How Long Does It Take to Train for a Half-Marathon?

Female runner running on urban footbridge at dawn
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When you set your sights on running a half-marathon race, be sure you have enough time to train for it. The 13.1-mile (21-kilometer) race is an endurance challenge. It takes three months of dedicated training for many people, including some beginner runners, to be race-ready. Experienced runners who have already run a half marathon may be able to get race-ready in as little as six weeks but may need more training weeks if they're hoping to beat a personal record.

The time that will be required for you to train adequately for a half-marathon depends on your current fitness level, your running experience, and your goals for the race. When it comes to long-distance running, you can't cram a lot of training into a short period and expect to be ready. Taking a safe, gradual approach will avoid running injuries and avoid getting burned out. 

Beginner Runners

If you've been running or run/walking for a few months and you've already tried a shorter race distance, such as a 5K, you're probably ready to start training for a half-marathon.

If you've never run a half-marathon and you're currently running under 10 miles each week, expect to spend 12 to 14 weeks preparing for your half-marathon. You should plan on running at least three times a week in the beginning, and at least four times a week as your training progresses.

You'll also want to incorporate one to two days of cross-training to help build your fitness and boost your injury resistance.

Regarding the weekly time commitment, the highest mileage weeks of your training will be three, four, and five weeks before your race. During the final two weeks before the half-marathon, you'll start dialing your mileage down during your tapering phase.

Here are half-marathon training schedules for beginner runners:

Run/Walk Half-Marathon Training Schedule

Follow this 12-week half-marathon training schedule and you’ll be able to run/walk to the finish line of your half marathon. You should have a base mileage of about 8 to 10 miles per week to begin this training program.

Beginner Half-Marathon Training Schedule

This 12-week schedule is for a beginner half-marathoner whose goal is run the half-marathon. You should have a base mileage of 8 to 10 miles per week to start this training schedule.

Advanced Beginner Half-Marathon Training Schedule

If the beginner schedule seems too easy for you, you may want to try this advanced beginner program. It's geared toward runners who can run up to 4 miles and are currently running four to five days a week.

Intermediate and Advanced Runners

If you have a little more running experience and feel like you're past the beginner stage, you could be ready for a half-marathon in anywhere from six to 10 weeks. Plan to run at least four to five days a week, with one or two days of cross-training, such as cycling or swimming. You can start after the first week of these programs if you already have the base mileage established.

Three Days a Week Half-Marathon Schedule

If you don't have a lot of time to train, this 16-week half marathon training plan may be for you.

It's based on three targeted runs per week: a tempo run, an interval run, and a long run.

Intermediate Half-Marathon Training Schedule

This 12-week half-marathon training program is geared toward intermediate runners who are already running about 30 to 60 minutes, about four to five times a week.

Advanced Half-Marathon Training Schedule

This 12-week half-marathon training program is geared toward experienced runners who can already run up to 8 miles comfortably.