Basic Half-Marathon Training Schedule for Beginners

Run Your First Half-Marathon

People running on puddles in concrete
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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. 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.

Half-Marathon Training Structure

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. 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.

Modifying the Schedule

You can switch days to accommodate your schedule. So if you're busy on another day and prefer to workout 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

WeekMonTuesWedThursFriSatSun
1Rest2 milesRest2.5 milesRest3 miles20 to 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
2Rest2 milesRest3 milesCT or Rest4 miles20 to 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
3Rest2.5 milesCT3 milesRest5 miles20 to 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
4Rest3 milesCT4 milesRest6 miles20 to 30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
5Rest3 milesCT3 milesRest7 miles30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
6Rest4 milesCT4 milesRest8 miles30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
7Rest4 milesRest4 milesCT9 miles30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
8Rest4 milesCT3 milesRest10 miles30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
9Rest5 milesCT4 milesRest11 milesRest
1030 minutes EZ run or cross-train4 milesRest3 milesCT12 miles30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
11RestCTRest3 milesCT5 miles30 minutes EZ run or cross-train
12Rest2 miles20 minutesRest20 minutesRace DayRest Day

Training Tips

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 to use for the half-marathon 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 you 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.

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