The first step in preparing for a half marathon is a willingness and desire to run your first half marathon and the commitment to training. Your specific plan and schedule are dependent on your current fitness level and your running experience.
Note: If you are completely new to running, consider training and completing a 5K first to help you develop the running base and experience necessary to complete 13.1 miles.
Explore your local races, choose carefully and identify an upcoming race as the one that will be your first. What is the date? How much time do you have to train? Allow yourself a minimum of 12 weeks, 16 would be even better. If you would like to ensure your participation, register for that race at the earliest date.
Are you able to run for 20 minutes non-stop? If so, many of the published training schedules will be appropriate. Most schedules last for 12 or 16 weeks. A schedule that is designed for beginners will gradually build up the distances you are able to run, training that will help get you ready for the race distance – 13.1 miles.
Training schedules should be kept as simple as possible. Like the following example:
|1||off||3 miles||3 miles||3 miles||off||3 miles||4 miles|
|2||off||3 miles||4 miles||3 miles||off||3 miles||4 miles|
|3||off||3 miles||4 miles||3 miles||off||3 miles||5 miles|
|4||off||3 miles||5 miles||3 miles||off||4 miles||6 miles|
|5||off||4 miles||5 miles||4 miles||off||3 miles||7 miles|
|6||off||4 miles||4 miles||4 miles||off||4 miles||8 miles|
|7||off||4 miles||6 miles||4 miles||off||4 miles||9 miles|
|8||off||4 miles||6 miles||4 miles||off||4 miles||10 miles|
|9||off||4 miles||6 miles||4 miles||off||3 miles||11 miles|
|10||off||4 miles||5 miles||4 miles||off||4 miles||12 miles|
|11||off||4 miles||5 miles||4 miles||off||3 miles||6 miles|
|12||off||3 miles||5 miles||3 miles||off||2 miles||13.1 miles|
The three main components of a good training program include:
1. Aerobic long runs – Long runs give you the stamina to be able to complete the whole distance. Longer distances and higher risk of injury suggest that some of these runs should be completed on softer surfaces such as grass or a cinder track.
2. Faster runs – Fast runs push your body to its maximum and should be done on a 400m running track if available. The best kind of running for this is fartlek training, where you sprint for 200m and then jog for 200m and repeat a number of times. This type training builds speed.
3. Recovery time – Recovery is perhaps the most important component. This is where you have an OFF day within your running week allowing you to rest and allow your body to recover from the sessions of the previous days. This is important to avoid fatigue, overtraining or even burn out.