Beginner Half-Marathon Training Plan: 8-Weeks

If you’re planning on running the half-marathon, especially for the first time, then training for it is extremely important.

Beginner Half-Marathon Training Plan: 8-Weeks

You will need to make sure you are prepared for all of the obstacles you may face during the race. For example, running on different types of terrain or maintaining your stamina. 

In order to be prepared for the half-marathon, or any other type of run, then it is best to follow a training plan.

In this article, we will discuss a great 8-week training plan specifically for beginners that will help you ace your next half-marathon.

So, if this is of interest to you, read on for more! 

An Important Note About This Training Plan 

First of all, while this is a training plan for beginners, there are still some requirements that you need to meet before you can go ahead and begin this plan. 

To start this 8-week training plan, you should be able to do the following:

  • Run for three miles with ease, meaning you are able to have a conversation at the end of the run, instead of being very out of breath.
  • You should have a 10+ mile running volume a week 
  • You need to have been running consistently already for 2 months minimum 

If you cannot do all three of the above, then you need to use a different training plan, such as a 12 or 15-week plan that will incorporate training for these milestones. 

If you are a total novice when it comes to running, then you should not use this plan. 

What Are Some Half-Marathon Running Tips?

Before we get into the training plan, we will first detail some essential tips for running a half-marathon.

After all, no matter how well you train, if you do not incorporate these basic steps then your training will be futile. 

Let’s check out some important half-marathon tips in more detail below! 

Wear The Right Shoes 

First, you need to make sure you are wearing running shoes. These running shoes need to be specifically designed for running and not just any old pair of trainers.

It is important that you wear these running shoes while you are training for the half-marathon, and not just on the day of the race. 

This is because you will be used to running in them and will be able to identify any problems and can rectify them before the race.

It is also important to break your shoes in before the race to minimize the risk of injury to your feet. 

Stay Hydrated 

It is vital to drink water and stay hydrated throughout a race because it helps you to remain injury-free.

If you do not drink the required amount of water both during the race and while training, then you will feel dizzy, weak, and a cramping feeling. 

It is vital to stay hydrated during all kinds of weather, but especially when it is hot. 

Know Your Fuel Schedule 

Long runs use up a lot more energy compared to short runs.

Therefore, you must ensure you are providing your body with the correct fuel in order to maintain your stamina and reduce the risk of injury. 

So, during your training, you need to test various fuel strategies that you could implement on the day of your half-marathon, and modify it to ensure that it works for you as best they can. 

Be Disciplined With Your Training Schedule 

It is essential that you stick to your training schedule if you want to be ready for a half-marathon in just eight weeks.

Your training should be your priority during this time.

If you do not prioritize your runs and other aspects of your training, then you may find you struggle on the day of the race and you risk not completing it. 

Track Your Progress 

While training for the half-marathon, your inner critic may become very loud and difficult to ignore.

The best way to quiet this is to keep a track of your progress so you are able to see how far you’ve come and how much you have improved.

It is also helpful to look back on this whenever you feel like quitting because it will remind you of your goals and encourage you to keep going. 

Do Not Overtrain

It is vital that you do not overtrain. This is because overtraining can lead to injury.

So, it is important to start with smaller targets and build them up over time., and never do more training than the training plan recommends.

For example, you should aim to have a high running volume, but not straight away. You need to increase it gradually every week.

Start with either four, five, or six miles, and then work your way up from there. This helps you to increase your aerobic base, as well as your stamina. 

Don’t Fear Failure 

Beginner Half-Marathon Training Plan: 8-Weeks

If your run does not go to plan, then do not worry. It happens to all runners from time to time and is part of the journey.

What is more important is to pick yourself back up and keep going. Persistence is key here, not a 100% success rate. 

Remember To Cross-Train 

Now, if this is your very first race and all you want to do is complete it, then you can go ahead and skip this step.

However, if you want to compete in the half-marathon, then it is a good idea to engage in cross-training.

This is because it will help engage muscle groups outside of the muscles you need for running. 

So, if you feel like you are bored or fatigued by running every day, then trying a different workout is a great idea!

We recommend trying interval training, which can mean anything from cross-training to cycling, swimming, yoga, hiking, etc.

Don’t forget you can alternate between these exercises. 

However, it is important to note that running is still your priority. It is good to run for 80% of the training, and cross-train for 20% of the training. 

Prevent Injury Via Strength Training 

It is important to ensure that you strengthen your core muscles once or twice a week.

You can go to the gym to perform these exercises by using weight machines, bodyweight, free weights, or a mix of all. 

Remember To Stretch 

Before you go for a run, you need to ensure you partake in dynamic stretching. This includes side gallops, butt-kicks, knee hikes, etc, which are all excellent forms of dynamic stretching!

Static stretching should be completed after a workout, although it is important to note that there is some debate as to whether or not static stretches should be performed after working out. 

Your muscles’ elasticity is contracted and pulled during a static stretch that you hold and then release after thirty seconds.

The reason people avoid this type of stretch is that your muscles are not supposed to go beyond the regular range of motion.

Therefore, it can cause an imbalanced positioning and extension of your muscle after stretching. 

Overall, it is best to do whatever you feel is right for you and your body, and consult a professional for a second opinion. 

Remember To Rest 

New runners actually need more rest than experienced runners, and this is because their neuromuscular tissue, joints, and muscles are not used to the impact that is caused by running on the body.

Meanwhile, experienced runners are already conditioned to the exertion caused by running, and so have already developed these neural pathways in the body.

Neuromuscular tissue, joints, and muscles are only repaired while you are sleeping. 

With this 8-week training program, you will need to have one total rest day, where you do not train at all. This will give your body the time it needs to recover.

Rest is important in every training plan because it allows your body to repair and therefore improves the quality of your training over time. 

So, if you dedicate at least 24 consecutive hours to resting, then your training will benefit overall! 

RPE – The Rate Of Perceived Exertion 

Most of the time, those running the half marathon as a beginner will be running at a pace that allows them to hold a conversation.

So, if this is what you want to do then you can go ahead and skip this part. 

However, if you do want to compete in the race, instead of merely completing the race, then read on! 

How fast and hard you run will vary between runners, and every runner is unique!

So, in order for runners of different experience levels to boost their running performance, they will need to find a scale they can work with and share with their running group, coach, etc. 

So, you will need to make your own RPE chart. Check out the example below for some ideas! 

RPEEffortConversation TestPace Time (must be tested and based on the individual)
TenStrides / sprintsOut of breath8:00 minutes
NineSpeed trainingCan say one to two words at a time8:30 minutes
Seven – EightInterval / speed trainingCan speak in short sentences10:00 minutes
Four –  SixEndurance runningCan hold a conversation12:00 minutes
Two / ThreeWalkingCan hold a conversation with ease15:00 minutes
OneSitting or standingCan hold a conversation with ease00:00 

Here, you can see an example of a beginner runner’s various paces. When you work out your RPE, you will be able to determine what your running interval pace is.

So, here the beginner runner’s RPE of nine is 8:30 minutes in pace. So, this beginner’s speed training should be performed at 8:30 minutes. 

The 80/20 Rule 

Beginner Half-Marathon Training Plan: 8-Weeks

The 80/20 running rule states that during your training and the half-marathon itself, you should give 80% of your effort to running an RPE of four to six, while 20% of your running effort to an RPE of seven to eight. 

So, it is important to track and update this exertion so you are better prepared for the half-marathon. By completing an RPE, you will become naturally fitter and faster over time.

Your stamina will also improve. It is important to update your chart twice a year or with every new training cycle you undertake, so you are always aware of your skills and running efforts, which will better prepare you for marathons. 

A Day For Speed Workouts 

This is only an 8-week, beginner schedule. Therefore, you do not need to incorporate speed workouts if you do not want to.

The 8-Week Training Schedule For Beginners 

Sticking to this schedule is going to be instrumental in your success in the half-marathon. It is important to properly plan out your days and routine so you can stick to this schedule. 

Now, don’t forget that you have the option to add cross-training to your schedule if you get bored of consistent running.

As previously mentioned, activities that are considered to be cross-training include cycling, strength training, aerobics, yoga, swimming, etc.

Also, it is vital that you stick to the necessary rest day in order to make sure your body recovers from the strenuous exercise, which will help to prevent injury. 

Additionally, if you feel like your one rest day was not enough, you can add another one!

It is important to get your rest in even if this means going slightly off schedule, as opposed to injuring yourself during your training and becoming unable to run the race as a result. 

However, it is important to note that if you do require another rest day, you must not substitute your long run. Long runs are an extremely important part of your training. 

The Warm Up & Cool Down 

Before a run, it is best to begin by warming up. It is best to warm up for either half a mile to a mile, or five to ten minutes.

This pace should allow you to be able to hold a conversation.

When you complete your workout, it is best to cool down by gradually slowing down to an easier pace, such as walking and then stopping altogether. 

8-Week Half Marathon Training Schedule 

8-Week Half Marathon Training Schedule (Miles) 

Here is the 8-week half-marathon training schedule, broken down into miles. 

Week 1: Half-Marathon Training 

  • Monday:Easy run (four miles)
  • Tuesday: Strength training (half an hour to 45 minutes) 
  • Wednesday: Easy run (four miles)
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour) 

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run / moderate run (four miles) 
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (fives miles) 
  • Sunday: Rest day 

Week 2: Half-Marathon Training 

  • Monday: Easy run (four miles)
  • Tuesday: Strength training (half an hour to 45 minutes)
  • Wednesday: Easy run (four miles) 
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour)

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run / moderate run (four miles)
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (six miles)
  • Sunday: Rest day 

Week 3: Half-Marathon Training 

  • Monday: Easy run (five miles)
  • Tuesday: Strength training (45 minutes to an hour) 
  • Wednesday: Easy run (six miles) 
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour)

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run /  moderate run (five miles)
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (eight miles) 
  • Sunday: Rest day 

Week Four: Half-Marathon Training (The half-way point!)

  • Monday: Easy run (five miles)
  • Tuesday: Strength training (45 minutes to an hour)
  • Wednesday: Easy run (six miles) 
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour)

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run / moderate run (five miles)
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (eight miles)
  • Sunday: Rest day 

Now, after one month of your half-marathon training, your body will have changed a lot.

You will have gotten stronger, but your muscles will be aching. To help relax them while you wait for them to recover, it is beneficial to have an ice bath.

If an ice bath doesn’t sound particularly fun for you, then you have the option of using trigger point massage balls or foam rollers. 

During month two of training for the half-marathon, your main focus should be on your discipline.

You must ensure you maintain mental focus and discipline, which will help you keep going during the race.

It is vital that you do not push yourself too hard during this second month, focus on physical recovery and healing while pushing your mental focus. 

Week Five: Half-Marathon Training

  • Monday: Easy run (five miles)
  • Tuesday: Strength training (45 minutes to an hour)
  • Wednesday: Easy run (five miles)
  • Thursday: Cross-train (half an hour)

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run  / moderate run (four miles)
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (10 miles) 
  • Sunday: Rest day 

Week 6: Half-Marathon Training 

Beginner Half-Marathon Training Plan: 8-Weeks
  • Monday: Easy run (five miles) 
  • Tuesday: Strength training (45 minutes to an hour) 
  • Wednesday: Easy run (five miles)
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour) 

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run /  moderate run (four miles)
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (twelve miles) 

Note: After this week, begin to reduce the distance of your long run to prepare for the day of the half-marathon)

  • Sunday: Rest day 

Week 7: Half-Marathon Training 

  • Monday: Easy run (four miles) 
  • Tuesday: Strength training (half an hour to 45 minutes) 
  • Wednesday: Easy run (four miles) 
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour)

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run / moderate run (half an hour) 
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (eight miles) 
  • Sunday: Rest day 

Week 8: Half-Marathon Training 

  • Monday: Easy run (four miles)
  • Tuesday: Rest day 
  • Wednesday: Easy run (four miles) 
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour 

Or

  • Thursday: Rest day
  • Friday: Rest day 
  • Saturday: Half-marathon day (best of luck!)
  • Sunday: Rest day

8-Week Half-Marathon Training Schedule (Kilometres) 

Here is the 8-week half marathon training schedule, broken down into kilometres. 

Week 1: Half-Marathon Training 

  • Monday: Easy run (6.4 km)
  • Tuesday: Strength training (half an hour to 45 minutes) 
  • Wednesday: Easy run (6.4 km)
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour)

Or

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run / moderate run (6.4km) 
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (6.4 km)
  • Sunday: Rest day 

Week 2: Half-Marathon Training 

  • Monday: Easy run, 6.4 km 
  • Tuesday: Strength training (half an hour to 45 minutes) 
  • Wednesday: Easy run, 6.4 km 
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour)

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run / moderate run (6.4 km)
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (8.0 km)
  • Sunday: Rest day 

Week 3: Half-Marathon Training 

  • Monday: Easy run (8.0  km)
  • Tuesday: Strength training (45 minutes to an hour)
  • Wednesday: Easy run (9.6  km)
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour) 

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run / moderate run (8.0  km)
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (9.6 km)
  • Sunday: Rest day 

Week Four: Half-Marathon Training (Halfway point!)

  • Monday: Easy run (8.0 km)
  • Tuesday: Strength training (45 minutes to an hour)
  • Wednesday: Easy run (9.6 km)
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour)

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day
  • Friday: Easy run / moderate run (8.0 km)
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (12.8 km)
  • Sunday: Rest day 

Just as before, your body will have changed a lot at the halfway point in the schedule.

So, you will need to relax your body and allow yourself to recover physically with either an ice bath, trigger point massage balls, or foam rollers.

You will also need to train your mental stamina to be able to focus and succeed in the half-marathon on the day of the race. 

Week 5: Half-Marathon Training 

  • Monday: Easy run (8.0 km)
  • Tuesday: Strength training (45 minutes to an hour)
  • Wednesday: Easy run (8.0 km)
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour)

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run / moderate run (8.0 km_
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (16.0 km)
  • Sunday: Rest day 

Week 6: Half-Marathon Training 

  • Monday: Easy run (8.0 km)
  • Tuesday: Strength training (45 minutes to an hour)
  • Wednesday: Easy run (8.0 km)
  • Thursday: Cross training (half an hour) 

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run / moderate run (6.4  km)
  • Saturday: Long run (19.3 km)

Note: After this week, it is best to reduce the distance you run in order to prepare for the race. 

  • Sunday: Rest day 

Week 7: Half-Marathon Training 

  • Monday: Easy run (6.4 km)
  • Tuesday: Strength training (half an hour to 45 minutes)
  • Wednesday: Easy run (6.4 km)
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour)

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day 
  • Friday: Easy run / moderate run (4.8 km)
  • Saturday: Long run, easy effort (12.8 km)
  • Sunday: Rest day 

Week 8: Half-Marathon Training 

  • Monday: Easy run (6.4 km)
  • Tuesday: Strength training (half an hour)
  • Wednesday: Easy run (6.4 km)
  • Thursday: Cross-training (half an hour) 

Or 

  • Thursday: Rest day
  • Friday: Rest day
  • Saturday: Half-marathon day (best of luck!)
  • Sunday: Rest day 

8-Week Half-Marathon Training Tips

Here are some tips to remember while you are training for the half-marathon. 

Wiggle Room Is Important 

For every run in your schedule, it is okay to go over or under the allocated time by one mile. So, if you are on a roll and want to run some more, then go for it!

However, if you are struggling and are not having a great run, it is okay to stop a little earlier than the allocated time.

However, it is not a good idea to exert yourself or to pull back for every run, so keep an eye on what your running patterns are and adjust your schedule as necessary. 

The Schedule Is Adjustable 

Beginner Half-Marathon Training Plan: 8-Weeks

Expanding on the point above, it is important to remember that the schedule is merely a rough training guide, and you can adjust it to work with your daily routine.

For example, if you do not want to do a long run on a Saturday, then you can easily swap them to a different day in the week.

It is much better to do this or else you risk missing important aspects of the training. 

However, it is important to note that you should not do any speed training before or after a long run.

Workouts that are tougher and longer should be separated by easier workouts in order for your body to recover. 

What Is The Best Thing To Do On The Week Of The Half-Marathon?

If it is the week of the half-marathon, then there are several important things you need to do! They are: 

  • Prepare a race day kit, including a water bottle, headphones, sunblock, running shoes, hair ties, etc. 
  • Prepare a post kit, including a towel to dry rain or sweat, recovery snack and drink, deodorant, first aid kit, foam roller, etc. 
  • Determine the race route 
  • Make sure you are following your training, including rest days and meal plans 
  • Lay your race clothes and shoes out 
  • Check the weather and pack accordingly 

What Is The Best Thing To Do On The Day Before The Race?

On the day before the race, the best thing to do is mentally prepare yourself for the run ahead.

It is a good idea to read books to allow your mind to relax, listen to music, podcasts, or your other favorite form of media to keep yourself calm and free of anxiety. 

Then, it is best to eat as you normally would throughout the day and get a good night’s sleep.

It is not wise to make any changes to your eating habits or sleeping pattern at this stage. 

Then, on the day of the race, it is best to run the race in the same way you have run throughout the training.

It is also a good idea to imagine yourself crossing the finish line as a way to motivate yourself throughout the race, 

After the race, your body may be feeling sore. So, it is a good idea to walk for a further 30 minutes as soon as you cross the finish line.

Then, feel free to lie down and elevate your feet above your head. This will allow your body to make the blood circulate around other parts of your body while you give your feet a much-needed break. 

Final Thoughts 

The half-marathon is not an easy race to run, so training for it is vital. Therefore, the correct training schedule is vital if you want to succeed.

This 8-week training program incorporates all of the necessary components to help your body and mind prepare for the half-marathon if you are a beginner, including easy runs, long runs, strength training, rest days, and optional cross-training.

You are able to adjust the schedule to fit your routine and make it work for you. 

However, it is not just the training schedule that will help you succeed in your race.

You will also need to prepare in other ways, such as wearing the correct running shoes, packing your bag so you are prepared for all kinds of weather, emergencies, etc, and eating the correct diet so your body is fuelled in the best way (Find out which running Nike Next Running shoe is better for you here). 

By doing all of these things, you will be ready for the half-marathon, even as a beginner. Best of luck with your race! 

Jessica Knight