16 Week Half Marathon Training | Tips to PR

Are you seeking a new and strategic 16 week half marathon training plan? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I am glad you have made it here. A 4 month half marathon training program is a legitimate time frame to prepare properly for this race distance. I always tell the athletes I mentor that a longer build up is always better than a shorter one.

Remember, it takes anywhere from 21 days to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load we place on it. So, quick results do not occur in our sport. Of course, you can get in descent shape in a matter of 4 to 8 weeks. That being said, aiming for a training block between 16 and preferably 20 to 24 weeks is optimal. I would focus on running easy for at least 4 weeks before starting a 16 week half marathon training plan.

The reason for this is you want to minimize your chances of getting injured. In addition, strengthening your muscles, tendons and ligaments is also vital. So, you do not want to start doing too anaerobic of workouts, too soon. I also highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 which helps me to ensure I am training at the right heart rate zones.

Is 16 Weeks Enough to Train for a Half Marathon?

4 months is the minimum time frame I would recommend to train for a half-marathon. I have created training plans here that range from 8 to 24 weeks in length. The optimal time frame is training for 20 to 24 weeks. Again, the less of a rush you are to get into great shape the better off you will be. Again, it takes 3 to 4 weeks to adapt to the harder, anaerobic training you are doing.

So, a longer training build up of 16 to 24 weeks will provide the time you need to get as fit as possible. Also, you will have sufficient time to fully prepare to sustain your goal half marathon pace. I would also start implementing strides into your routine. Strides are short, 50 to 100-meter long acceleration drills. The good news is they will not fatigue your body.

You can do these on top of the other workouts you do throughout the week. I would do strides twice per week before, during or after your easy runs. Of course, you should be doing these also prior to the start of any tempo run or track workout that you do.

How Do I Prepare for a Half Marathon in 16 Weeks?

As mentioned above, run at least 4 weeks of easy, aerobic mileage first. How far have your tempo runs been in the past training for your half marathons? I ask that because many runners are not spending enough time training at their anaerobic threshold. Our anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid begins to rise sharply as we run.

Remember, the end goal is to improve the body’s lactate tolerance. The only way to do this is by running at faster speeds throughout your training week. We run between 85 to 89% of our max heart rate at our lactate threshold.

So, if your longest tempo run in the past has been 4 miles then consider extending that to 8 to 10 miles (16 kilometers). Of course, you need to first adapt to a 3 to 4-mile tempo before extending the time you spend at this intensity. The faster run the more fast twitch muscle fibers we will recruit. The result of this is race pace feels less demanding. In addition, we will run more efficiently in the race. Lastly, we will slow down less in the race.

Faster, Varied Paced Long Runs

A 16 week half marathon training plan should encompass this style of long runs. I lowered my half marathon best from 1:10:29 to 1:07:06 using this tactic. Also, lowered my marathon from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. I have seen many of the athletes I have mentored here seeing similar results. You can view what they have had to say at our testimonial page.

Below is an example of the type of varied paced long run I was doing prior to running these times. The key here is to view the variation in paces. The training plans I have created here have this style of long run already built into them. Also, I have created a running course for runners seeking to break the 2 hour half marathon barrier as well. You can click on the green button below to learn more about our courses.

  • 2 mile jog warm-up, 5 miles@5:25 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 5 miles@6:00 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:05, 3 miles easy (21 miles)

What Should You Not Do Before a Half Marathon?

Do not try to win this race in the first mile. One of the worst mistakes runners make is going out too fast, too soon. I always advise running a negative split. So, focus on running the second half of your race faster than you run the first half. Also, make sure you are hydrating well in this race. You can get away with not drinking in a 5k but not a half-marathon.

I would recommend dropping water bottles out every 3 miles or 5 kilometers along your long run route. The world’s top runners are drinking, they are not sipping, in their races. Remember, the body will be in high demand for calories and fluid in the race. So, do not neglect this. Your finish time depends on it.

You can sprint all out for 200 meters and not build up any lactic acid. So, get out aggressive and then settle into your goal pace. Also, do not get too concerned if you are not on pace in the miles or kilometers. Focus on running those last 6.2 miles as hard as you can. An even pace is better than going out too fast and paying for it later when it counts most.

How Long Should Your Longest Run Be Before a Half Marathon?

I would always run the following week’s long run at or around 8 to 9-minute mile pace. Remember, always alternate a faster long run followed the next week with an easy one. The real benefits of our hard training come from within the rest cycle. Google the word “Supercompensation” to learn more about this training effect.

I would usually run my longest long run about 3 weeks out from my goal half-marathon. How long run you will depend on your maturity level. The longest long runs I usually did were anywhere from 16 to 18 miles for a half marathon build up. Of course, you can still get legitimate results running 10 to 12 miles as well for your long runs.

Do not run every single long run you do slow. The world’s top runners do not run slow every weekend during their long runs. So, alternate and vary up your paces. Again, these types of workouts are already built into the courses and training plans available here. You will significant drops in time if you start implementing this style of long run into your routine. I can promise you that.

How Many Days Should You Rest Before a Half Marathon?

I believe in a 10-day rather than a 3-week taper. So, the 16 week half marathon training plans I created here have the athlete resting 10 days out. So, we start dropping volume and intensity only a few days out compared to 3 weeks. Yes, you can still do a 3-week taper and get good results. That being said, I set new personal bests from the mile (4:22) to the marathon (2:19:35) using this strategy.

The athletes that are following the RunDreamAchieve philosophy are seeing their times improve following it too. How much time do you devote to mental training? I ask that because most runners only focus on physical preparation. I would start mentally rehearsing and seeing yourself getting across the finish line with your goal time on the clock. Also, running relaxed, strong and in control.

Closing Thoughts

Make sure you are jogging on your recovery days. Again, the major benefits will occur during the rest period between hard workouts. So, ensure to give yourself at least 2 days between each hard, anaerobic workout that you do. Also, subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I focus on creating new content there each week to help runners such as yourself make new personal bests.

Remember, continue to develop your leg turnover and speed as well. You should be doing 1, vo2 max workout per week. We run between 95 to 100% of our max heart rate running at this intensity.

Again, the faster we run the more fast twitch muscle fibers are recruited. The more of these we can recruit the easier race pace is going to feel. In addition, you will be teaching the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up.

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