The answer to this question depends on who is asking it. The first type of runner that asks this question is the first-timer runner who has a casual training schedule of 3 days a week. The other type of runner that asks this question is the one that has already got a few half marathons under their belt and is no longer satisfied with just completing the race but to improve their time.
The most important thing when it comes to half marathon training is the long run. The long run is the key component to your training and it is a great way for you to develop the endurance required for running a good race. You will need a minimum of 12 weeks training in order to adequately prepare for a half marathon.
Half Marathon Training Plan For Beginners
Let’s say you currently are able to run 4 to 5 miles once a week, then in order for you to gradually increase the volume to a 10 mile run 12 weeks should provide ample enough time. The ability to run 10 miles in training is more than sufficient to being able to complete the 13.1 miles in the race. If you can only complete 8 miles however you are cutting it thin and are running the risk of not being able to complete the race. Your goal should be to run 10 miles on your weekly long run.
In addition to the long run you can do an extra aerobic workout each week. This aerobic workout can consist of threshold, fartlek or longer repeats. These are all good options that will help you build a strong aerobic base.
It is recommended that you then run on another 2 days that week in order to be best prepared. The other two days should consist of cross-training. Your schedule will resemble:-
• Monday: easy run
• Tuesday: workout
• Wednesday: cross-training
• Thursday: cross-training
• Friday: easy run
• Saturday: long run
• Sunday: off or brisk walk
Half Marathon Training Plan For Intermediates
For the intermediate runner who already has a couple of half marathons under their belt the long run is still the most important workout of the week. In your 12 week build up to the race you should easily be aiming for a 13 to 14 mile long run each week. They don’t need to be run particularly fast but they are essential for building up a good amount of work capacity.
As in the beginner plan you will need one workout per week that is used in addition to the long run. This workout can be a progression run or one that you try to groove your race pace. You can incorporate pace running into your long run breaking it up into sections of easy running and race pace running.
Tapering Before The Race
In the week before the race, both the intermediate and beginner runner should drop their long run distance to about 75% of its normal distance.
In the week of the race, the workout should be even shorter whilst incorporating running at race pace. Don’t be scared if it feels hard, if you have done the training then it shouldn’t be a problem come race day.
Don’t forget it’s advisable to do some strides on your easy days. Strides are where you run at 5k pace for between 20 to 30 seconds with 30 to 60 seconds of easy jogging in between.