The half-marathon is a very achievable distance for most runners, both those with years of experience, as well as those who are relatively new to the sport. It is recommended that you be able to comfortably run at least a 10 km distance (at any speed) before starting this training program.
You will see that the 12-week buildup includes six runs/week, but this can be reduced to five runs (optional day off or cross-training day on Wednesday), should your schedule/training require it. As well, the Saturday and Sunday runs can easily be swapped, without affecting the training.
Each week, there are three key sessions – Tuesday intervals, Thursday tempo run and Sunday long run – with easy run days (or off days) in between. As with most run training programs there is a gradual build in both distance and intensity towards the goal race, with ‘down’ (lower volume) weeks every third week.
The Tuesday interval session is designed to provide strength and speed to the training program. Tuesday workouts should include a 3 km warm-up jog and 4 x 100 m strides before beginning the intervals. If you don’t have access to a track or marked pathway, you can run the intervals using times (e.g. 800 m = 3 min, 1000 m = 4 min).
The goal for the Thursday tempo workout is to get your body accustomed to your goal half-marathon pace. Because the tempo distance is significantly shorter than the 21.1 km race distance, the pace should feel relatively comfortable for the entire tempo and thus, it should be run at as even pace as possible.
Over the course of the 12 weeks, you may find that, as your fitness improves, so does your half-marathon goal pace. Each Thursday, do a 10-15 min warm-up jog, then go straight into the tempo portion of the workout, followed immediately by a 10-15 min cool down jog.
Finally, the Sunday long run should be run at a comfortable (conversation) pace. The goal of this run is to gradually build up your running distance, so your body is prepared to run that far on race day. This program includes ‘over-distanced,’ meaning your long runs will eventually exceed 21.1 km a couple times.
- Many runners will be unsure of their paces for the intervals – a good reference for pacing charts both for determining a goal half-marathon time and for interval workouts is: www.mcmillanrunning.com
Download a PDF of the Half-Marathon, 12-Week Training Plan.
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