Congratulations on your decision to train for your first half-marathon. As a beginner, your goal should be to make it to the finish line of the 13.1-mile (21-kilometer) race feeling strong. This 12-week training schedule is perfect for a beginner runner and a first-time half-marathoner.
To start this plan, you should have been running for at least two months and should have a base mileage of about eight to 10 miles per week. If you prefer a run/walk program, try a run/walk half-marathon training schedule. If you’re not new to running and this training schedule seems too easy, try an advanced beginner half-marathon training schedule.
Half-Marathon Training Structure
There are many half-marathon training plans that you can use as you get experience and want to improve your finish time. If you haven’t already had a recent physical, visit your doctor for medical clearance to train for a half marathon. Once cleared, here’s on overview of how to train for a half-marathon.
Mondays: Most Mondays are rest days. Rest is critical to your recovery and injury prevention efforts, so don’t ignore rest days.
Tuesdays and Thursdays: After your warmup, run at a moderate pace (slightly faster than your long run pace) for the designated mileage. If you are feeling tired, it’s okay to run at an easy pace. Or run a few miles at 5k-10k goal pace (tempo run) to test pacing. Cool down and stretch after your run.
Wednesdays: Some Wednesdays are designated rest days. Others are cross-training (CT) days when you should do a cross-training activity (biking, walking, swimming, elliptical trainer, etc.) at easy-to-moderate effort for 30 to 45 minutes. It’s also beneficial to do overall body strength training at least once a week to build muscle endurance and reduce injury risk.
Fridays: Do a cross-training (CT) activity (biking, swimming, elliptical trainer, etc.) at easy-to-moderate effort for 30 to 45 minutes. If you’re feeling very sluggish or sore on Friday, take a complete rest day. It’s important that you’re feeling strong and rested for your Saturday long run.
Saturdays: This is the day for your long, slow, distance run. Run the designated mileage at an easy, conversational pace. Use your breathing as your guide. You should be able to breathe easily and talk in complete sentences comfortably during your run.
Sundays: This is an active recovery day. Your short run should be at a very easy (EZ), comfortable pace, which helps loosen up your muscles. You can also do a run/walk combination or cross-train. Finish your run with some gentle stretching.
It’s also helpful to break up the long runs from time to time. Mix in some miles at half marathon goal pace to make sure that your pace is on target. You might add these quicker miles every other run toward the middle to the latter part of your training program.
Also, you can switch days to accommodate your schedule. So if you’re busy on another day and prefer to workout on a Monday or Friday, it’s fine to swap a rest day for a run day. If you need to convert the distances to kilometers, see these miles to kilometers conversions.