Training for Half-Marathon in a Month

Water's Edge Half Marathon Starting Line
Water's Edge Half Marathon Starting Line. Wendy Bumgardner ©

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?

The answer depends on your current level of fitness. The first question to ask yourself is whether you can already run 3.2 miles (5K). If you're a healthy person who's ran 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 a 5K multiple times per week, it's wiser to switch to a shorter distance event such as a 10K (six miles) or 5K (three miles) to avoid injury. Most people should be able to finish a 5K or 10K distance without any problems only a month of training—or even no training to speak of.

Another major consideration: To safely and responsibly participate, it's important to feel confident that you'll be able to finish before the closing time of the event. Walk and race event hosts 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 to be sure you'll finish before the race closes.

How to Do It

The key to crash training is building fitness quickly with frequency and intensity. 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 This Way

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

Each week thereafter you should increase the distance of that 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 and 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, which 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. Sweat softens your skin and makes it more prone to blisters when your foot rubs against your shoe. You can also use a lubricant and/or corn starch on your feet to keep them dry and reduce friction.

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.

Gear Up

A rule for long-distance walks is "nothing new on race day." Wear your race socks, shoes, shorts/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, you'll want to wear them on a few shorter walks before wearing them on your long training days.

Snacks and Sports Drink

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 they give you problems, you may want to carry your own. Note how often there will be water stops and decide whether you need to carry water with you.

Race Day

By now you should know when and when to drink and what energy snacks you'll use. 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 and meet at the finish area afterward.

Do It Right Next Time

To keep yourself on course, schedule your training walks in the future.

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.

Was this page helpful?
Article 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. Runner's World. Beginner Half Marathon Training Tips to Set You Up for Success on Race Day. August 12, 2019.

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

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