Training for your first Half

Week
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
1

Stretch &
Strengthen

3 m run
2 m run or cross
3 m run +
strength
Rest
30 min
cross
4 m run
2
Stretch &
Strengthen
3 m run
2 m run or cross
3 m run +
strength
Rest
30 min
cross
4 m run
3
Stretch &
Strengthen
3.5 m run
2 m run or cross
3.5 m run +
strength
Rest
40 min
cross
5 m run
4
Stretch &
Strengthen
3.5 m run
2 m run or cross
3.5 m run +
strength
Rest
40 min
cross
5 m run
5
Stretch &
Strengthen
4 m run
2 m run or cross
4 m run +
strength
Rest
40 min
cross
6 m run
6
Stretch &
Strengthen
4 m run
2 m run or cross
4 m run +
strength
Rest or easy run
Rest
5-K Race
7
Stretch &
Strengthen
4.5 m run
3 m run or cross
4.5 m run +
strength
Rest
50 min
cross
7 m run
8
Stretch &
Strengthen
4.5 m run
3 m run or cross
4.5 m run +
strength
Rest
50 min
cross
8 m run
9
Stretch &
Strengthen
5 m run
3 m run or cross
5 m run +
strength
Rest or easy run
Rest
10-K Race
10
Stretch &
Strengthen
5 m run
3 m run or cross
5 m run +
strength
Rest
60 min cross
9 m run
11
Stretch &
Strengthen
5 m run
3 m run or cross
5 m run +
strength
Rest
60 min cross
10 m run
12
Stretch &
Strengthen
4 m run
3 m run or cross
2 m run
Rest
Rest
Half Marathon
a

 

BEFORE STARTING TO TRAIN FOR A HALF MARATHON, you need to possess a basic fitness level. And if you are over age 35, you probably should see your doctor for a physical examination. But assuming no major problems, most healthy people can train themselves to complete a 13.1-mile race.

The above schedule assumes you have the ability to run 3 miles, three to four times a week. If that seems difficult, consider a shorter distance for your first race--or take more time to develop an endurance base. For information on how to train for shorter distances, see my Beginning Runner's Guide or The 5-K Training Schedule on this Web site.

The terms used in the training schedule are somewhat obvious, but let me explain what I mean anyway. Further information and explanations are included in my InterActive Training Programs available through TrainingPeaks, where I send you daily emails telling you what to run and how to train.

Pace: Don't worry about how fast you run your regular workouts. Run at a comfortable pace. If you're training with a friend, the two of you should be able to hold a conversation. If you can't do that, you're running too fast. (For those wearing heart rate monitors, your target zone should be between 65 and 75 percent of your maximum pulse rate.)

Distance: The training schedule dictates workouts at distances, from 3 to 10 miles. Don't worry about running precisely those distances, but you should come close. Pick a course through the neighborhood, or in some scenic area where you think you might enjoy running. Then measure the course either by car or bicycle. In deciding where to train, talk to other runners. They probably can point you to some accurately measured courses for your workouts.

Rest: Rest is as important a part of your training as the runs. You will be able to run the long runs on the weekend better--and limit your risk of injury--if you rest before, and rest after.

Long Runs: The key to getting ready to finish a Half Marathon is the long run, progressively increasing in distance each weekend. Over a period of 12 weeks, your longest run will increase from 3 to 10 miles. Don't worry about making the final jump from 10 miles in practice to 13.1 miles in the race. Inspiration will carry you to the finish line, particularly if you taper the final week. The schedule below suggests doing your long runs on Saturdays, but you can do them Sundays, or any other convenient day, as long as you are consistent. (See "Juggling," below.)

Cross-Train: On the schedule above, this is identified simply as "cross." What form of cross-training works best? It could be swimming, cycling, walking (see below), cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or even some combination that could include strength training if you choose to do it on Wednesdays and Saturdays instead of as indicated on the schedule. And feel free to throw in some jogging as well if you're feeling good. In fact, on Wednesdays I offer you the option to run or cross-train. What cross-training you select depends on your personal preference. But don't make the mistake of cross-training too vigorously. Cross-training days should be considered easy days that allow you to recover from the running you do the rest of the week.

Walking: Walking is an excellent exercise that a lot of runners overlook in their training. I don't specify walking breaks, but feel free to walk during your running workouts any time you feel tired or need to shift gears. When you go to the starting line in your twelfth week, nobody will care whether you run the full Half Marathon; they're more concerned that you finish! If this means walking every step in practice and in the race, do it! Be aware that I also offer a separate half marathon training program for those who plan to walk all the way.

Stretch & Strength: Mondays are the days on which I advise you to spend extra time stretching--and do some strength training too. This is actually a day of "rest" following your long run on the weekends, so don't overdo it. It's wise to stretch every day, particularly after you finish your run, but spend more time stretching on Mondays. Strength training could consist of push-ups, pull-ups, use of free weights or working out with various machines at a health club. Runners generally benefit if they combine light weights with a high number of repetitions, rather than pumping very heavy iron. I also suggest that you strength train following your Thursday workouts, however you can schedule strength training on any two convenient days. For more information, see: StretchStrengthen.

Take Time: Does the 12-week progression from 3 to 13.1 miles seem too tough? Do you have more than a dozen weeks before your selected Half Marathon? Lengthen the schedule; take 18 or even 24 weeks to prepare. Repeat the week just completed before moving up to the next level. Don't be afraid to insert "stepback" weeks, where you actually cut your distance every second or third week to gather forces for the next push upward. To see how this "stepback" approach works, check out the training schedules on my Marathon Training Guide.

Racing: It's not obligatory, but you might want to run a 5-K or 10-K to see how you're doing--and also to experience a road race, if you have not run one before. You will be able to use your times to predict your finishing time in the half marathon, and what pace to run that race. I have suggested a 5-K race at the end of Week 6 and a 10-K race at the end of Week 9.

Juggling: Don't be afraid to juggle the workouts from day to day and week to week. If you have an important business meeting on Thursday, do that workout on Wednesday instead. If your family is going to be on vacation one week when you will have more or less time to train, adjust the schedule accordingly. Be consistent with your training, and the overall details won't matter.

Running 13.1 miles is not easy. If it were easy, there would be little challenge to an event such as the Half Marathon. Whether you plan your Half as a singular accomplishment or as a stepping stone to the even more challenging full marathon, crossing the finish line will give you a feeling of great accomplishment. Good luck with your training.

This Half Marathon training schedule is only a guide. Feel free to make minor modifications to suit your work and family schedule. Also, consider signing up for the InterActive Program for more detailed information on what to run each day and tips for your training.

1 Hal Higdon

Good lock with your training!

 

HeartWalk Workout

The HeartWalk Workout is a special activity program developed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation to help people with cardiovascular problems get regular, healthy physical activity. It has been approved by healthcare professionals and is widely used in Canada. Before starting any physical activity program, check with your doctor first.

When to start

Start off slowly. Follow the program just as is. At first, resist the urge to walk longer. If you overdo it, you may feel sore and tired afterwards and get discouraged.

If 10 minutes is too much to start, walk just five minutes. You may continue to follow the program by adding five minutes to your walking as it progresses. Keep track of your progress on a calendar or in a daily journal.

How it works

Weeks 1 and 2: Walk every second day.

  • Walk 10 minutes
  • Set an easy pace the first week, go a little faster the second week.

Weeks 3 and 4: Work out four times a week.

  • Walk 10 minutes
  • Set a little faster pace
  • Speed up and go further the fourth week.

Weeks 5 and 6: Work out five times a week.

  • Walk briskly for 25 to 30 minutes
  • Start to pump or swing your arms
  • Walk up gentle hills; lean forward a little when going uphill.
Workout tips
  • Find a walking partner. Keep each other motivated!
  • If the weather is too hot or cold, walk in a mall instead.
  • Match clothing to weather. If it's cold, layer clothes. If it's hot, wear light clothing.
  • If you've had open heart surgery or a heart attack, ask your doctor about a cardiac rehabilitation program.
Program goal
Build up your exercise tolerance until you can walk at least 30 minutes, five times a week.

Feeling great? Build up to an hour!

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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