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Half Marathon Training For Beginners- How To Get Started

Updated on October 18, 2014
Training for a Half Marathon Race
Training for a Half Marathon Race

Top Training Tips For Half Marathons For Beginners

If you are a beginner to the half marathon, then I hope this article will really help you out with your training. The half marathon race has simply exploded in popularity over the last couple of years. Many runners are now starting to get into this particular event and raise some money for charity.

The full blown marathon is something great to achieve, but for a great number of people, the training and the distance is just a bit too much. The half marathon at just over 13 miles (21 Km) is however a distance that most people can tackle. The other great news is that even someone who has spent the last few years sitting on the couch, can train for this distance and be ready, in about 12 weeks.

That is one of the main reasons why this race is proving to be so popular. Because of this the great news is that many charities are also starting to see the real benefits from the efforts of the runners. The good news is that there are always plenty of races available and as long as you train properly, then there will always be a good chance to actually start and finish a race.

Images: My pictures and some from Amazon

How Long Is A Half Marathon?
How Long Is A Half Marathon?

How Long Is A Half Marathon?

Before starting out on a training schedule or plan just pause for a moment and think a little about what you are taking on. The distance is exactly half of a full marathon and slightly over 13 miles.

What Is A Good Time For A Beginner Half Marathon?

The average time taken by runners is around 2 hours.

So essentially, if you plan to take this on, and I think you should, your training plan will need to ensure that by the end of it you can cover this distance in and around two hours. Now clearly this time will change depending on a variety of factors. Essentially that will come down to your level of fitness, your age, your diet and many other elements. Aiming at around 2 hours is simply a good guideline for the majority of average beginners to the half marathon event.

The world record for men is under an hour and for women slightly over the hour. I doubt very much if any of us will ever achieve those sort of times, but it does show you what can be achieved. A more realistic time for us is around the 1.5 -2 hours, and with a good plan that can be easily achieved.

When beginners start out they are usually excited to get started. That is a great thing, and as long as that enthusiasm is delivered, using a well tried and tested plan then you should get off to a flying start. I would strongly advise though that you avoid rushing into trying to run long distances when starting out.

The half marathon is 13 miles and for most people they will need to gradually work their way up to that distance, over a period of weeks. It just makes sense to start with shorter distances and then add on a few miles each week. That way you can start to build up your stamina as you start doing the extra distance.

Two Seconds Of Your Time Please

Have You Ever Run A Half Marathon?

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Kit Required For Distance Running

Before starting out on your training runs you will need some pretty basic kit. Now some people do go a little bit crazy here and buy a lot of kit with big brand names. The reality is that the kit you need will depend on the weather in which you will be training and running.


In these months all you really need is:

  • T-shirt
  • Shorts
  • Socks
  • Running shoes


In these months you will need the above plus what are called some layers. The best way of keeping warm, especially during the winter, is to put on a few light layers of clothing. Avoid heavy fleeces. You will also need:

  • A waterproof jacket
  • Hat and gloves
  • Running tights are optional
  • Running Shoes

Out of all the bits and bobs that I have mentioned here the only thing I would encourage you to spend money on is the running shoes. These will be your friend and it is these that will make you feel comfortable, help prevent injury, and improve your performance.

Spend your money on these and get them properly fitted at a sport's shop that offers what is called a "Gait Test." Runners actually run with a different gait, and that is determined by the shape of the feet. Watch the video below to get a much better understanding of this as it is vitally important.

ASICS Running Shoes for Distances

ASICS Men's GEL-Nimbus 14 Running Shoe
ASICS Men's GEL-Nimbus 14 Running Shoe
These are the top selling running shoes for distance running. They will ensure hours of comfortable running. I wear these myself and I bought them based on the great reviews and value for money

Understand Running Gaits

It is vitally important to understand what gait is and what it means. In this video at the Sport's Medicine Centre, experts take you through just how important it is, to fully understand what gait is, and how it will impact on your running.

What Is Gait?

It looks at the mechanics of how you move. Not everyone runs exactly the same way, mainly because our feet have a slightly different structure. Some people's feet roll inwards and some roll out the way. There are also various different degrees of this.

If you wear the wrong type of shoes then your body adjusts to these and you can end up with injuries like hamstring problems, lower back problems and pulled or torn muscles.

This short video will answer why this happens and more importantly how you can get it right.

How To Find The Perfect Long Distance Running Shoes

Half Marathon Training for Ladies

It is great when you go to an event like your local half marathon and find that more and more ladies are joining in at this great event. I regularly train with many of them and we all share the same idea of wanting to run the full marathon.

This is a great stepping stone to achieving that longer distance. Many of us started at a 10K distance and have now completed quite a few half marathons. There is no real difference between the training plan for a man and a woman.

Clearly there is a difference in what we wear, but other than that the same routines apply as does the same training regime. You can check out the video below where Sara Hall offers some great beginner tips for female half marathon runners who are just beginning on their journey.

Top 5 Training Tips for a Half Marathon

Top Tips for Marathon Running

Half Marathon Training Plan For Beginners

Half Marathon Training Plan
Half Marathon Training Plan

12 Weeks Training Plan for Half Marathon Running

If you have never trained before, or have not trained for a long time, then I have some good news for you. A 12-week training plan will allow you to be able to compete in a half marathon and be able to finish it.

If you are already fit, then of course depending on your actual fitness level, it will take less than 12 weeks. Any good training plan will start you off with running shorter distances, and then gradually build up the training distance over the 12-week period. That is the key to success.

Kindle Book On How To Run The Half Marathon

I have been running half marathons for a long time. Along with a colleague of mine we are co-authors of this book. We found when we were looking for information on running half marathons that there was not actually a book that was dedicated to running this race.

There were many distance running books and hundreds of books on the longer marathon but none on this specific 13.1 mile distance.

With the experience we both have, we then decided to write one.

Related Half Marathon Links

I found a number of useful resources that are all helpful if you have decided to take up distance running. I hope that you find them useful

I Would Love To Hear Your Comments - Pleas Feel Free To Leave Them Here and Thanks

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    • endamclarnon profile imageAUTHOR

      Enda McLarnon 

      7 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      @Joebeducci: Thanks for this advice. Some people do highly recommend interval training. Personally I believe that helps greatly when you are looking to improve your half marathon time. For beginners I think it is important to master the distance before adding variations in pace.

    • endamclarnon profile imageAUTHOR

      Enda McLarnon 

      7 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      @anonymous: Thanks very much. Yes it really is all about following a simple training plan.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Lots of great info here.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Some good tips, although I would recommend some interval training in your training schedule. Always running the same pace won't make you much faster, but when you do some different tempo's you will. Greets, Joebeducci


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