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The Busy Runner’s Guide to a Half-Marathon

March 30, 2015

The Busy Runner’s Guide to a Half-Marathon


So, you want to run a half-marathon, but you just can’t see yourself putting in the time the training guides are suggesting. What can you do that will get you to the finish line with the shortest training while still being safe? We have put together a simple plan for going from a 5k to a half-marathon to fit into the life of a busy runner.

Some guidelines:

Only increase your weekly distance by 10% per week. Any more than that and you may begin to see problems like shin splints and hip pain. The plan below pushes this just a bit towards the end, but make sure you are already running at least 5-7 miles a week when you start this. It isn’t intended to be a couch to half-marathon plan.

Stretch after your runs. I cannot stress enough the importance of post run stretching in your training plan. If there is anything you take a few minutes for it would be to stretch your quads and hammies. As your runs get longer, you will see a difference.

Get your nutrition. You need to hydrate and recover properly. It is important to train your body to fuel itself during your runs. With a short training program, you need a quick recovery post-run. Gels and recovery drinks are your friend. While you may not need anything for a 3 mile run, you really do need fuel on an 8 mile run when you are increasing your distance. Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches are the perfect post run protein to carb ratio!

Be able to run a 5k. If you have never been a runner, getting to a 5k can be a lot of work. After you can run 5k, you are just adding distance. In order to get to a half-marathon with a simple plan, you have to have a good base.

Schedule your runs. Put them on your calendar. Just get out there. There is only one run per week that will take a considerable amount of time. The other runs can get done early morning, lunch time, or the end of the day.

Before your event, make sure to taper off from your running. Take the 3 or 4 days before your event off from running. Let your body recover and prepare for the big day.

The Plan:

We created a simple 6 week plan. This can be started 8 weeks out from your half-marathon. This will give you a small buffer in case of illness or injury and for your taper before your event.

3 total runs per week. 1 long run and 2 shorter runs with different goals.

Week 1: Easy 2 miles – Easy 3 miles – Easy 4 miles

Week 2: Easy 2 miles  –  Hills 3 miles  –  Long 5 miles

Week 3: Easy 3 miles  –  Intervals 4 miles  –  Long 6 miles

Week 4: Recovery 3 miles  –  Faster 4 miles  –  Long 8 miles

Week 5: Hills 4 miles  –  Easy 5 miles  –  Long 9 miles

Week 6: Recovery 3 miles  –  Faster 4 miles  –  Long 11 miles

-Intervals: Intervals can be many different things. Make it what you want to. If aren’t sure what to do, run your easy pace for 1 minute and then increase by 1 minute/mile for 30 seconds. This will build your speed and conditioning.

-Faster: Select a speed that is slightly faster than your easy pace. 30 seconds/mile faster can be a good increase to choose.

-Recovery: Try to get this run in the day after your long run. Take it slow, take off your gadgets, and just enjoy the scenery.

-Hills: Find a route that is not flat. Nothing to specific here, just get some practice running up and down the hills that are nearby you.