Half Marathon Training | Mastery Tips for Running Success

Half Marathon training isn’t really that much different than training for a marathon. I hope that this post will be helpful to you and welcome to RunDreamAchieve.

You need to sharpen both your stamina and endurance to run both. I would focus first on building a large aerobic base. The reason is you will lessen your likelihood of getting injured. In addition, you will strengthen your muscles, ligaments and joints.

I would run for at least 4 weeks running easy and relaxed. You can also start implementing strides into your routine as well. Strides are short 50 to 100-meter sprints. The good news is that you can do strides on top of your other workouts throughout the week.

Strides are too short to build up any significant amounts of lactic acid. So, you can do these over a long period of time without getting fatigued.

How Long Do I Need to Train for a Half Marathon?

It is less an anaerobic (without oxygen) as it is an aerobic (with oxygen) race. The longer your training block the better off you are going to be. So, train for a minimum of 12 and preferably 20 to 24 weeks for this event.

Half marathon training is a very important tool to prepare you better to run a faster marathon. Remember, the faster you can run for the shorter races the more prepared you will be over the longer races.

I have been a big supporter of heart rate training ever since my collegiate coach, Jack Hazen, got me hooked on the devices for my own half marathon training. I highly recommend the Garmin 245.

Can I Run a Half Marathon if I Can Run 8 Miles?

Absolutely. The adrenaline and the competition you will be competing against will carry you through for 13.1 miles. Heart rate monitors are the best way to ensure you are training at the heart rate zone. In addition, ensuring you are not running too fast on your easy days.

The biggest issues for runners is running too fast on those crucial recovery days.

So, you could have went out on a Monday and done a track workout. The result? Two days later you are still not recovered from it.

Your heart rate could be at 160BPM (beats per minute) when your easy pace should be 130BPM.

What trips many runners up is they think the pace they are running at is easy. That being said, their body has has not had adequate time to adapt.

Is 2 Months Long Enough to Train for a Half Marathon?

Yes, for most runners, 8 weeks is sufficient half marathon training. That being said, I always emphasize a longer build up. As mentioned above, training with a heart rate monitor will ensure you are not over training.

In addition, running too aggressive on easy days or too slow on fast days. Below are the paces I was instructed to follow when I was in college.

These were the heart rate guidelines I was given years ago from coach hazen and vigil

Easy Pace

130-50 beats per minute. Remember, anything below you are really only burning carbohydrates

Moderate Pace

150-160 beats per minute


160-170 beats per minute

How Long Does the Average Person Run a Half Marathon?

The average woman runs around 2:11 for the distance and the average man around 1:55. Of course, times are going to vary depending on the maturity level of the runner. You definitely need to train to longer at your anaerobic threshold.

What is it and what does it mean? It is a term we use to describe when lactic acid begins to build up to a larger extent within your body.

Furthermore, the hydrogen ion, a component of lactic acid, that shuts down muscle function temporarily. Also, it is the main reason for having to slow down when you run too fast or at a pace you are not accustomed to.

Half-marathon training success revolves around building a good, solid mileage base. Lastly, learning to train your body in the anaerobic zone.

So, you want to get to a point where you have trained your body to clear lactic acid quicker than it is building up.

How Much Should I Run 2 Days Before a Half Marathon?

I would only jog 2 to 3 miles the 2 days for a half marathon. Remember, the weeks and months leading into your race you should be working on your speed work. So, do at least 1, vo2 max workout per week.

We run between 95 to 100% of our max heart rate running at this intensity. This is extremely fast running. AC training is half-marathon training at your body’s maximum oxygen capacity.

Do not look at athletes who are running faster than you as being more talented or they were simply born that way.

Champions are everywhere, you just have to train them correctly

Arthur Lydiard

Runners who run faster times have taught themselves to handle lactic acid accumulation during sub-maximum efforts.

Here is a very simple 4-week training plan to get you started in your half-marathon training quest. This is for a total beginner who has never run anything father than a 5K.

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

I would recommend running a minimum, of 3 days a week. Of course, more experienced runners will run anywhere from 5 to 7 days a week. I rarely ran less than 6 days a week throughout my running career. Below is a sample 4-week plan to build from.

Remember, we have half marathon training plans ranging from 8 to 24 weeks located here.

Week 1

Mon – easy 2 miles@easy effort

Tues – walk or run 3 miles@easy effort

Wed – 2 miles with last 5 minutes at moderate effort

Thurs – 2 miles@ easy effort

Fri – 3 miles with 3x100m strides (strides are a very short sprint that you gradually ease into)

Sat -Off

Sun-4 miles (long run) at easy effort

The truth is far too many runners rush into wanting to crush their runs and their long-term efforts suffer. Remember, it takes between 21 days to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load being placed on it. So, be patient with yourself. The good news is that the body always adapts.

So, you have to work intelligently to build the strength necessary to go from running a 3.1 to a 13.1 mile race.

run a half marathon in 2 hours

What Should You Not Do Before a Half Marathon?

Be overly nervous. The day of the race should be the celebration of all your hard work. Let your competition be overly nervous and uptight, not you.

As mentioned here, focus first on at least 4 weeks of easy, aerobic mileage. You will want to do this before moving into half marathon specific training.

Patience is key and early on most workouts should be simple, easy runs sprinkled with very light efforts.

Should You Drink Coffee Before a Half Marathon?

I did throughout my career. It will increase energy. Remember, coffee contains caffeine. So, this will assist with enhanced cognitive ability and lessen discomfort.

Week 2

Mon – 2 miles@easy effort

Tues – 1 mile warmup, 2 mile@moderate effort, 1 mile cool-down

Wed- 2 miles@easy effort

Thurs -4 miles@easy effort with last 5 minutes@moderate effort

Fri – 2 miles@easy effort

Sat – Off

Sun – 5 miles (long run)@easy effort with 3x100m strides post run

Should You Rest the Week Before a Half Marathon?

I am a big believer in a 10-day rather than a 3-week taper. Of course, there are many runners who still do very week with a 21-day taper. That being said, 10 days is plenty of time to fully rest and recover. So, do not start to drop your volume and intensity too far out from your main race. You could feel tired and lethargic if you do.

Week 3

Mon-2 miles@easy effort…VERY easy (jog if you have to…recovery is what counts)

Tues – 2 miles @easy effort with 4x100m strides post-run

Wed – 4 miles – 2 miles@easy effort with last 2 miles@moderate effort

Thurs – 3 miles@easy effort

Fri – 3 miles@easy effort with 3x100m strides

Sat – Off

Sun – 6 miles (long run)@easy effort with last 2 miles@moderate effort

Is it OK Not to Run a Week Before a HalfMarathon?

You will not lose any fitness if you choose to take the entire week off leading to your race. Of course, you may feel somewhat weak but it is more psychological than physical. Why? We get into routines running our workouts and putting in consistent mileage. So, take 6 days completely off may may one feel out of place.
That being said, you will not have lost any fitness in such a short amount of time. Below is the 4th week of your base building month. Again, focus first on mainly easy running prior to moving into faster workouts.

Week 4

Mon – 2 miles@EASY effort

Tues – 3 miles@easy effort with 4x100m strides post-run

Wed – 1 mile warmup, 10x1min@moderate effort followed with 1 min@easy effort, 1 mile cooldown

Thurs – 4 miles@EASY effort

Fri – 4 miles@easy effort

Sat – Off

Sun – 8 miles (long run)@easy effort with last 5 minutes@hard effort

Focus on Your Plan

What are a few things you notice from this 4-week plan?

There is a very gradual increase in mileage.

The first 4 weeks you should be focused on laying the foundation.

Some runners may get the best benefit from an 8 week build up. Whereas, others may need as much as 16 weeks to build the strength up to complete the 13.1 mile event.

Closing Thoughts

Half-marathon training success depends on these 7 factors

  • patience
  • a long-term approach to building your base
  • not being in a rush to crush
  • a gentle introduction of moderate and fartlek efforts
  • a 4 week section focusing on speed and speed endurance
  • a 4 week taper phase where intensity goes up, volume drops and lastly,
  • a 2 week taper

Don’t be in a rush to crush, have fun, think ahead and relax. I hope this post on half marathon training has been helpful to you. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new content there each week to help runners like you get to the next level in their training and racing.

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