How To Train For A Half Marathon Properly

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How to train for a half marathon?

There is no magic formula for training for a half marathon.

The best runners will tell you that experimentation and persistence is what assisted them in learning what was the best methods for training for a half marathon race.

Running is complicated. It doesn’t necessarily have to be if you are just in the sport for fitness and to lose weight.

It is when you start to set time goals for yourself where specific training comes into play.

The first time I ran the half marathon I was attending Malone University. I needed a 1.15.00 or better to qualify for the 1999 NAIA National Marathon Championships.

I ran 1.13.21 in a half marathon in Cleveland. It was my first attempt at the half marathon distance.

running training plansI was ecstatic but at the same time my goal was to run 2.22.00 and I knew at that particular time in my development I was not prepared to put together two back-to-back 1.11.00 half marathons

You have to have a long-term approach whether you are preparing for a half marathon or a weight loss objective.

I wish it happened faster, believe me I do but you can’t be in a rush.

I certainly was and had to slow down. I was a junior in college and I wasn’t born with the talent level that guys breaking that time in college, my age had.

It took me another 8 years before I broke that 2.22.00 marathon barrier in December of 2007.

Shorter Distance = A Higher Anaerobic Focus

The shorter the race the more speed in involved. The half marathon is still very much an aerobic event compared to the 200m to the 10,000m track events.

The events are very much anaerobic means you really have to be focused on speed. You still have to have a good deal of endurance but speed is where you make your money.

The half marathon is different. It still involves speed but you have to focus a lot more on building sustained stamina and endurance.

What Are Your Goals?

The beauty of this sport is everyone is different.

There are some athletes who run 120 miles a week training for half-marathons.

That being said, there are many others who run less than half of that volume and produce the same or better results than the higher mileage runner.

It is all individual and what works for some may not work for others.

My wife, for example, does not do speed work that often. She prefers to just more in the miles and she listens closely to what her body is telling her.

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Speed work may not be your forte. You may prefer doing long runs and tempo efforts. It all depends on what your goals are and how you choose to train, what works best for you.

I write a lot about race pace training here at but truth is, this may not work best for other runners. It depends a lot on what the goals of the athlete are.

Is your goal to lose weight and you want to try to run your first half marathon?

If you were to ask me how to train for a half marathon my answer would be very different than if someone who has been running them for years and wants to know more specifics i.e. holding pace, reacting to surges, fuel consumption.

What I Would Tell A Novice

I would first try to get the athlete to think in smaller chunks rather than the big picture. I would never want to overwhelm a beginner with terms like anaerobic threshold, aerobic capacity etc.

The biggest objective beginners who want to know how to train for a half marathon is just focusing on building up endurance. It can be daunting for anyone who has never raced, for example, farther than a 5K.

The athlete has never run more than 5 miles and is considering training for a half-marathon. Laying a strong mileage foundation is key.

What do some of the world’s top coaches do?

Some of the world’s top coaches prefer starting training with speed work first and than building into longer hard runs, tempo workouts, whereas others are more keen on doing it the other way around.

A beginner should gradually build up their strength and stamina to run longer than the race distance and this takes times.

You don’t start off the first week or two doing 15-mile long runs. It doesn’t work like that so patience is your friend is what I would tell the novice.

Again, it goes back to what we have discussed in the past. What are your goals and what has worked best for you in the past. I would tell a novice the same thing I would tell an advanced athlete.

If a time goal is your objective a razor sharp focus on practicing at the pace you wish to race for longer periods of time is the key. It doesn’t matter if you are a 4 hour half-marathoner or a sub 2.20 marathoner.

It comes down to this. Are you able to sustain race pace? It is either you have done your homework and prepared to do so or not. The results will not lie.

How Race Pace Training Can Help You

It isn’t just being able to sustain race pace in your race. It is the whole idea of being able to enter a race not having the stress and concern that so many other runners let control them.

I am just being honest. I worried myself sick over the years worrying if I did everything right, did I get enough sleep, have I put in enough mileage.

All these factors that you don’t really need to mentally concern yourself with.

It took time to just let go. Trust the training and get to the race relaxed, in control and ready to roll, baby.

That is the way to do it. How many times have you arrived to the start line and saw runners all around you stressed the F out. Why do we do this to ourselves. Seriously.

Everyone Is An Artist

Training should always be the hardest part of the process. Racing should be the fun part. The time to celebrate all of your hard work.

Everyone is an artist and when you get out on the roads, whether you are 40 pounds overweight, running your first half marathon, or trying to get a personal best, it all comes down to getting into the arena and giving it a shot.

There are so many people in the world, for whatever reason, will never attempt what you are doing so create your art when you run, train and race.

Faster training produces faster race results and gives you the confidence that you need on race morning. You don’t need to waste your mental energy by over rehearsing everything you are going to do the night before the race.

Have confidence in your training and you’ll get to the race so much more relaxed that you will feel totally in control in the race.

Workouts To Consider When Training For A Half Marathon

1. Longer Runs – Increase the duration of your runs and focus on slowly building the amount of time you spend at the goal pace you want to race at. Easier said than done but if you take a patient, professional approach to the process you will set yourself up for success.

2. Fartlek Runs – Outstanding for teaching the body to speed up when fatigued. It is also a great workout to change up the boring, monotonous miles that we spend a great deal of our time conducting.

3. Runs At And Below Race Pace – My favorites are 5x2miles at 20 seconds below goal marathon race pace, 10x1000m on the track at goal 10K race pace pace and 3×5 miles at goal marathon race pace.

4. Hill Repeats – Lisa Rainsberger would have me to do 1000m hill repeats in Colorado Springs on the road. Sprint up and jog back down, very hard training but what all these workouts do is teach the body to use fat more effectively and conserve carbohydrate stores.

the average person totes enough fat to fuel a month’s running at a pace slow enough for the oxygen necessary to burn it near-exclusively – Paul Scott

You don’t have to be a Kenyan to have this work for you. If you can switch the body from using less carbohydrates and more fat as its main fuel source when you race you will not experience the wall.

I tend to get long winded with my articles but I want to be thorough with what I write. I hope this has been helpful.

Regardless what your goal is, work hard and have confidence in what you have done in training.

The race is the place for your breakthrough.

How to train for a half marathon is dependent on the athletes goals. If you want to lose weight, running half marathons is one of the best ways to lose weight.

You burn between 100-120 calories per mile and as long as you burn more calories than you are taking in, you are going to lose weight. Running, especially in the morning, helps you to burn more calories throughout the entire day.

If you have a specific time in mind focus on running longer, faster.

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2 thoughts on “How To Train For A Half Marathon Properly

  1. This article is just what I needed as I taper for the 14th’s Pirate Bash Fest. This also lays down the fundamental approach to smarter training. I fully believe that you can take anyone in fair health mind you and get them to the point of jogging a half marathon or marathon. It takes guts of steel to put in the training when you get into race pace and time goal races. I love your style of writing. “Razor Sharp Focus”.

  2. Thanks for your message Kenley and am stoked for you as well man. You have such a great attitude and people like you do BIG things. Keep it up.

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