So, you want to run a half marathon? Running 13.1 miles (or 21 kilometers) is a huge goal. But it’s not impossible. Even if you have limited running experience. In order to cross the finish line, all you need is enough time and a proper training schedule.
In this article I created two helpful resources you can use for training. The first is a training schedule that will guide you through each week. This includes the distance needed to build endurance and how many rest days you should take.
Below this table you will find the 24 week half marathon training schedule, grouped into 6 stages. This summarizes the goals for each week and how you should mentally approach your training. If you’re serious about running a half marathon, these are all the tools you will need. Let’s begin.
Stage 1 (Weeks 1-4)
And so the journey begins! During this first stage, it’s important to start off slow. You don’t want to run too many miles in the beginning, in order to avoid injury. Get comfortable with your feet hitting the pavement and don’t push too hard.
Don’t worry about your endurance during this stage – it won’t be great. But you shouldn’t beat yourself up, because the goal here is to slowly ease into the sport of running. With this conservative approach you can avoid getting burned out, hurt, or both!
Stage 2 (Weeks 5-8)
You can start to increase the mileage during this second stage. And when I say increase the mileage, I’m talking about 1-2 miles at most. Time shouldn’t be a major concern yet. You want to get through the run without stopping. No matter how long it takes.
This training schedule may seem too conservative (but it works). With this approach the miles will slowly increase over time. In the beginning it’s very tempting to keep running, to see how far you can actually run. And while this may work for some people, there’s no reason to be reckless.
Stage 3 (Weeks 9-12)
In this stage you want to start being aware of your speed. Some people have a goal of just finishing a marathon, while others want to finish the race in under a certain time. Whatever your goal may be, get comfortable with pacing during the short, medium and long runs.
It helps to change up your pace during training. For race day you should be running a half marathon at a steady pace – so steady that you can still hold a conversation. Don’t blast out of the starting line at a full sprint. Find a steady pace you can run 13.1 miles at.
Stage 4 (Weeks 13-16)
After twelve weeks of training your body should be used to running. At this point you should know how long it takes your body to warm up and what pace is most comfortable for long runs. The distance will continue to increase in the safest way possible to avoid injury.
Continue with tempo running during this stage. For the short runs, try to run your fastest time possible without having to stop and rest. This may still be challenging, but running hard for shorter distances will only help your long runs. Avoid running various distances at the same pace.
Stage 5 (Weeks 17-20)
The mileage gets serious during stage 5. Make sure to do your long runs at the same time the real marathon is. I ran my first marathon on a Saturday morning. So when I was training, I made sure to run the longer distances on Saturday morning.
This stage includes the very first double-digit distance run. Running 10 miles is a huge accomplishment and it proves that you’re becoming a very serious runner. I never thought in a million years I would ever run 10 miles. Now it’s time for the final stage of training!
Stage 6 (Weeks 21-24)
Congratulations, you have made it to the final stage of training! You will notice that the furthest distance needed to run is only 12 miles. Most experts agree that you don’t need to run the full 13.1 miles during training. On race day you will have the adrenaline to push through that extra mile.
Preparation is key during this final stage. Approach each run like you will do on race day. Continue eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep. You don’t want to wake up on race day and feel sluggish from a poor diet, or lack of sleep.
Following the training program above is just one step to becoming a better runner. You also need to be consistent and fuel your body. Athletes recognize the importance of sticking to a regular training schedule and taking care of their bodies. Keep these tips in mind during your half marathon training.
Running is all about being consistent. But I’m not talking about running every day, or doing the same distance each workout. Being consistent involves your training style and the foods you eat. As I mentioned above, it helps to replicate your long distance runs to the actual marathon day.
This means that if the marathon is in the morning, you should run in the morning. Become familiar with running at whatever time the marathon will be. With this mindset you and your body will be accustomed to running in these conditions. This same approach applies to your diet.
Fuel Your Body
The foods you eat directly impact how your body responds to running. Don’t expect training to be easy if you eat pizza, cheeseburgers and chocolate chip cookies right before running. You need to eat healthy and nutritious foods that will help fuel your workouts.
Remember to be consistent with your diet. For example, if you usually have a bowl of oatmeal before your runs, continue to do this on race day. Don’t try a new kind of food right before your first half marathon. Most runners like to eat 1-2 hours before their workouts.
24 Week Half Marathon Training Schedule
24 Week Half Marathon Training Plan