Half marathon training plan
JK’s 12-week training schedule for half-marathon
Pacing: Tuesdays should be faster than race pace, Wednesday runs are at race pace, Thursday runs are slower than race pace. Long runs should aim for race pace but going slower is fine. The main goal for long runs is to increase mileage.
Race pace: Pacing is based off your goal ‘race pace’ which can be determined by a goal time for your race (e.g. goal of a 2hr half equates to a 9:10 race pace). Your race pace can (and should) vary as you train and get a feel for your fitness. I suggest evaluating your goal time every 4 weeks; if you’ve been having good, fast runs, then go for faster; if you’ve been struggling consistently then ease back. You should NOT change your race pace after one good run or one bad run, your fitness is better determined by the cumulative performance over multiple weeks.
Long runs: You should plan for your long runs to mimic race day as close as possible. Get into a routine of waking up early, eating whatever you need to eat, drinking whatever you need to drink and getting out there. The idea is that once race day comes, it’ll feel like just another long run and you’ll feel ready. If you plan on using Gu’s or other supplements during the race, make sure to try them out during some long runs to make sure they sit well in your stomach.
Pacing for long runs can be variable. I find the best strategy is to start out slow (30-60 sec/mile slower than race pace) and then ramp up over the first 1-3 miles as you settle into the run. Finishing strong feels 1000x better than starting faster and gassing yourself in the first half. Ideally you’ll have negative splits (each mile faster than the last) towards the end of your run. I find this also applies for other runs but you’ll have to adjust the ramp time for shorter runs.
While races are usually on Sundays, I prefer Saturday long runs since I don’t have to sacrifice my Saturday night out for it. Sunday long runs work fine in this schedule too.
Mileage: I always prefer running further than the race I am going to run because it gives you confidence in the distance and provides a little extra training. Plenty of other runners train so that the race is their longest run; it comes down to preference. If you don’t want to run 14 miles for your longest training run, you can change the 12 mile long run to 11 and the 14 to a 12.