How to train for a half marathon run

Setting goals and having clear targets are very important factors for how to train for a half marathon run. Setting a goal to complete a half-marathon race, and making it, can be a great achievement. Unlike a full marathon race, which is clearly much more demanding physically and mentally, the half-marathon is a great challenge that is really achievable. You might be a 10k runner who would like to jump to the next level, or a 5K runner who set the rewarding target of half-marathon race . for all cases, persistence, discipline, and listening to your body are the required factors and, there’s a plan to follow.

Our recommendation for half-marathon race is to be able to have the 5 km run as a starting point or above, and our plan is adaptive to cover any running status in between the 5 km runs to half-marathon.

How to train for a half marathon run

The principles

Take you to the half-marathon race, and back, safely, confidently, with minimum risk of injury.

Stick to the plan, commit to it, as it will give you the ability to compensate on a loss of training and is built in a way that you are strengthening body and mind to be ready for the next step in the training.

A moderate increase of running distance.

Strengthening  legs muscles to support the knee and its movement during the runs.

Strengthening legs muscles for uphill and downhills runs.

Improving the aerobic and cardio fitness. Improving the VO2max factor

Enough rest between long runs and between muscles strengthening training.

Improving the aerobic capabilities while lowering overstress on knees.

The reasoning behind the ingredients:

Long runs are the targets themselves, improving week by week till reaching the goal.

Leg days are meant to strengthen leg muscles for injury prevention, keeping knees muscles support, and better coping with uphill runs.

Cross-training is moderate complementary aerobic training which is not runs (biking, swimming, elliptical, etc.), in order to better balance overall cardiovascular and strength, while less direct stress over knees.

Strength training- to cover core strength and overall muscle growth and maintenance. This training, besides the overall muscle growth/maintenance, will help to reduce soreness and fatigue from the runs and will give the extra power when the legs need the extra push.

Interval runs will improve speed and cardiovascular performance. There are many types of routines; all should start with a warm-up run and cool down run. Here we stick to the same distance intervals, and increasing runs distances. Allow a rest time of 90 seconds between intervals. You can adjust your training according to your own feeling and condition.

Rest days are crucial to recover from hard exercises and to give the muscles the ability to regrow. Rests and sleep in general are key factors for success, to maintain hormone balance which is important for body condition.

Additional considerations while building your plan

Race day is an actual race you commit to. Sign in to any half marathon. To set the mind. To make an obligation, set an official goal, and count the required training weeks.

This plan was structured in order to give a sense of commitment to the trainer. Having said that, it allows enough flexibility to be back on track of some of the training days were missed, which is something that usually happens.

Are you a runner of 5 km, or higher distances? you can fit it.

Each runner can choose his own starting point to the plan. If you are a 10km runner so your plan starts at “WEEK 11” (Race week – 9 ), then you should reach race day prepared.

In this plan each week repeats the previous week’s plan. The difference is the distances and paces you will reach during your long run and Interval runs. Such a plan will make it easier to track and remember what you have accomplished and if any training was skipped it will be easier to track and compensate.

Race week is a different case. Here we slow it a bit. Although it can be just a part of the higher goal of even longer distance runs, the idea here that we set a goal. We want to race half marathon, so we want to make sure we have enough time to recover, to make sure we eat well, get prepared, rest the mind and be in optimal conditions for the race itself.

You can decide what is day 1 for you and what is day 7- based on your weekend/week-start and general routines.

There are cases where the progress is above the average progress. In such a case you might feel you are ready to run the half marathon earlier than the suggested plan. That is fine and great of course. Just keep in mind that if an official race day was set, you want to arrive this day refreshed and not with any soreness. So carefully calculate your steps. Make sure that indeed an adjustment to the general plan is the right move and what is the right adjustment for both relaxing the plan or making it more difficult. Don’t forget the principles behind the preparations to the big day.

Variations to the plan

In order to make the best from each training keep in mind the following variations:

Make the long run at your normal pace and make a fast finish

Make a progression run by starting at a low pace and making each mile/km faster than before

These exercises will help you to reach the full potential of the training.

Interval runs difficulties can be adjusted according to your fitness level.

See VO2max article for further explanation for fitness level and how Interval training is important for improvement.

Some words about nutrition

Nothing will go as it should be without supportive nutrition.

Make sure you fuel the body with the vital ingredients, don’t be on high deficits, your goal is to strengthen the body and build capabilities. If losing fat is part of the plan, this should be done very moderately and keeping in mind the calories that are required especially while progressing towards the race day, when the long runs and overall training require lots of energy.

If fatigue and soreness are too much around, consider taking nutrition supplements, for filling the gap with the required vitamins and minerals.

Potassium and magnesium are essential for muscle functionality, preventing muscle cramps.

Make sure you are fueled for the run.

When running longer than an hour, treat yourself with energy gel (usually includes amino acids, electrolytes, and some calories) or isotonic drink (which contains electrolytes and energy), or other fruit or bar you use to eat and can eat while running.

An hour to 2 hours before the run make sure to have a light meal for the required carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and minerals.

Some precautions

Don’t over train. Progress week by week. Exhaustion is not part of the goals and will lead to the opposite results and injuries.

Feeling any pain? Don’t neglect, listen to your body, and check the signs.

Knee pains? That can be a big deal in the long run. Don’t run when in pain. Inflammation takes time to heal so if you reached such a situation, you should stop the runs, let the knee to heel, strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee, and get medical advice if needed.

Sometimes all you need are few days of rest, then going back on track, while taking closer attention to your run.

For example, do you use the right shoes? Do you have supportive insoles that fit your feet? Do you run efficiently?

These may require some other’s advices.

Don’t try new shoes just before the race; plan to race with the shoes you trained and comfortable with. The same goes for clothes.

Proper pacing. During the race make sure you stick to your known pace at least till the middle of the race. If you feel good after half the way and would like to set a higher pace, do this very moderately, not to reach over-exhaustion during your actual race while you are still far from the finish line.

And a final warning, you might get addicted to the long distances runs. Welcome, and enjoy.

Mountainotes LCC – Half Marathon plan

DAY 1DAY 2DAY 3DAY 4DAY 5DAY 6DAY 7
WEEK-19WEEK 15km / 3.1milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 5×400 metersRest
WEEK-18WEEK 26km / 3.7milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 5×400 metersRest day
WEEK-17WEEK 36km / 3.7milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 5×400 metersRest day
WEEK-16WEEK 47km / 4.3 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 6×400 metersRest day
WEEK-15WEEK 57km / 4.3 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 6×400 metersRest day
WEEK-14WEEK 68km / 5 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 6×400 metersRest day
WEEK-13WEEK 78km / 5 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 7×400 metersRest day
WEEK-12WEEK 89km / 5.5 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 7×400 metersRest day
WEEK-11WEEK 99km / 5.5 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 7×400 metersRest day
WEEK-10WEEK 1010km / 6.2 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 7×400 metersRest day
WEEK-9WEEK 1110km / 6.2 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 4×800 metersRest day
WEEK-8WEEK 1211km / 6.8 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 4×800 metersRest day
WEEK-7WEEK 1312km / 7.4 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 4×800 metersRest day
WEEK-6WEEK 1413km / 8 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 4×800 metersRest day
WEEK-5WEEK 1514km / 8.7 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 4×800 metersRest day
WEEK-4WEEK 1615km / 9.3 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 5×800 metersRest day
WEEK-3WEEK 1716km / 10 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 5×800 metersRest day
WEEK-2WEEK 1817km / 10.7 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 5×800 metersRest day
WEEK-1WEEK 1919km / 11.8 milesRest dayStrength training/Cross trainingLeg dayStrength trainingInterval Run 5×800 metersRest day
Race WeekWEEK 2010km / 6.2 milesRest day5km / 3.1 milesstrength training5km/ 3.1milesRestRace 13.1miles/21.1km

 

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