A Proven Half-Marathon Training Plan

I wanted to start this post with the lede from the main “RUN” page of this very blog. It will make sense in just a minute.

“Read about the world of running, from a beginners’ perspective. When I started running a year ago, I learned a lot of lessons -the hard way. I had a couple mentors that did their best to prepare me for “what’s next” as I reached one milestone after another. I would have loved to be part of a greater community of beginning runners; each sharing their own experiences. Let’s make that happen, here.”

It is in this spirit of learning from one another, that I bring you my modified version of a half-marathon training plan that I read about – and followed – in 2012, to successfully reach my goal of finishing a half-marathon. I finished my inaugural run, the popular Urban Cow, Sacramento, in 2:44:20.

This plan works for people with a few miles already under their belt. If you’re running two or 3 times a week, this plan should do the trick. If you’re a stone-cold beginner, I’d suggest you begin your competitive running journey with a 5k or two.

It’s a 12-week plan, and in my opinion you’ll need every bit of the 12 weeks to ensure a safe and successful run on race day. 

Half Marathon Training Grid


Cross-Train on Tuesday and Thursday. Consider biking, swimming, rowing or elliptical. I walked on some of those days. The goal is to maintain your aerobic fitness levels, while reducing the stress on your lower torso.

Speaking from experience, I struggled the most in the first two weeks, just trying to get into the rhythm and discipline of training. After that, each week had its own benchmarks, its own milestones and rewards.

Good luck, train smart, push through the obstacles and have FUN!

Let me know what your training plan is, and how it compares to this one. Leave me a COMMENT below, in the comment box. 

Editor's note: Photo, courtesy C. Douros

4 thoughts on “A Proven Half-Marathon Training Plan

  1. I’ve been trying to put together a training plan, as I finally committed to doing a half marathon this year. Last time I tried training for one was about 5 years ago, and the trianing plan really didn’t work for me, as it simply was too intense for someone with a full time job.
    What I like about this plan is that it brings in some variation with the cross training.

  2. Jim, it occurred to me today that I could definitely set my sights on a full marathon, at some point in the (hopefully) near future. While on a short recovery run today, I got to thinking, “Why not?” I’m healthy, and already running mid-distance. It should be just another milestone; just another benchmark. I just imagine the leap is greater than going from a 5k to 10k; or a 10k to a half. Thoughts? How can I begin on the journey of completing a full marathon? What is the required training time? I’m imagining two-years from today.

  3. When I was a young runner, I’d build my annual running schedule around a series of Philly races, i.e. Broad Street 10-miler in May, Distance Run 1/2 Marathon in September, Marathon Tune-up 30K in October and then the Philly Marathon, and then I’d fill shorter races in between. Now, as a seasoned runner (a gentle term for old guy) I run year-round and try to stay in shape to run ten miles at any time, but still keep a November marathon as the climax with a marathon. That’s the short version. I could bore you for days with all the details. Happy New Year to you, Chuck, and your readers.

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