Training for Half-Marathon in a Month

woman running with hand weights

Verywell / Ryan Kelly

It's a common scenario: You registered for a half-marathon or a walking event months ago thinking you had plenty of time to train. But then life got in the way and now you realize you haven't done any real training and the half is only a month away.

Ideally, you want to start training for a half marathon at least two to three months in advance. But now that there's only a month left to go before race day, what can you do to ensure you're prepared?

Pre-Training Considerations

The first question to ask yourself is whether you can already run or walk 3.2 miles (a 5K). If you're a healthy person who's covered that distance consistently during the past month, you should be able to finish a 13.1-mile course—though you may wind up walking with blisters and others aches and pains during those last few miles.

If you aren't already regularly running or walking a 5K multiple times per week, it's wiser to switch to a shorter distance event to avoid injury. Most people should be able to finish a 5K or 10K distance without any problems on only a month of training—or even no training to speak of.

Another major consideration is the time allotted for the race. To safely and responsibly participate, it's important that you be able to finish before the closing time of the event.

Race events close down water stops and open the course to traffic on a set schedule. If you're lagging, you upset the entire system and endanger yourself. Try to accurately predict your finish time and, if you don't think you'll be done in time, consider switching to a shorter distance event.

How to Train for a Half Marathon in One Month

The key to crash training for a half marathon is building fitness quickly with frequency and intensity. These tips can help.

Follow a Training Plan

If you plan to run or run/walk your half marathon, follow a training plan designed specifically for those goals. Options to consider include:

While these plans were created for longer training times (12 weeks), some of the same techniques and approaches can still be helpful even if you only have 30 days to train.

Do Cardio Daily

Doing some cardio every day except for your rest day will help you make the most of the short time you have. If you can maintain discipline and stick to these strategies, chances are good that you'll be able to go the distance.

Walk Once a Week

Every week for the next month, take a long walk one day a week, perhaps on your rest day. Your first long walk should be a mile farther than your usual workout walk. That means if you can already walk 6 miles, aim to walk 7 miles once the first week.

Each week thereafter, increase the distance of your long walk by another mile. If you can do this without experiencing blisters or muscle strain, you may be able to do a hurry-up schedule and bump up the distance by two miles each week.

Keep Blisters at Bay

The increase in distance and walking time will test your mental and physical endurance. It may also cause blisters. Your feet aren't used to the long mileage and you don't have time to slowly toughen them up.

You'll need to find the right recipe—stat!—to prevent foot blisters. If you don't, these fluid-filled sacs can take several days to heal, possibly setting your training back even further.

Start by switching to socks made of wicking fabric rather than cotton, which holds moisture next to your skin. You can also use a lubricant and/or corn starch on your feet to keep them dry and reduce friction against your shoes.

Employ the Buddy System

Training with friends is fun and workout partners can be a source of inspiration and support. They can also provide an opportunity to share ideas and strategies. Consider a partner who's at or above your fitness level. That way you can challenge each other and help push each other when you need it.

If you're going to walk with friends on the day of the event, it's wise to have trained together for a couple of your long-distance days. You may discover your paces aren't compatible and that it's best for you to split up during the race, meeting at the finish area afterward.

Gear Up

A rule for long-distance walks is "nothing new on race day." Wear your race socks, shoes, shorts or tights, top, and hat on your long training walks. If you're going to be wearing a costume for the race, it's even more important to make sure you can walk in it.

If you need new shoes, now is the time to get them. You want shoes that are broken in but still fresh, with between 80 and 150 walking miles on them. To help prevent blisters, wear them on a few shorter walks before wearing them on your long training days.

Snacks and Sports Drinks

It is of the utmost importance to stay hydrated and well-fueled. Be sure you know what and when to drink and what energy snacks you'll use. Find out from the race website what sports drink and snacks they're providing on the course and use those on your long training walks.

If these snacks or drinks give you problems, you may want to carry your own. Also note how often there will be water stops and decide whether you need to carry water with you.

Commit to Adequate Training Time for Future Races

Just because you didn't have much training time for this race, that doesn't mean that you can't plan better in the future. To keep yourself on course, schedule your training walks for races you plan to run in the upcoming months. These resources can help:

A Word From Verywell

If your event is approaching and you don't have the ability to get in a minimum amount of training, it's no crime to skip the event. You may save yourself from an injury and you won't divert event staff from their duties.

While many event fees aren't refundable, sometimes you can transfer to a shorter event or a future event. It doesn't hurt to ask. Use this as a lesson learned to schedule your training better for your next race or event.

4 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. Carter K. Beginner Half Marathon Training Tips to Set You Up for Success on Race Day. Runner's World. Jun 18, 2020.

  2. Macur J. Plodders Have a Place, but Is It in a Marathon?. The New York Times. October 22, 2009.

  3. Spriker T. 6 Reasons Why Rest Days Can Actually Help You Run Stronger. Runner's World. December 11, 2018.

  4. O'neal EK, Wingo JE, Richardson MT, Leeper JD, Neggers YH, Bishop PA. Half-marathon and full-marathon runners' hydration practices and perceptions. J Athl Train. 2011;46(6):581-91. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-46.6.581

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.