Half Marathon Training Plan 20 Weeks Long to PR

I hope this post on focusing on a half marathon training plan 20 weeks long to PR is helpful to you. A 20 week 5 month half marathon training is sufficient time to properly prepare to set a new personal best. Welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I have had this site since 2011 with aims to helping runners such as yourself make it to the next level in your training.

20 weeks is definitely enough time to get into great shape. A major mistake I see far too many runners making is trying to rush getting into superior fitness. It takes a minimum of 3 to 4 weeks for your body to adapt to any stress load you are placing upon it. So, you don’t get into great anaerobic shape overnight. I would recommend doing a minimum of 4 weeks of easy, relaxed base-building mileage first. It is unwise to just jump into doing tempo runs and speed work outs the first weeks of a 20-wee build up.

The 20 week half marathon training plan options available here focus on periodization. So, we gradually increase the intensities and volume over time. We don’t move quick with this. Again, you have to believe in delayed gratification. The world’s best middle to long distance runners know the power of consistent work.

Is 20 Weeks Enough Time to Train for a Half Marathon?

Yes, a half marathon training plan 20 weeks long will set you up for success. As mentioned above, we first focus on base building and then move into faster, anaerobic training. I do recommend doing strides twice per week during your aerobic, base building phase of your training.

3 hour marathon pace
Coach Pennington finishing in 4th place overall and as the top American at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35

Strides, are short, 50 to 100 meter sprints. In addition, are too short to build up any significant lactic acid. Also, you can do these types of gradually sprints on top of your other workouts.

It is powerful because over time you would have spent several miles or kilometers at nearly all out efforts. Remember, the end goal it to get better at handling higher amount of lactic acid. So, you sustain pace longer and slow down less than your competition. I have created running courses, 8 to 20 week half marathon training plans and also offer personal coaching for serious runners here at RunDreamAchieve.

Can I Train for Half Marathon in 5 Months?

You can but you have to be strategic in the way you do it. Investing in our training plans or courses helps to speed up your learning curve. The reason being is they are built specifically for runners seeking specific time goals. You don’t want to just guess what workouts you think you should be doing each day without a plan. 5 months is definitely long enough to get into superior shape. Yes, you can still get in legitimate shape in 8 to 12 weeks.

My recommendation is focus on a minimum of 16 and preferably 20 weeks if you want to do it right. So, a half marathon training plan 20 weeks long will ensure that occurs. There are 4 specific areas of the training plans I have created here. They are…

Base building phase

Half-marathon specific training phase

Speed development phase

Taper phase (we focus on a 10-day rather than a 3-week taper)

20 Week Marathon Training Plan

A half marathon training plan 20 weeks long needs to first focus on foundational mileage. Once you have completed that portion of the training we have to start thinking outside the box. Again, you have to get better at handling race pace. You won’t be able to do that by simply running easy every day. The reason being is you are not improving your lactate tolerance by doing so.

I recommend doing longer tempo runs. What has been the longest anaerobic threshold run you have done in the past for the half marathon? 4 miles? 5? Of course, that is a good starting point. That being said, I would recommend working towards 7 to 10 miles in length.

You will be running at or close to 85 to 88 percent of your maximum heart rate at these intensities. So, it isn’t going to be pleasant. I am sure you have already had plenty of practice with this already. Remember, the longer you can spend training at this intensity, the better. The reason being is you will be teaching the body to utilize fat as its main fuel source. In addition, conserving what it has much less of, carbohydrates (glycogen).

Speed Workouts

Yes, we know speed development is essential in running a faster half marathon. The main reason for these vo2 max workouts is to get that goal half marathon race you have in mind to feel easier. You will be running between 95 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate running at your vo2 max. Your vo2 max is your body’s maximum oxygen uptake.

So, you will be running at speeds so fast that your body is unable to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up. Thus, we have to take breaks between our repetitions. Remember, don’t start your next intervals into your heart rate is back to around 120 beats per minute. A lot of times runners are running their intervals too intense and not providing adequate rest between reps.

Run Longer During Your Long Runs

The longer you can spend on your feet, the better. You have to build stamina and endurance when it comes to running faster over 13.1 miles or 21.1 kilometers. Longer runs will help build capillary beds, improve your endurance as well as your confidence. Again, this is a long race. So, you have to go further than 10 miles (16 kilometers) during your long runs.

It was not uncommon for me to go as far as 20 miles (32 kilometers) during my long runs. So, a half marathon plan 20 weeks long needs to gradually work its way closer to this distance. No, it won’t happen quickly. That being said, with patience you will get into this type of shape.

Run Faster Long Runs

I was able to lower my half marathon from 1:10.31 to 1:07:06 using this strategy. In addition, my marathon personal best from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. Of course, I am not saying you should be doing your entire long run fast. You should do a mixture of aerobic as well as extremely demanding anaerobic portions of your long run. Remember, always follow your next long run with an easy, relaxed long run.

Below are some examples if the types of long runs I was doing prior to running 2:19:35 for the marathon. Of course, your paces may be significantly different than mine. What I want you to notice here is how these varied paced, long runs are set up. Also, note that I was jogging during my long run the weekends after these faster efforts. The long run is the hardest workouts that I do.

  • 2 mile warm-up, 5 miles@5:35 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 6 miles@5:55 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:05, 2 mile cool-down (21 miles)
  • 3 mile warm-up, 10 miles@5:30 mile pace, 3 miles easy, 2 miles@5:20 mile pace, 4 miles easy (22 miles)
  • 1 mile warm-up, 17 miles steady@5:40 mile pace, 1 mile jog, 1 mile in 4:55, 1 mile jog cool-down (21 miles)

Slow Down on Easy Days

It was not uncommon for me to need between 2 to 3 days of recovery running after workouts like these. Remember, the benefits of your hard training will come during the rest period after your workouts. Google the word “Supercompensation”. I can guarantee you that most of your competition has never heard about it. Your body is between 2 to 3 times weaker after you do a hard workout.

So, the major gains you are going to make is during the time you are resting and jogging. You also need to make sure you are hydrating well during your long runs. I recommend dropping out water bottles every 3 miles or 5 kilometers during your long runs. The best long distance runners drink, not sip, during their races. Success leaves clues.

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One of the top ways to get faster is to study what the top runners are doing to be great at what they do. I created the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel to make weekly content to help runners such as yourself. I was very fortunate to have been trained by some of the worlds’ top distance running coaches. So, my training philosophy is revolved around what these experts taught me.

It is wise to focus on a half marathon training plan 20 weeks long. The reason being is you are not trying to rush the process. Again, it takes between 21 days to 4 weeks to adapt to any stressor being placed on the body. So, overnight success is a losing method. 5 months to prepare 100 percent for this event is the way to go.

Closing Thoughts

I hope these tips have been helpful to you. Make sure you are paying attention to the other fundamentals. For example, getting proper sleep and focusing on mental training. Mental rehearsal is very powerful. The best middle to long distance runners know you can’t just focus on physical training. They combine both mental as well as physical training in order to run at superior levels.

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift

– Steve Prefontaine, 8:18 2-miler, 13:21 5000m specialist- 4th place, 1972 Olympic 5,000m final

You have to mimic they do. The end goal is to duplicate their work habits so you can get similar results. Of course, you have to be yourself. Also, don’t compare yourself to other runners. Do the very best that you can with the abilities our Creator has given to us. Make sure to check out our 8 to 20-week half marathon training plans, running courses and online, monthly coaching options.

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