The 16 weeks Half Marathon training plan will get you ready for your first 21.1KM
When you are ready for a challenge, you can start training for a half marathon. This 16 weeks half marathon training plan is the best place to look.
From 10K a half marathon distance
Before you start training for a half marathon, you better make sure that you are currently comfortable to run 10 kilometers. The step-up from 10 to 21 km is much harder than the step-up from 5 to 10k. This half marathon training plan builds further on the 10k training plan linked here.
This plan takes 16 weeks to build up the endurance that is needed to complete a half marathon. Every week, you will have 3 or 4 running days, combined with 1 or 2 cross training days.
In the plan that is linked at the bottom of this page, you run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. With rest days on Monday and Friday and a Cross training day on Wednesdays. On Saturday you can decide if you go on a short run or do some extra Cross training exercises. It doesn’t really matter that much as long as you move for about half an hour.
You are free to shift these days around. As long as you keep at least one easier day in between two running days, you are free to do whatever you want.
Recovery and rest days
When you’re getting the hang of it, you might be tempted to skip a rest day or do some extra Cross training exercises on rest days. I would advise to not skip on those resting days as this might increase the risk of injury. Those resting days are in there to give your legs the time they need to recover.
Also try not to skip any of the runs itself. You are free to shift some days around but if you skip runs, you might find it hard to keep up with the plan. If you have to shift or skip too many days around your schedule, you might need to go back a week or two. Just continue from there and you will be back on track in no time.
If you find a workout too difficult to complete, you can also go back a week or two and start over from there. Remember that this is a training and not a race. After each run you should feel accomplished, not exhausted.
Types of runs
Each run will start with a 5 minute warm up. The goal of a warm up is to, well… warm up your muscles. If you just start running for an hour after sitting behind your desk all day, you might increase the risk of injury. That’s why it’s advised to do a quick warm-up before you start your workout. A warm-up can consist of some dynamic stretches and/or a fast paced walk. Just try to get your muscles moving as much as possible.
After the warm up you can start the actual run. There are 3 types of runs in the 5k to 10k training plan: slower long runs, normal runs and Fartlek runs.
- Long slow runs: These runs are planned on day 7. Slow runs make you used to the longer distance. Try to actually run slow during these runs. You should always be able to have a conversation without feeling out of breath. If you have a heart rate monitor, try to keep your heart rate in zone 2. If you don’t know what that means, you can read more about heart rate zones here. Keep in mind that these runs can take up more than 2 hours in the last weeks of the training plan, so make sure to include it in your planning.
- Normal shorter runs: These runs are planned on day 2 or, optionally, day 6. During these runs, you will find the balance between a slower pace and a longer distance. During your normal runs, you should always be able to have a conversation without feeling out of breath. If you have a heart rate monitor, try to keep your heart rate in zone 2 or 3.
- Fartlek runs: Fartlek runs can be compared with a normal interval training. The key difference is that you can decide for yourself when, and for how long, you perform the fast intervals. During a Fartlek, you switch between a fast and a slow running pace without actually stopping or walking. Try to actually run slow during the slow parts. Use the same technique as you do during the other slow runs in the plan.
During the fast periods, it’s more important to raise your heart rate than to actually go very fast. Try to maintain the same speed during the faster parts. Having a conversation should be more difficult, but even here you should never feel like you’re unable to talk to someone. you can decide for yourself how long you run each interval. You can find more information about Fartlek runs and some examples here. If you have a heart rate monitor, try to keep your heart rate in zone 3 or 4 for the fast parts and in zone 2 for the slow parts.
After each run, there is a 5 minute cool down period. Just like with the warm up at the start of the workout, the cool down period is here to help your muscles transition from the hard work they had to perform back to your daily routine. I mostly use the cooldown period to walk back home and do some light stretches when I arrive.
Every week, you will have 3 or 4 running days, combined with 1 or 2 cross training days. Cross training is an important part of the plan as it reduces the risk of injury and improves your general fitness.
More information about cross training can be found here.
Underneath you can find a PDF for you to download and print out. Put it up somewhere and cross out every exercise you completed successfully. This will help with motivation as you will be able to see your progress. At the end of the plan you will be able to run quite a distance.