Running a half-marathon is quite a big deal, you need to work for it, it takes time and regular training, and it is 21k after all.

Most folks can do a 5k with a couple of weeks of walking and jogging. A few weeks more and you can get the 10k under your belt, but a half-marathon is a completely different beast. It takes much longer to graduate too, more miles in training and more importance to a plan and diet.

You might be able to take a shortcut and get a 5k and a 10k done with a halfhearted training however, that will not work with the 21k though. If you have been running 10k distances regularly, you need to plan and start training at least 4-5 months prior.

Since it is quite a long commitment, priority number one needs to be to stay healthy and have no injuries. If you are going to be able to stay injury free it only means you will be able to be consistent with training and that is most important when preparing for the distance.

Few things to keep in mind when starting off, is to build endurance that means more weekly mileage. It needs to be increased gradually and you need to be getting up to at least 50km per week.

Long runs are usually mentally hard and at times could be boring. A great way to make it interesting or look forward to heading for a long run is through finding a running partner. Only make sure you are running with people at a similar level.

Here’s a 16-week running plan that takes the guesswork out of your training. At the end of the fourth month, you should be able to run your first half marathon.

Note: The below plan has taken into consideration that you are able to run at least 10km.


Week 1 and 2

Starting out these two weeks, keep things easy, focus on getting on a schedule.

  • Monday, Tuesday – Put in an easy paced 5 km runs depending on how you feel.
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday, Friday – Put in easy paced 5 km runs.
  • Saturday – Long run, keep it easy and put in about 7 km.

Before your run, warm up with a very slow jog/walk of about 2km and the same after your run. You can also do some bit of stretching after your runs.


Week 3 and 4

  • Can be very similar to the week 1 and 2 except now you can add some strides before your runs, about 5-7 of them.
  • Your Saturday long run can be increased by about 1 or 2

Week 5

  • Monday – “Hill Reps”. Find a gradual hill, where you can run up for at least 30sec. Do about 10 of these, going up at a fast pace, and recovering on the downhill, walking if need be.
  • Tuesday – Recovery from Monday, easy paced 5 km.
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday and Friday – Easy paced 5km
  • Saturday – Long run, keep it easy and put in about 10km

Warming up, stretching and cooling down correctly are fundamental, yet often overlooked parts of any training program.


Week 6 and 7

  • Monday – Do 1km strides (Repeat 3 times, with 500m walks in between.)
  • Tuesday – Recovery run, an easy 5km
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday and Friday – Easy paced 5k
  • Saturday – Long run going up to 10km

Running Essentials – Training and Nutrition by Kieren D’souza
Credits: Kieren

Week 8

  • Monday – “Hill Reps”. Find a gradual hill, where you can run up for at least 30sec. Do about 10 of these, going up at a fast pace, and recovering on the downhill, walking if need be.
  • Tuesday – Recovery from Monday, easy paced 5 km.
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday and Friday – Easy paced 5km
  • Saturday – Long run going up to 10km

Week 9

  • Monday – Fartlek 7km. Fartlek training is simply defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running.
  • Tuesday – Recovery from Monday, easy paced 5 km.
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday & Friday – Easy paced 5km
  • Saturday – Long run going up to 10km

IF YOU ARE HURT, STOP RUNNING

There is a difference between hurting and being hurt. It’s essential to listen to and learn from your body throughout your training.

Week 10

  • Monday – Do 1.5 km strides (Repeat 3 times, with 800m walks in between.)
  • Tuesday – Recovery run, an easy 7km
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday and Friday – Easy paced 7km
  • Saturday – Long run going up to 12km

Week 11

  • Monday – 1 min dash followed by 1min normal running (Repeat for about 20min)
  • Tuesday – Recovery run, an easy 7km
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday & Friday – Easy paced 7km
  • Saturday – Long run going up to 15km

Week 12

  • Monday – Do 1.5 km strides (Repeat 3 times, with 800m walk in between.)
  • Tuesday – Recovery run, an easy 7km
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday and Friday – Easy paced 7km
  • Saturday – Long run going up to 15km

Week 13

  • Monday – Do 800m dashes (Repeat 5 times, with 400m walk in between.)
  • Tuesday – Recovery run. Easy 7km
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday and Friday – Easy paced 7km
  • Saturday – Long run up to 10km at race pace

Week 14

  • Monday – Do 800 m dashes (Repeat 5 times with 400m walks in between.)
  • Tuesday – Recovery run, an easy 7km
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday & Friday – Easy paced 7km
  • Saturday – Long run going up to 18km

Week 15

  • Monday – Do 1.5 km strides (Repeat 3 times, with 500m walks in between.)
  • Tuesday – Recovery run, an easy 7km
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday and Friday – Easy paced 5km
  • Saturday – Long run going up to 12km

Week 16

  • Monday – Easy paced 7km
  • Tuesday – Easy paced 7km
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday & Friday – Easy paced 7km
  • Saturday – Easy paced 7km

Be sure to give yourself a few days of recovery after the race. Use the below table as a visual guide and get ready to tackle your Marathon.

Training Table - Running Your First Half Marathon
TRAINING TABLE

While training plans are important, it is important to also fuel well. Why fuel well? because to run and train regularly what we eat makes a difference. I try and follow a simple diet, eating loads of veggies, nuts, grams, and things I can cook at home. I make lots of salads and love juices. I have also started making lots of nut milk which I drink regularly.

For your reference, here’s a Training and Nutrition running essentials guide to help you ace your running game.

Good nutrition should be a part of your ongoing training, not something you start to do only in the weeks leading up to the race.

Even during races, we need to focus on fueling our bodies, for a half marathon I will normally have a gel about 20min before the start of the race, during the race I will have one gel at about the 15km point and have a little bit of water at one or two aid stations. I understand many people may take much longer than 2hrs for a half marathon, so you may need to consume a gel or two more, maybe even have a small energy bar, and naturally hydrate quite a bit more as well.

YOU ARE NOT RUNNING FOR YOUR LIFE ENJOY IT…

Running is a sport I truly believe to be a sport in which you get what you put in. There are no shortcuts and easy ways around it. So train hard, smart, consistent and with a smile. Good luck training and racing your first Half Marathon.

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Kieren D'souza

Author: Kieren D’souza

Kieren D’Souza is an Indian ultramarathon runner and endurance athlete. As of October 2016, he is the only Indian to qualify for and finish the Spartathlon in Greece. You can easily bump into him in Manali where he lives and trains for his races.

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Running your first Half-Marathon?

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