Yes, You Can Train for a Half-Marathon in 6 Weeks!

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If you’re an experienced runner who’s comfortable running 6 miles or more (and have a couple half-marathons under your belt already), this plan is for you. It’s designed for individuals who are trying to improve their half-marathon times, even when you only have six weeks to train.

5K Pace Interval Run: Warm up with a 10 to 15-minute easy run. Run the assigned number of intervals followed by the corresponding rest intervals (RI). Cool down with a 10-minute easy run.

Hill Repeats: Warm up with a 10 to 15-minute easy run. Run up a hill (at least 6 percent incline on treadmill) for 90 seconds at a hard run (80 to 90 percent max effort). Jog or walk downhill. Cool down with a 10-minute easy run.

Tempo Run: Warm up with a 10 to 15-minute easy run. Run the assigned time at a 10K pace. Cool down with a 10-minute easy run.

CP: Conversation Pace. Run at an easy pace where you would be able to hold a conversation.

Cross Train: 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise other than running, i.e. cycling, swimming, elliptical, stair-climbing, or rowing.

Strength Training: Complete the following circuits for a total-body strength workout.

Circuit 1: Complete three times through, then move on to the next circuit.

Squats: 12-15 reps (bodyweight or weighted depending on fitness level)

Pushups: 15-20 reps

Standing Rows: 15-20 reps

Plank: 30 seconds

Circuit 2: Complete three times through.

Walking Lunges: 20 reps (bodyweight or weighted depending on fitness level)

Pull-Ups: 12-15 reps (bodyweight or assisted depending on fitness level)

Medicine Ball Reverse Woodchops: 12-15 reps each direction

Side Plank: 30 seconds each side

Single-Leg Reach: 15 reps

I am running my second half marathon in just under seven weeks. It’s about that time to start training for it, no?

The first time I started training for a half marathon, I documented the entire process with a ten-week plan, followed by a check-in of how every run went along with what I learned that week.

You can view all of my training week recaps under the Half Marathon Training section on the Fitness page. (Please excuse the weird fonts and formats in the early weeks, as they are back from when I used Blogger!)

This time, I am sharing my own six-week plan along with a weekly check-in.

What made me go from ten down to six weeks of training?

After I crossed the finish line of my first long distance race, I knew I wanted to complete more of them. I kept a mental note in the back of my mind that there would be a time I would need to train again, and the last thing I wanted to do was start from square one.

Over the past two and a half years, I have kept up the habit of being able to run a 10K (or 6.2 miles) without struggle. For those of you who aren’t familiar with races, that is half the distance of a half marathon. So, as long as I feel good about running six miles, I feel confident in starting a little before the halfway mark of last time.

Before any length of half-marathon training, however, it is important to pre-train. Go on a few weeks worth of leisure runs where you aren’t necessarily watching your pace or distance, but get in the habit of running for at least thirty minutes at a time without stopping. Once you complete a couple of runs this way, you are ready to start training!

Before I trained for any race, I could barely run for thirty minutes at a time. Slowly, I built that up to four miles, then five, and now I can run seven or eight if I have my head in the right place without training whatsoever. Running really has become a sport I have learned to love and wouldn’t be so determined to race if I didn’t!

Without dragging my explanations on further, below you will see how I plan to train for my half coming up in mid-October. Here we go!

Six Week Half-Marathon Training Plan (Intermediate)

• Strength Training can be anything that involves lifting weights to circuit workouts like HIIT or Fitness Pilates. Some weeks will include more cross training or bodyweight workouts barre or cardio (other than running) and core circuits, and others will take me back to the weight room. It all just depends on how my body is feeling!

• Tempo Runs are “comfortably hard” runs, according to Runner’s World.

They always include a 10-15 minute warm-up, a steady and challenging pace at an assigned mileage in the middle, followed by a 10-15 minute cool-down. While some plans suggest certain paces and longer distances for race training, I am going to take it easier and start with what I charted.

• Easy Pace runs mean I will go for the distance but keep a slower pace I could easily hold a conversation at. I will go faster than a jog, but won’t even look at my pace. They are mainly there to log in the miles.

• REST days are meant for muscle recovery and are important to prevent injuries. On rest days, I make sure to complete an extra long stretch or even take a yoga class to help me from soreness. Also, foam rolling will most likely take place here as well as after all of the longer weekend runs!

*Please keep in mind that this is what I plan to do for my personal training. I consider myself to be a pretty decent runner and if I couldn’t run the distance I can now, I would start right back where I did last time with a longer training plan.

If you are looking to train for your very first race, there are plenty of beginner training plans out there to guide you along the way. I would recommend starting small with a 5K (3.1 miles) and even go for a 10K to get you in the groove before going for a half distance, but the choice is completely up to you.

Here are a handful of half plans that look great:

• Half Marathon Training for Beginners via MarathonRookie.com

(What I used the first time around.)

• Half Marathon Training for Beginners via Runner’s World

• Step-By-Step Half-Marathon Training Schedule via Shape.com

• 4 Month Beginner Half Marathon Training Schedule via FitSugar

I plan to get in a couple of runs this week, but won’t start my official training until next Monday.

I am looking forward to sharing my progress with you!

Questions of the Day

• Have you ever trained for a long distance race?

• What is one race you have yet to complete on your bucket list?

Runners don’t always tackle goals the same way. One runner may spend months preparing for a half marathon, while others simply show up race day with little training and decide to wing it.

Unless you’re an elite athlete who logs countless miles every week, winging it isn’t a good idea.

Here are some reasons you actually should train for a half marathon.

Prevents Injuries

Running a greater distance than you’ve properly prepared for is one of the single best ways to suffer an injury.

That’s why many runners follow the easy-to-remember 10 percent method of increasing their running mileage every week.

For instance, if you are running 20 miles every week, your next week’s run should be increased to no more than 22 miles. Following this simple rule helps keep common overuse injuries at bay.

Gives You Your Best Shot of Finishing

If you enter a half marathon and the longest run you’ve done before that is 8 miles, you’re in for a rude awakening. You might not be able to finish your race.

If you haven’t done a longer run, you’re going to have a much harder time getting past that finish line.

While you don’t have to run 13 miles in your training runs in order to finish a half marathon, it’s a good idea to get up to 11 miles to give you the confidence and stamina you’ll need to log 13.1 on race day.

Avoids Some Pain

Even if you don’t injure yourself by running a half marathon when you aren’t fully prepared, it’s not going to be a pleasant experience. The next day, you’ll be kicking yourself if you could just get your legs to move.

Even when you do train for a half marathon, you’ll generally be feeling it the next day, but that discomfort will be made much worse by inadequate training.

Running a Half Marathon in 6 Weeks

If you decide to go ahead with your plan to run a half marathon in 6 weeks, here are some tips you should follow to ensure your plan doesn’t evaporate mid-run on race day.

Use Caution if You’re a Rookie

If you have never even run a single mile and you’ve decided you want to run a half marathon with only six weeks of training, reconsider your plan, unless you plan to walk a good share of the distance. You simply aren’t ready for a plan this ambitious — consider a 12-week plan instead.

Remember when we talked about injuries earlier? If you put your 6-week plan in motion, you’re playing with fire.

Running is a sport that has an incredible amount of injuries. Many of them are caused by training too hard too quickly.

Don’t Take Shortcuts While Training

You’re going to be pressed for time. You can’t afford to skip any training runs with only six weeks to go.

If you feel lazy and unmotivated, find a way to kick your own butt into gear. Find an inspirational training song and listen to it before you head out the door, or during your run.

Find Some Hills

Not all half marathon courses are flat. You need to expect the unexpected while running a greater distance.

Throw some hills into your training courses. They’ll prepare you in case your course isn’t flat.

Start Off Slowly on Race Day

If you’ve only given yourself 6 weeks to prepare for a half marathon, you’ll want to exercise caution during the first half of your race. The key to your success will be pacing yourself.

By burning yourself out early, you won’t have the stamina or the experience to come back from the edge — you’ll simply run out of gas and start walking or give up entirely.

You Can Do It

If you’ve logged some miles most weeks over the past two or three months, you’re likely ready for a bigger challenge like a half marathon, and with dedication, you can pull it off in 6 weeks.

If you’re new to running, but you do a lot of walking, you may be able to tackle a half marathon. But don’t be afraid to take walking breaks if you need them.

Whether it takes you 6 weeks or 12 weeks to train for a half marathon is irrelevant. What matters is that you actually do it.

Have you been running consistently for a while but never challenged yourself to a half marathon? Or perhaps you’ve done a race already, but you’ve spotted another coming up soon and are hoping to PR. This 6 week half marathon training schedule is designed to add some structure to your running routine so you can successfully finish your 13.1 race!

(Whether that means checking a half off your bucket list or improving on your previous time.)

This training schedule was produced in partnership with Multisport Mastery, known for quality endurance sport coaching. If you’re looking for individualized help as an intermediate or advanced athlete, definitely give them a shout.

Here’s everything you need to know about this 6 week half marathon training schedule:

You can feel free to scroll to the bottom of this post to view and print the plan, but I’d encourage you to read over these important tips before starting it:

Who is this training plan for?

This plan is designed for recreational runners who are looking to build upon an established base and train for a half marathon in 6 weeks. It’s ideal for the following athletes:

  • Runners looking to do their first half marathon, but who have been consistently running for 6 months
  • Runners looking to improve upon their previous half marathon time, but are training in a condensed time frame

This 6 week half marathon training schedule is not designed for beginners to the sport of running, as there is a considerable amount of speedwork included. Instead, here are some of our recommended training plan for beginners:

  • 20 week half marathon training schedule – ideal for beginners who are starting with no or very little running experience
  • 12 week half marathon training plan – ideal for beginners who can run (or run/walk) 3-4 miles comfortably, but haven’t ventured much beyond that
  • 8 week half marathon training schedule – ideal for beginner or intermediate runners who can run 3-4 miles comfortably, and are looking for a plan that includes a little speedwork

What level of fitness do I need to start?

Athletes should be regularly running a minimum of 20 miles per week with a recent long run of 90 minutes (or 8 to 10 miles) at the start of this program.

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

What is the time commitment for this plan?

The plan is designed to help you get from a solid running base to half-marathon-ready in just 6 weeks.

It includes 5 run workouts each week with an optional cross-training day on Mondays. Mid-week runs range from 20 minutes to approximately an hour. Weekly long runs range from 10 miles to 12 miles.

Your Weekly Schedule

Your week is broken down as follows:

  • Monday – Rest or cross training
  • Tuesday – Track speed workouts
  • Wednesday – Easy short runs
  • Thursday – “Strength Runs” – Tempo or Pace Runs
  • Friday – Rest
  • Saturday – Long Runs
  • Sunday – Easy short runs

Workout Descriptions:

Here are the descriptions you’ll see on the schedule so you know how to complete each workout:

CROSS TRAINING workouts – For the purposes of this training plan, the optional cross-training workout on Mondays can be a low-intensity/low-impact exercise such as gentle yoga, easy cycling, or swimming. This helps promote recovery and also works different muscle groups to balance out your training.

EZ Runs – Just like it sounds, these runs should be comfortably paced. Though it can be tempting to want to run these at a faster speed, you want to hold back and maintain a slower, easy pace. Run them about 60-90 seconds slower than your goal half marathon pace. These runs will help promote recovery and training adaptations.

PACE runs – When you see a PACE run on your plan, you should start with 10-15 minutes of easy running to warm up. Then, complete the time listed on the plan for “PACE” at your goal half marathon pace. Finish with 10-15 minutes of easy running to cool down.

TEMPO runs – When you see a TEMPO run on your plan, you should start with 10-15 minutes of easy running to warm up. Then, complete the time listed on the plan for “TEMPO” at a pace that’s approximately 30 seconds faster than your goal half marathon pace. Finish with 10-15 minutes of easy running to cool down.

TRACK workouts – Each track workout on Tuesday includes the number of intervals and the distance (in meters), along with the rest interval. You’ll want to start and end each track workout with 10-15 minutes of easy running, similar to your pace/tempo runs.

You’ll notice a few different connotations listed specific to these runs. These include:

  • R = Rest interval
  • PACE = goal half marathon pace
  • TEMPO = 30 seconds faster than goal half marathon pace
  • Descend = start easy and get faster each rep

For example, 3×1 mile at PACE; R: 90 sec would look like this:

  • Warm up 10-15 min easy running
  • Run a mile at goal half marathon pace
  • Rest 90 seconds (can be active rest; i.e. walking)
  • Run a mile at goal half marathon pace
  • Rest 90 seconds (can be active rest; i.e. walking)
  • Run a mile at goal half marathon pace
  • Rest 90 seconds (can be active rest; i.e. walking)
  • Cool down 10-15 min easy running

Long Run Breakdown – The image of the plan below includes the total long run mileage. You can do this mileage as-is, or you can follow the plan as our coaches wrote it with the following pacing strategies:

  • Week 1: 2 miles EZ/2 miles PACE/2 miles EZ/2 miles PACE/2 miles EZ (10 miles)
  • Week 2: 3 miles EZ/2 miles PACE/1 mile EZ/2 miles PACE/3 miles EZ (11 miles)
  • Week 3: 10 miles all EZ
  • Week 4: 4 miles EZ/ 3 miles PACE/1 mile EZ/3 miles PACE/1 mile EZ (12 miles)
  • Week 5: 10 miles Negative Split (run the second half faster than the first half)
  • Week 6: No long run – race prep the day before your event with: 4X (3:30 EZ/30 sec build/30 sec fast)

Training Plan Modifications

Depending on where you are in your running journey, you may find it necessary to slightly modify this plan to fit your needs.

If you are an athlete who runs regularly but perhaps needs a slightly lower intensity plan to get half-marathon ready in 6 weeks, here are a few modifications you might consider:

  1. Mondays include an optional cross training day, but some athletes may want to utilize this as a full rest day.
  2. The long runs include pace-based work. For athletes who have not done as much speed training, you can choose not to utilize this pace-based training. Instead, just complete the total miles as listed at an EZ pace.
  3. If you need an additional adjustment to make this plan do-able, you can choose to substitute some of the track workouts or tempo workouts for EZ runs around 45-60 minutes.

Warm Ups, Cool Downs, and Stretching:

Remember, all of your Tuesday track workouts and Thursday tempo/pace workouts start with a 10-15 minute easy warm-up run, followed by the Main Set as indicated in the schedule, and conclude with a 10-15 minute easy cool-down run.

Be sure to stretch after your runs. If you struggle with tight muscles on a regular basis, consider adding foam rolling.

There you have it! All the key info you need to know to rock a half marathon in less than two months!

6 Week Half Marathon Training Schedule

This plan was produced in partnership with Multisport Mastery, who specializes in individualized performance plans for multisport athletes of all abilities. Whether your goal is to run a marathon, compete in a triathlon, ride in a week-long cycling event or finish an Ironman, Multisport Mastery offers customized coaching to bring out the best in each athlete no matter who you are or where you want to go.

Share with me: Are you currently training for a half marathon – and if so, which race? If you used this 6 week half marathon training schedule, how did it work 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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Sure, you like to clear your head with a Saturday run, but do you scoff when someone calls you a runner? That’s no reason to not sign up for a race, says Olympian and running coach Nick Symmonds. In fact, there’s no need to be a serious runner to complete a race goal; as long as you run “on a semi-regular basis,” he says, you can follow this six-week half-marathon plan with success. “The most important goal of all is to enjoy the process,” Nick told POPSUGAR. “Try to recognize that you are doing something new and exciting and also something that is good for your body.” While Nick advises allotting longer amount of time to train if possible, this shortened plan is still perfect for a less-serious runner who seriously commits to these six weeks. If you’ve ever thought about signing up for a race, check out this doable race training plan below, and then get going!

Before you begin, remember these notes from Nick:

  • Jogging should be at a pace that is comfortable enough to maintain a conversation with running partners.
  • Running should be at a pace that is slightly uncomfortable and requires extra focus to maintain an honest pace.
  • Most runs are written in minutes. Run your own pace, and don’t be overly concerned with how many miles you cover.
  • Long runs are written in miles. Take your time with them, and run them at your own pace.
  • For intervals, easy running should be slightly challenging but not too uncomfortable. Hard running should be very challenging.
  • Always make sure to listen to your body. Make sure to rest when your body tells you to. If you do not feel challenged enough, feel free to add cross training or weights to supplement the mileage.
  • On the day of competition, wake up at least two hours before race time and try and put faith in all the training that you have done!
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Week 1
30-min jog 20-min jog Rest 20-min jog 30-min jog 5-mile jog Rest
Week 2
35-min jog 10-min jog warmup, 8×1-min hard running with 1-min walk/jog recovery between intervals, 10-min jog cooldown 20-min jog or rest as needed 35-min jog 10 min jog warmup, 10-min easy running, 10-min jog cooldown 7-mile jog Rest
Week 3
40-min jog 10 min jog warmup, 4×2-min hard running with 2-min walk/jog recovery between intervals, 10-min cooldown 30-min jog or rest as needed 35-min jog 10-min warm up, 15-min easy running, 10-min cooldown 8-mile jog Rest
Week 4
40-min jog 10 min jog warmup, 3×3-min hard running with 2-min walk/jog recovery between intervals, 10-min jog cooldown 30-min jog or rest as needed 40-min jog 10-min jog warmup, 2×10-min easy running with 3-min walk recovery between intervals, 10-min jog cooldown 10-mile jog Rest
Week 5
40-min jog 10 min jog warmup, 3×4-min hard running with 2-min walk/jog recovery between intervals, 10-min jog cooldown 35-min jog or rest if needed 40-min jog 10 min jog warmup, 20-min easy running, 10-min jog cooldown 8-mile jog Rest
Week 6
30-min jog 10-min jog warmup, 2×5-min easy running with 2-min walk/jog recovery between intervals, 10-min jog cooldown 30-min jog or rest as needed 10 min jog warmup, 5×1-min hard running with 2-min walk/jog recovery between intervals, 10-min jog cooldown Rest 20-min jog Race Day!

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When your 13.1 race is a month away—but you haven’t exactly been “training”—this plan is perfect.

Heather Colasuonno was in the best shape of her life while training for the 2014 Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon when she was sidelined by an Achilles tendon strain. The 30-year-old wife and mother from Ajax, Ontario, couldn’t run for more than a month and returned to the roads just six weeks before race day. Nevertheless, Colasuonno made the best of the training window she had left and ended up coming within seconds of matching her fastest half-marathon ever.

Runners like Colasuonno are living proof that it is possible to “crash train” for a half marathon. Whether it’s an injury, an illness, work stress or scheduling that threw you off track, four to eight weeks is enough time to prepare for a successful 13.1-miler provided you’re healthy and able to train without further interruptions.

The key to crash training is building fitness quickly without taking big risks. The best tools for fast fitness are frequency and intensity. Doing some kind of cardio almost every day—whether that means running, walking or cross-training—will help you make the most of the time you have. And a couple of those workouts each week should include high-intensity effort, which is proven to stimulate quicker physiological adaptations.

GETTING STARTED
This plan is perfect if your goal is to walk or walk/run a half marathon that is four weeks away and you’re currently fit enough to comfortably walk/run 5 miles.

The plan includes “optional” days, when you have a choice to rest, walk, run or cross-train (XT) with non-impact cardio, such as cycling or elliptical training. You’ll get fitter faster if you choose the rest option only when you feel your body needs it.

Each run uses a five-point intensity scale based on ratings of perceived effort (RPE). Heart-rate monitors can be helpful, but going by feel works just as well. Use these guidelines to understand your plan’s intensity scale.

RPE 1: Very Easy—a pleasant effort you feel you could keep up almost indefinitely.
RPE 2: Comfortable—you’re not holding yourself back but you can still easily carry on a conversation.
RPE 3: Comfortably Hard—the highest intensity at which you can speak comfortably.
RPE 4: Hard—after a few minutes at this intensity, your breathing is labored.
RPE 5: Very Hard—an effort that you can sustain for a couple of minutes at most

In Interval Walk/Run workouts, walk the RPE 1 portions if necessary to keep your perceived effort at an appropriate level. In Long Run/Walk workouts, mix walking and running as you see fit or as necessary to keep your RPE between 1 and 2.

4-Week Beginner Plan

CLICK HERE For The 4 Week Beginner Crash Half Marathon Plan

Like This Article? Try One Of These!

Couch To Half Marathon Training Plan

The Half Marathoner’s Meal Plan

Half Marathon Training : Intermediate 1

Hal on his Intermediate 1 Program

With the publication of Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training, I added a new intermediate schedule. Previously, there was only one, titled “Intermediate.” Now there are two: “Intermediate 1” and “Intermediate 2.” The difference is that Intermediate 1 is an endurance-based program; Intermediate 2 is a speed-based program. These two intermediate schedules exist in a parallel universe, the same level of difficulty, just slightly different approaches to training. They are part of the logical progression upward from Novice through Intermediate to Advanced.

Here is how to use Intermediate 1 to run your best half marathon.

The terms used in the training chart are somewhat obvious, but let me explain what I mean anyway. Further information is included in my interactive training programs available through TrainingPeaks, where I send you daily emails telling you what to run and how to train.

Long runs: The key to the program is the long run, which builds from 4 miles in Week 1 to 12 miles in the climactic Week 11. (After that, you taper a week to arrive at the half marathon well rested.) Do not cheat on the long runs. Although the schedule suggests long runs on Sundays, you can switch to Saturdays or even other days of the week to suit your schedule.

Run slow: For experienced runners, I recommend that they do their long runs anywhere from 30 to 90 or more seconds per mile slower than their planned half marathon pace. Run at a comfortable pace, one that allows you to converse with your training partners,. The important point is that you cover the prescribed distance; how fast you cover it doesn’t matter.

Walking breaks: Walking is a perfectly acceptable strategy in trying to finish a half marathon. It works during training runs too. While some coaches recommend walking at prescribed points, I suggest that runners walk when they come to an aid station. This serves a double function: 1) you can drink more easily while walking as opposed to running, and 2) since many other runners slow or walk through aid stations, you’ll be less likely to collide with someone. It’s a good idea to follow this strategy in training as well.

Cross-training: Mondays in this training program are devoted to cross-training, building from 30 to 60 minutes. What is cross-training? It is any other form of aerobic exercise that allows you to use slightly different muscles the day after your long run. The best cross-training exercises are swimming, cycling or even walking. One tip: You don’t have to cross-train the same each weekend. And you could even combine two or more exercises: walking and easy jogging or swimming and riding an exercise bike in a health club. Cross-training for an hour on Monday will help you recover after your Sunday long runs.

Midweek training: As the weekend mileage builds, the Tuesday and Thursday mileage also go from 3 to 5 miles. Wednesday runs increase from 4 to 8 miles. Run these miles at a comfortable, pace. Don’t get trapped by numbers. Listen to your body signals as much as the signals coming from your GPS watch. If you strength train, Tuesdays and Thursdays would be the best days to combine lifting with running. Usually it’s a good idea to run before you lift rather than the reverse.

Pace: Saturdays, run pace, the pace you hope to run in your goal half marathon. If you’re training for a 2:00 half marathon, your average pace per mile is 9:09. So you would run that same pace when asked to run race pace. If you were training for a 5-K or 10-K, “race pace” would be the pace you planned to run in those races.

Races: I suggest running a 5-K in Week 6 and a 10-K in Week 9. Consider races as an “option.” Doing at least some racing in a training program can be a valuable experience, because you can determine your level of fitness and predict how fast you might run in your goal race (using various prediction charts on the Internet). But too much racing can wear you out and distract from your training, so embrace this option cautiously. Finally, there is nothing magic about 5-K or 10-K as distances or Week 6 or Week 9 for when to race. Seek races in your area convenient to your schedule.

Rest: Scientists say that it is during the rest period (the 24 to 72 hours between hard bouts of exercise) that the muscles actually regenerate and get stronger. You can’t run hard unless you are well rested. If you’re constantly fatigued, you will fail to reach your potential. This is why I prescribe rest on Fridays to get ready for the hard weekend—and (easy) cross-training on Sundays to recover. If you need to take more rest days–because of a cold or a late night at the office or a sick child–do so. The secret to success in any training program is consistency.

Hammer Out Your Half Marathon Training in Just 8 Weeks (For Real!)

With this 8 week half marathon training program, you won’t just finish the race—you’ll crush it.

Easy there, speed demon—we know you’re anxious to start a training schedule for that half marathon coming up. Whether it’s your first time logging 13.1 miles (21 km) or you’re never satisfied with your PR, a proper half marathon training plan is key. Crash training too hard or too soon can lead to a world of hurt, and we’re not a fan of letting an injury keep you on the sidelines.

13.1 miles is an impressive feat (231 football fields to be exact), so you shouldn’t be surprised that you can’t accomplish this with a few protein shakes and a FitBit. When you’re going for the gold, you gotta have a game plan. Oh look, what do we have here?! The perfect 8 week half marathon training program to get you across the finish line like a total champ. There will be sweat, pain, and maybe a few tears or blackened toenails, but the taste of glory makes it all so, so worth it.

Can’t wait to get your hands on this sweet schedule? Hop on a link below to learn the basics of marathon training or scroll your way down to see how you can transform into a long distance runner in just 2 months.

  • How to Train for a Half Marathon
  • How Long to Train for a Half Marathon
  • Half Marathon Training Schedule

How to Train for a Half Marathon

Break out those vision boards, baby—let’s start by digging a little deeper into your motivation for running a half marathon. Did your super-fit friend Becky talk you into it? Maybe you want to test your limits after conquering your last 10K? Are you trying to shed a few pounds (We know, those cookies just magically appeared out of nowhere)? Or perhaps you want to raise awareness for an incredible charity—whatever your inspiration may be, it’s important to have a mission in mind to get you through the low points (and there will be some, trust us.)

But before you get started, there are some essential marathon training tips to keep in mind. If you want to reach your peak performance without pushing your body past its breaking point, take a look at these half marathon fundamentals.

Marathon Training 101: The Basics

  • Get the right gear. Those old Chuck Taylors won’t do you any good when it comes to pounding some serious pavement during your training plan. You need dedicated running shoes that are ready to take on your high mileage rides.
    Do yourself a favor: don’t wait until the day of the race to upgrade to performance running shoes. Unless blisters and sore feet are your thing, they’ll most likely take a little time to break in.
  • Know the building blocks. No, we’re not talking about Legos! Stay focused. A half marathon training schedule includes four primary elements: your base mileage, long run, speed work, and recovery.
    You’ll build up your base mileage by running 3-5 times a week, and every 7-10 days or so, add a long run to your half marathon training so that your body can gradually adjust to going the extra distance (cue music from Disney’s Hercules).
    Speed work, in the form of interval training or tempo runs, amps up your cardio capacity while your rest and recovery (RNR) days are must-have to stave off physical and mental burnout.
  • Start slow. You know how the story goes— slow and steady wins the race. While you don’t have to be turtle during your training, you do have to build up your base mileage slowly throughout this 8 week half marathon training plan. The golden rule? Limit increasing your mileage volume by more than 10 percent per week.
    Starting small with a shorter 5K or 10K race is a great way to prepare yourself both physically and mentally for your first half marathon. If you already have a few of these under your belt, keep in mind that your long distance marathon pace and training strategy will require some fine tuning.
  • Stay hydrated. Repeat after me: H2O is the way to go! If you want to stay injury-free, you can’t take hydration lightly. Your body goes into overdrive as you tackle longer distances, so mastering all the hydration staples of a smart athlete is a must. Avoid cramps, dizziness, and fatigue by quenching your thirst!
  • Add variety. Variety is the spice of life, after all, and we know you like to kick things up a notch. Cross-training isn’t mandatory, but it’s highly recommended. For starters, building up your muscle endurance can prevent you from hitting that dreaded wall around mile 10. Aside from getting you through that final push, cross-training just makes you an overall stronger, well-rounded athlete— and did we mention sexier? Wink.
    If weight lifting at the gym isn’t your thing, hill running is a fantastic method for strengthening your leg muscles and ramping up interval training.
  • Stretching is essential. We know you might feel young at heart, but if you’re past the age of 21, your body is not gonna be happy if you ditch the pre-run stretch session. The one time you think you don’t need it, BAM! You tear your hamstring and get sidelined for weeks. Can’t get into stretching? Try this technique instead.
    Stretch out those tight muscle groups, focusing on your calves, quads, and glutes. Also, foam rollers are complete miracle-workers in the realm of IT band tightness; we definitely suggest picking one up if you haven’t already.
  • Understand your limits. Don’t be fooled by the name—even a “half” marathon is one full-sized challenge. Always listen to your body and what it’s telling you. If you feel particularly sore one day, you could be overtraining; take a little RNR to let your body heal so you can unleash your inner beast come competition day.

How Long to Train for a Half Marathon

Not sure how long you need to train for a half marathon? It all comes down to your body, your experience, and your goals.

If you’re brand new to the world of running—all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed—you might be better off with a more gradual training program that lets you slowly build your stamina over 10, 12, 16, or 20 weeks. The average half marathon training schedule requires 12 weeks, which includes running between 15-25 miles per week over 3-5 days.

But what about all you busy beavers out there? If you’re in a time crunch before the big race, it’s possible to crash train and safely get into shape within 2 months. If you plan for an 8 week half marathon training program, you should already be able to at least run 3-5 miles comfortably—with at least 9 base miles weekly—otherwise you should check out a less aggressive training plan (the legal team made us say that, we know you can do it champ!).

Count on running 3-4 days per week depending on your experience level. That said, half marathon training won’t consume your life and it shouldn’t force you into a vegetative state where you binge-watch reruns of The Office just to recover from a long session.

When the weather is poor and your legs are sore, hang on to your motivation. With the promise of that elusive runner’s high just around the corner, keep kicking this program’s butt until you cross the finish line.

8 Week Half Marathon Training Schedule

This 8 week half marathon training plan is flexible. It’s generally structured with 4 days of running, 2 days of cross-training, and 1 day of rest, but feel free to tweak it to your needs.

If cross-training sounds miserable, go for a light jog instead. But seriously, adding in some swimming, cycling, weightlifting, or even yoga can make a big difference in your aerobic performance. I promise we know what we’re talking about—we are the world’s largest walking and running store!

If you’re feeling completely wiped out, take another rest day—and don’t beat yourself up for it! Remember, you need to include at least one RNR day minimum to prevent injuries, but beginners can take 2-3 as you work into your training program.

Week 1

  • Monday: 3 mile easy run
  • Tuesday: 30-45 minutes cross-training
  • Wednesday: 2.5 mile tempo run (warm up at an easy pace for .5 mile, pressing into a comfortably hard tempo run or “race pace” goal for 1.5 miles, then dropping the pace back down for another .5 mile cool down)
  • Thursday: 30-45 minutes cross-training
  • Friday: 3 mile easy run
  • Saturday: 4.5 mile long run
  • Sunday: Rest up, week 1 is already under your belt!

Week 2

  • Monday: 3.5 mile easy run
  • Tuesday: 30-45 minutes cross-training
  • Wednesday: 4 mile speed run (1 mile warm up, 2 mile race pace, 1 mile cool down)
  • Thursday: 30-45 minutes cross-training
  • Friday: 3.5 mile easy run
  • Saturday: 6 mile long run
  • Sunday: Rest

Week 3

  • Monday: 4 mile easy run
  • Tuesday: 45-60 minutes cross-training
  • Wednesday: Short hill repeats (find a hill that takes about 60 seconds to run up at a comfortably hard pace then jog back down 4-6 times)
  • Thursday: 45-50 minutes cross training
  • Friday: 4 mile easy run
  • Saturday: 8 mile long run
  • Sunday: Rest

Week 4

  • Monday: 5 mile easy run
  • Tuesday: 45-60 minutes cross-training
  • Wednesday: 7 mile speed run (1 mile warm up, 5 mile race pace, 1 mile cool down)
  • Thursday: 45-50 minutes cross-training
  • Friday: 5 mile easy run
  • Saturday: 10 mile long run
  • Sunday: Rest

Whoa, slow down Seabiscuit! You’re totally crushing the game. After a month into your 8 week half marathon training program, your body has doubtlessly made major changes in terms of overall athleticism. Remember, the foam roller is your friend, and although an ice bath is pretty much everyone’s least favorite thing, it’s much more effective at soothing your aching muscles and promoting recovery than heat (does that mean penguins never get sore? Sorry—that’s not relevant right now).

The second month of your 8 week marathon training program is about honing the mental fortitude necessary to crush the race. Yup, we pulled out a word like “fortitude.” Even though you’ve built your body into a lean, mean machine, you gotta keep your mind focused on the end goal at all times.

You’ll notice that as race day gets closer, the intensity of your training program tapers off. Now is not the time to overdo it; your body needs plenty of healing time to restore itself to prime performance levels.

Week 5

  • Monday: 4 mile easy run
  • Tuesday: 60 minutes cross-training
  • Wednesday: Long hill repeats (find a longer hill with at least 6-7 percent grade, and run up it in 90 seconds between 4-6 times)
  • Thursday: 60 minutes cross-training
  • Friday: 4 mile easy run
  • Saturday: 12 mile long run (after this point, you’ll start cutting back on mileage to rest up for race day)
  • Sunday: Rest

Week 6

  • Monday: 5 mile easy run
  • Tuesday: 60 minutes cross-training
  • Wednesday: 8 mile speed run (1 mile warm up, 6 mile race pace, 1 mile cool down)
  • Thursday: 60 minutes cross-training
  • Friday: 4 mile easy run
  • Saturday: 10 mile long run
  • Sunday: Rest

Week 7

  • Monday: 5 mile easy run
  • Tuesday: 30 minutes cross-training
  • Wednesday: 4 mile cut down run (warm up 1 mile, then pick up the pace 10-15 seconds per mile for each of the next 3 miles)
  • Thursday: 30 minutes cross-training
  • Friday: 4.5 mile easy run
  • Saturday: 8 mile long run
  • Sunday: Rest

Week 8

  • Monday: 6 mile long run
  • Tuesday: 30 minutes cross-training
  • Wednesday: rest
  • Thursday: 4 mile speed run (1 mile warm up, 2 miles race pace, 1 mile cool down)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 3 mile easy run
  • Sunday: Race!

And the crowd goes wild! Wooooooo! There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as reaching the finish line after two months of tough training.

If you give an 8 week half marathon training program all you’ve got, you’ll be in shape to accept the gold medal with your head held high—versus crawling or doubled over and gasping for breath.

Who knows? Maybe your half marathon training could be so successful, that next time you’ll be ready to push yourself to the full 26.2. We’ll be here waiting to cheer you on.

16-Week Half Marathon Training Schedule

If you’ve ever found it difficult to stick to an intensive training plan for a race, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

For nearly all runners who have jobs to go to and families to take care of — which of course means nearly all runners — it can be next to impossible to adhere to a training plan that requires you to run multiple days each week, many weeks and months in a row.

That’s why we’ve developed this 16-week training plan specifically for intermediate level runners and people whose schedules don’t allow for running five days a week — a variation on our 12-week training plan for beginners, with an additional day off during the week:

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 off 3 miles off 3 miles off 4 miles 3 miles
2 off 3 miles off 3 miles off 5 miles 3 miles
3 off 4 miles off 4 miles off 6 miles 3 miles
4 off 4 miles off 4 miles off 6 miles 3 miles
5 off 5 miles off 5 miles off 7 miles 2-3 miles
6 off 5 miles off 5 miles off 7 miles 2-3 miles
7 off 6 miles off 4 miles off 8 miles 2-3 miles
8 off 6 miles off 4 miles off 8 miles 2-3 miles
9 off 5-6 miles off 4-5 miles off 9 miles 2-3 miles
10 off 5-6 miles off 4-5 miles off 9 miles 2-3 miles
11 off 6 miles off 5 miles off 10 miles 2 miles
12 off 6 miles off 5 miles off 10 miles 2 miles
13 off 5-6 miles off 4-5 miles off 11 miles 2 miles
14 off 5-6 miles off 4-5 miles off 12 miles 2 miles
15 off 5-6 miles off 4-5 miles off 6 miles 3 miles
16 off 4-5 miles off 4-5 miles off 13.1 miles! off

For Experienced Runners

It’s important to note that the training plan outlined above is not designed with beginning runners in mind — this is for runners who’ve already run a half marathon or several in the past, and who are already running consistently each week so they’ve built up their leg, lower body and cardiovascular strength to handle the number of miles they’ll be running throughout the training.

If you are looking to run your first half marathon, please consider our 12-week training plan for beginning runners, which provides a more intensive training regimen.

More Gradual Buildup to Race Day

Note also that this training program is spread out over 16 weeks rather than 12 weeks, to give your muscles more time to get ready. Because you’ll be running fewer days each week with this training plan, we recommend giving yourself more time to get ready for the race, to allow both your body and your mind to prepare for running 13.1 miles.

Consider cross-training on the days you don’t run — anything from strength training to walking a few miles, which will provide the cardiovascular benefits without the pounding impact that running can cause.

Time Your Long Runs With Your Race

The schedule above places the weekly long run on Saturday, followed by a usually much shorter quick run on Sunday. Feel free to swap these if the race you’ve signed up for falls on a Sunday; I’ve always found that it’s best to do your long runs on the day you’ll actually be running your race, to allow your body to get used to the rhythm of the short run/long run each week.

(Also feel free to move around the mid-week runs as your schedule demands — just make sure you get in two runs of 30 to 60 minutes each in the middle of the week before your long run each weekend.)

As Always, Consult the Experts

Remember that there are a number of ways to structure a half marathon training plan. Running coaches Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway, who is well-known for his Run-Walk-Run approach to training, offer a number of training plans on their own websites that are excellent guides to getting ready for any race.

Can you really train yourself to run a half marathon in six weeks? It might seem like a bit of a rush, but it is possible. In this post, we will look at how can consider taking on this kind of training schedule, who should not, and what schedule to follow.

Who Could Consider this Training Schedule?

If you are in good physical condition, i.e., not recovering from an injury, you might be able to pull off compressing the training into a six-week schedule. Good physical fitness and being in shape is not enough, though. You need to be a seasoned runner. If you aren’t, you might not recognize the signs that you are overdoing it and so might be more prone to injuries due to overexertion. You should have already completed some half-marathons and be able to run six or more miles with relative comfort.

Who Should Not Consider this Training Schedule?
You should not consider this training schedule if you are a beginner, or have been out of practice for a while. It is a pretty grueling plan and so not suitable for beginners. If you are recovering from an injury, this is also not a good plan for you to follow.

Is it a Good Idea to Compress Training?
Ordinarily, we would say that you should always give yourself more training time rather than less. But let’s be frank here, you also need the motivation to keep up training in general. And, if you are a runner, there is nothing quite like an upcoming marathon to motivate you to put your running shoes on.And once you have done a few half-marathons, you need a new challenge to spur you on to train harder and make improvements. It can be all too easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to your training schedule.

If you are short on time and are physically fit enough to take on this more intense training schedule, it can be challenging enough to prevent boredom and help you start making gains fast. It was specifically designed to help you improve your time during a half marathon run.
It uses a combination of interval and circuit training and hill repeats to help you get a more completely rounded training program.

The Basic Program
You will have to rest one day out of seven. The program is as follows:

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6
Day 1 4 x 400m 5k pace 2 min rest intervals 6 x 400m 5k pace 2 min rest intervals 3 x 800m 5k pace 3 min rest intervals 3 x 800m 5k pace 3 min rest intervals 3 x 800m 5k pace 3 min rest intervals Tempo Run 20 min at 10k pace
Day 2 Strength Training Strength Training Strength Training Strength Training Strength Training Strength Training
Day 3 Tempo Run 20min at 10k Pace Hill Repeats
6 x 90 sec
Tempo Run 25min at 10k Pace Hill Repeats
10 x 90 sec
Tempo Run 30min at 10k Pace 3 miles CP
Day 4 3 miles CP 3 miles CP 3 miles CP 3 miles CP 3 miles CP 20 min CP
Day 5 Rest or Cross-Fit 30 min Rest or Cross-Fit 30 min Rest or Cross-Fit 30 min Rest or Cross-Fit 30 min Rest or Cross-Fit 30 min Off
Day 6 7 miles CP 8 miles CP 9 miles CP 10 miles CP 11 miles CP Race Day
Day 7 Rest Rest Rest Rest Rest Rest

Breakdown of the Training Schedule

• Running at 5K Pace: Start by warming up with an easy run of ten to fifteen minutes. You will then run at full pace – 80% – 90% effort for the prescribed number of meters. Each high-effort session should be followed by the prescribed rest interval. Repeat for the required number of reps.
• Hill Repeats: Start by warming up with an easy run of ten to fifteen minutes. Set the treadmill to a minimum of 6%, or run up a steep incline and run at 80% – 90% effort for 90 seconds. Either walk or jog back down. Repeat the prescribed number of times. When done, run for ten minutes at an easy pace to cool down again.
• Tempo Run: Start by warming up with an easy run of ten to fifteen minutes. Run for as long as prescribed at the 10k pace. When you have done, run for ten minutes at an easy pace to cool down again.
• CP: Run at a pace that would allow you to continue a conversation with someone.
• Cross Train: Any aerobic exercise aside from running. So, you can cycle, swim, use the stair climber, or row.
• Strength Training: You need to do the two circuits as laid out below to build your overall body strength.
Strength Training First Circuit
This needs to be repeated a full three times before you start the second circuit.
• Squats: 12 – 15 reps. Use weights if you are at an advanced level.
• Pushups: 15 – 20 reps.
• Standing Rows: 15 – 20 reps.
• Plank: 30 seconds

Strength Training Second Circuit
• Walking Lunges: 20 reps. If you are advanced, you can use weights.
• Pull-Ups: 12 – 15 reps. If advanced, you can use weights.
• Medicine Ball Rev Wood Chops: 12-15 reps each way.
• Side Plank: 30 seconds on either side.
• Single Leg Reach: 15 reps.
And that is that, your complete six-week training program. Do be careful to listen to your body. Don’t push it too hard or you may end up injuring yourself. That will stop your progress dead in its tracks. The cross fit sessions are completely optional, so if you feel that you need to rest instead, that is fine.

With the strength training exercises, do pay particular attention to your form when performing each rep. You want to use controlled, fluid movements to get the best toning and strength building effects.
Once you have worked out the basic kinks, and gotten yourself into this routine, you will start to enjoy it. It is tough, but then it has to be – training for a half-marathon means training hard.

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Jamie is a running addict and gym junkie. He trains 7 days per week and is currently doing an MA in nutrition and sports science

6 week half marathon

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