Half-Marathon Training for Beginners

Remember when the idea of running an entire 5K seemed overwhelming? After a little training, and some aches and pains, that 3.1-mile race became as easy as pie.

Now that you have a few 5Ks under your belt, you might feel the urge to take on something bigger. Maybe you've even completed a 10K, or two, and it's time to step up your game to a half marathon. And that means half-marathon training.

More: 13.1 Reasons to Run a Half Marathon

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked half marathon training questions, and tips for ensuring you reach the half marathon finish line.

How Will I Know if I'm Ready for a Half Marathon?

If you're a healthy individual who has been running regularly for at least six months, chances are you're ready to take on a half marathon.

The right half marathon training program will help to ensure that you are injury-free on race day, but it's always a good idea to get your doctor's approval before starting any new exercise routine.

How Should I Pick the Right Training Plan?

There are a lot of training programs out there, but not all of them are created equal. It's important for you to select a half-marathon training program for beginners even if you've been a runner for more than six months because a beginning program will help you build endurance gradually over several months.

Bump up your mileage too quickly, and you might never make it to race day. Over-training injuries are common in newbie half-marathoners who try to run too far too soon.

According to road/trail running coach, Tim Neckar, you should add miles gradually during your training. "Well, the general rule of thumb is not to increase weekly mileage by more than 10 percent," said Neckar.

"So with this in mind, I wouldn't increase the long run by more than a 1/2 mile per week and the other runs by more than 1/4 mile per week."

A good program should also allow for at least two days of rest per week, and Neckar actually suggests that you can get all of your training done with taking off much more time than that. "Generally, you can finish a half on three days per week training (Tues/Thurs/Sat)," said Neckar. "If you have a goal time in mind, then 4 days a week would be the best. (Mon/Tues/Thurs/Sat)"

More: 3 Secrets to Half-Marathon Training

What Kinds of Workouts Should I Do?

If your goal is to complete a half marathon, your training program will most likely consist of only two types of runs:long runs, that will be completed only once a week or once every two weeks, and recovery runs, which will make up your remaining runs.Those looking to finish with a faster time may incorporate additional speed and strength runs, and/or some cross-training.

Do I Need a Coach?

Coaches can offer you the guidance and support needed to be both physically and psychologically prepared for race day.While the expertise of a good coach is significant, many beginners have successfully completed their first half marathon without employing a coach.

Not sure if you're ready to take on the challenge alone?Find a local running group to train with.Training with a group can offer just the motivation you need to keep pushing forward on your most sluggish of days.

How Do I Fuel? Do I Need a Hydration Belt?

It is important to stay hydrated and possibly to add complex carbohydrates and protein to your diet.This will help your body remain strong and recover faster throughout your halfmarathon training program.

Longer runs will require you to hydrate and refuel mid-workout, depending on how long it takes you to complete your runs.Investing in a hydration belt and some refueling products, such as carbohydrate gels, may be necessary.

More: 5 Mental Tips for Half-Marathon Training

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About the Author

Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke is an online video editor for His favorite part of the job is covering inspiring races and athletes who push themselves to be the best they can be.
Michael Clarke is an online video editor for His favorite part of the job is covering inspiring races and athletes who push themselves to be the best they can be.

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