Training Plans

From two months to five months, half marathon training plans designed for everyone from beginning to experienced runners, and for every lifestyle.

Sometimes you sign up for a race that’s not far off in the future – just a couple of months away, or even less. Here’s our eight-week half marathon training plan designed for runners who already are in the running habit.

See 8-week training plan here “

This plan is based on the same schedule and expectations as our eight-week training plan – you’re already experienced and maybe even have a few races under your belt, and you’re looking to ramp up your training quickly.

See 9-week training plan here “

If you have more than two but less than three months to train for your next half marathon, this 10-week training plan might be the perfect fit.

See 10-week training plan here “

Designed for beginning runners or anyone who is planning to run the half marathon distance for the first time, this training plan is based on five days of running per week, with the once-a-week long run set on Sundays.

See 12-week training plan here “

Beginning and experienced runners can both use this 14-week training plan, which starts off slow with only four runs per week and then ramps up to five days later in the schedule.

See 14-week training plan here “

Spread out over four months instead of three, this training plan is designed for runners who’ve run a half marathon already and are in need of a training plan that can fit into a busy schedule — with four training days each week vs. five.

See 16-week training plan here “

Designed for beginners and even experienced runners, this plan mimics our 16-week training plan with two extra weeks added in, and features a few changes to the long runs.

See 18-week training plan here “

For runners who are looking for an even more gradual buildup to the half marathon than the 16-week plan offers, this five-month training plan starts slowly and builds toward the 13.1-mile race day, with both four- and five-day-a-week runs later in the plan.

See 20-week training plan here “

Almost anyone can run a half marathon, just so long as you have realistic goals, commit to the training and prepare properly. Photo: Brian Metzler

Before You Begin

— Believe in yourself. Yes, you can run a half marathon! The very first step to reaching the finish line is to believe you can do it, even if you’ve never been a runner. If you’re new to running, allow yourself at least four to six months to prepare for your first half. It would be helpful to get comfortable running shorter distances and races such as 5K, 10K and 10-mile races. Working your way up will make your foray into the half marathon a little less overwhelming. But plenty of new runners (and beginner training groups) focus on the half marathon as a primary goal, and that’s OK as long as you take the time to properly ramp up to it.

— Train to be ready for the training. If you’re not running regularly, i.e., at least three times a week with a long run of 4–6 miles, spend a month or more building up to this frequency and mileage. It’s important to have a solid aerobic base before committing to a four- to six-month training program that will be necessary to finish a half marathon. If you’ve already been running that much, you can probably join a training group or start following a plan to train for a race two to four months away.

— Start thinking of food as fuel. Would you embark on a long car trip on an empty gas tank? Of course not! The same principle applies to the half marathon training. Keep your tank full, refill it soon after you empty it and use high-quality food that will sustain you over time.

— Get a good pair of shoes. Or better yet, pick up a couple pairs once you find ones that work well for you. There is no “perfect” pair of running shoes, but there are plenty of bad ones. Check out these tips, then visit your local running specialty shop and let them help you select a pair of quality, comfortable kicks that will handle the demands of your training. Shoes are the most important tool a marathoner can own: Use your running shoes just for training and racing, and replace them every 400–500 miles. They’ll last longer that way and will put you in the right mindset when you slip your feet into them.

— Commit to the process. Decide what training for a half marathon means to you and write down your goals for the race, but also identify what you want to get out of the process of training for the event. The half marathon itself will amount to a few hours of your time on a specific day—the training, however, will occupy a few months of your life, and it can often change your life in meaningful ways. Figure out how training will fit into your day-to-day schedule, establish a routine that is consistent, sustainable and enjoyable, and set daily and weekly process goals—eating well, doing core work a few times a week, getting seven or more hours of sleep at night, etc.—that will help you adopt the lifestyle of a committed runner. You might be compelled to run another half marathon or decide you want to ramp up your training and run a marathon.

READ MORE: What You Need to Know to Run a Marathon

Basic Training

If you have been running shorter distances regularly or for many years, you will be able to prepare for a half marathon in much less time. Once you have committed to a race, make sure you follow a sound training plan. If you use an online plan, try to find one that allows some customization so you can make it work with your life schedule.

Basic training will entail a weekly mix of short, easy runs, a long run, and some more challenging workouts such as hills or tempo runs. There should be a progression as you get closer to your goal race, and your long runs will approach 11 to 13 miles or equal the distance of the race itself. Long runs will also give you the opportunity to practice your pacing, as well as your nutrition and hydration strategies for the race.

READ MORE: How to Shake Up Your Weekly Long Run

Aside from “just” running, you should include some core and strength training every week. This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in the gym—a quality core routine can be completed in about 15 minutes, and your body weight can provide plenty of resistance for strength workouts.

READ MORE: How Runners Can Get Stronger

Next Level Training

Intermediate and more advanced runners preparing for a half marathon should include a weekly faster workout like a fartlek, tempo run, or a speed session on the track. These workouts should mostly be aerobic (“with oxygen”) but can include a small amount of more intense running. Faster workouts will help increase your fitness level and allow you to run more efficiently and, ultimately, faster.

You may also want to run a tune-up race of 5K to 10 miles before your half marathon so you can learn to manage race preparation, race-day stress and pacing. Aim to run your tune-up race two to four weeks before your half marathon to ensure it’s timed appropriately and gives you enough time to recover before the half.

Taper for Maximum Performance

A taper period of about two weeks will help your body recover and recharge for the half marathon. A good taper should include a decrease in overall mileage, but small bouts of high intensity should be maintained either through lighter-impact speed workouts or end-of-workout strides or sprints. That approach will leave you rested—but feeling fast—on race day.

For some, the added recovery time comes as a relief, but many runners suffer from the taper crazies. You may be convinced you’re not doing enough, but your taper period is not the time to cram in added mileage or workouts. Channel that pre-race nervousness and anxiety and use that extra time for mobility work, foam rolling or even a massage.

READ MORE: How to Make Your Next Half Marathon Better

Race Weekend

Race weekend is often hectic, especially when it involves a big-city race with thousands of runners. It also gets more complex when travel is involved. Before packing, make a list of everything you might need for a variety of weather scenarios. Be sure to include items that will keep you comfortable pre- and post-race.

If you are flying to a race, be sure to pack your race-day shoes and clothes in a carry-on bag. While a lot of things are replaceable, shoes are not something you want to have to purchase last-minute before your race if your suitcase gets lost.

Most larger races have an expo to pick up your packet and even do a little last-minute shopping, but try not to waste too much time and energy there. Stay off your feet and try to relax! Finalize your plan to get to the starting line in the morning, and allow plenty of extra time whether you are walking, driving or taking public transportation.

Pay attention to your nutrition in the 48 hours prior to your race. Focus on staying hydrated and eating quality carbohydrates. While eating a carb-heavy meal is traditional before longer races, don’t feel like you need to stuff yourself! Try to eat a little earlier than usual to allow plenty of digestion time, and push away before you feel overly full. Stick with foods you’re used to, and avoid very spicy foods or anything that may be hard to digest.

Race Day

You have trained hard, tapered, and fueled up. Now it’s time to get to the starting line, follow your pacing strategy and push through to a strong finish. You have undoubtedly heard it before, but the easiest way to sabotage your race is by going out too fast. Restraint is essential. In fact, it can be beneficial to start your race slightly slower than goal pace to allow yourself to ease into race pace.

Pace yourself evenly, run any hills with an even effort, and try to leave a little in the tank to push yourself over the final miles.

Even the most meticulous race planning may need some adjustment in unexpected weather conditions. Heat and wind can be especially punishing, so be prepared to adjust your pace and slow down if needed. You’ll feel far more successful with a strong finish than a slow, painful slog to the finish line.

Above all else, enjoy the experience. This is the culmination of all your hard work over the previous months. Running 13.1 miles is a challenging endeavor that most people will never attempt, so appreciate all the ups and downs and celebrate an outstanding accomplishment.

By the time you run your race, you will likely have attained a high level of fitness and be excited to plan new running goals—for additional half marathons or even a marathon. One of the best things about running a half marathon is that it doesn’t take too long to recover—and not nearly as long as a marathon. For most runners, taking a few weeks off—a period that might include very little running or just easy, short runs mixed in with cross-training—is all that is necessary before ramping back into another half marathon training program.

READ MORE: What You Need to Know to Run a 5K

A bright and shiny finisher’s medal might be your prize for finishing a half marathon, but the real reward is the next-level fitness and sense of personal accomplishment you’ll get. Photo: Brian Metzler Jason Fitzgerald Jason Fitzgerald is a 2:39 marathoner and the USATF-certified coach behind Strength Running, an award-winning blog and podcast that helps runners set personal bests. His work has appeared in Runner’s World, The Washington Post, Health Magazine and many other major media publications. Follow his work on Twitter at @JasonFitz1 and at

Yes, you can run a half marathon for your first race!

There are no rules to say you must complete a 5K or a 10K before doing a half marathon. We welcome beginners and first timers to the Windsor Half Marathon in September. So if you want to join us – but it will be your first race – no problem!

Here’s how to go from zero to half marathon finisher in 6 months. Which gives you plenty of time to prepare for the 2019 Windsor Half Marathon.

Your First 3 Months Of Training

As an inexperienced distance runner, you need to put in the basework to (literally) “get you up to speed”. This isn’t a criticism of your fitness. It’s just a sensible acknowledgment that you are about to enter new realms of endurance. So spend some time working on that aspect of your fitness.

This aerobic focus should last 12 weeks. If you have longer, then spend longer on it. You can’t do too much base training. The only risk to extending it past 12 weeks is getting bored. There is no physical or physiological reason to fear taking it past the 12 week period, if you have the time.

At this stage, you’re not thinking abut the half marathon. This is not about race training, it is about getting a solid cardiovascular base in place, building your confidence, and getting you fit before you push on.

Here’s how this aerobic period of base training could look

Weeks 1-6

Day 1 Rest or cross train

Day 2 Easy 20-30 minute run

Day 3 Easy 20 minute run + 20 minutes extra cardio (easy cross training like cycling or fast walking)

Day 4 Rest

Day 5 Easy 20-30 minute run

Day 6 45 minutes cross training

Day 7 45-50 minute easy run + 20 minutes walk after the run

Weeks 7-12

Day 1 Rest or cross train

Day 2 30 minute run with 8 x 100m strides towards the end

Day 3 Warm up for 15 minutes (easy running), then do 6 x 2 minute bursts of moderate speed with 2 minutes easy running between

Day 4 Rest

Day 5 45 minute run with 8 x 100m strides towards the end

Day 6 60 minutes cross training

Day 7 60-75 minute easy run (building up the time from week 7-12) with 1 minute bursts of moderate speed every 5 minutes for the middle 45 minutes.

See how this is all about time on your feet, basic fitness, and cardiovascular work? It’s not about speedwork, sprints, or any kind of high intensity training. This base period will get your heart fit, your muscles strong, and will burn calories so you are in good shape to train for a half marathon.

What’s Next?

After your first 3-4 months of this kind of base fitness training, you can shift into an adaptive phase where you start to prepare for the half marathon. This will last 4-6 weeks. Your Sunday long run will increase slightly, with some longer bursts of higher speed. From here, you can start your half marathon training programme. You will feel fit, light, and sound – ready to tackle your half marathon plan like a seasoned runner!

Enter the Windsor Half Marathon Sunday 29th September 2019 now.


Need a 10 mile training plan for beginners that will get you across the finish line?

Read on, my friend.

Get everything you need to run a 10 Miler, including tips and tricks to make training easier!

Why Run a 10 Miler?

A 10 mile race is a great gateway into longer distance races.

Maybe you’ve been running 5K’s, an occasional 10K, and have your heart set on a half marathon but aren’t quite ready to make the leap?

Then you should run a 10 Miler!

On New Year’s Eve of 2015, I signed up for my first 10 Mile race.

My ultimate goal was to run a half marathon (it was on my bucket list) but up to that point I’d never run more than maybe 5 miles.

The 10 Miler was my gateway to the half marathon later that year.

I figured, hey, if I can complete a 10 mile race, I can TOTALLY do a half marathon.

And guess what? I did. And so can you.

But first….you need a fantastic 10 Mile Training Plan for Beginners!

A lot of runners LOVE the 10 miler. It’s my absolute favorite distance for a race.

It’s challenging yet do-able.

Why do you want to run a 10 miler? What are your goals?

What’s Your Goal?

Welcome to the first question you should ask yourself – what is your goal for this race?

Is it to simply cross the finish line? That’s a fantastic goal for beginners, or runners getting back into things after a break.

Is your goal to get a PR (personal record)? This is a great goal for people who have run a 10 miler before and have the fitness level and experience to add more advanced training techniques into their schedule (like speed work and cross training).

Whatever your goal is, make sure to select the right training plan to accomplish your goal.

For example, if you are new to 10 Mile races, and haven’t run that distance before, then don’t choose an advanced training plan. It will only frustrate you and may lead to injuries.

Instead, choose a 10 mile training plan for beginners that eases your body into the distance and teaches you cross training to support the miles.

Select a 10 Mile Training Plan for Beginners

There are many variations of 10 mile training plans.

Some people use a 15K plan instead (which is 9.3 miles) because it’s so darn close to 10 miles.

Here is my favorite 12-Week 10 Mile Training Plan for Beginners:

Other 10-week training plan options (or shorten the one above):

  • Hal Higdon’s 15-K Beginners Training Plan – Hal is popular amongst beginners because his training plans are approachable and easy to follow.
  • 10 Weeks to 10 Miles Plan for Beginners – This one is similar to Hal’s but has 2 rest days instead of 1.

Training Plan Basics:

  • The Long Run – you never want to miss a long run. Your body needs to gradually work up to the 10 mile distance by increasing mileage by 10-15% week over week. A lot of people complete the long run on a weekend but do whatever day of the week works best for you (but have a rest day the day before a long run so you’re fresh and ready to go).
  • The Maintenance Run – This is your basic 2-3 mile shakeout run to keep up the weekly miles and focus on form.
  • Cross Training Day – Don’t ignore cross training days. They help strengthen muscles needed for running and help you prevent injuries and improve your form. Here are some great cross training options for runners that include yoga, cycling, and more.
  • Rest Day(s) – Some new runners think they have to run every day or they’re failing. This is so wrong! Rest days are just as important as running days! Muscles repair and strengthen during rest days. You put a lot of strain on your body during training days so rest days give your body a much-needed break to rest up for your next run and prevent injury.
  • “Down” Weeks – Notice weeks 4,7 and 11 have less miles? That’s intentional. Your body needs rest weeks to gear up for increased mileage.

If you’re not new to 10 mile races then you’ll also want to add in speedwork and more technical runs like hill work, tempo runs, and fartlek runs. See How to Run Faster in 30 Days or Less for some workout ideas. But don’t worry about these if you’re a beginner.

Start Training – It’s Run Time!

This is partly simple: Go run. 🙂

And partly complicated because you need to prepare a bit.

What kind of preparation do you need to start a 10 mile training plan for beginners? These things:

Get the right gear

Read Running Gear for Beginners, What You Absolutely Need to Start Running and make sure you have the basics.

In addition to basics, long distance runners need some extras (especially for runs over 60 minutes):

  • Long run fuel – whether it’s GU packets or whole snacks, your body will need fuel for runs over 60 minutes, so experiment early in your training and don’t wait until race day to pick your mid-run snack! Read more about long run snacks here if you want some ideas.
  • Portable water bottle – to hydrate while on your long run. Some runners use a hydration belt and others use a water bottle with a handle. Do what works best for you.
  • Foam Roller – Foam rollers work wonders to ease muscle soreness after hard workouts or long runs. Your legs recover quicker after foam rolling too, so add this to your schedule.

Know what to expect when training

Yup that’s snow.

Some runners start training for their first long distance run and don’t mentally prepare for it.

By that, I mean they think training will be a cakewalk the whole 10-12 weeks. It won’t (sorry).

Expect things to happen. Training will never be perfect. Here’s some things to expect so you don’t get derailed by the unexpected:

  • Bad weather – it will either rain, snow, be too hot, too cold, too humid, too dry or something else. Get the right gear for the weather or plan to run at the right time of day for temperatures. Or, plan to run on the treadmill. Don’t let bad weather get in your way.
  • Low motivation days – it’s normal to lack motivation on some days. Expect it. But don’t let it deter you. Get it done, and you’ll thak yourself later. Having that bad of a day? Skip your run and rest. Tomorrow will be a better day. Don’t give up because of a bad day!
  • Blisters – Long distance runners get blisters sometimes. It happens. It sucks. Learn how to prevent blisters from running. And how to treat them.
  • Possible Injury – You might pull a muscle. Or overuse one, and need rest. Don’t keep running if you truly get injured, it could make things worse. Consider taking an extended rest and/or seeing a sports medicine professional or doctor to diagnose the injury and provide a treatment plan.

Nutrition & Hydration

Training for a 10 miler takes a lot of energy!

Make sure you fuel (fuel=eating) the right way so you feel good and perform well.

Check out the Runners Food 101: The Ultimate Guide to Nutrition for Runners to get a sense of what runners should eat.

Pre-Race Day Preparation

Race day is near! Hooray!

Getting the race day jitters yet?

You won’t if you plan properly – get a Race Day Checklist to make sure you have all the gear you need.

Typical Race Day Checklist:

  • Race day shirt, under garments, pants, socks
  • Running shoes (and your backup if you have one)
  • Race packet (usually pick this up the day before the race or the morning of)
  • Energy/fuel supplies (aka long run snacks)
  • Jacket or layers if needed
  • Anything weather-related (if needed): rain jacket, hat, gloves, sunglasses, etc
  • Sunscreen (if needed)
  • Phone/Phone charger
  • Headphones

Make sure you know the route, and how to get there (and what the parking situation is like).

Race Day is Here! What do I do?

Hopefully you practiced which race morning food works for your body?

Assuming you did, do exactly what worked before.

Did your stomach enjoy eating oatmeal with honey, a bagel, or toast and jam 2 hours before your last long run? Do it on race day. Or whatever worked last time.

Literally do whatever worked before. Do NOT try new things on race day.

Arrive at least 30 minutes before start time (more if you can) – porta potty lines can be long, and you need time to warm up and get to the starting line in time too.

Once at the starting line, don’t fly out of the gate. Don’t bob and weave around the crowd. This wastes energy.

Assume the first 1/4 or 1/2 mile will be slightly slower due to crowds and don’t try to fight it.

Do make sure to hydrate and fuel along the way (as you did during training).

Image Credit:

Once you finish (hooray!): don’t sit down right away. Grab a banana (or carb/protein), some water and cool down properly or your muscles will hate you later. Make sure to eat something within 30 minutes of finishing the run.

Smile! Congratulate yourself on a job well done! You ran a 10 mile race, that is SO AMAZING!

Now bask in the glory of achieving your goal and make sure to drink tons of water and foam roll later on (I promise you won’t regret this decision).

Running a 10 Miler? Your Might Also Like:

12 Long Distance Running Tips (to Keep Your Sanity During Training)

How to Build a Solid Running Base

How to Run Faster in 30 Days or Less

Thinking about training for a 10 miler? Yahoo! This is a really fun race distance, straddling the line of speed and endurance. And what better than a free 10 mile training plan to get you to the finish line successfully!

Everything you need to know to train for a 10 mile road race:

First off, the actual training plan that you can download or print is located towards the bottom of this post. You can scroll to the bottom to check out the plan now, but I recommend reading the rest of this first. It will break down everything you need to know about how to use this 10 mile training plan successfully.

Who is this 10 mile training schedule for?

This plan is ideal* if you are…

  • A beginner runner that wants to challenge yourself to your first 10 miler.
  • An intermediate runner looking to train for your first 10 mile race.
  • A beginner or intermediate runner that’s done a 10 mile race, but you want to add some speedwork to improve your finishing time.

This plan is probably not for you if you are an advanced runner looking to PR – you’ll need a higher training volume.

*Disclaimer: I am not a physician; check with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise program.

What level of fitness do I need to start?

You should be able to comfortably run (or run/walk) 3 miles to start this plan.

If you cannot yet comfortably do 3 miles, you might want to check out my 15K training plan for beginners which can be used interchangeably with a 10 mile race. That plan can be started when you can comfortably run (or run/walk) 1.5 miles.

Or, you can work your way up to 3 miles, and then start this plan.

Training Volume

This 10 mile training plan includes 4 days per week of running, with total weekly mileage ranging from just under 10 miles to a peak of 23 miles.

Modifications for Beginners Vs. Intermediate Runners

This plan includes one day of speedwork each week. However, speedwork should be done by those who have been running consistently for a while. If you just started running and only recently reached the ability to do 3 miles comfortably, you’ll want to skip the speedwork and do another easy run on those days. This is because speedwork increases the risk of injury in those who are not fully accustomed to regular running yet.

Beginner runners would substitute either of the following on the speedwork day:

  1. 2-3 mile easy run
  2. Cross training activity of choice for about 30 minutes

Intermediate runners would follow the speedwork as listed.

Depending on your level of fitness, you might adjust the intervals or speed to meet your particular needs. For example, if you veer more towards the intermediate-beginner side, you might do your 800 meter intervals at 10K pace, while if you veer more towards a solid intermediate level, you might do them at 5K pace.

Types of Running Workouts in This Plan:

This 10 mile training plan is broken down into 4 days of running: Days 1 and 3 are easy short runs, Day 4 is your long run, and Day 2 is speedwork.

Here are your instructions for each of these:

  • Easy Short Runs – These are just like they sound – short, comfortable paced runs. They should be done at a conversational pace and at a speed less than your race pace.
  • Long Runs – Your long runs are done once each week, and are the highest mileage for the week. Run them at a comfortable, steady pace. If you’re a beginner, you might notice that it gets challenging to keep your normal comfortable pace for an entire long run. That can be normal – it means that you should either a) slow down at the start and run at a pace that’s easier the whole time, or b) incorporate some walking breaks as needed to keep your legs fresh and bring your heart rate down a bit. The primary goal for long runs is just to meet the mileage – don’t worry about how fast it takes you to do it.
  • Fartlek – Fartlek is a sweedish term for “speed play.” It’s an informal way to do intervals. What you want to do is spend the first 5-10 minutes warming up at a comfortable pace. Then for the rest of your run, build in short sprints. The key is to make them fun and random – like alternating paces when you hear the chorus of the song you’re listening to, sprinting to every other mailbox, etc.
  • Intervals (i.e. 4×800) – Similar to the fartlek, this is a type of speed workout – but in this case, it’s more structured. You want to spend 5-10 minutes warming up at a comfortable pace. Then run the intervals described – for example, 4×800 @ 5K pace means you want to run an 800 on the track (2 laps) at your 5K pace, then recover with a jog or walk for a few minutes, then repeat that another 3 times for 4 total intervals.
  • Paced Runs (X @ Y Pace) – You’ll see a few of these runs on the plan. For most runners, these should be done around 10K pace plus 10-20 seconds. Spend the first 5-10 minutes warming up comfortably, then run the mileage listed at that pace. For example, if you can run a 10K in around 50 minutes, your 10K pace is 8:03 per mile. For these runs, you’d want to run around 8:13-8:23 per mile.

Other Helpful Training Tips:

Warm Ups & Cool Downs

Warm ups help to increase circulation and get your heart rate up gradually, while cool downs help bring your heart rate down gradually. Incorporate a few minutes of easy jogging/walking into all your runs at the start and finish.


Research has shown that poor range of motion can lead to some muscle stiffness during runs. Stretching regularly not only feels good, but can increase this range of motion and prevent stiffness.

Strength Training

I recommend including 1-2 days of strength training each week in your schedule, particularly if you already have a strength training routine.

If you don’t, you can simply incorporate some body weight exercises like push ups, lunges, squats, planks, etc as you can find time throughout your week. These will help maintain strength in your legs and core.

Injury & soreness:

Soreness is a normal side effect of runs, especially long runs or speed work. However, pain – particularly pain that affects your stride – is not normal. If you’re experiencing an injury that affects the way you run, see a doctor for an evaluation.

Your 10 Mile Training Plan:

Here is the 10 mile training schedule – feel free to save the image and print it out so that you can check off the days as you complete them. Scroll below this plan to find some race suggestions!

10 Mile Race Suggestions:

Now that you’ve got your training plan, it’s time to sign up for a race! If you haven’t done so yet, you’ll want to put your money down and commit to one – it makes it much easier to stick with the training plan.

Here are a few 10 mile race suggestions here on the East Coast:

  • Newport 10 Miler (June in Rhode Island) – I love pretty much any race that takes place in Newport, thanks to the mansions and coastal views.
  • Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run (April in Washington DC) – This is definitely a bucket list race for me! The run loops through streets lined with gorgeous cherry blossom trees. Fun fact – did you know Japan gave the US gifts of cherry blossom trees in 1912 to commemorate a growing friendship between the two countries?
  • Army 10 Miler (October in Washington DC) – This is one of the most popular 10 mile races around, so if you want to register – be sure to do so as soon as general registration opens.
  • Blue Cross Broad Street Run (May in Philadelphia) – I’ve never done this 10 mile event, but it’s supposed to be one of the biggest in the country.
  • New Balance Bronx 10 Miler (September in NYC) – If a NYC race is on your bucket list, this is a fun one to check out. It lets you get out of the more touristy Manhattan borough and explore the culture in the Bronx.

Good luck as you train for your 10 mile race! 🙂

Share with me: What 10 mile race are you thinking about doing? Have you ever done one before? Do you think this 10 mile training plan will be helpful for you?

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Chrissy Carroll

Chrissy Carroll is a Registered Dietitian and USAT Level I Triathlon Coach. She specializes in sharing nutrition and fitness tips, as well as recipes, for runners, triathletes, and active women.Chrissy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition, a Masters Degree in Public Health, and is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer.

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Fear of missing out?

Army Col. Liam Collins says there’s something “a little magical” about 10 miles.

After all, he adds, “You never hear of an 11-mile race — because what the heck would that be?”

He should know. As a career Special Forces solider, he has clocked more than his share of road miles, including competitive races in everything from 5Ks to full marathons.

Now a professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, he’s also head coach of the All-Army Cross Country Team, which he has coached since 2009.

On Oct. 11, his runners won the Army Ten-Miler. In addition to breaking the race’s team record, all seven members of the All-Army squad placed in the top 15 individually, sweeping the medals podium with the top three finishes.

Collins did pretty well himself. With more than 35,000 runners this year, the 44-year-old came in 76th overall, finishing his 21st Army Ten-Miler in just under 56 minutes.

Army Col. Liam Collins, coach of the All-Army Cross Country Team

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Liam Collins

Ten-milers just hit that sweet spot in running, he says. They’re the Goldilocks of race goals — not too short, not too long, just right for all but the most beginner runners.

“Anyone can run a 10-miler with the right training,” Collins says. “Even if someone has never even done more than two miles in their life, they may not be getting to a marathon anytime soon, but a 10-miler is a kind of good magic distance that you can actually shoot for in a reasonable amount of time.”

And if you’re among the masses inspired for even longer pursuits? If you’re serious, register now for a 10-miler to set your first waypoint, he says.

“A marathon can almost be too hard for people to imagine. So, setting intermediate race goals like a 10-miler can really help get you there.”

His 10 tips to help get you up to speed:

1. Give it time

Stake out at least three months to train, “to minimize your chances of injury while maximizing you performance for as good a race as possible,” Collins says.

And don’t think those three months need to be packed full of constant running.

“You don’t need to run six or seven days a week to get ready,” he says. “A competitive runner, of course, will need more, but the average person can do it with three to four runs a week and be confident in their ability to run a good 10-mile race.”

Each week should have one longer-but-slower run on the weekend and one shorter-but-more-intense run midweek. Put the one or two additional runs per week in between, with an easy pace and at low distances.

2. Go long

Your once-a-week long run is the anchor of your entire run plan. Without it, your dream of hitting 10 miles will just drift away.

“A gradually increasing long run is key,” Collins says. Start with whatever is your max right now. If you’re at, say, three miles, build from there.

Over the next three months, extend your long-day distances so you’re peaking at around nine miles just before the race. If you’ve never run 10 miles before, you’ll do it on race day — and be glad you did.

“It’s so much more rewarding to get that accomplishment with 10,000 other people versus just doing it in your own backyard and then doing it again in the race,” Collins says. “It’s just a fundamentally different experience to have all those people cheering you on.”

3. Two steps forward, one back

You don’t want to build your long run just by tacking on distance each week. Instead, increase every two weeks, but drop back a little on that in-between week.

“It’s a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ kind of thing,” Collins says.

So, if you’re hitting four miles, next weekend drop your long day back to three miles. Then, the following week, make your jump to five miles.

4. Hit your tempo

For your midweek intensity run, look to build what experts call aerobic threshold, increasing your body’s ability to process lactic acid.

Translation: The kind of training that helps you run faster and longer.

To do that, every other week your high-intensity day should be what Collins calls a “tempo run.”

Technically, he says, tempo running is at the pace you can maintain for an hour. But most beginning runners will have a hard time gauging that.

“Tempo pace is not your very fastest pace. If you’re running like you would on a PT test, that’s way too fast. Instead it should be labored, but not so slow that it’s easy to talk.”

For beginners, a good tempo run will start with a five-minute warmup by running at an easy pace, “then at first maybe five to 10 minutes at the faster tempo pace and then cooling down for about three to five minutes.”

Gradually increase your tempo running time so that toward the end of your three months of training, you’re doing 25 to 30 minutes at that faster pace.

5. Hit your intervals

For your high-intensity days, on the weeks opposite your tempo run, do interval running. It’s simple: Run fast, at a near sprint, for one to four minutes, then recover at a light jog for an equal amount of time.

All told, you’ll want to start with a combined total of 12 minutes of high-intensity running — four three-minute bursts, for example — for a total 22 minutes of running; plus a few minutes of warmup and cool-down. From there, as you progress, work your way up to about twice that, Collins says.

Don’t be afraid to mix it up to keep things interesting. For example, fartleks — Swedish for “speed play” — use everything from mailboxes and telephone poles to music playlists and even dog walkers to trigger speed-ups and slow-downs.

6. Take it easy

Between your distance runs and your midweek high-intensity runs, plug in one or two easy-paced, two- to three-mile runs per week.

“Everyone has different schedules, so fit things in where you can, but the goal should be: Don’t take more than two consecutive days off between any given run,” Collins says. “And don’t run four days straight and then take the rest of the week off.”

An ideal week might look like:

If you decide to take, say, Thursday and Friday off, that’s fine. Just pick back up with the long run on Saturday, or even do another easy run then, and start back up with your long run on Sunday.

7. Warm up

For your easy-run days, a good warmup is as simple as starting off at an easy jog, Collins says.

On your two harder days, you’ll want to do about five minutes of dynamic stretching before launching into your run.

Walking lunges, jumping jacks moving from side to side, walking while you try to kick your outstretched hands — basically anything that gets your whole body moving and your heart pumping harder works.

“Otherwise it’s a shock to your system and you’re more likely to suffer an injury,” he says.

What will work against you, however, is static stretching. Sitting on the ground, for example, while you slowly stretch out your hamstrings — that’s bad and can actually lead to injures rather than prevent them.

It’s sad how many people are still doing this, Collins says. “You definitely don’t want to do any static stretch before running.”

8. Cool down

This is basically the same as warming up, just in reverse. And almost as important.

“You’re trying to ease your heart rate back down to resting state. And it’s just as much of a shock to the system if you don’t slow things back down.”

Five minutes of running at a really slow pace works well. Some static stretching is beneficial during cool-down as well.

9. Fuel up

Your body is like an engine: You don’t want to run it on empty. But you don’t want to overfill your tank, either.

“You don’t want a ton of bricks bouncing around in your gut while you run,” Collins says.

If you’re running in the morning, don’t eat a full breakfast before you hit the road. Instead, try half a bagel or a bowl of cereal, he suggests.

And try to eat about two hours before you run so your body has time to convert that food into useful energy.

If your long runs are taking you out on the road for more than an hour, you’ll probably want to fuel on the go with a quick-absorbing power bar or a sports gel as well.

“If you’re running more than an hour, you don’t want to wait until that hour mark to take it,” Collins says. “Typically, if it’s a gel, you’ll take it every 30 to 45 minutes. So, if you’re running for 90 minutes, you might just take it at the 45-minute mark and that will be enough. If you’re going longer than that, one at 45 minutes and another at 90 minutes … will get you to the finish.”

Within an hour after your run, chug chocolate milk or turn to another nutrient-rich, high-protein source to help boost recovery, he says. You’ll be amazed at how much it helps ease not only muscle fatigue but also mental drain.

“This is especially critical after your harder runs. And doing it within the first hour is important because that’s when your body is going to absorb it the best.”

10. Finish big

When race day comes, brace for the worst.

“You’ll almost never have perfect conditions. You’ll get to the race at the last minute and out of breath because you had to park a mile away, or you’ll have a cold, or you’ll get stuck behind a pack of slower movers for the first mile,” he says. “Count on something going wrong.”

The trick is, if you’re anticipating adversity, you won’t freak out when it occurs, he says.

“You just have to be mentally flexible enough that it — whatever ‘it’ is — doesn’t destroy you.”

Translation: Things not going according to plan should be part of the plan.

How to Train for a Half Marathon for Beginners (Plus, a 12-Week Plan)

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If you ask me, the half marathon is the perfect race. Thirteen point one miles is a tough enough distance that takes commitment and training, but is accessible enough that anyone can do it—with the right plan!—without training taking over your entire life. That’s probably why half marathons have the highest numbers of participants (2.1 million in 2018 alone, according to data from RunRepeat and the International Association of Athletics Federations).

Thinking about signing up for a race but have no idea how to train or a half marathon?

This 12-week training schedule developed by Nike+ Run Coach Jes Woods is designed for beginner half marathoners who run three or four times per week and average 10 or more miles per week.

That’s a pretty standard level of running fitness—think of it as being able to run 30 minutes at a time, three or four times a week. Throughout this plan, you’ll progressively increase to running five days a week, while building your endurance, strength, and speed—everything you need to make 13.1 feel easy. (If you’re not quite there yet, check out our couch-to-half marathon training plan instead.)

Ready to run? See below for the saveable and printable plan, but make sure to read through Woods’ breakdown of all the important parts of how to train for a half marathon.

Pace Setting

Understanding your pace isn’t just about hitting a certain finish time. Throughout your training, you’re going to run at different speeds to work different aspects of your fitness. (Related: Is Is Better to Run Faster or Run Longer?)

Think about pace in terms of effort on a scale of 1 to 10: An easy run should feel like a 3 or 4 effort level, like you can hold a full conversation without getting breathless at all; your half marathon pace should feel like a 7, like you could still blurt out a full sentence but need to catch your breath afterward; your 5K pace is a 9 out of 10 effort level, and you should only be able to manage a word here and there. Use this pace chart to help ID your pace when completing the workouts in the half-marathon training schedule below.

Image zoom Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Speed Runs + Hills

To get fast, you need to run fast. So on speed days, you’re going to be working your top speeds—your 5K and 10K paces. Why those speeds if you’re training for a half marathon? “Think about it like raising the ceiling—if your 5K pace gets faster, everything behind that gets faster, too,” explains Woods.

And, FYI, hill work is in here not just because it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with hilly terrain, but because hill work is speed work in disguise, says Woods. “You’re not going to be running 5K pace on 90-second hill repeats, but it’s going to feel like that,” she says. “So you get the same effort with less speed and less pounding on the legs.” (And there are plenty more reasons running hills is worth it.)

Speed runs should take all you’ve got. “This is where we’re breaking the body down, and you actually finish speed runs at a fitness level worse than where you started,” says Woods. That’s how your body starts to adapt to the stress of faster running. Make sure your speed workouts always include a 10- to 15-minute warm-up and cool-down of easy running, too. (Here’s more info about speed runs and different types of running interval workouts.)

Heads up: There’s one fartlek workout in this half-marathon training schedule. After doing a warm-up, you’ll run 1 minute at your goal pace, then recover for 1 minute at marathon pace. Keep matching your effort to recovery interval 1:1 while working through a pyramid: 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute. This means, during the 2-minute pyramid round, you’ll be running for 2 minutes, then resting for 2 minutes. Do this twice in total.

Easy Runs

The way you build your body back up after those stress-inducing speed runs is through easy runs. “These nice, slow miles get the blood flowing, which promotes healing and flushes out the swelling, lactic acid, and all that bad stuff,” says Woods.

Even if you don’t feel wrecked, keep your easy runs sloooow. “Nobody ever runs their easy runs easy enough,” says Woods. “Any time you’re doing an effort based-run, you’re taking money out of the bank. The currency that puts money back into the bank is the nice, easy, slow runs. If we just keep going hard and running at race pace, we’re in debt; the only way to build back up is more easy miles.”

Tempo Runs

Tempo runs work on your efficiency. “Think about the gas mileage in your car—maybe you can get 25 miles per gallon driving around the city at a slower speed,” explains Woods. “But on the highway, the same gallon of gas can get 30 or 35 miles per gallon. That’s what tempo runs do: You’re trying to get more efficient with the same amount of energy, so you can run faster without feeling like you’re working harder.”

Your tempo effort should be right over half-marathon effort. It’ll help you find that magical tipping point between running short distances really fast and running long, slow miles.

Strength Training + Cross Training

In order to get better at running, you have to do more than just run, right? Strength training is crucial for getting stronger all over, which will help you be a more efficient runner (translation: no wasted energy). “I’m a big fan of core exercises, which help you stay upright when you get tired towards the end of a run, and exercises applicable to runners, like single-leg bridges, backward lunges, and single-leg deadlifts,” says Woods. (This Ultimate Strength Workout for Runners has everything you need.)

Cross-training workouts like swimming or cycling, on the other hand, continue to build your aerobic capacity, but also build muscles besides those worked on a run and are typically lower-impact—something that’s especially helpful in an already intense high-mileage week.

Active Recovery/Rest Days

You do need to give your body a break—that’s when your muscles actually have time to repair themselves and become stronger. Make sure you have one day of total rest (on this plan, that’s Monday or Day 1).

On Fridays, you do you. “Maybe your legs are feeling good and you can go out for a 30-minute recovery run that’s going to better prepare you for your long run on Saturday versus flat-out resting all day,” says Woods. But if your legs are feeling heavy and it’s been an intense week, don’t be a hero. “Take the day off, just do some foam rolling, maybe go to yoga or go for a swim,” she says. “Listen to your body and what might feel good. Just avoid high-impact or heavy-weight strength work.” (Related: Is It OK to Lift Heavy While Marathon Training?)

12-week Half-Marathon Training Schedule for Beginners

Image zoom Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong Image zoom Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

We’ve got a plan for 13.1 that will carry you from the sofa to the start line—and across the finish too! Time to get off the couch and move.

Thinking of taking the 13.1-mile plunge but not sure where to start? We’ve got a plan that will carry you from the sofa to the start line—and across the finish too!

You’re sitting on the couch watching television when inspiration strikes. You hear a woman on the news recount her story of going from feeling unhealthy and overweight to running a half marathon. You see the glow on her face and the energy in her body and suddenly you realize: This is it! This is my next goal. I want to run a half marathon!

Then reality strikes. You haven’t worked out in months and you’ve got a little more around the waistline than you’d like. How can you run a half marathon when you can’t even run to the end of your block?

Good question, and here’s a simple answer: You start from where you are, build up slowly so you enjoy the journey, and practice patience along the way. Here’s how!

Make It Yours

The Couch to Half Marathon Plan is all about flexibility. At first glance, you’ll notice that the schedule uses run-walk intervals. Although this plan lists specific intervals, feel free to adjust it to make it fit for you.

You may be able to follow this plan as it stands, or it may feel too aggressive. If this is the case, simply adjust the intervals to include less running and more walking. Perform only the intervals that feel comfort-able for your body so that you’re able to cover the distance more safely and reach race day without injury.

The Plan, Stan

The run-walk workouts start with a walking warm-up (not listed in the chart), then alternate minutes of running with minutes of walking and finish with a walking cool-down. For instance in the first workout in week one, you run at a comfortable effort (just a bit quicker than your fastest walking speed) for one minute and then follow with two minutes of brisk walking and repeat that a total of 10 times. As the program builds, so does your running time.

Once a week, you will do a long workout. You’ll start out with 3 miles and build from there. Every few weeks this distance will drop to allow your body time to recover. The long workout will be vital to teaching your body how to spend time on your feet, utilize fat as an energy source and simulate the half-marathon distance. By the way, you’ll know you’re hooked on this stuff if you start to say things like, “I only have to run 6 miles today!”

This plan builds to running two 10-mile long runs to prepare you for the 13.1-mile distance on race day. Why not go the whole way in training? Because when you push to run longer miles too quickly, your risk for injury skyrockets. Ten miles is plenty to prepare you well for a half-marathon race.

Tune In

It’s crucial to listen to your body during this process. If you’re struggling to finish a workout or have aches or pains, it means your body isn’t recovering properly. If that is the case, repeat the week you’re currently on, or keep the distance the same as the plan, but do more walking and less running.

Whether you develop your own run-walk interval of choice or follow the schedule as is, by the end of this plan, you’ll be able to decide for yourself to run the whole way on race day or to use run-walk intervals to cover the distance. Both are great ways of racing, and it’s best to go with what your body allows!

Always remember to have fun and keep smiling. You’ve got this!

CLICK BELOW for each part of the training plan. Within 20 weeks, you’ll go from thinking about running to crossing the finish line of a half marathon!

Couch to Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 1-7

Couch to Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 8-14

Couch to Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 15-20

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