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

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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.

Four weeks or more: It’s probably wise to adjust your goal by aiming for a slower time.

How do I find the best half-marathon training plan for me?

Our training schedules below are tried and trusted. Not sure on which to choose? Use our race-time predictor for an indication of what target you should set yourself.

I don’t feel like I’m improving on my half marathon plan, what should I do?
Don’t despair – it takes time to improve as a runner. You may not feel like it, but rest assured that you are getting better every day, as each run slowly builds your strength and fitness.

What kind of strength-training should I be doing?

Strength training is an essential supplement to a runner’s roadwork because it strengthens muscles and joints, which can improve race times and decrease injury risk. If you’re a bit lost about what you should be doing, we’ve got plenty of strength training workouts for runners, including home workouts that you can do from your living room.

What shoes should I be wearing?

Of course, if you’re going to run a half marathon, having a pair of shoes that will get you round 13.1 miles is important. It might seem like an investment, but you’ll soon get injured if you’re running in worn, or the wrong kind of running shoes. Before training, it’s a good idea to get your gait checked. We’ve rounded up the best men’s and women’s running shoes here.

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