18 Week Half Marathon Training Plan | 2024 Pro Tips

Are you seeking an 18 week half marathon training plan? Is 18 weeks long enough? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I am glad you have made it here. Yes, 18 weeks is most certainly long enough to train properly for a half-marathon. I have created training plans here that range from 8 to 24 weeks in length.

I always recommend to my athletes to focus on a longer rather than a shorter build up. Remember, it takes the body between 21 days to 4 weeks to adapt to any stress load being place on it. So, an 18 week half marathon training plan is sufficient timing for your next race.

A common mistake I see many runners making is running too much of their weekly mileage too slow. The world’s top runners run between 35 to 40% of their mileage at anaerobic threshold effort. We run between 85 to 89% of our max heart rate running at this intensity. So, there is a reason the world’s top runners make it look so easy. They simply are spending more of their time preparing to get race pace to feel easier.

Is 18 Weeks Enough Time to Train for a Half Marathon?

The ideal training time frame for a half marathon is 12 to 24 weeks in length. Yes, many runners who come here do invest in 24 week half-marathon training plans. That being said, every athlete is different. There are many who focus on shorter training blocks such as 8 to 12 weeks. In addition, many others who focus on 16 to 20 weeks as well.

So, a legitimate 18 week half marathon training plan has to focus on stressing the energy systems properly. Again, if you run too much of your mileage too slow you will only become a great long, slow distance runner. I am sure you have a specific time you want to run your half marathon in.

My goal here at RunDreamAchieve is to help runners surpass their fitness goals. I have had this site since 2011. In addition, also create training videos providing additional tips at the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I recommend subscribing as I focus on making at least 2 new videos each week to help runners like you.

18 weeks is sufficient to prepare properly. I would focus on 20 to 24 weeks though. Again, it gives you more time to prepare and not be in a rush. Also, enough time to adapt to the hard workouts you are putting your body through. I would also highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 myself. It helps to ensure I am not running too fast during tempo runs. In addition, that I do not run too slow during easy days.

How Many Days a Week Should I Rest Training for a Half Marathon?

A legitimate 18 week half marathon training plan should focus on having at least 2 days of easy running. In addition, you may need a day or two completely off. Of course, not every runner is focused on being a professional athlete. There are many runners who are just training to start and finish a half marathon.

You may be seeking to run a sub 2 hour half marathon or faster. So, you may need to run more mileage then someone else with different goals. Yes, there are many runners who run 6 to 7 days a week. So, it all depends on the goals you have set for yourself. What has been the longest tempo run you have done in the past training for your half marathons?

I ask that because many runners have problems sustaining goal half marathon race pace. A common reason for this is not training long enough at their lactate threshold. Again, we are running between 85 to 89% of our max heart rate at this intensity. The end goal is to improve the body’s lactate tolerance. Easy running is still very important. That being said, easy, aerobic running will not help to clear high levels of lactic acid build up while running.

Faster running will once you have adapted to it. My suggestion is to work to lengthen your tempo runs out to around 7 to 10 miles in length. Yes, you need to first adapt to a 2 to 4 miler first. So, be patient during your build up. Patience is absolutely vital. Remember, it takes between 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to the stresses we place on it.

Is it OK to Run 2 Days Before a Half Marathon?

Yes, it is not uncommon for most runners to jog easily 2 days before a marathon. I would run 2 days out and take the day off the day before the race. I would also recommend doing 3 to 4 100-meter strides before, during or after your easy run. Strides are too short to build up any lactic acid. They are perfect for working on your acceleration and form.

I would do at least 1 vo2 max workout per week throughout your training build up. We run between 95 to 100% of our max heart rate at our Vo2 max effort. Again, the key tactic is to stress the body and get your goal half marathon race pace to feel easier. Pace sustainment is the end goal. So, you want to sustain that goal race pace longer than your competition.

Pacing is vital. So, focus on running a negative split. You should aim to run the second half of your upcoming half marathon faster than you run the first half of the race. There are so many runners who go out too fast and pay for it later. I don’t want you to have to deal with that.

So, be smart in the early miles or kilometers of your race. You should be maintaining or speeding up in that last 5k. It is much easier to do this if you pace yourself properly in the race. The resources here at RunDreamAchieve will help you do that. We have many happy runners here. Check out our testimonial page to read what others are saying.

What is the Longest Distance You Should Run Before a Half Marathon?

I think the optimal distance is between 12 to 15 miles in length. Of course, every runner is different. You running a bit further than the race distance will help you psychologically. The reason is you will have known going into your goal race that you have run further in training. I would also highly recommend you start doing faster, varied paced long runs every other weekend.

A common mistake many runners make is running long, slow and easy every single weekend. So, a 18 week half marathon training plan should have this placed into it. The training plans and running courses I have created here do. Yes, this style of long runs is very taxing on the body. It is not uncommon for most runners to need between 2 to 3 days of easy jogging after long runs like this.

Below is an example of a varied paced long run I did prior to breaking the 2:20 marathon barrier.

  • 2 mile jog, 5 miles@5:30 mile pace, 3 miles easy @7:00 mile pace, 1 mile in 4:55, 6 miles@5:50 mile pace, 3 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:00, 2 mile cool-down ( 23 miles)

My following week’s long run may be between 18 to 20 miles and would be around 8 to 9 minute mile pace. Of course, your long runs do not have to be at these paces. So, adjust according to your own race goals. The training plans and running courses I have created here have these built in based on the times runners are going for.

Closing Thoughts

How much time are you devoting to mental training? Is it even a part of your training routine? I write that because there are far too many runners who neglect this. We get so caught up in physical training and bypass mental rehearsal altogether. The world’s top runners focus both on mental as well as physical training.

So, start spending at least 10 to 15 minutes each day seeing yourself crossing the finish line in your goal time. Also, passing people, feeling strong and running relaxed. Remember, our goals start in the mind first. I credit mental training to helping me run 1:07:06 for the half-marathon and 2:19:35 for the marathon.

Of course, I still had to train very hard in terms of my build ups. That being said, mental training played a major part in my improvements. I’d like to see you to start implementing this strategy in your training and set some new personal bests. Your competition is going to neglect this. So, one way to be ahead of them is to pay attention to the little details many runners commonly overlook.

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