Two Training Plans to Run your First or Fastest Half Marathon

You can’t start training for a half marathon without a plan.

Well, you can, but it probably won’t go very well. If you’re new to running, you may stop all together because the uncertainty will leave you either injured or unprepared on race day.

I ran my first half marathon almost a year after running my first full marathon. That’s backwards, but I didn’t know what I was doing then. My idea was to take my full marathon plan and cut it in half. It’s half the distance, so presumably you only need to do half the training.

Makes sense, right?

While that race went ok, I’ve since cut about 45 minutes off my half marathon time with several great focused training cycles.

Below you’ll find a FREE beginner and intermediate plan to help you run your first, or fastest half marathon.

Free Half Marathon Training Plan

Why You Need a Training Plan

If you’ve never run a distance longer than a 10k, half marathon training will introduce the “long run” to your training vocabulary. These are designed to build your aerobic capacity – in other words, it will help train your muscles to run longer. I have used a variety of different training plans overs the years. Working with a coach has helped me figure out what works best. In addition to the specific workouts they prescribe, here are three other reasons why having a half marathon training plan is extremely helpful.

1. It Gives You Direction

A good half marathon training plan will tell you exactly what types of runs you need to run. This takes the guess work out of your training. It can tell you how fast, and what kind of speed work to do, as well as help you safely ramp up your long run and overall mileage in a way to keep you injury free. Running too much, too soon is a great way to get injured.

2. It Keeps You Motivated

Following a race specific plan can keep you motivated for the 12 or 16 weeks of the plan. As you cross off each day you complete a scheduled run, you physically see your progress. This will motivate you to get to the end! If you’re using a training log, you can track your progress from week to week and see where you’re getting faster.

3. It Keeps you Focused

Finally, following a training plan will keep you focused on your ultimate goal – running your strongest half marathon. In addition to the direction on a specific day, a plan also takes into account the larger goals you have. While the plan shouldn’t rule your life, it will keep you focused and moving forward as you approach race day.

Try This Half Marathon Training Plan

We’ve partnered with Zoom Performance who created a plan for us that is designed to help both beginners and seasoned runners alike achieve their goals. In it, you’ll find a balance between speed workouts and aerobic runs, with a focus on the necessary volume to get you from the start to the finish. The 16-week Beginner Plan plan is designed to help first timers complete the 13.1 mile race well. This training program includes 4 – 5 active days per week, with total weekly mileage peaking just over 20. The intermediate plan is designed for anyone who has already a few half marathons under their belt, but wants more direction for a faster finish. Ideally, you should already be running 25 – 30 miles per week. If not, take a few weeks to build up to that volume before beginning.

Free Half Marathon Training Plan

What training plan do you use? What has been helpful about it?

Nathan Freeburg
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Nathan Freeburg

Editor in Chief at Minneapolis Running
Nathan started running when he was 14. 20+ years later, he's still going. When he's not running, he enjoys exploring the city with his son, finding new restaurants with his wife, traveling, or backpacking. He loves dark beer, dark chocolate and dark coffee.

Nathan currently lives in Portland, but works in Minneapolis and runs wherever he is. Favorite Minnesota running route is anything that takes him along the Mississippi River.
Race Results.

Nathan's day job is as a senior consultant with Leadership Vision Consulting in Downtown Minneapolis.
Nathan Freeburg
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