Beginners Half Marathon Training

Beginners Half Marathon Training.

Are you thinking about running your first half marathon?

If so then check out this beginners half marathon training guide, which will explain what sort of training you will need to do.

Working with an athletics coach or a good personal trainer will ensure that your training plan is specific to your age, training age and target time.

Preparatory phase:

Can you already run 5KM in under 30 minutes?

Are you already close to your ‘fighting weight’ and not carrying excessive body fat?

If you are overweight or aren’t able to run a sub-30 minute 5KM, then I would suggest using a combination of running and interval training to ‘get some miles in your legs’ and to burn fat, reducing bodyweight.

Everyone is built differently, but if you are carrying too much additional weight then there is a good chance that you will get injured during distance training – lose the excess weight and build up your running ability and confidence before you start the main beginners half marathon training programme.

The main programme:

Your training programme should last for about 12 weeks.

You will be training 3-4 times per week.

Make sure that you have a target time in mind for your half marathon – and make it realistic!

If you can already run a sub-30 minute 5KM then with some good quality training, a sub-2 hour half marathon is realistic.

Here is what a beginners half marathon training programme should involve:

Long steady runs:

These get your body used to running progressively longer distances.

Aim to run at your target race pace, and to build the distance up week by week.

For example from 5KM in week 1 up to 16KM by week 12.

Tempo runs:

These get your body used to working at above your target race pace, meaning that you feel comfortable when you return to running at your ‘normal’ pace!

Aim to run tempo runs at 10% above your target race pace.

Run at your regular pace for 5 minutes before and for 5 minutes after your tempo running.

Start with 5 minutes of tempo running and build it up to 20 minutes over the 12 weeks.

Speed-endurance runs:

These will improve your foot speed, lower body conditioning and your ability to utilise oxygen.

Aim to run speed-endurance runs at 20-30% above your target race pace.

Start with 4 runs of 600m with 3 minutes rest in between each run.

Build it up to 6 runs of 600m, then 4 runs of 800m and finally 6 runs of 800m by week 12.

Recovery runs:

These are short, light runs to warm your body down after tough long runs or speed runs.

Keep these comfortable and keep the mileage low, working from 3KM recovery runs up to 8KM runs by the end of your training.

Strength and flexibility training:

These will maintain body balance, metabolism and upper body strength (for the recreational runner) during your half marathon training.

Train the whole body one session per week, keeping the rep range fairly high.

Work some lower body exercises too and make sure to spend some time stretching the lower body.

This will help aid recovery and reduce the risk of injury.

Small amounts of strength training will help rather than hinder your running, and provide a welcome psychological break from running, running and more running!

Make sure that you also include regular sports massage as part of your training programme.

A massage every 1-2 weeks will help training recovery and once again reduce injury risk.


Now you know what a beginners half marathon training programme should include, so what are you waiting for….?

Get running!

Contact us at for general health and fitness advice – or if you need help with planning your half marathon training programme.

Written by 

Sam is a Premier Diploma qualified personal trainer in SW London and is the founder of

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