Beginner Half Marathon Training Plans

Running a half marathon is completely different to running a 5k or 10k. To some extent, most moderately active people would be able to struggle around a 5k or 10k course without too much of a problem, but when it comes to racing a half marathon the game changes and things start to become much tougher. 

Training for a half marathon is not only essential, but if it is not approached in the correct way then you can risk an array of problems such as injury and over training, all of which can prevent you from crossing that finish line come race day.

The following programs are meant for runners who can run a 5k without stopping and they are structured over a three or four months period. Three months is the recommended minimum time that a beginner runner should aim to train for before they race the full HM, as anything shorter then this and you again risk injury or over training. It is better to take things slow and steady, so that you not only can run 13 miles comfortably on the day, but you are also minimizing the risk of injury in the lead up to the big race.

See the bottom of this article for the types of training sessions explained in more detail.

You need to have Microsoft Excel 2003 or later to be able to view these schedules. If you require them in another format or have any questions regarding any of the HM schedules then please email

Plan 1: Plodder Gonzalez

  • Duration: 3 months
  • Days Per Week: 3-4
  • Slant: Aimed at plodders who are looking to speed up their running
  • Download Link: Here

Speedy Gonzalez Screenshot:


Plodder Gonzalez Beginner Half Marathon Training Plan

Plan 2: Weekend Warrior

  • Duration: 3 months
  • Days Per Week: 3-4
  • Slant: Aimed at footballers/sports people etc, who are speedy but have no endurance and still want to play sport at the weekend.
  • Download Link: Here

Weekend Warrior Screenshot:


Weekend Warrior Beginner Half Marathon Training Plan

Plan 3: Slow and Steady

  • Duration: 3 months
  • Days Per Week: 3-4
  • Slant: Aimed at runners who don’t want to engage in any kind of speed work and prefer to run at whatever pace they feel like on the day. Increasing the weekly mileage is the name of the game with this beginner half marathon training plan.
  • Download Link: Here

Slow and Steady Screenshot:


Slow and Steady Beginner Half Marathon Training Schedule

Training Sessions Explained:

Long Run:

This is a run that is at a comfortable pace. You should be running at 30 seconds per minute mile above jogging and you should be able to sustain the pace for a mush longer amount of time than if you were running at your HM race pace. The idea behind this type of session is that it teaches your body to deal with lactic acid more efficiently and also provides the solid base mileage that conditions your body to running longer distances.

Race Pace Run:

A run that is at (or close to) your target race pace. In the beginning stages of your half marathon schedules try to run at a pace that is 30-60 seconds above your long run race pace. Don’t worry if this pace is miles off what you were hoping to run on race day as over time you will improve and then will be able to zero in on a realistic pace for race day. The trick it to try and sustain this pace week on week as your race pace runs mileage increase.

Sprint Work (400 and 800m Reps)

These are sessions of 400m and 800m sprint repetitions. They should be performed on a flat surface (unless you want to try running 800m sprints on a hill for added fitness) and comprise of 4-8 repetitions with 30-60 seconds rest in-between each rep. Over time you should increase the amount of reps, increase the distances from 400m to 800m and also decrease the recovery times in-between each rep.

These types of sprint sessions not only teach you how to run at speed, but they also increase your maximum lung capacity (VO2 Max), make you a more efficient runner, a stronger runner and also improve your race pace. They are tough sessions to run but they also reward you the greatest.

Cross Training

Cross training is essential if you are an injury prone runner. Incorporating gym session that includes squats, lunges and core work as well as a large amount of stretching is an excellent way of keeping injury at bay. If you hate gym work then swimming is a great option as it will improve your cardiovascular capacity as well as working your core. It is important to work your core as your core muscles provide stability when you run and allow you to run efficiently whilst minimizing the risk of injury.

Hill Reps.

This involves running for 60-120 seconds up a hill of varying degrees of incline (depending on how hard you want the hill reps session to be). You want to be running at close to your maximum intensity up the hill for at least 60 seconds so try to find a hill with a gradient that allows you to do this.

Hill reps are a great addition to any beginner half marathon training program as they improve leg power and running form – therefore helping you to run stronger and with less chance of injury.

When running up hills, try to remain relaxed and take shorter strides. Try to look up the hill and not at your feet. Allow yourself a jog recovery between each rep as you head back to your starting position. Try to do 6-10 of these repetitions if you can.

About Ross