Half Marathon Training: The Ultimate Guide + Training Plans!

Half marathon training is the way to go if you don't want to commit yourself to training for a full marathon. As they say "Half the distance and twice the fun". Hard core marathoners might debate about that since what could be better than running 26.2 miles. wink*

 However a lot of runners (about 2x as many) think that 13.1 miles is the way to go. Less recovery time, less training time, less race time involved all with the same adrenaline rushing hype as the marathon. Not only that but it is one of the best stepping stones to completing a full marathon.


STEP 1: Are You Ready to Start Training?

The first step when setting any goal is to make sure that it is a realistic goal. Is your body up to the challenge? Can you mentally tackle the distance? Are you at a good point in your life to juggle all of the training? Here are 5 questions to help you consider if a half marathon is a good fit for you.

STEP 2: Are you wearing the right shoes?

As a runner all you need is some guts, motivation, and a good pair of running shoe. Do a quick shoe assessment to see if you are wearing durable, healthy shoes. Here's what I recommend. And if you need new shoes, here's a shoe shopping checklist. 

STEP 3: Choose your half marathon training schedule

*Our 12 week plan can also be used as an intermediate/advanced plan when you add speed workouts and hill training to the mix. 

STEP 4: Start planning out your mental training! It will make your race so much easier! 

Mental training is a huge aspect of running long distances. How you THINK is how you will FEEL! Here are some reasons why you should include it to become mentally strong + a workbook to help you prep for your next race! It will really calm down any nerves you might have!

STEP 5: Get yourself a running log

Running a half marathon will probably be one of the coolest things you will ever do! Document it. Here I talk about things you might want to record and some other suggestions when using a running log. 

STEP 6: Write down your race goal.

There must be a reason why you have chosen to run a marathon. Maybe you are doing it to challenge yourself. Maybe you want to lose some weight. Maybe you are doing it with a group of friends. Maybe you are raising funds or awareness for a certain cause. Maybe you are doing it to beat your last half marathon time. Whatever it is, write it down. Having a specific goal that you want to accomplish will increase your chances of success. Also, if you are not sure what is a good time goal for you to meet, try our Train Faster + Smarter Pace kit which will test your current fitness and give you a personalized goal pace times to train and run at!

STEP 7: Focus on your nutrition as a half marathon runner

As a runner, you need to eat as a runner.What your body needs in order to train and run a marathon is critical to your success. And what your body essentially wants are carbohydrates as they are the macronutrient that your body burns the fastest and most efficiently to sustain your high intensity running. Read more about what your marathon nutrition should look like and my #1 tip.

STEP 8: Learn how to pace yourself

Pacing can be a difficult thing to harness. You might not be sure what a good pace is for your body, how fast you can actually run or what pace you should run your easy, tempo, interval and threshold runs at. The Train Faster + Smarter Runner's Pace Kit will answer all of these questions and give you specific answered tailored to YOU. Also, if you are not sure what is a good time goal for you to meet, check out our pace chart and mile splits + finishing time calculator.

STEP 9: Take advantage of the benefits of cross training

Cross training allows your body to workout other muscles that you don't use to run. It ultimately will help you to prevent injury by strengthening all of your muscles. Here's a guideline on cross-training, the best cross-training that will benefit your half marathon training and the ones to avoid while in training.

STEP 10: Stay Injury Free

Another challenge you will run into while training for a marathon is avoiding injury. Since you are putting in so much time into your running, injuries can and will crop up from time to time and can range from minor to chronic. I talk about running injuries here, the most common types and what you need to do about them to prevent them and care for them. 

STEP 11: Plan what you need to accomplish the week before the half marathon

See this guide on what  you should be including in that last week of half marathon training. It includes a packing checklist, what you should be eating, how to get completely psyched up, some running and race tips, how to mentally get your mind ready and what your nutrition should look like the day and night before and morning of the race. 

STEP 12: Everything you need to know and consider about Race Day

Follow these tips for staying cool, calm, and collected before, during and after the marathon, how to put the race in the bag, how to deal with setbacks, and how to recover.  Nutrition and hydration are probably the most important aspects to keep at the front of your mind but also dealing with the heat, pain, mind block, and in general just having a good time!  Also, when can you race again? I'm sure you will be asking! 

STEP 13: Relax + Recover!

Reward yourself! Relax and take a break from training for at least 2 weeks. 

STEP 14: Stay in Shape in Between Races!

If you are worried about gaining weight and how to stay in shape in between your races and training cycles then here is your plan of action!

Other Sources to Help You with Half Marathon Training:

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