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Home arrow Fitness arrow Running arrow Half-Marathon Training Plan for Everyone: How to Run 13.1 Miles

Half-Marathon Training Plan for Everyone: How to Run 13.1 Miles

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: May 25, 2023
7 min read 673 Views 0 Comments
clock 7 eye 673 comments 0

Ready to try your hand at a half-marathon? All you need is your running shoes and these half-marathon training plans to get you started.

half marathon training plan

For runners, doing their first half-marathon can be a running milestone that can be equally exciting and scary. Unlike shorter distances – a 5K or 10K, which can easily be walked in under 2 hours, taking on a half-marathon without the right preparation can be a recipe for disaster.

That being said, there’s no reason for beginners not to take on the added challenge that half-marathon races offer. With the right preparation, anyone can become half-marathon-ready.

Whether you’re completely new to running, coming back from an injury, or a regular runner looking for additional guidance, the following half-marathon training plans are guaranteed to set you up for success on race day.

How to Choose the Best Half-Marathon Training Plan for Yourself

Preparing for half-marathons is no joke! Finding the right half-marathon training plan is essential in making sure that you have what it takes to cross the finish line after a grueling 13.1-mile run.

When deciding on your half-marathon plan, there are several factors that should guide your decision. The most important aspect is your current fitness level – complete beginners will want to give themselves at least 16 weeks to prepare.

You should also consider if you need extra time to recover from previous injuries, factor in how much time you have per week to train, and determine time goals or just want to cross the finish line.

How to know if you’re ready for a half-marathon training

Some running experts say that completing a 10K is a good indicator of being half-marathon-ready.

However, some more concrete ways for you to know that you’re ready to run a half-marathon include:

  1. Having a solid running base: Ideally, between 15 and 20 miles per week, with the ability to consistently maintain that mileage without needing to take weeks off due to muscle or joint soreness.
  2. Being completely injury-free for at least a few months: This means no shin splints or muscle strains.
  3. Having enough free time: Your schedule should allow you to consistently dedicate 4–5 days a week to either running or cross-training.
  4. Being mentally prepared: The half-marathon distance is no joke. Having a lot of personal stress could be a good indicator that now isn’t the time to start a half-marathon training plan.

Beginner Training Plan: How to Train for a Half-Marathon in 16 Weeks

As you’ll notice below, this half-marathon training plan starts with walk/run intervals and mandatory cross-training days. The goal of these workouts is to strengthen the muscle of the lower legs while simultaneously reducing the amount of impact on your bones and joints.

Getting closer to the date of your first half-marathon, you’ll begin ramping up your running distance before doing a much-needed taper to allow your muscles to rest and recover before your big day.

Month 1MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Week 1Walk 8,000–10,000 stepsRest dayWalk 8,000–10,000 stepsRest dayCross-trainingWalk 8,000–10,000 stepsRest day
Week 2Jog for 7 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Repeat x4
Rest dayJog for 7 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Repeat x4
Rest dayCross-trainingJog for 7 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Repeat x4
Rest day
Week 3Run for 10 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayRun for 10 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayCross-trainingRun for 10 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest day
Week 4Run for 12 minutes

Walk for 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayRun for 12 minutes

Walk for 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayCross-trainingRun for 12 minutes

Walk for 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest day
Month 2MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday Sunday
Week 5Run for 15 minutes

Walk for 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayRun for 15 minutes

Walk for 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayCross-trainingRun for 15 minutes

Walk for 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest day
Week 6Run for 20 minutes

Walk for 2 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayRun for 20 minutes

Walk for 2 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayCross-trainingRun for 20 minutes

Walk for 2 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest day
Week 7Run for 12 minutes

Walk for 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayRun for 12 minutes

Walk for 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayRest day/cross-trainingRun for 12 minutes

Walk for 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest day
Week 8Run for 30 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Run for 20 minutes
Rest dayRun for 30 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Run for 20 minutes
Rest dayRest day/cross-trainingRun for 30 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Run for 20 minutes
Rest day
Month 3MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Week 9Run for 35 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Run for 25 minutes
Rest dayRun for 35 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Run for 25 minutes
Rest dayRest day/cross-trainingRun for 35 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Run for 25 minutes
Rest day
Week 10Run 4 milesRest dayRun 9 milesRest dayRest day/cross-trainingRun 3 milesRest day
Week 11Run 4 milesRest dayRun 10 milesRest dayRest day/cross-trainingRun 3 milesRest day
Week 12Run 4 milesRest dayRun 11 milesRest dayRest day/cross-trainingRun 3 milesRest day
Month 4MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Week 13Run 4 milesRest dayRun 12 milesRest dayRest day/cross-trainingRun 3 milesRest day
Week 14Run 4 milesRest dayRun 13 milesRest dayRest day/cross-trainingRun 3 milesRest day
Week 15Run 3 milesRest dayRun 7 milesRest dayRest dayRun 3 milesRest day
Week 16Jog for 7 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Repeat x4
Rest dayJog for 7 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Repeat x4
20-minute active recovery runRest dayRace day!Rest day

Intermediate Half-Marathon Training Plan – 12 Weeks

You’ll notice that the half-marathon training plan for more experienced runners, or people who already lead an active lifestyle, looks a little different. 

Previously active people have the foundation they need to start their training program with longer distances and higher running intensities without risking injury. Not only that, but their base level of fitness allows them to squeeze all the necessary preparation into just 12 weeks instead of the 16 weeks required for beginning runners.

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Week 1Run for 25 minutes

Walk for 2 minutes

Repeat x2
Rest dayRun for 25 minutes

Walk for 2 minutes

Repeat x2
Rest dayCross-trainingRun for 25 minutesWalk for 2 minutesRepeat x2Rest day
Week 2Run for 30 minutes

Walk for 2 minutes

Repeat x2

Run for 15 minutes
Rest dayRun for 30 minutes

Walk for 2 minutes

Repeat x2

Run for 15 minutes
Rest dayCross-trainingRun for 30 minutesWalk for 2 minutesRepeat x2Run for 15 minutesRest day
Week 3Run 4 milesRest dayRun 6 milesRest dayCross-trainingRun 3 milesRest day
Week 4Run 4 milesRest dayRun 7 milesRest dayCross-trainingRun 3 milesRest day
Week 5Run 4 milesRest dayRun 8 milesRest dayCross-trainingRun 3 milesRest day
Week 6Run 4 milesRest dayRun 9 milesRest dayRest day/ cross-trainingRun 3 milesRest day
Week 7Run 4 milesRest dayRun 10 milesRest dayRest day/ cross-trainingRun 3 milesRest day
Week 8Run 4 milesRest dayRun 11 milesRest dayRest day /cross-trainingRun 3 milesRest day
Week 9Run 4 milesRest dayRun 12 milesRest dayRest day/ cross-trainingRun 3 milesRest day
Week 10Run 4 milesRest dayRun 13 milesRest dayRest day/ cross-trainingRun  3 milesRest day
Week 11Run 3 milesRest dayRun 7 milesRest dayRest dayRun 3 milesRest day
Week 12Jog for 7 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Repeat x4
Rest dayJog for 7 minutes

Walk for 5 minutes

Repeat x4
20-minute active recovery runRest dayRace day!Rest day

5 Essential Half-Marathon Workouts

#1 Base runs

Base runs, medium-distance runs just below your half-marathon pace, should make up the majority of your running workouts. As the name suggests, they allow you to build a strong running base by slowly increasing your strength and endurance.

#2 Long runs

In half-marathon training plans, long runs can be considered anything between 5 and 10 miles in length. They are designed to improve your V02 max, meaning you can run longer without switching into an anaerobic state, improving your overall running economy.

#3 Speed runs

Looking for techniques to help you get faster at running? Speed runs might be the answer. This type of training includes sprint intervals, tempo runs, and fartleks and can also play a role in improving your V02 max.

If you choose to incorporate speed training into one of the half-marathon training plans above, be sure to do it no more than 1–2 times per week.

#4 Recovery runs

On the half-marathon training plan above, you’ll notice that recovery runs are recommended to be done a few days before race day. 

Unlike other training styles, recovery runs aren’t designed to challenge the body. Instead, they are used to aid the body in the removal of lactic acid from your muscles, which can make a big difference in your recovery process. 

You may choose to include recovery runs in your training plan by going for a 10–20-minute light jog 24 hours after a lengthier run, even if that falls on a rest day.

#5 Strength training

Strength training is an essential part of any half-marathon training plan. Lifting weights can be used by beginners and experienced runners to improve their half-marathon performance by strengthening their bones, muscles, and joints.

But most importantly, they play a role in strengthening the stabilizing muscles of the lower legs while simultaneously being low impact, thus helping to reduce injury risk.

How to Prepare for a Half-Marathon Race

  1. Check out the course before your race: This will give you a better idea of the terrain you’ll be up against and can help ease pre-race anxiety.
  2. Don’t forget to fuel up: In the last 3 days before your race, make sure to prioritize eating high-carb foods.
  3. Take time to warm up: Get to the race header 30–45 minutes early to do a light jog and dynamic stretches.
  4. Pack accordingly: Make sure to wear supportive running shoes and pack water, running gels, and a water-resistant running jacket – all must-haves for race day. Bringing accessories like headphones, bobby pins, or band-aids is also a good idea.
  5. Keep track of your time: Don’t get caught trying to keep up with other runners. Instead, have predetermined mile times that you stick to throughout your race to prevent burnout.

FAQs

How long is a half-marathon?

A half-marathon is 13.1 miles or 21.1 kilometers. Generally, it takes runners between 1 and 3 hours to finish the race, depending on their pace.

How many months do you need to train for a half-marathon?

How long it takes you to prepare for a half-marathon will vary, depending on your starting fitness level. In general, following a 12- or 16-week running plan for a half marathon is the best way to set yourself up for success.

Can you train for a half-marathon in 2 months?

Anyone with previous running experience, meaning they can already run 3–5 miles comfortably, should be able to run a half-marathon after only 8 weeks of preparation. However, beginner runners should take a full 12–16 weeks to prepare to limit their risk of injury.

What’s a good half-marathon time for beginners?

What is considered a good half-marathon time varies by sex, age, and other factors. In general, a first-time half-marathoner can feel good about finishing in 2:20 to 3 hours, averaging 10.7 to 13.7 minutes per mile.

A Word From a Running Coach

In the final weeks of your half-marathon training plan, your priority shouldn’t be running but giving your body a chance to rest and recover.

For many runners, it’s tempting to keep cramming in extra miles to get ready for the race. But in reality, the best thing you can do in the 2 weeks leading up to race day is to take all the rest days.

This is a great time to take long bubble baths, get an extra hour of sleep each night, focus on eating a balanced diet, and meditate to ease any pre-race anxiety you may be experiencing.

Conclusion

How successful you can be at running a half-marathon depends on the amount of effort you put into your preparation and whether or not you’re committed to sticking to your entire training plan.

Anyone who is new to running will want to take an entire 16 weeks to prepare for race day, while relatively active people can get away with squeezing their training into 12 weeks.

Following one of the training plans provided above – while mixing in a variety of half-marathon training plan workouts and taking plenty of rest days – will seal your success during your first big run.

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
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Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: May 25, 2023
7 min read 673 Views 0 Comments
0 Comments

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