Basic Half-Marathon Training Schedule for Beginners

Run Your First Half-Marathon

Man walking outside

Verywell / Ryan Kelly

Congratulations on your decision to train for your first half-marathon. As a beginner, your goal should be to make it to the finish line of the 13.1-mile (21-kilometer) race feeling strong. This 12-week training schedule is perfect for a beginner runner and a first-time half-marathoner.

To start this plan, you should have been running for at least two months and should have a base mileage of about eight to 10 miles per week. If you prefer a run/walk program, try a run/walk half-marathon training schedule. If you're not new to running and this training schedule seems too easy, try an advanced beginner half-marathon training schedule.

Half-Marathon Training Structure

There are many half-marathon training plans that you can use as you get experience and want to improve your finish time. If you haven't already had a recent physical, visit your doctor for medical clearance to train for a half marathon. Once cleared, here's on overview of how to train for a half-marathon.

  • Mondays: Most Mondays are rest days. Rest is critical to your recovery and injury prevention efforts, so don't ignore rest days.
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays: After your warmup, run at a moderate pace (slightly faster than your long run pace) for the designated mileage. If you are feeling tired, it's okay to run at an easy pace. Or run a few miles at 5k-10k goal pace (tempo run) to test pacing. Cool down and stretch after your run.
  • Wednesdays: Some Wednesdays are designated rest days. Others are cross-training (CT) days when you should do a cross-training activity (biking, walking, swimming, elliptical trainer, etc.) at easy-to-moderate effort for 30 to 45 minutes. It's also beneficial to do overall body strength training at least once a week to build muscle endurance and reduce injury risk.
  • Fridays: Do a cross-training (CT) activity (biking, swimming, elliptical trainer, etc.) at easy-to-moderate effort for 30 to 45 minutes. If you're feeling very sluggish or sore on Friday, take a complete rest day. It's important that you're feeling strong and rested for your Saturday long run.
  • Saturdays: This is the day for your long, slow, distance run. Run the designated mileage at an easy, conversational pace. Use your breathing as your guide. You should be able to breathe easily and talk in complete sentences comfortably during your run.
  • Sundays: This is an active recovery day. Your short-run should be at a very easy (EZ), comfortable pace, which helps loosen up your muscles. You can also do a run/walk combination or cross-train. Finish your run with some gentle stretching.

It's also helpful to break up the long runs from time to time. Mix in some miles at half marathon goal pace to make sure that your pace is on target. You might add these quicker miles every other run toward the middle to the latter part of your training program.

Also, you can switch days to accommodate your schedule. So if you're busy on another day and prefer to work out on a Monday or Friday, it's fine to swap a rest day for a run day. If you need to convert the distances to kilometers, see these miles to kilometers conversions.

Beginner's Half Marathon Training Schedule

Week Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
1 Rest 2 miles Rest 2.5 miles Rest 3 miles 20 to 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
2 Rest 2 miles Rest 3 miles CT or Rest 4 miles 20 to 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
3 Rest 2.5 miles CT 3 miles Rest 5 miles 20 to 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
4 Rest 3 miles CT 4 miles Rest 6 miles 20 to 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
5 Rest 3 miles CT 3 miles Rest 7 miles 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
6 Rest 4 miles CT 4 miles Rest 8 miles 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
7 Rest 4 miles Rest 4 miles CT 9 miles 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
8 Rest 4 miles CT 3 miles Rest 10 miles 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
9 Rest 5 miles CT 4 miles Rest 11 miles Rest
10 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train 4 miles Rest 3 miles CT 12 miles 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
11 Rest CT Rest 3 miles CT 5 miles 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
12 Rest 2 miles 20 minutes Rest 20 minutes Race Day Rest Day

Training Tips

If you need help determining your pace for training runs or on race day, try our pace calculator.

You will need the appropriate gear for the half-marathon. Start with getting fitted for a pair of running shoes that are suitable for long-distance running. Once you have a pair that works well, buy a second pair for race day that will only have about 50 training miles on them for race day.

Get good sweat-wicking running socks and a race outfit. Wear your gear on your long training days so you know that it works for you. While you can do some of your training on a treadmill, it's best to do your long training days, at least, outdoors in similar conditions to race day.

Be sure to stay hydrated, including using sports drinks during your long training days. Find out what the race will be providing on course and train with that drink, if possible.

If you are new to road races, you may want to research the basics and ask the race organizers any questions you may have. It would be smart to attend a shorter race, such as a 5K or 10K, and observe road race etiquette. Have fun—after all your first half marathon will be your personal best.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. van der Worp MP, ten Haaf DSM, van Cingel R, de Wijer A, Nijhuis-van der Sanden MWG, Staal JB. Injuries in runners; a systematic review on risk factors and sex differencesPLoS One. 2015;10(2):e0114937. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114937

  2. Fokkema T, de Vos R, Visser E, et al. Enhanced injury prevention programme for recreational runners (the SPRINT study): design of a randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2020;6:e000780. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2020-000780

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.