How to run a half marathon – half marathon training plans for every runner

half marathon training

Running 13.1 miles is possible for most runners – if you can do a 10K, you can do a half.


“It’s an achievable challenge, as it’s easier to fit the training into a busy life than it is for a marathon”, says British elite and RW contributing editor Jo Pavey. But it’s still a big step for those new to the distance, and will require a higher weekly mileage, longer long runs and a greater variety of sessions to develop the endurance and speed you’ll need.

Whether you’re building up to 13.1 miles for the first time, or planning to smash your PB, we’ve got everything you’ll need to get you to the finish line in style.

How long is a half marathon?

Why should I follow a training plan?

Running coach Sean Tait explains that the right plan will help you train all the individual aspects that will be put together on race day. A good schedule is a good way of getting through different types of session in a week, without putting your body at risk of becoming injured or overtrained.

Remember that nothing is achieved in a day, rather it’s achieved constantly over time. A schedule will be written with the entire training session in mind, not just what you should be doing that day. For example, if you don’t run easy enough during an easy run, you won’t allow your body time to heal from the quality training you’ve been doing prior to that, which will increase your risk of injury.

What happens if I get injured when training for a half marathon?

“Never run through an injury” explains running coach Paddy McGrath – “it’s better to get to the end of your plan healthy, having missed a week or two, than to have hit all your sessions but be in no fit state to race.” Depending on when the injury is, it’s possible to cross-train in a way that doesn’t put stress on the affected area (e.g. swimming, aqua-running or cycling). That way you’ll retain fitness even without running.

If you can’t run for:

One week: Skip that week and simply pick up the schedule the following week

Two weeks: Repeat the previous week’s training and continue from there – bearing in mind you may not get to the same point as someone who has been following the programme without interruption.

Three weeks: Jump back two weeks, potentially even three, because you’ll have lost fitness.