Half Marathon Training Plans & Tips

Pexel, Andrea Piacquadio

A reliable half marathon training plan is your guiding light when preparing for a 13.1-mile race. Whether you’ve signed up for your very first half or your 30th, a training plan is going to make sure you’re properly conditioned for race day and prevent overuse injuries along the way.

The best half marathon training plan for you is very subjective runner to runner. Some people may have never run a full half marathon distance, but are already very fit. In this case, you could scale your mileage quicker and train over just eight weeks. Others may be happier with a couch to half marathon plan, or simply prefer to take 20 weeks to train slow and controlled.

No matter if you’re a beginner runner or highly experienced, if you have five days a week to train or just three, we’ve got a trustworthy training plan to get you to race day safe and sound. Because we love everything half marathons, we’ve also included training tips and common questions people have before their race.

If you find yourself in need of more support on your half marathon training journey, our recommended training app partner is Runna.

Runna has been name the Best Running App in 2023 by numerous publications and is as good as a a running coach in your pocket. You can use code HALFMARATHON for 2-weeks of premium training for free.

Half Marathon Training Plans

Half marathon runners running on a half marathon course

8-Week Training Plan

If you’ve signed up for a race that’s just two months away (or less), we’ve got you. Our eight-week training plan is designed for runners who already are in the habit of logging miles regularly but want help working up to 13.1 miles, fast.

9-Week Half Marathon Training Plan

This plan is based on the same schedule and expectations as our eight-week training plan – you’re already experienced and maybe even have a few races under your belt, and you’re looking to ramp up your training quickly.

10-Week Half Marathon Training Plan

If you have less than three months to train for your next half marathon, this 10-week training plan will be the perfect fit. It’s also ideal for experienced runners who might have some scheduling conflicts here and there with their training.

12-Week Half Marathon Training Plan

Designed for beginning runners or anyone who is planning to run the half marathon distance for the first time, this training plan is based on five days of running per week, with the once-a-week long run set on Sundays and days off on Mondays and Fridays.

14-Week Half Marathon Training Plan

Whether you need a little extra time to train or just want to start early, beginner and experienced runners can both use this 14-week training plan. It starts off slow with only four runs per week and then ramps up to five closer to race day.

16-Week Half Marathon Training Plan

Spread out over four months instead of three, this training plan is designed for runners who’ve run a half marathon already and are in need of a training plan that can fit into a busy schedule — with four training days each week vs. five.

18-Week Half Marathon Training Plan

Designed for beginners and even experienced runners, this plan eases you into training with a longer runway at the beginning. You’ll get used to running 4 to 5 days per week over a longer period — and probably be happier about it come race day.

20-Week Half Marathon Training Plan

For runners who are looking for an even more gradual buildup to their half marathon, this five-month training plan starts slowly and builds toward the 13.1-mile race day. It features both four and five days of running per week later in the plan.

12-Week Couch to Half Marathon Training Plan

For runners who have no foundation built for a distance race, this 12-week program is designed to build base fitness. It involves short run-walks before kicking up to long runs near the 13.1 miles.

How to Pick the Best Half Marathon Training Plan for You

 

Two runners training for a half marathon or another race

Pexels, Andres Ayrton

If you aren’t sure which half marathon training plan is right for you, consider:

  • Your base fitness and current weekly mileage: People who aren’t currently doing any cardio work should start with a plan that either begins with low mileage or includes plenty of walking, gradually increasing running intervals. Meanwhile, experienced runners can choose a plan based on recent mileage and workouts.
  • How far away your race is: Most people will benefit from training for as long as possible, so calculate how many weeks you have from today till race day. Ideally, take 16-20 weeks if you can. If you’re an experienced runner, you can definitely train for 13.1 miles in 8 weeks, but we highly discourage new runners from trying to train on such a short timeline.
  • How much time you can commit per week: Select a plan that fits your life. If you have a busy schedule, a plan with fewer and flexible training days might be best. Keep in mind, ideally you’re also cross-training and strength training throughout the week in addition to your run days.
  • Pre-existing injuries or concerns: If you have a history of injuries, consider a plan with that increases mileage more slowly, and one with more cross-training.

Half Marathon Training Tips

A woman running a half marathon happily after successful training

Pexel, RUN 4 FFWPU

How To Train For A Half Marathon

You want to slowly add mileage to increase your base. An easy-to-follow rule is to increase your long run by one mile every 1-2 weeks and take a rest day in its place every month. The slow increase as well as not “always increasing” allows your body ample time to recover.

Half Marathon Training Nutrition

Aside from the running, nutrition might just be the most important part of your half marathon training plan. Half marathon nutrition is everything from what to eat before your half marathon, to the best running snacks, to the best meals, to fueling during your half marathon.

The Best Training Apps

For keeping track of your mileage, pace, and progress we recommend Strava which has a seamless user interface and great community support features. For more comprehensive and dynamic running plans that respond to each training session, we recommend Runna. (Half Marathon Guide readers get 2-weeks free with code HALFMARATHON.)

Injury Prevention for Half Marathon Runners

If done too quickly or with improper form, increasing mileage and speed can result in injuries – from shin splints to runner’s knee and beyond. The most important factor in completing any training plan is staying consistent. In addition to following a half marathon training plan, it’s important to include structured strength training you can do yourself or follow a guided strength training program. You can find examples of reliable injury prevention programs online or by downloading free apps like Exakt Health.

Strength Training for Half Marathon Runners

Every beginner half marathon runner should be incorporating strength training and cross training. Both are required for reducing overuse injuries, building speed, endurance, and stability. On any non-running day in any of our training plans, you should be incorporating one or the other.

Why the Long Run is Your Most Important Training Run

Speed work and tempo runs get you faster. Recovery runs keep you from getting injured. Shorter races prepare you for the overall experience. But the long run is the most important element in making it to the finish line feeling great. When embarking on any long run journey you’ll also need a nutrition strategy.

Whether you are a beginner looking to run for the first time, a runner returning from an injury or break, or simply a runner starting a new half marathon training plan, it can take weeks before the habit forms. Once you stick with the plan for 4-8 weeks, however, it begins to feel normal to lace up and run a few (or more) times a week.

Marathon Training Plans

Marathon runner crossing the finish line after training

Pexel, RUN 4FFWPU

12-Week Marathon Training Plan for Experienced Runners

Are you an experienced runner who needs a tune-up before your next marathon? Here’s a plan to get you ready for 26.2 miles in 3 months.

18-Week Marathon Training Plan for First-Timers

The more miles you can get to before starting this plan, the better. Walk, run, or do a walk run/combo. You should be able to complete 15 miles a week without any problems before starting.

20-Week Marathon Training Plan for ‘Comeback’ Runners

Are you an experienced runner who has taken some time off from the marathon, but are ready to come back to 26.2? Here’s a plan that might be perfect to get you back in form.

Half Marathon to Marathon Training Plan

Designed for runners who have completed their first half marathon and found out – they’re capable of of running further. After a quick recovery period, a 10-week training program designed to expand your endurance from 13.1 miles to the 26.2.

More Half Marathon Training Plans

If you didn’t find the right half marathon training plan above, consider one of our other 12-week plans:

FAQs

What Is the Average Time for a Half Marathon?

For men, the average finishing time for a half marathon is 1:55. This is approximately 8:49 minutes per mile pace. For women, the average finishing time for a half marathon is 2:11. This is approximately 10:02 minutes per mile pace.

How Many Days per Week Should I Train for a Half Marathon?

The exact days per week will vary depending on how many weeks your training plan is designed for, most plans will budget between 8 and 20 weeks. More experienced runners could safely run between three and five days training for a half marathon. Beginner runners should expect to run between three and four days per week over their entire training plan.

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