Half Marathon Training Plan | Pro Tips to PR

Are you searching for a legitimate half marathon training plan? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I am excited to have you and help that this post will be of use for you. I always tell readers of this website and subscribers of my newsletter than a longer build up is better. Of course, you can still get solid results from a training plan that is 8 to 12 weeks in length. That being said, 16 to 24 weeks is optimal. The reason is you won’t be in a rush to get into peak shape.

4 to 6 months is plenty of time to get in superior shape for your next half marathon. The half marathon is a highly aerobic event but still requires speed and stamina. Easy running has its place but you have to train fast in order to drop substantial time off of your current half marathon best. I have run 1:07:06 for the half marathon and 2:19:35 for the marathon. So, do understand the strategies and tactics needed to run fast over the half marathon distance.

You are more than welcome to visit the about page if you would like to know more about my racing background. The first thing one needs to do is build at least 4 weeks of easy aerobic mileage. We need to first strengthen the muscles of the body. In addition, the tendons and ligaments to be best prepared for when the faster, more anaerobic workouts begin.

How Long Does it Typically Take to Train for a Half Marathon?

Every athlete has differing schedules. I did my best here to create half marathon training plans to accommodate for each respective athlete. There are some athletes who can get in great shape in a matter of 8 to 12 weeks. Of course, many others need 16 to 24 weeks to fully prepare for the half marathon. So, a legitimate half marathon training plan needs to focus on improving the athlete’s lactate tolerance.

Marathon Sub 3 Hour Training Plan
Coach Pennington finishing as the top American and in 4th place at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35 (1:07:09/1:12:26)

Our end goal is to sustain goal half marathon race pace longer. In addition, slow down less than our competition. The world’s top runners are running between 35 to 40 percent of their weekly mileage at or below their anaerobic threshold. Our anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid begins to rise in the body. We run between 85 to 89 percent of our maximum heart rate at this intensity. The half marathon training plan options available here focus on this.

How Many Miles Should I Run a Day to Train for a Half Marathon?

Runners should run between 5 to 10 miles per day to train properly for the half marathon. More importantly, your half marathon training plan needs to be set up with quality mileage in mind. You can run high mileage and still never meet your half marathon race goals. So, you have to focus on training at a higher heart rate more often throughout your training week. I highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor.

I use the Garmin 245 which helps me to stay in the proper training zones. It is far better to be under trained than over trained. I try to have my athletes focus on training at or far below their goal half marathon race pace. That being said, we also place high emphasis on recovery. The real benefits of your half marathon training will come from within the rest cycle. So, it is after the workout is complete when the major physiological adaptations will occur.

How Many Days a Week Should I Run for a Half Marathon?

It really comes down to the schedule of the athlete. The majority of runners need to run between 3 to 6 days a week to train proper for a half marathon. Are you seeking to become a national or world-class athlete? If so, you need to be running a minimum of 5 days a week and preferably 6 to 7 days a week. It will take that amount of time to distance yourself from the majority of other runners.

Again, quality has to be the focus and no so much on the volume you are doing. You can still be running too easy too often and still never set a new half marathon personal best. How long has your tempo runs been in the past preparing for your half marathons? 4 miles? 5 miles? (8 kilometers). I would suggest working to extend that out to around 8 to 10 miles or towards 16 kilometers.

The longer you can spend training at your lactate threshold, the better. The problem for many runners is they simply don’t train long enough at these intensities. The result is they have pace sustainment problems within their races. Also, they are improperly pacing themselves in the race. It is always a wise bet to focus on a negative split. So, focus on running the second half of your half marathon faster than you run the first half.

How Long Does the Average Person Run a Half Marathon?

The average times for the half marathon are usually around 2:30 to 2:45 for the half marathon. Of course, there are other runners who can break 2 hours or faster. I created a half marathon resource called the Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon Domination running course to help athletes break 2 hours. I also made other marathon courses to help runners with specific time barriers they are aiming to break.

For example, 2:30, 3:30, sub 3 hours, sub 4 hours and sub 5 hours. You may want to check out our running courses and see if they would be a good fit for you. I share all of the tactics and strategies I have learned in the past 30 years of competing. I was very fortunate to have been coached and mentored by 3 of the world’s top distance running coaches.

So, I share what they taught me in these courses. In addition, discuss the exact workouts I used to drop my marathon from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. Also, how I lowered my half marathon best from 1:10.29 to 1:07:06. Athletes that are truly seeking to make the next level in their training and racing usually pick the running courses. They are far more in-depth and detailed versus our training plans. Of course, both were designed to help speed up your learning curve and increase your chances of success.

Is 3 Runs a Week Enough for Half Marathon?

It is for the average athlete. Of course, athletes that visit this site are seeking excellence. The majority of the half marathon training plan options available here have athletes running 5 days a week. Of course, I am fine with you taking an additional day off if your body is not reacting to the workouts initially. Remember, it takes between 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stressor being placed on it.

So, be patient with yourself. The body always adapts. Again, a longer 20 to 24 week half marathon training plan is better than a 8 to 12 week plan. The reason being is you will be giving yourself the best chance to be as physically and mentally fit as possible for your race. I am a big believer in a 10-day rather than a 3-week taper. I see too many runners starting to drop mileage and intensity too soon. The result is they go into their races feeling tired rather than rested and ready.

Don’t make this same mistake. I can promise you that you won’t if you follow the training plans and running courses I have created here for you. My goal is to get more runners around the world setting new personal bests for their chosen events.

Do I Need to Run 13 Miles Before a Half Marathon?

It is not necessary but if you really want to be a superior runner I would recommend running 13 miles or longer. Your long runs should not be spent running slow every single weekend. How did I drop 21 minutes off of my marathon best? Faster, varied paced long runs. Below are some examples of the types of faster long runs I was doing prior to running 2:19:35 for the marathon. I hit the first half in 1:07:09 (3 seconds off of my half marathon PR of 1:07:06) and came back the second half in 1:12:26.

Faster long runs helped me to survive and finish the race under 2 hours and 20 minutes for the full marathon.

  • 2 mile jog, 6 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 7 miles@5:55, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:15, 2 mile jog (23 miles)
  • 1 mile jog, 10 miles@5:35 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles@5:20 mile pace, 3 miles@6:00 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:00, 1 mile jog (22 miles)

I following week’s long run would be anywhere from 18 to 23 miles but run at around 9 minute mile pace. Again, recovery should be a part of any legitimate half marathon training plan. There is only so many times you can stress the body’s energy systems before you see diminished returns on your investment. So, you have to train smart.

It was not uncommon for me to need anywhere from2 to 3 days of recovery after long runs you see above. That being said, I credit this style of long runs to helping me PR from the mile (4.22) to the marathon (2:19:35).

Closing Thoughts

You need to also include in mental training while following your RunDreamAchieve half marathon training plan. The vast majority of runners only focus on physical training. My recommendation is to start spending 10 to 15 minutes a day visualizing yourself getting across that finish line in your goal time. It has to start in the mind before it can become reality.

The best time to do mental rehearsal is when you first get up in the morning or while going to be at night. So, see yourself passing people and running strong. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new training and racing videos there weekly to help runners such as yourself get to the next level. I look forward to hearing about how the resources mentioned in this post have helped you set a new personal best.

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