In order to train for a half marathon run you should already be able to run for 3 miles (5km) in 40 minutes or less without stopping. You can then use the following 4-month programme to build up to 13.1 miles.
If you cannot yet run for 3 miles continuously, or can only do so at very slow speeds (14 minute miles or slower), we recommend using our 5kms beginners training programme first.
For slower training – if you have 6-8 months to train – you can then move onto either the beginners 10km or 10mile training programmes, which require a commitment of 3 days of running per week, before doing the following programme which requires a commitment of 4 days a week.
Where we have specified “steady” running in the programme below, these would be the times you could – if you wished – try different techniques, such as tempo training or speed work, to really hone your fitness and strength. However, it is not compulsory to take your running to these levels, and steady consistent running will be adequate to get you to half-marathon ability.
For the first few weeks take things easy and just let your body get used to the increased activity. We recommend timing your mile times for your own interest and motivation, and also to give you an accurate idea of how long the half-marathon could take you, to ensure that you start your race in the right place for your speed and pace.
During weeks 4 to 6 your distances start to increase, so take things steady and don’t try to speed up your runs at this point. Don’t be disappointed if your mile speeds seem to drop a little at this stage. It is perfectly natural that as your effort needs to be sustained for longer your pace will slow slightly in order to yield greater mileage.
During weeks 7 – 9 you will tackle the 10 mile milestone, and again approach this gently but steadily. If the run gets tough slow it down a bit – speed is not important. If you need to walk for a minute at any time, then do so strongly and with purpose until you are ready to start off again at a gentle jog. By now you should find 5-6 mile runs much easier, and can start timing your miles again to monitor your improvement over these shorter distances.
At week 10 you will face a 12 mile run. However difficult you find it, remember that once you can manage this distance you can manage a half-marathon. That extra mile and a bit on race day will be achievable with the spectator support, excitement and adrenaline you will experience.
The training tapers off in the final weeks, and this is a good opportunity to run the shorter distances with greater speed than before, which will ultimately improve your longer distances too. Hopefully you will find that you can do the 6 mile run in week 11 in about an hour.
Remember to relax on the day before the event and conserve your energy. We also recommend that you avoid consuming spicy food and alcohol the night before the race.
To maintain this new level of fitness, try to do at least three 40-60 minute runs every week.