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Half marathon preparation: do you know enough to run a half marathon?

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Often, a half marathon is considered as a springboard to a marathon, but the specificity of this distance is that it requires an athlete to run equally fast and long. That is why a special approach is needed in preparation for the half marathon.

We have prepared a translation and adaptation of an article about preparing for the “half”, which can be useful for both beginners and more experienced runners.

Note: just as not all training programs should be carried out implicitly, and with the writing below - not carefully for all runners to follow the numbers and recommendations given. Listen to your body and trust it.

Training approach

Despite the relative popularity of the half marathon, it is very difficult to find a program for this race. According to many trainers, the structure of the program directly depends on the level of training of the athlete.

For example, take elite athletes who spend about an hour at a half-marathon distance - almost the same time a novice runner needs to run a race of 10 kilometers. Similarly, amateurs with a more moderate pace overcome the half marathon in a time close to two hours, which corresponds to the time with which elite athletes finish the marathon.

Therefore, preparation for the half marathon combines the elements of preparation for both the 10 km race and the marathon.

The emphasis in the direction of a particular distance will depend on the athlete’s readiness: for example, faster runners will tend to prepare for 10 km, and slower ones will go towards training for a marathon (albeit with a shorter distance).

In this regard, the example of Kara Gaucher, who won the bronze at the last summer World Championships at a distance of 10 kilometers, is indicative, and after that decided to go to the distance of the half marathon. Despite the short time for restructuring the training approach, in fact, little has changed: Kara added 5-7 km to the long run and did an additional tempo training.

“I believe that the work that is carried out in preparation for 10 km can be safely transferred to the half marathon,” she says.

If your goal is to simply finish, the best option would be a scaled-down marathon preparation model. A weekly volume of 40 km and a long run of 15 km will be enough.

Read:

Laying the "base"

If your ambitions do not end with just finishing, you should carefully consider the motivation and time that you are ready to devote to preparation.

An unspoken rule is that the necessary weekly volume to achieve a half-marathon result is a distance multiplied by three and a long run, commensurate with the length of the race.

That is, for a half-marathon, these figures will be about 60 km (per week) and 21 km (long run), respectively. It should be noted that you should not rush to go to the given volumes, supporting them only for a short period. Otherwise, the result of this approach can be a difficult end to the race.

To run the half marathon as expected, you need to start with a solid base - several months with a constant weekly volume of 40 km and a long run of 15 km.

[Again - for each runner, the numbers may differ, because all people are different, with different backgrounds and natural backgrounds. - approx. Editorial]

Then you should gradually increase the base to 60 km of weekly volume and maintain it long enough so that the race distance is no longer your main stumbling block. A sustained approach will help not only in the race, but also protect against injuries.

Pace run

In addition to the main mileage, the process of effective training should include two speed training per week.

According to many trainers, the secret of success at this distance is a combination of endurance (general and speed) and speed. But of the above, speed endurance is most critical - the ability to maintain a fairly fast pace for a long time.

For many runners, pace running means running for 20 minutes (or 5 km) at a pace a couple of seconds slower than in a 10 km race.

Work on the track (intervals or fartlek) is also very important. Elite athletes perform these workouts twice a week, but they are difficult to fit in a week of seven days, where there is already a long run, pace run and the necessary days for recovery.

The classic workout will be 4 to 1200 m (at a race pace of 5 km) with a 400 m recovery.

At the initial stages of training, you should recover in proportion to the segment of the tempo run. Thus, 1200 m at a pace of 4:30 (per kilometer) requires 4:00 to 4:15 recovery.

As race day draws nearer and your shape improves, shorten your recovery time instead of speeding up the tempo intervals.

So, the same 1200 m in the end will be accompanied by a shorter recovery (2: 15-2: 30). Let the body be your internal watch, forcing too short a recovery can easily lead to injury.

It should be understood that even a slight increase in pace will require a longer recovery.

Next steps

Having run a couple of half marathons, you can run into a “plateau”, on which the results are no longer growing. Just at this moment, it is worth thinking about taking training to a new level.

The first step may be to increase volumes. But this does not mean that you need to run 150 km a week - do not expose yourself to volumes of training that are unusual for you. The body of most people simply can not withstand such a load.

A 10% increase in weekly volume is already considered significant in any preparation cycle.

Speed ​​work

As for high-speed work, the sports uniform for participation in the half marathon is the same as for competitions for 10 km. Moreover, the training process is 75% identical.

Most of the speed work is a tempo run, part of which can be integrated into a long run.

Greg McMillan, an American coach and marathon runner, offers a long run with a fast finish: for example, in runs of 18-25 km, run the last 4-6 km at the pace of a half marathon.

There is also a round-trip run with a total time of 30-60 minutes, when you are running in one direction comfortably, and gradually add to the speed on the way back. This exercise helps not only in terms of the physiology of training, but also in terms of psychology, adding to the runner a sense of confidence.

The traditional high-speed work (intervals, cardlets) for 10 km and half marathon is different in that when preparing for the half marathon it is more voluminous, but slightly slower.

An example of a speed training can be 6 or 7 times for 1600 m (at a pace of 10 km) with recovery, or more equivalent repetitions per 1000 m or 1200 m.

Despite the fact that training with short accelerations is usually not considered as the main part of the preparatory process, they must be performed with a sufficient number of repetitions to provide the necessary target pace for longer distances. For example, 15 repetitions of 200 m after 200 m of jogging, or fartlek 15 accelerations of 20 seconds after a minute of recovery.

For the pace run, you can build training on the volume of 13-15 km at the target half-marathon pace, but do them once or twice, maximum, because higher volumes will lead to fatigue.

It’s better to make more than a 10-kilometer pace at a pace three to five seconds faster than the target pace of a half marathon.

The main goal on race day is to curb your adrenaline and set the right pace. You must be patient and diligent, not accelerating faster than due.

In the race itself, of course, there will always be many opportunities to make mistakes. The first is to lose confidence. After all, the race is long, and the pace is quite high. You may feel that this is too tough for you, but be sure - you will run for a given time. In other words, trust your workouts. And a few more tips on how to run the first half marathon without making standard mistakes.

In the end, the half marathon is really a great race: short enough to run fast and long enough to be a challenge.

Briefly about the half marathon

Half marathon is a distance that is half the marathon distance and is 21 kilometers. Half marathon is not a discipline for amateurs, however, this distance has been one of the most actively attracting interest since the beginning of the 2000s in world amateur running. Because preparation for a half marathon takes much less time than for a full marathon. Similar marathons are held in large cities around the world, so anyone can take part.

How long does the preparation take?

Each person is individual, so the timing of preparation for the distance will depend on many factors. Someone will be able to run a "half" after several workouts, while someone will need three to four months. It is recommended that beginners first create a certain “base” in training (about 2-3 months), relying on which the risk of getting injured during training and the marathon itself is significantly reduced.

The most basic exercise in preparation, of course, is running. The surface can be completely different, be it asphalt, grass or soil. Before starting the preparation, we advise you to consider the features of the route.

One of the most important qualities with a given load over long distances is endurance. In preparation for the half marathon, it is important to carry out certain amounts of work. Usually they are broken down by weeks to make it more convenient to monitor progress. For example, to prepare for 21 km 97 meters, you need to run a minimum of 30 kilometers every week. The optimal volume is 40 km. The important point is that during your training, try to overcome the distance from start to finish without stopping and moving on to a step!

In addition to running, we recommend performing a power load. As exercises, we can distinguish squats, leg press, bench press, twisting on the press, push-ups. Such training is best done on separate days.

Psychological preparation is also important, because the athlete must be mentally prepared to successfully overcome the distance. Below are the points that should be in your head during the preparation and the marathon itself:

  • There is no uncomfortable weather and uncomfortable health for jogging, and there is always time for them,
  • If you can’t complete the weekly volume from the first attempt, it doesn’t mean that this is a stigma for the whole future sports life,
  • If you didn’t manage to run the entire distance, it doesn’t mean that another time it won’t work out,
  • If there is an athlete in the park who runs faster, it doesn’t mean that he always ran like that,
  • There are no conditions under which you can refuse to participate in the race!

5-month half-marathon preparation plan for beginners:

The first monthEasy runs for one to two kilometers. Recommended to combine with strength exercises
Second monthThe distance is from three to five kilometers.
Third monthOnce a week, run a long distance from 6 to 9 km. On other training days, 2-4 km at an easy pace.
Fourth monthContinue to gradually increase the distance to 13 km.
Fifth monthRun 15km for the first week, 17km for the second, 15km for the third, and 13km for the fourth. Continue strength training and 5 km races.

3 months half-marathon preparation program for beginners: (Monday, Wednesday, Friday - day off)

A weekTue RunTh RunSat RunSun Long run
145 minutes50 min40 min8 kilometers
250 minutes50 min40 min6 km
350 minutes50 min40 min10 km
450 minutes60 min40 min11 km
550 minutes65 min40 min12 km
61 hour55 min40 min13 km

Further, from 6 to 12 weeks, everything is exactly the opposite, i.e. on Tuesdays we reduce the time to the initial 45 minutes, on Thursdays we reduce it to 50 minutes, and on Sundays we increase it to the distance of the half marathon).

A few important points

  • Run with a target. Only after you answer the question “Why am I doing this?”, You can realize the true reason. She will have a big impact on your motivation.
  • Train for at least 13 weeks. This is the optimal amount of time to prepare for a half marathon.
  • Have 2 pairs of sneakers in stock. Changing your workout shoes will significantly reduce your risk of injury.
  • Find a company. The comrade will not let you lose heart, support you in difficult moments and share the joy with you after the first half marathon.
  • Train at a competitive pace.

Half marathon running requires a lot of costs: both energy and water, therefore, to fulfill the load, they need to be replenished in a timely manner. Before long runs, we recommend eating carbohydrates. This can be a banana, dates, raisins, bars and more. It is very important to drink clean water during the race. At competitions there are always food points where there is always water and carbohydrate products.

It is worth mentioning the general rules of nutrition for people involved in sports. We do not recommend eating one chicken breast and broccoli, but recommend a varied diet, including fruits, vegetables, cereals and signs in your diet. Such a diet will help you feel light and be full of strength and energy.

Here, perhaps, are all the main points in preparation for the half marathon. We strongly recommend that you listen to yourself, respond to body signals and avoid overtraining. Sleep and recovery days are very, very important.

3 main mistakes novice athletes

There are elementary rules that many novice athletes ignore. Because of this, the result may be unsatisfactory. Here are the three main mistakes that most make.

  1. Overtraining and lack of time for muscle recovery. In an effort to achieve a quick result, athletes often do not give the body rest. Exercise to the limit daily, because of which the muscles do not have time to recover. It is fraught overtraining, “tired” muscle syndrome, after which you have to give the body a long break before you start exercising again. Therefore, be sure to give yourself time to relax and recover your muscles. Sauna and massage after each workout are highly desirable. These procedures will relax and restore strength in the best way.
  2. Lack of proper running technique and incorrect setting of legs. Improper running movements increase the risk of injury. Cruciate ligaments are particularly prone to injury. Therefore, you need to carefully follow the technique. Also do not forget about the pre-workout workout. It makes muscles flexible, elastic, reduces the risk of injuries.
  3. Increased loadignoring body signals. You need to listen to yourself, respond to the slightest ailments. If you ignore poor health and continue to exercise, you risk exhausting the body. Severe stress, dehydration, and malaise can even lead to fainting

This is the opinion of professional athletes-trainers, compiled taking into account the experience of training their wards.

Half Marathon Preparation Plan: Masters of Sports Tips

The plan below is used to train professional athletes. But it is suitable for beginners, because load increases gradually. Therefore, you can learn to run long distances from scratch, if you follow all the rules.

Half-marathon preparation plan begins with four required steps:

  • Find a suitable place for training, choose the best route. It can be a stadium or a long distance - along the promenade, in the park, grove
  • Prepare your workout clothes. Do not forget about the right shoes - the sole of the sneaker should have sufficient cushioning properties. Clothing - do not constrain movements made of breathable material that allows air and moisture to pass through. In the cold take care of warming
  • Describe your goals in detail, draw up a competent plan for preparing for the half marathon a month in advance, by points
  • Do not forget about nutrition. The daily diet should be high-calorie, healthy. Make a plan for proper nutrition, an approximate sports menu for a week. Be sure to eat complex carbohydrates, protein foods, protect yourself from sweets, fast food, fatty foods and other ills. Drinking plenty of fluids is also necessary to avoid dehydration.


After you can proceed directly to training. You can start with daily runs of one and a half to two kilometers. Keep in mind that you need to practice every day, regardless of weather conditions. Also perform additionally speed exercises and with each training session, increase the distance by 500-1000 meters.

Interval training is well suited for practicing speed. They also develop your stamina. Interval running is an alternation of the load from weak to maximally intense. I.e:

  • First you run 100 meters with the highest possible speed, work at the limit
  • Then walk a quick step for a minute or two
  • And repeat the intense hundred meters

The desired number of laps is seven or eight. Такое упражнение также необходимо выполнять еженедельно, постепенно увеличивая нагрузку. Например, в первую неделю один день уделите интервальному бегу, во вторую — два, в третью и четвёртую — три.

Понедельный план тренировок на месяц включает в себя:

  • Первая неделя. 5 days you run one and a half to two kilometers, 1 day is devoted to interval running, 1 day is a mandatory rest for muscle recovery
  • Second week. The length of the distance increases to 3.5-5 kilometers. Of these, 700 meters are allocated to interval running (7 hundred meters with maximum speed combined with running in normal mode). At 1 meter - two minutes of a normal run. It is advisable to monitor your heart rate so that it does not exceed 120 beats per minute
  • Third week. The daily run length is 6-8 kilometers. You also need to run at intervals of 5,200 meters. From the third week it is desirable connect massage after each run for quick muscle recovery. Do not forget about stretching at the beginning and end of the run. Run the last one and a half to two kilometers at an easy pace
  • The most difficult and tedious is the fourth week of preparation. Run 9 to 11 kilometers daily. Of these, two kilometers - with a maximum speed (1000 meters run as fast as possible, then run for 5 minutes at normal speed and repeat). Finish your workouts with leg stretching exercises and a massage. You can connect strength exercises in the gym (twice a week). The last 3 kilometers of the race - recovery easy run

The second month of training - preparation for the pros

A month of classes according to the above scheme will turn you into already enough trained athlete. You can increase the load and begin to engage in "adult":

  • First week. The daily distance is from 10 to 12 kilometers. Of these, 4 times 1000 meters - at maximum speed. Pulse no more than 120, massage, stretching exercises - are required. 1 day per week is given on vacation
  • From the second to the fourth week it is necessary to gradually increase the distance and load. An interval run of 3-4 kilometers should be in every training session. The final easy run of 3-4 kilometers - at the end of the run. Follow the pulse and add 500-1500 meters to the distance each time


Training on such a system will help to gradually prepare for the half marathon. Particular attention is paid to training endurance, speed. Therefore, even a beginner in two months will be able to run the distance with a decent result. It’s important not only to train well, but also have a restso that the muscles have time to recover, and the body gained strength. It is necessary to monitor nutrition, observe drinking regimen.

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