Training for a Half Marathon

Learn how to get ready for your race.

12 Weeks to Your First Half Marathon – A Simple Training Plan 12 Weeks to Your First Half Marathon – A Simple Training Plan

Congratulations! You’re already one step closer to finishing a half marathon and you probably haven’t even left your chair. Why am I so confident that you’ll be successful? Because you have it in you. Anyone can finish a half marathon. All you need is the right preparation and training.

This 12-week plan for half marathon training puts the fundamentals of race preparation into an easy-to-follow framework. Follow the plan, and you’ll be crossing the finish line on race day.

A quick note on this plan. It’s designed to help you finish your half marathon. Nothing more. Nothing less. If you’re already an experienced runner and are looking to set a personal record or significantly improve your time, you’ll want to read one of my other training plans. But if you’re a first-time half marathoner, read on. We’re going to get you across that finish line!

Getting Prepared

Running is easy. Humans have been doing it since we appeared on this planet, and our bodies are extremely well-adapted for running.

However, the modern conveniences of life have left many of us, well, not quite in solid running shape. But that’s ok — with just a little preparation, you’ll be ready to tackle the next twelve weeks with relative ease as you progress step-by-step through your training.

First things first: I recommend that you visit your doctor before undertaking any strenuous exercise plan. This is especially true if you’re overweight or have not been exercising regularly. Bring a copy of this training plan with you and discuss it with your doctor. He or she may recommend some important adjustments to the plan, based on your own personal health history.

OK, now that you’re back from the doctor, we’re ready to go…

A Word on Equipment

It’s tempting to stock up on new and fancy equipment when you start a new training program. Have an abdominal machine or treadmill gathering dust in the closet? You’re not alone.

Truth is, running doesn’t require much beyond the basics. You should have comfortable clothing, plenty of pairs of socks, and a solid pair of running shoes.

Resist the temptation to load up on expensive gadgets at the start of your training. Those will come later. You can use fancy gear as rewards for achieving milestones along the way.

Week Zero

I strongly recommend that you invest a full week of basic preparation before you start the 12-week plan. I like to call this, “Week Zero.”

The goal of Week Zero is simple: get ready and just get out there. Week Zero has no distance targets or special training exercises. The only thing you need to do is get outside.

In fact, it’s fine to walk instead of run some or all of the time. All we’re doing in Week Zero is getting some basic training fundamentals and habits started.

Here’s what Week Zero looks like:

  • Monday: run/walk 30 minutes
  • Tuesday: run/walk 30 minutes
  • Wednesday: run/walk 30 minutes
  • Thursday: run/walk 30 minutes
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: run/walk 30 minutes
  • Sunday: run/walk 30 minutes

That’s it. Nothing fancy here. It doesn’t matter if you run 1 mile or 3 miles, and it doesn’t matter if you walk most or all of the time.

I’m going to be honest: your first few runs can be tough and discouraging, especially if you haven’t been running for a while.

I always get frustrated when I start up training after taking a long break from running. Even though I’ve run countless marathons and half marathons, I find my first few runs in a new training cycle really difficult. After just a mile, I’m out of breath and wondering how I got out of shape so quickly.

This is ok. Week Zero is about putting those first few challenging outings behind you. Don’t worry about results and don’t feel ashamed about stopping to walk or catch your breath. The only goal is to get out there for 30 minutes per day.

The 12-Weeks in Detail

OK, you’ve survived “Week Zero” and are eager to move on. Ready to get started on Week One?

  • Week 1
  • Week 2
  • Week 3
  • Week 4
  • Week 5
  • Week 6
  • Week 7
  • Week 8
  • Week 9
  • Week 10
  • Week 11
  • Week 12
  • Race Day


OK, you’re ready to get out there and start running. Remember, completing a half marathon is within anyone’s reach. Training will be tough at times, but with this step-by-step guide, you’ll be on your way and making progress immediately. Remember that it’s all about preparation and a commitment to training. You may not believe it now, but after twelve weeks of training, finishing the half marathon is going to be *easy*. Let’s do this!