12 Week Beginning Competitive Half Marathon Training Plan

This is a beginning level, moderate training effort half marathon training program that is designed for recreational and beginning competitive runners. This program includes moderate intensity workouts, weekly long training runs and strength training. This is a 12 week program with 4 to 5 workouts per week. The 12 week program begins with a base of 2 miles. There is also a 16 week version of this plan.

Running Workouts

This beginning half marathon training program uses four types of training runs:

Easy Endurance Runs

This type of run is also known as aerobic conditioning. Endurance runs make up the highest percentage of overall mileage for a distance runner. Endurance runs build your overall endurance, increase your blood volume, improve your ability to store energy supplying fuel, and improves the ability of your system to deliver oxygen to your muscles. These workouts are performed at about 55 to 75 percent of your VO2 max (your body’s ability to process oxygen). This pace should feel easy and “conversational” in nature.

Progressive Runs

Progressive runs are a workout that combines endurance training, tempo training, lactate turn point training. When performing progressive runs you should start at an easy endurance pace and gradually increase your pace through out your training run. For example, if you are doing a 4 mile progressive run you should start at endurance pace and gradually speed up to a pace that feels moderately hard by the middle of your run and finally to a hard pace for the final mile of your progressive run.

Long Runs

These runs improve your endurance, goal pace endurance and mental toughness. They also improve your body’s ability to burn fat as fuel and conserve carbohydrates. Long runs are performed at an easy pace, goal pace or a combination of the two paces.

Goal Pace Training

One of the most important and often forgotten competitive training paces is goal pace running. Goal pace training will improve your goal specific neuromuscular function and make you a more efficient runner at goal pace.

Rest/Cross Training

The remainder of your weekly workouts are either rest days or cross training days. On these days you may either rest completely or perform other types of activity such as swimming, walking, cycling, etc. If you are highly fatigued I would suggest complete rest to prevent fatigue or injury and keep the time requirements of your training program to a minimum.

What about tempo runs? Most half marathon training programs depend heavily upon tempo training runs. Tempo runs are moderate to long distance run that are performed at between marathon pace and about 15 seconds per mile slower than 10K pace. Tempo training intensity is slightly less than lactate turn point intensity. The purpose of tempo running is to improve your ability to run long distances at paces that produce a significant amount of metabolites without the limiting factor of reaching your lactate turn point. Why doesn’t this program include tempo runs? It does – this program uses many goal pace training workouts. Your half marathon goal pace is very close to your tempo run pace. We use this tempo pace because it is critical to develop your neuromuscular efficiency at your goal half marathon pace.

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12 Week Beginning Half Marathon