Beginner's 8 Week Half Marathon Training Schedule - A Plan to Help You Succeed

Getting started to train for a half marathon can be very intimidating, but it need not be. Half the battle may be simply getting enough motivation to get off the couch and lace up your favorite sneakers.

Now you might be thinking, "who has the time??" I thought the same thing. When I was ready to attempt my first half marathon, it seemed as if all the training programs were 12 weeks, or even longer! I immediately decided that I simply do not have the attention span to work on something that long, so I developed my own 8-week training program.

Now, I am not a running expert, nor will I ever be. I have, however, completed several half marathons and marathons using this training program. While I am not the fastest person (nor am I the slowest), I am one of the most determined. And I am here to tell you that when you reach mile 10 of a 13.1 mile race, you will need loads of determination. Just keep in mind what an accomplishment it is to set an endurance goal, train for it, and achieve your goal of running a half marathon. Like they say, if it were easy, everyone would do it.

Before you get started, just a few housekeeping matters. Make sure you are healthy enough to start a running program. Check with your doctor, start slow, eat right, get plenty of rest, but most important... Listen to your body! Remember this advice during your training, as well as during your half marathon, and you'll have a great experience.

WEEK
Mon.
Tues.
Wed.
Thurs.
Fri.
Sat.
Sun.
1
Day-off
2 miles easy
30 minutes - cross training
2 miles easy
Day-off
30-35 minutes - cross training
4 miles
2
Day-off
2.5 miles easy
30 minutes - cross training
2.5 miles easy
Day-off
30-35 minutes - cross training
5 miles
3
Day-off
3 miles easy
30 minutes - cross training
3 miles easy
Day-off
35-45 minutes - cross training
6 miles
4
Day-off
3.5 miles easy
30 minutes - cross training
3.5 miles easy
Day-off
35-45 minutes - cross training
7 miles
5
Day-off
4 miles easy
30 minutes - cross training
4 miles easy
Day-off
50 minutes - cross training
8 miles
6
Day-off
4.5 miles easy
30 minutes - cross training
4.5 miles easy
Day-off
55 minutes - cross training
9 miles
7
Day-off
5 miles easy
30 minutes - cross training
5 miles easy
Day-off
60 minutes - cross training
10 miles
8
Day-off
2 miles easy
30 minutes - cross training
2 miles easy
Day-off
Day-off
Half Marathon!

The 8-Week Training Program

A lot of training programs will have you running most days of the week. My experience has been that is not necessary, and you run the risk of injuring yourself. As you can see in this 8-week schedule, you only run on three (3) days of the week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Sundays), cross train on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and allow your muscles to recover on Mondays and Fridays. It's that simple.

Cross Training

Cross training can be anything you enjoy. The goal with cross training is to build your cardio strength, and muscles, without the high impact effect of running. This can be accomplished by biking, strength training, swimming, or even walking.

One of my favorite things to do on cross training days, especially when I wasn't able to get outside, was my favorite kick-boxing video. It's called 10 Minute Solution Kickbox Bootcamp. I would typically complete 3 or 4 of the 10 minute segments. It was a lot of fun, and surprisingly effective.

Rest Days

Seriously, take these days off. You might think initially that you will be helping yourself by running or cross training on these days, but I am here to tell you that your muscles, as well as your brain, needs rest. Don't overdo it, and don't burn yourself out.

Pacing During Runs

On the "easy" run days, run at a comfortable pace. On your Sunday runs, you are geting yourself ready for your half marathon. Try to run at, or a little slower, than your goal race day pace.

Jeff Galloway, running guru with Run Disney events, talks a lot about doing a run/walk combination pace. This is where you run for a certain number of minutes or seconds, alternating with a set number of seconds walking. I have found this to be very beneficial, if only to give me permission to walk. If you choose to use this method, you can employ it on both your "easy" and Sunday runs.

Running Gear

I would suggest, if at all possible, train with the running gear that you plan to utilize on the day of the race. If you are going to wear a nutrition belt and carry your own fluids, train with it. If you are going to wear an armband for your phone, or ipod, train with it. I cannot imagine trying to wear one of these items on race day, when you are not already used to wearing or using it. You simply don't need the distraction.

OK....Now that you're healthy, fully of determination and excited, let's GET OUT THERE!

And Remember, just KEEP CALM AND RUN 13.1!!!!

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