Half marathons are a fun and achievable race for all types of runner to not just enter and finish, but also to test themselves against. Unlike the marathon which requires months of hard effort and intense training from even the most seasoned athletes, you will find that a short but well sustained training block will see you to a good time in the half! Allow us to talk you through some of the do’s and don’t’s of how to train for a half marathon.

1. How to Get Started

When training for a half marathon, especially if you have not run one before, it is important to start training steadily. It’s tempting to crack on with the 13.1 miles straight away but beginning with low amounts of mileage, you should gradually build up to the 13 miles. This will give you a good ground level of fitness, whilst also avoiding injuries and risking the chance of burnout.


With the first few weeks of training, it is all about getting used to running regularly throughout the week. Try to run at least five times a week and before long, you will get into a rhythm. Aim for between 3-6 miles each time but never go beyond this, unless you are feeling very comfortable. Your current training run is just as important as your previous and next run, so you want to leave something in the tank! Adding at least one interval session each week where you include bursts of 30 seconds fast and 60 seconds jogging, for example, will give you good variation whilst testing lung capacity at threshold and strengthening leg muscles.

2. Increasing your Training

After the initial  2-3 weeks running, you should be feeling more comfortable running regularly and well accustomed to your training plan. Hopefully you have also been varying your running to include some faster, harder efforts in between your runs.


By your fourth or fifth week of training, you should not really be increasing the mileage too much. The increase in effort will come from running more frequently at threshold pace, or in other words, a pace that you would be happy to stop at if you could! An example would be running 2 miles slow, 1 mile fast and then 2 miles slow. Short bursts such as these will help you to run closer to your best for longer periods in the weeks to come. Another addition to your schedule halfway through could be the long run on the weekend. Running 8-10 miles at an easy pace will introduce the miles to your legs whilst also building stamina. Mix this with a 5-6 mile paced run and you will increasingly see the benefits of a sustained training period.

3. Moving Towards Race Day

If you’ve managed to keep up with your schedule by now, then congratulations! You should again be looking to increase the intensity of your training. Start to introduce running routes with hills and make sure you add a burst of speed to the hills to further build on your new strength in your legs. Make sure to still begin the week with an easy run, say 5-6 miles. And remember to always incorporate at least one rest day, possibly a Friday so that you are fresh for a longer run on the weekend.


By week 7-8, you should be incorporating a couple of runs each week to be running at threshold pace for 4-6 miles, in between a mile warm up and warm down. For some of your runs, include very short bursts of just 30 seconds that will increase your comfort of running at a quicker pace during your half marathon. Running a longer run on the weekend, say 10-12 miles, should also be common place by now. But in the final week before the race, do not be tempted to cram in that extra bit of training. You will not be able to improve much by now and you will only fatigue yourself for race day. In the earlier part of the week, go for an easy run whilst incorporating 1-2 miles at race pace. You may also want to run 3-4 miles in your race day kit, just to make sure everything fits. Other than this, focus on getting enough sleep, eating well and planning your journey to the event. Best of luck on the day and be confident that you’ve done the right training to get you through!

You May Also Like:

Let us know you agree to cookies

We use marketing, analytical and functional cookies as well as similar technologies to give you the best experience. Third parties, including social media platforms, often place tracking cookies on our site to show you personalised adverts outside of our website. We store your cookie preferences for two years and you can edit your preferences via ‘manage cookies’ or through the cookie policy at the bottom of every page. For more information, please see our cookie policy.