-3 miles|
|10||off||5-6 miles||off||4-5 miles||off||9 miles||2-3 miles|
|11||off||6 miles||off||5 miles||off||10 miles||2 miles|
|12||off||6 miles||off||5 miles||off||10 miles||2 miles|
|13||off||5-6 miles||off||4-5 miles||off||11 miles||2 miles|
|14||off||5-6 miles||off||4-5 miles||off||12 miles||2 miles|
|15||off||5-6 miles||off||4-5 miles||off||6 miles||3 miles|
|16||off||4-5 miles||off||4-5 miles||off||13.1 miles!||off|
For Experienced Runners
It’s important to note that the training plan outlined above is not designed with beginning runners in mind — this is for runners who’ve already run a half marathon or several in the past, and who are already running consistently each week so they’ve built up their leg, lower body and cardiovascular strength to handle the number of miles they’ll be running throughout the training.
If you are looking to run your first half marathon, please consider our 12-week training plan for beginning runners, which provides a more intensive training regimen.
Staying Injury-Free to Race Day
Note also that this training program is spread out over 16 weeks rather than 12 weeks, to give your muscles more time to get ready. Because you’ll be running fewer days each week with this training plan, we recommend giving yourself more time to get ready for the race, to allow both your body and your mind to prepare for running 13.1 miles.
Consider cross-training on the days you don’t run — anything from strength training to walking a few miles, which will provide the cardiovascular benefits without the pounding impact that running can cause. In addition to cross-training, we recommend guided strength training plans that are designed to prevent injuries throughout training.
For high-quality evidence-based exercise plans, we recommend downloading an app like Exakt Health. Missing a day or two of training won’t impact your progress, but inconsistency of training leads to a higher chance of overuse running injuries.
Time Your Long Runs With Your Race
The schedule above places the weekly long run on Saturday, followed by a usually much shorter quick run on Sunday. Feel free to swap these if the race you’ve signed up for falls on a Sunday; I’ve always found that it’s best to do your long runs on the day you’ll actually be running your race, to allow your body to get used to the rhythm of the short run/long run each week.
(Also feel free to move around the mid-week runs as your schedule demands — just make sure you get in two runs of 30 to 60 minutes each in the middle of the week before your long run each weekend.)
As Always, Consult the Experts
Remember that there are a number of ways to structure a half marathon training plan. Running coaches Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway, who is well-known for his Run-Walk-Run approach to training, offer a number of training plans on their own websites that are excellent guides to getting ready for any race.
More training plans: 8 Weeks • 9 Weeks • 10 Weeks • 12 Weeks • 14 Weeks • 18 Weeks • 20 Weeks
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I have never run a timed race before! I like to run 4 miles a day 4/5 days a week. My buddy wants to run a half marathon! Where do we begin? We live in Chicago but want to head west for a race? Any suggestions? Thanks for your time
Should all of these runs be completed outside? Or can I complete some on a treadmill?
This is a great question. I used this training program on a treadmill until race day. I didn’t want to risk injury before the race. I think you should run wherever you are most comfortable. Good luck to you!
Could you please release a training spread sheet in KM instead of in Miles?
With this plan, would you recommend that the short run on Sunday be used as a recovery run or hard run?
How would I change the last week the fit a Sunday race?
interested in 5 k training in Carlsbad area
My husband and I followed this program for the April 2016 Rutger’s Unite Half Marathon and it was GREAT! I’m not sure we could have done this without your plan!
The schedule puts the race on a Saturday. Yes I can shift everything over, but it would be nice if it was moved.
I have been training for a half. This is not my first but still consider myself a beginner. My pace is slow. I’m all about finishing not competing. My question is I think I’m hitting my long miles to soon before the race. Is it OK to peak and then back off 3 weeks before the race?
Yes it’s great to be doing your long runs early but once you feel like you’ve got your long runs in you may be ahead of schedule but don’t start you’re taper too early. Run an extra week of long runs and consider keeping your distance runs in place but you might consider altering those longer runs by do the last half of them at the Goal Half-marathon pace and also putting in some long intervals in those last few weeks such as 4 to 6 800’s at 5 K pace. Don.t forget to have more rest days in the final 3 weeks….Steve Daffron , Half Marathon PR 1:18, 51 Years Old.
How to know my half-marathon pace or my 5k pace? My average running pace is 9:30/mi.