Congratulations, you have decided that you are going to run the first half-marathon of your life. That’s a right step toward fitness and making sure that not only are you on the right path, but your journey is fun.
Now is when the work starts, and you have to give it your best shot because your first half-marathon will lay the foundation for future marathons and other fitness activities that you might want to get into.
The goal here is to train in such a way that when you cross that 21 kilometer finish line, you feel strong. This means you will have to train your body to go past the 21 kilometer mark. That way, when you finish the half-marathon, you will still have a couple of kilometers left in the tank.
This 52-week training plan that I have below for you should be perfect to get started with.
Just like every other training plan out there, this one has some prerequisites that you should meet. Full disclosure, you should have been running for at least 2 months before you start this program. Yes, this requires you to already be active and have been running at least 9-10 miles each week. This is the baseline that you ought to have to start following this program.
If you don’t meet that requirement, worry not, we are working on another training plan for complete beginners who haven’t been active in a long time. This new training program will make sure that you take baby steps toward running more than 8 miles every week. We don’t want you to get exhausted or suffer an injury by pushing you too hard.
And if you have been running for a while and this training program seems way too easy for you, we have something coming for you guys as well. This will be an advanced half-marathon training plan that will help you push your limits while also making sure that you don’t push yourself too hard to the point where you injure yourself.
Half-Marathon Training Plan
Before you start this program, we want you to get a physical done from your doctor. You will need to get clearance before you are able to start the training for the half marathon. This is important because you want to make sure that you don’t have any underlying conditions that might affect your performance or hurt you on the race track.
Once you are cleared, here’s a quick overview of what you will be doing.
Monday: We are keeping Mondays as rest days. Remember, resting in important because this gives your body the chance to recover and prevent injuries. Not just that, it also helps you relax and take it easy for a day so you can focus on other things going on in your life.
Tuesday: Before you start running, make sure you warmup (we are working on a guide for this as well) and then start running at a moderate pace. If you start feeling tired after a couple minutes, that is okay. That is expected in fact. Once that happens, it is okay to start running at an easy pace for you.
If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can run at a 5k goal pace and see if you can complete that. If you do, then you are already ahead of the curve. Once you are done with the run make sure you stretch and cool down.
Wednesday: On Wednesdays we want to do cross-training to make sure you are not focusing too heavily on just running. We do this to make sure that we are developing your overall fitness to lower your chances of injury. Cross-training includes biking, walking swimming, elliptical training at your local gym, etc.
You can start with 30-45 minutes of easy to moderate effort and stop when you start feeling tired. Make sure you don’t forget about cooldown exercises and stretching after your workouts.
Another thing we would like to mention is that you should be doing at least some form of strength training once a week. This will help you build muscle endurance and lower your chances of injury even more.
Thursday: Repeat the same training you did on Tuesday.
Friday: Repeat the same workout you did on Wednesday. It is possible that you might be feeling sore or sluggish on Friday since this is your first week of the new training program. If you feel like you cannot do more than 15 minutes of exercise without completely exhausting yourself, take a rest day. It is better to be well rested and feeling strong than trying to get your workout in when your body isn’t feeling like it
Saturday: This is the day when you should do your long but slow distance run. Remember, there is no pace that you have to set. You just need to run your designated distance at a pace where you can easily breath and have a conversation.
Use your breath as a guide. No one else can determine whether this is a good pace for you than yourself. If you can’t talk in full sentences with someone while running, then go at a slower pace.
Sunday: Sundays will be your active recovery days. This means that you will be training, but you won’t be pushing your body too hard.
For active recovery, you can either do a combination of run/walk or cross-train. It depends on how you are feeling and what you want to do.
Remember to stretch at the end of the your workout.
While you are following that training plan, make sure that you are breaking up your long, slow, distance runs into running at your marathon goal pace. You don’t have to do your entire run at this pace, but do it for a couple of miles so your body gets into the habit.
Once you think you are able to run those miles at your half marathon pace easily, you should start adding more miles at that pace. Make sure that you add these miles either at the start or end of the training program.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the training plan isn’t set in stone. If you think you cannot accommodate your Sunday active recovery because it is your girlfriend’s birthday, you can do it on Monday. Swap the rest day for a run day and consider Sunday as your rest day.
Tips to Make This Easier
The most important thing we can recommend is having appropriate gear for your half-marathon run. And it all starts with having appropriate footwear. Running shoes and workout shoes are different. So make sure you choose the appropriate pair of shoes and get fitted for them.
Once you buy your first pair of running shoes, make sure you buy a second pair for your race day. It is important for your race day shoes to only have about 35-40 miles of training on them for race day. Nothing more than that.
Now that you have your shoe situation sorted, next thing on the list is socks. You want to buy a pair that can handle lots of sweat without producing a foul smell. Repeat the same thing you did when buying running shoes.
Buy 1 pair of socks for your training and another pair for race day. For socks, you don’t have to get training miles on them.
Once you have these 2 things in order, you are ready to get rolling. Gear up and start training in this gear. You will quickly figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
One thing most people ask about running is if they can do it on treadmill at home to cover the miles.
And yes, they can do it but it is better to do it outdoors in an environment similar to how it will be on race day. The reason for that is you want to get accustomed to training in that environment so when race day comes, it is normal for you to run 21 kilometers and more without having to worry about exhaustion.
If you have never done a road race before, it is best to do your research and learn the basics of it. Or if you can already do 5k or 10k, you can join a shorter race and get a feel for the environment.
At the end of the day it is all about enjoying yourself and the process.
Have fun and don’t forget to rest.