Super Circuit Training for the Half Marathon

By Rick Morris

The half marathon distance and circuit training go together like peanut butter and jelly. At first glance it may not seem like it, but the half marathon distance is unique in its demands on pure endurance, stamina, power, strength and speed. You need the stamina of the 10K distance, the pure endurance of the marathon and the power of the 5K. Trying to build your fitness in all of those areas at the same time can place quite a load on your time management skills. That makes super circuit training that combines all of those training phases into one super circuit half marathon workout.

As with any type of workout, there are an endless number of specific workouts you could design and carry out. Here are just a few to get you started.

Half Marathon Circuit Blasters

This is an entry level half marathon super circuit training workout, but don’t be fooled by the words entry level. This is still a challenging workout.

  • Run 6 one mile repeats at either current or goal half marathon pace. After each one mile repeat, perform one of the following exercises. The order that you do the exercises isn’t critical, but do each of them at some point in your workout.
  • 2 minutes of push ups
  • 2 minutes of bounding
  • 2 minutes of one leg squats
  • 2 minutes of basic plank core stabilization
  • 2 minutes of double leg forward hops
  • 2 minutes of walking lunges

Half Marathon Simulator

Some runners make the mistake of treating the half marathon the same as a full marathon and never train up to the full distance. The reason that you do few, if any, marathon distance long runs when marathon training is because of the huge amount of stress a 26 mile run puts on your body. A 13 mile run isn’t that stressful as long as you build up gradually, and it’s a good thing, because this 13.1 mile super circuit training workout is a tough one. Be sure you have at least a 13 mile base of endurance before doing this one.

Start with a 6 miles or 10K at an easy endurance pace. During that same 6 mile phase stop and do 1 minute of pushups after the first mile, 1 minute of squats after the second mile, 1 minute of jumping jacks after the third mile, 1 minute of lunges after the fourth mile, 1 minute of basic plank core stabilization after the fifth mile and 1 minute of one leg hops in place after the sixth mile. Now run 4 miles at marathon pace while throwing in a 100 meter stride after each mile. Next, speed up to half marathon pace for 3 miles and finish with the final .1 miles as fast as possible. Cool down with some easy jogging and static cool down stretches.

Speed Demons

Don’t underestimate the need for speed in your half marathon. Not only do you need the pure speed for running velocity, but increasing your baseline speed will improve your stamina and lactate threshold, which are critical for top level half marathon running.

  • After a warm up, run 6 x 200/1200/200 meter compound sets. Run the 200 meter segments at all out pace. Then slow to half marathon pace for 1200 meters before speeding back up to all out pace for 200 more meters. Take no rest within the compound sets. Between each set perform one of the following plyometric exercises. Do the plyometric exercise immediately after the compound set with no rest. Then rest completely for 4 minutes before beginning the next compound set.
  • Double leg forward hops
  • One leg hops in place
  • Bounding
  • Double leg lateral hop and run
  • Double leg tuck jump
  • Single leg forward hop