For All Types of Runners

Each year the half marathon continues to attract more runners and I think the reasons are obvious; it’s just far enough to feel like your racecation is justified, but not so far that a half marathon training plan feels like it consumes your life.

No matter your reason for tackling 13.1, which is a half marathon, not “just a half” or a mini marathon or one of those shorter marathons, as you might hear from your non-running friends, it’s worth taking to heart a few lessons that will make the experience better.

If you can do a 10K, you can definitely do a half marathon.

In fact, even if you have zero experience with running, I have a training plan for you! In this article, you’ll find everything you need to train for a half marathon.

These are my best half marathon tips from over 21 years of running and 2300 articles!

✅You’re going to want to Pin or Bookmark this page so you can refer to it throughout training.

Everything You Need to Train for a Half-Marathon

RunToTheFinish now contains thousands of articles on running, so I’ve compiled some of the most useful half marathon training tips, tricks, and lessons for you here!

The search bar at the top right of the site will help if there are other topics like a specific running injury (hello IT Band Syndrome) you’d like help to resolve.

How Long Is a Half Marathon?

So, first things first – how long is a half marathon anyway?

A half marathon is 13.1 miles or 21.1 kilometers.

How Long Does It Take to Train for a Half Marathon?

The exact length of time it’ll take for you to train and be adequately prepared for a half marathon largely depends on two things: your current running abilities and your half-marathon goals.

Expect anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks which is about 3 to 5 months, depending on these factors. For each of my plans below, I’ve mentioned the exact number of weeks and what level you should be, so you know exactly which one is right for you.

12 to 20 weeks will give you sufficient time to build up strength, have the right form, and get to the required mileage base – all without overexerting yourself and injuring yourself.

Why Should I Follow a Half Marathon Training Plan?

Following a training plan will allow you to account for every building block it takes to be prepared for race day!

Training for a half marathon is not just about the running, it’s also about supplementary skills and other types of training you need to make sure you’re not only ready for race day, but also injury-free throughout the process!

These training schedules are written with the entire training plan in mind, not just what you need to do on race day. From how to strengthen your body to prevent injuries, to tapering towards the end of the schedule – everything is included in these plans.

By following through with a half marathon training schedule, you’ll gain more confidence and be able to keep the butterflies in your stomach away on race day!

How Do I Choose A Half Marathon Training Plan?

Which plan you choose will depend on a few main factors that you need to properly consider and take into account. Let’s look at each of them in more detail:

Current Running Abilities

One of the main factors in deciding which training plan is best for you is your current running abilities and fitness levels. If you’re just starting out with exercising in general, look into the Couch to Half Marathon program.

But if you’re a new runner with some other race experience under your belt, you can consider a half marathon training plan for beginners instead. Lucky for you, I’ve made use to include who each of these training plans is for so that you can easily find the one that fits your current abilities.

Half Marathon Race Goals

The goals for the race are also important. If your goal is just to finish, then you may be able to get by with a slightly less rigorous training plan, say my beginner’s half marathon training plan.

However, if you have time-related goals, like running a certain pace or finishing in under a certain time, then you may need to follow a more detailed and intense training plan. I’ve included details for each of my plans to provide you with all the information you need to pick the right one!

Training Time Available

Another important factor is the amount of time you have available for training. If you only have limited hours per week to dedicate to running, then you’ll want to opt for a less intensive plan that requires fewer hours of running.

However, if you have a few extra hours per week, you can opt for a more intensive plan that will help you reach your goals faster.

Ultimately, the best half marathon training plan is the one that works for you and fits into your lifestyle. With any of my half marathon training plans, you’ll be able to make modifications as needed and I’ve included tips and guidelines for each of them.

Plus, as I mentioned above, each of my half marathon training plans below has notes alongside it to help you pick the one that is best for you!

Remember to be honest with yourself about how fit you are currently, and how much experience you have with running.

Think of a realistic goal if this is your first half-marathon, to avoid injury. And be sure to stick to all the different types of training within the plan once you’ve chosen one.

Who Has Designed These Half Marathon Training Plans?

Hello runners! I’m Amanda Brooks, a certified running coach, running author and personal trainer since 2012. In that time, I’ve coached thousands of runners through 1:1 coaching and our run club.

I’ve built a team of 11 running coaches and, even after knee surgery, have used my own methods to get back to a Sub Two-hour half marathon quickly and pain-free.

steamboat race

Through using my own training methods consistently, I went on to a half marathon PR of 1:44 and successfully transitioned back to running after knee surgery (caused by a trampoline, not running!)

My half marathon training programs come from personal experience, as well as working with thousands of runners 1-1 and through our Online Run Club.

I’m sure you’ll find the one that’s the perfect fit for you!

Best Half Marathon Training Programs (For All Types of Runners)

Each of these training plans is designed with a different type of runner in mind. Go through the quick notes for each of them and pick the one that fits you the best!

#1 Couch to Half Marathon Plan

Skill Level: Perfect for Absolute Beginners

My Couch to Half Marathon Plan is perfect if you’re a new runner looking to cross the finish line successfully (and injury-free!).

I’ve personally designed this so that it can be used by the brand new runner, the person calling themselves out of shape and scaled up for someone who has some fitness but isn’t really running.

So, whether you’re literally starting from the couch, or you’re currently partaking in other fitness activities this is the couch to half marathon plan for you.

Many people feel that the ‘couch’ to half marathon plan is not literal, but it truly is in this case.

We all come from different fitness backgrounds and have different endurance levels, but this plan will get you across the finish line in the most fun and safest way possible.

Who is the Couch to Half Marathon Plan for?

This plan is for anyone who’s literally wanting to go from the couch (or very little aerobic conditioning) to finishing a half marathon!

It’s a perfect plan for your first half marathon, or if you don’t have very high goals set for your first one and just want to build yourself up properly and safely.

How Long is the Couch to Half Marathon plan? And what’s included?

This plan is designed to run 20 weeks and is divided into four distinct phases, and is planned out to make it fun, yet challenging, and will guide you to achieve mini-goals along the way (read: 5K and 10K!).

👉Access the couch to half marathon plan here >>

Half Marathon Training Program

#2 Beginner’s First Half Marathon Plan

Skill Levels: Beginners with Little Experience

My Beginner’s First Half Marathon Plan is perfect if you have a bit of experience in running (maybe you’ve done some 5Ks and 10Ks) and now want a whole new challenge!

It’s designed to help you build the mileage on your legs in a safe way and cross the finish line feeling strong. This plan does not focus on crushing your time, but on enjoying the whole process of running!

If you have a solid base, it’s relatively easy to transition from the 10k to the half marathon with an additional 8-12 weeks of training.

The difference between this plan and that for a 10K would be that with a half marathon plan the intervals become longer or you might also be playing with tempo runs, progression runs, and goal pace miles.

This plan is truly the perfect transition from a 10K to a half-marathon.

Who is Beginner’s First Half Marathon plan for?

This plan is for anyone who has a bit of experience in running – so if you’ve done some 5Ks and 10Ks, this is the best plan for you!

How long is this Beginner’s First Half Marathon plan? And what’s included?

This plan is designed to run for 12 weeks and trains you in everything you’d need to be ready for your half marathon. Expect hill running, cross-training, strength training, fartleks, yoga and core workouts, run days, and recovery days.

👉Access the Beginner Half Marathon Plan here >>

Half Marathon Training Plan

#3 Sub Two Hour Half Marathon Plan

Skill Level: Experienced Runners (or those with an existing high level of fitness)

My Sub Two-Hour Half Marathon plan has been designed with the goal of helping you cross the finish line before the 2:00 mark.

It is designed to give you everything you need in one plan that will allow you to see a 01 on the clock as you burst through the finish line!

I want you to succeed, but not at any cost. This is about training smarter, remembering to enjoy the process, and becoming a better runner.

This training plan also includes videos like the same pep talks and details that my 1-1 coaching clients receive when I’m creating their customized plans

You’ll find yourself more easily incorporating tools to improve your hip, glute, and core strength for better running and pain prevention.

Meaning no matter what happens on race day, you’re going to improve and be a better runner.

Who is this Sub Two Hour Half Marathon Plan for?

An experienced runner, who’s looking to finish their next half marathon in under 2 hours.

How Long is this Sub Two Hour Marathon Plan? And what’s included?

This plan is designed to run 12 weeks, with detailed workouts for speed and hills, recommended strength training (with videos!), and additional race tips to hit your goal!

👉See the Sub Two Hour Half Marathon Guide >>

Free Half Marathon Plans

#4 Run To The Finish Training Plans

Skill Level: Middle of the Pack Runners (runners with a few years to many years of running that want to improve)

Run To The Finish is a book I’ve authored myself and it’s geared towards anyone who considers themselves a ‘middle of the pack runner’.

It includes realistic plans for busy people, that won’t leave you injured!

If you’re not trying to win Boston (or even qualify for the Boston marathon) but are just looking to find the path to greater fulfillment in running, this is the book for you!

While it is filled with useful strategic training advice throughout, at its core, it is about embracing your place in the middle of the pack with humor and learning to love the run you’ve got without comparing yourself to other runners.

Whether you’re looking for strategies to avoid getting injuries, want to make running a more enjoyable experience, or are in it for the mental side of running – this book lays it all down for you.

Perfect to use on its own as a training guide, or as a supplementary reading with any of the training plans here, it will make sure your training journey – from the start to crossing the finish line – is one of the best experiences of your life!

Who is this book (and training plans) for?

Anyone who’s busy or considers themselves as a ‘middle of the pack runner’. It includes everything you’d need to enjoy your journey of training for a half marathon.

How long are the plans? And what’s included?

This book contains 4 plans that range anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks and is for all types of runners.

Expect useful strategic training advice throughout, combined with everything you’d need to find greater fulfillment in running.

It includes a mix of practical advice like understanding discomfort vs pain, the mental side of running, movements to treat most common injuries, and even playful elements such as “Favorite hilarious marathon signs” and “Weird Thoughts We all Have at the Start Line”.

👉Snag a Copy of Run To The Finish in paperback, Kindle or Audiobook >>

printable half marathon training plan

#5 Low Heart Rate Training Plan

Skill Level: Beginners to Intermediate Runners

My LHR Half Marathon Training Plan is perfect if you’re constantly run down from training. This is my preferred method while coaching runners like you and the one I used to hit my own 1:44 half marathon, plus run my first 50K.

Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate runner, there is a plan included for you in this one!

Maffetone method (or Low Heart Rate training method) will allow you to overcome the constant fatigue you might be facing while training while knowing you have more to give.

It’s also great for absolute beginners, as it will help you build a lasting foundation.

Who is Low Heart Rate Half Marathon Training Plan plan for?

Anyone from an absolute beginner to an intermediate runner. If you find yourself injured or always overly fatigued by the halfway point of training, it’s time to change things. You’ve gotta learn what it means to truly run easy.

I’ve also found this benefiicial for women in Peri and Menopause to help control cortisol.

How long is the Low Heart Rate (LHR) training plan? And what’s included?

This plan is designed to run anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks depending on your current running abilities.

Expect detailed training plans, with everything you need to know about how to incorporate speed workouts in a MAF program, tips for implementing it all, and even modules on common issues, frustrations, and how to proceed for them successfully.

👉Checkout my Low Heart Rate Training Plans >>

13 Tips for a Good Half Marathon Training Schedule

Now that we’ve covered all the half marathon training schedules, here are some additional tips to make sure you train correctly.

1. Set Realistic Goals

The first thing you should keep in mind is to set realistic goals while training for a half-marathon.

If you’re entirely new to running, maybe your goal is to finish the race or to run the whole race without extended walk breaks.

If you’re an experienced runner, your goal might be to run at a specific pace and have an overall time you want to finish under.

Regardless of what your goal is, be realistic about them so that they’re achievable and help you be consistent. Don’t overexert yourself as this may lead to injury.

Pick the right plan and stick to it, it won’t be long before you’re meeting your goals!

2. Choose the Right Plan

We’ve already talked about this in detail above, but the reason why I’m repeating it here is that it’s absolutely essential you choose the plan that fits YOU.

Don’t overestimate (or underestimate) your abilities – be honest with yourself, so you can have an enjoyable experience that’s injury-free.

Pick a plan that suits your lifestyle and is something you’ll be motivated to follow.

3. Train Under the Right Conditions

If you’re signing up for an official race, Google around and figure out when and where the race will take place. This will allow you to account for the terrain you’ll be running on during the race, as well as the weather you can expect that day.

As much as possible, try to train under similar conditions so you’re ready for the race. While there still might be unforeseen weather changes and other circumstances, you’ll be better prepared this way!

4. Don’t Neglect Rest Days

Resting is CRUCIAL! Depending on the plan, you’ll definitely have at least one planned rest day – don’t skip it. And if you’re tired, take another day off to rest some more!

Listen to your body, and don’t push yourself to the point of quitting or suffering from an injury.

Resting will allow your body to heal and build back stronger.

Anticipate that there will be some muscle fatigue and soreness as you start doing something new. Running on sore legs is ok.

. BUT PAIN is different from simply feeling sore and you know the difference, so don’t keep pushing through actual pain. Injury prevention should always be on top of your mind. Without consistency you can’t progress.


suercompensation graph

5. Get the Right Gear

When you’re starting off, having the right gear is essential as you move through the various plans. Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to injury and not allow you to follow through with your half-marathon dream.

I LOVE talking gear, which means there’s a ton I could point to.

But hopefully these help with some of the biggest questions that I receive around gear.

6. Fuel Up Correctly

Fueling for the half marathon is different than the 10K and different than 26.2. You can get away with little to no fueling in training for a 10K and may NOT need quite as much as you think during the run for a half marathon.

It turns out that many runners are over-fueling, which leads to runners trots.

What becomes truly important is your nutrition pre and post-workout. From what types of carbohydrates you need, to different tips and tricks, here is everything you need to fuel up correctly:

7. Don’t Skip the Strength Training

Strength training is an important part of any half-marathon training plan. It helps to strengthen muscles and joints, build endurance, and overall help improve your running form. Strength training can also help reduce the risk of injury and improve your overall performance.

When it comes to strength training workouts for a half marathon, focus on exercises that target the major muscle groups used in running: glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.

If you need a place to start, we’ve got some great runner strength training programs.

Marathon Training Strength Program

8. Cross Train to Improve Performance

Cross-training is a great way to supplement your running and help you reach your goals. It can help to improve your overall fitness, reduce the risk of injury, and give you a break from running.

Cross-training activities can include swimming, cycling, yoga, or any other activity that gets your heart rate up and helps to build strength.

When it comes to cross-training for a half marathon, focus on activities that will help you build endurance and strength without putting too much strain on your body.

9. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is an important part of any training plan, and it’s especially important when you’re training for a half marathon. Getting enough sleep helps to ensure that your body has the time it needs to recover from hard workouts and build strength.

Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This will help to regulate your body’s internal clock and ensure that you get the restful sleep you need.

So please, don’t neglect sleep. It’s free and has been proven by many studies to be the best tool for improving performance.

sleep and performance

10. Listen to Your Body

It’s important to listen to your body when you’re training for a half marathon. If you’re feeling tired or sore, take a rest day or reduce the intensity of your workout. Don’t push yourself too hard and risk injury.

If you feel like you need more recovery time between workouts, don’t be afraid to take it.

11. Listen to Your Body

It’s important to listen to your body when you’re training for a half marathon. If you’re feeling tired or sore, take a rest day or reduce the intensity of your workout. Don’t push yourself too hard and risk injury.

If you feel like you need more recovery time between workouts, don’t be afraid to take it.

12. Find Ways to Stay Motivated

Consistency is what will get you across the finish line, and for that you need to stay motivated throughout training. Figure out what motivates you and keeps you going; it could be visualizing yourself crossing the finish line, enjoying your new running gear, or training with a friend.

This is one of the top reasons why I recommend runners join a community to not only hold them accountable but to also share their experience and learn from others. If you want a fun and friendly community online, consider checking out my Online Run Club.

13. Enjoy the Process

And last, but certainly not least, enjoy the process! You’re going to be a different (and better) version of yourself by the time you’re done with the training and crossing the finish line.

It’ll boost your confidence, and you’ll overall experience the numerous benefits there are to running.

Have fun and challenge yourself every day; be consistent and it won’t be long till you’re crossing the finish line of a half marathon!

Training for a half marathon is both an exciting and challenging process. But with the right plan and dedication, you can make it to the finish line feeling strong and accomplished. So, pick a plan that’s right for you, and you’ll be able to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

BONUS: Road to a PR Series

You’ve already conquered your first 13.1 and now it’s time to take things up a notch.

You’ve got your eyes on a shiny new Personal Record!

Check out the entire Road to a PR series designed to take you from finding the right goal through training and even race day logistics of the half marathon.

Each of these components is key to knocking off minutes to seconds for your best race.

Choosing your race pace >>
Picking the right race for your goal >>
Active Recovery vs Rest Days >>
Why you need a base building phase>>
Safely adding speed work >>
Why you need a peak week >>
How to taper the right way >>
Race day strategy >>
9 ways to manage race day nerves>>
How to bounce back from a bad race >>

Half Marathon Speed Training

The above tips will all help you reach that next goal, but these dive specifically into dropping your time!

Not interested reading? I put my top tips in this video!

Want more than just a plan to print on your own? How about access to a coach every week to ask questions? And a community of other runners who are going through all the things you are?

Checkout the new Virtual Run Club for ongoing support and access to all the courses that will help you improve.

There’s so much to know about half marathon training that I literally have hundreds of other articles. But I know how it is to get sucked down the rabbit hole of information.

Instead, I want you to pick out the areas where you currently need the most information!

We can always find areas to improve from better dynamic warm ups to post run stretching to our post run meals.

Jump in to these areas once you’ve gotten through the basics!

Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Run Fun: RunToTheFinish

Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

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