A 20 week half marathon training plan should encompass practicing at the pace you want to race at.
Runners fail at meeting their time goal not because they don’t have what it takes. It is simply not practicing enough at paces that far exceed their goal half marathon race pace.
If, for example, I want to hold 9:09 mile pace for 13.1 miles running 90 percent of my weekly mileage at 9:50 to 11 minute mile pace isn not going to get the job done.
The Kenyans make it look easy for good reason. They have such a high percentage of their training at higher heart rates and intensities. This is why they make it look so smooth and effortless.
They take their easy days extremely easy. Their hard days? Watch out. There is very good reason why they run as slow as they do on their recovery days. People are in awe of them but also be reminded the national record for the marathon in Japan is now 2:05:50.
It isn’t just the Kenyans who are running fast. There are Americans, Europeans and people all over the world who have mastered the art of running fast. Anyone can jog and run easy easily. It is a learned skill to sustain fast paces over long-period of time.
It is simply focusing on running faster than race pace and then placing equal emphasis on all the other aspects of training correctly.
How Should A 20 Week Half Marathon Training Schedule Be Set Up?
I would always advise on 16 weeks but you can always run 4 weeks of easy base mileage prior to starting a 16 week half marathon training schedule.
4 months is plenty of time to train for a half-marathon. 5 months is about the absolute limit I would advise. The key focus point is to get half marathon race pace to feel comfortable.
To do that you have to get very comfortable with being uncomfortable. The faster you want to race the half-marathon distance the more that is going to be required of you in training.
I have built 5K to marathon training schedules here at RunDreamAchieve built for runners seeking new personal bests. The training methodologies that I learned from three world-class coaches are built into them.
Hard vs Easy
A 20 week half marathon training plan has to ensure there is a proper balance between hard efforts and recovery. Running fast at the half-marathon distance is not about quantity but quality. Too many runners get caught up with how many miles (or kilometers) per week they are running.
I ran my best marathon (2:19:35) and half-marathon (1:07:06) on 85 to 90 miles per week. I ran my worst up at 142 miles per week. The top runners are doing quality workouts and they know how to take it easy on their recovery days.
A 20 week half marathon training schedule for beginners has to be even more properly set up. If you brand new to running or planning on running your first half marathon the key is patience. Gradually building up your endurance over a longer period of time.
20 week half marathon training should be set up to gradually adapt to the stress of running fast. There are a lot of actors that go into a great race. What are you doing the other hours of your day? It is more than just the training. Are you spending time visualizing the perfect half marathon effort?
Here is what the great Billy Mills, last American male to win the 10,000m event (28:24) at the Olympic Games says about mental training.
How Do You Go From Being A 1:10:29 Half-Marathoner To A 1:07:06 Athlete?
The same way you go from being a 2:15 half-marathoner to a 1:50 half-marathon specialist. Practice the fundamentals. This is not reserved for just national-class and world-class half-marathoners and marathoners.
If you train below the pace you are wishing to race at for 13.1 miles (21.1 kilometers) you are going to do some big things. This is not a maybe but an absolutely.
I would also advise spending some time on all running services. Have you ever run on a curved treadmill? Try it sometime. It is a very different experience. The treadmill does not do the work for you. You move the belt, not the electricity from a wall socket.
The training philosophy built into RunDreamAchieve 5K to marathon training schedules are what helped me run 1:07:06 for the half-marathon. They are exact reason why I was able to eventually break the 2:20:00 marathon barrier.
What Is Needed In A 20 Week Half Marathon Training Plan?
Patience (allowing the body to adapt to the stress load you are placing upon it
Hard running at 5K race pace
Hill repetitions forcing the body to produce high heart rates and recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers
Proper diet. Do NOT run low on glutathione.
Drink plenty of water
Proper focus on high intensity vs recovery.
At least 4 weeks of easy base mileage then focus on 16 weeks of build up.
Heart rate monitor training
Faster long runs. Low, slow runs will make for long, slow runners.
Spend more time at a higher heart rate for longer periods of time and you will drop significant time off your half-marathon best.
A 20 week half marathon training plan has to incorporate these training methodologies in order to maximize results. Feel free to leave a comment. What is your current personal best for the half-marathon? What has been giving you the hardest time with improvement?
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