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Training Schedule for a Half Marathon

Updated on June 19, 2013
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Completing a half marathon is a goal that resonates with most people who enjoy active lifestyles. Those who enjoy running might run several half marathons each year. Individuals who run less often might focus on one or two to keep them in shape. Others often look at a half marathon as their ultimate objective. Regardless, following a training schedule for a half marathon is necessary for all.


Pre-Training Necessities

Most people can complete a half marathon as long as they are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to train properly. However, before undertaking a training schedule for a half marathon, the runner must be certain that he or she is healthy enough to continue with the plan. It is wise to schedule a physical to make sure that one's heart and joints are physically capable of sustaining the long runs necessary to have a successful venture.


It is necessary to have the ability to complete semi-long runs before embarking on a half marathon program. Runners must be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping. They should also have been doing so for no less than three months. This base helps to condition the body for the longer runs. It also helps to improve speed, which can be important for those races that have a time limit.


Oakland Running Festival
Oakland Running Festival | Source

Choose a Race

Many runners chose to follow a half marathon program for a specific race. Sometimes the race is in a location that the runner always wished to visit. At other times the race supports a charity that is particularly meaningful. For most runners, registering for a race in advance helps to keep them on track with their half marathon program. It is important, however, to make sure to choose a race that is far enough out that ample time is given for the training plan.


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Proper Gear

Running can be accomplished with little more than a pair of running shoes and comfortable clothes. However, running long distances may require a few more items. It is wise for those on a training plan for half marathon to train with the equipment they plan to use so that they can used to the weight, bulk, and sensations of certain items. Must-have items are:


Running Shoes

Though there currently is a trend for barefoot running, most runners and sports medicine physicians agree that running shoes are an absolute necessity. Novice runners should visit a specialty running store to get a stride analysis so that they may choose the shoe that is best for their feet.


Hydration

Though many half marathon courses provide ample aid stations, it is smart for runners to be prepared to carry their own fluid replacements. Some like to use handheld water bottles for their long runs. Most runners prefer hydration belts, which hold from one to four bottles and leave the hands free during running. When following a half marathon program, runners should make sure that the device is in place for every run. Otherwise, the added weight of the belt or the friction it causes against the skin can cause major problems during the run.


Moisture Wicking Socks

A runner might proceed on a training plan for half marathon with regular cotton socks and suffer few consequences. However, for only a small investment, moisture wicking socks can keep feet cooler and more comfortable. This prevents blisters, which are a serious problem on a 13.1 mile run.


Sunscreen

It doesn't matter where one lives. Every training plan for half marathon takes runners out of doors, which means they must protect their skin from the harsh rays of the sun. Unless all runs take place after dark or before sunrise, runners can develop sunburn even in the middle of winter. This can lead to skin cancer and melanoma.


Anti-Chafing Stick

Skin rubbing against skin or fabric that is either too tight or too loose creates chafing. A person who is accustomed to short runs may not be aware of the pain that is caused by this skin irritation. Those who have followed a training schedule for a half marathon know that the pain is all too real. An anti-chafing stick applied to any area that is prone to chafing can prevent this problem completely. Vaseline can also be used, though the mess it leaves behind is almost as irritating as the chafing itself.


Other items are not necessities for all runners. However, they can make a half marathon program much more comfortable. These items include:

- GPS Watch

- Compression Sleeves

- Reflective Gear for Night Runs

- Sunglasses

- Energy Gels


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Novice Half Marathon Training Schedule

Once all of the pre-training prep work has taken place and the novice runner has developed a base, the training plan for half marathon can commence. It is important to follow the training schedule closely. This requires a dedicated, concerted effort to run each day just as planned regardless of other obstacles that might hinder the runner's efforts.


The training schedule for a half marathon consists of four days of running each week. Two of these days are made up of short runs of three to four miles each. The third day is what is considered a semi-long run. This semi-long run grows in length over the course of the training plan for half marathon, starting at three miles and reaching an ultimate length of six. The fourth run is a long run, which culminates at 12 miles.


A standard half marathon training schedule is comprised of 10 weeks. Following is a sample. This can be altered to include speed work for those who wish to improve their pace. It can also be lengthened by repeating some or all weeks for those who need to take a little longer to reach their goals. The days of the weeks can also be changed to fit best with the runner's schedule. However, the long run should be sandwiched by rest days so that the runner's body has appropriate recovery time.


Week 1st

Day
Mi
Km
Monday
3
4.8
Wednesday
3
4.8
Thursday
3
4.8
Saturday
4
6.4

Week 2nd

Day
Mi
Km
Monday
3
4.8
Wednesday
4
6.4
Thursday
3
4.8
Saturday
5
8.0

Week 3th

Day
Mi
Km
Monday
3
4.8
Wednesday
4
6.4
Thursday
3
4.8
Saturday
6
9.7

Week 4th

Day
Mi
Km
Monday
3
4.8
Wednesday
5
8.0
Thursday
3
4.8
Saturday
8
12.9

Week 5th

Day
Mi
Km
Monday
3
4.8
Wednesday
5
8.0
Thursday
3
4.8
Saturday
10
16.1

Week 6th

Day
Mi
Km
Monday
4
6.4
Wednesday
5
8.0
Thursday
4
6.4
Saturday
11
17.7

Week 7th

Day
Mi
Km
Monday
4
6.4
Wednesday
6
9.7
Thursday
4
6.4
Saturday
12
19.3

Week 8th

Day
Mi
Km
Monday
4
6.4
Wednesday
5
8.0
Thursday
4
6.4
Saturday
9
14.5

Week 9th

Day
Mi
Km
Monday
3
4.8
Wednesday
4
6.4
Thursday
3
4.8
Saturday
8
12.9

Week 10th

Day
Mi
Km
Monday
3
4.8
Wednesday
3
4.8
Saturday
Race day
Race day


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Nutrition for a Half Marathon

Training for the half marathon is the largest part of preparedness. However, nutrition does play a key role. Runners must fuel themselves properly before embarking on a long run. However, carb-loading, as it is called, does not give runners a license to eat excessive amounts of bread and pasta. Instead, runners should eat nutritious foods that are as clean as possible. This means that foods that are high in preservatives, additives, and sodium should be left on the supermarket shelves. Lean meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole grains are the order of the day for runners. Runners should also supplement their diets with a multivitamin.


Nutrition during and after a half marathon run is important as well. Long runs can deplete energy stores, which is why many runners like to snack on the go. Energy bars and nutrition gels are easy to carry options for training runs. Most large races offer bananas and orange slices as well. After a run, a glass of chocolate milk and piece of fruit will suffice to replace any nutrition that has been lost.



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Last Minute Questions

Race day can be nerve-racking for the first time half marathoner. Preparedness can alleviate most worries. Packet pickup for large races is usually one to two days before the race. This event offers the chance to ask any questions that may arise. If traveling, make sure to allow plenty of time to get to the starting line. It is not uncommon to find many people waiting anxiously for 30 minutes to an hour before a race is to begin. Be sure to have extra safety pins on hand for the bib. Make sure that the bib and tracking device are affixed carefully. If running with a pace group, the pace leader is happy to answer questions as well.


Following a training schedule for a half marathon is the best way to be prepared for this fun and exciting day. A great deal of pride can be found by training well and dedicating oneself to the race. Many first-time half marathoners find themselves relaxing for only a few days before training again. Once the racing bug bites, there is generally no turning back. Every healthy person owes it to themselves to find out if they'll be bitten by the half-marathon bug as well.


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I miss running. Back in high school and college i used to run a lot. Better start looking for my running shoes again. :)

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