Half Marathon TrainingHow to Design the Ultimate Training Plan to Crush Your PR

half marathon training

Training for the half marathon is a blend of endurance, strength and speed unmatched by any other race distance. For faster runners, racing the half marathon forces you to run to the edge of your limits for close to 80 minutes. For beginners, running the half marathon distance will require you to be on your legs for over 2 hours – a monumental test of determination and preparation.

As such, optimal half marathon training plan must be a blend of endurance building long runs and threshold workouts, combined with just enough VO2 max and speed sessions to develop your ability to run near your top-end pace efficiently.

In this half marathon training guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know to build the ultimate half marathon training plan to ensure you run to your potential on race day.

The physiological challenges of half marathon training

When racing the half marathon, research has shown that 98 percent of your energy is going to come from your aerobic system. That means the most critical element of training is going to come from strength based workouts, such as long runs and tempo runs.

Furthermore, the amount of time spent running during the half marathon is a critical factor that must be addressed in training. Research demonstrates that biological markers of muscle fatigue, such as aspartate aminotransferase (AST), creatine kinase (CK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and myoglobin, all increase significantly immediately after a half marathon.What does this mean for your training? Simply speaking, it’s essential that you train your legs and muscles to handle the stress of running hard for an extended period of time.

Here are some more in-depth resources for further reading:

1. The difference between aerobic and anaerobic training

2. The importance of aerobic running and energy contributions for middle distance events

3. Introduction into race specific training – how to train to the physiological demands of your race

Workouts to help you train for the half marathon

The physiological demands of the half marathon clearly demonstrate that the 13.1 mile distance is a blend of stamina and speed endurance (the ability to hold a fast pace for a long time). As such, half marathon specific workouts come in two varieties – stamina workouts, like tempo or threshold runs, and long speed workouts, like 6 or 8 x 1 mile, with a short rest. In addition, you need to mix in hard, quality long runs so you can teach your body how to run fast late in the race when you’re tired.

To make it easy for you, here are some examples of half marathon specific workouts you can add to your training and how to put them together in your training plan:

1. What is a tempo run

2. Lactate clearance and how it can improve your half marathon time

3. Half Marathon specific workouts

4. Tempo intervals

5. Alternating tempos

6. Fast finish long runs

7. Threshold Intervals

Half marathon race strategy

The half marathon is a difficult balance between conserving fuel and energy while running just at the edge of your lactate threshold. Start too fast and you’ll burn through your carbohydrate stores and bonk. Start too slow and you’ll be too far behind in the final miles to record your best time.

Here is the perfect half marathon strategy (and a calculator to show you your exact splits) to help you execute the perfect race plan:

1. Half marathon race strategy

Like What You’ve Read?

If so, join our FREE half marathon training webinar on the physiological demands of the half marathon and how to specifically target these essential elements in training to crush your next race. Specifically, we’ll cover:
  • The physiological demands of the half marathon distance – We’ll discuss the specific challenges of the HM distance for beginners, intermediate and advanced runners so you can understand why certain workouts work and why some don’t
  • Phases of HM training – I’ll walk you through a full 16 week schedule with sample workouts within each phase (foundational, race-specific, and taper)
  • The purpose and benefit of race-specific workouts – I’ll get into detail about how to execute and the specific benefits of over 10 different workouts, including lactate clearance and alternating tempos, two of the most critical half marathon specific workouts.
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