Training for a Half Marathon

Learn how to get ready for your race.

From Couch to Course: Half Marathon Training Tips for Non-Runners From Couch to Course: Half Marathon Training Tips for Non-Runners

So you’re a couch potato and you’re looking to run your first half-marathon? No problem. Even if it seems intimidating now, training for a half marathon is actually a lot easier than it sounds. Follow these tips and your couch to half marathon training plan will be well underway.

Get your doctor’s OK

Look, it’s tempting to head out to the store, buy some fancy running shoes and some nice-looking running gear, and just start logging a few miles, but if you’re new to running do yourself an enormous favor and make a quick visit to your doctor for a basic checkup. Look, we understand–nobody likes going to the doctor. It’s depressing when you’re out of shape. But there are health risks with any sudden increase in exercise activity, and regardless of how you train for your half marathon, all that running is going to be stressful on your body. Make sure your doctor clears you before you begin.

Start slow

When beginning the couch to half marathon training plan, it’s best to start slow. Hey, even getting up off the couch is an awfully good start! Seriously, though, remember that the half marathon is a 13.1 mile race that’s all about pacing yourself. Proper, steady pacing is also an important part of the training regimen. Since you’re new to running, you’re going to want to start with baby steps, putting in short, easy runs to get started. The key to the first few training runs is establishing consistency and good habits. The simple act of sticking to your schedule by getting outside and going for a run is an accomplishment all by itself.

Take it Slow

Take it nice and slow when starting out.

It’s all about motivation

Half Marathon Motivation

The secret to success is finding and maintaining motivation throughout your training.

The secret to running your first marathon is knowing that it’s all about motivation. Once you’ve settled into a regular training schedule for your half marathon, the miles come very easy. That may be hard to believe after you huff and puff through your first few days on the road, but trust us: it gets easier. The hard part is maintaining the motivation to stick to the program. Set realistic goals for yourself in the beginning, and go ahead and reward yourself for your accomplishments along the way.

It’s ok to walk

Don’t feel like you have to run every step of your training, especially in the beginning. It’s perfectly fine to alternate between running and walking to give your cardiovascular system and your legs time to adapt. Some half marathon training programs, such as Jeff Galloway’s half marahton training, are all about balancing running and walking to achieve the maximum endurance possible.

Go gradual

It’s tempting to head out there and bang out the miles, but the key to a successful first-time half marathon is to increase mileage gradually. If you take a peek at the 10-week beginning training program below, you’ll see that total mileage increases gradually over the weeks. It’s important to maintain gradual increases over time, especially during your long runs.

Wear proper gear

You wouldn’t sit all day on an uncomfortable couch, so don’t run in bad shoes. Proper running footwear is the single most important investment in your half marathon training. You and your shoes are going to cover a lot of miles together over the next several weeks, so a great fit is crucial. Do yourself a huge favor: find a professional running shop in your area and talk to the experts to find the perfect shoes for your individual feet. Size and shape make an enormous difference. If you live near a major city, there are likely several nearby.

The Right Running Shoes

The right running shoes make all the difference.

Rest on your rest days

Since you’re coming off the couch, you might think this won’t be a problem. But once you’re in the thick of training, things get exciting and it’s hard to force a rest day. Don’t make that mistake. Rest on your rest days. That means no workouts, period. Put some ice on those tired legs, settle into that couch and enjoy a little TV or a nice snooze. You’ll be back out there on the pavement tomorrow.

Have fun!

The most important thing to remember when going from the couch to a half marathon is to enjoy the training. Keep a smile on your face, especially on race day. It’s a huge accomplishment, so give yourself a pat on the back.

Run Have Fun

Don’t forget to relax and have fun while running.

10 weeks from couch to half marathon

We’ve put together an easy-to-follow 10-week training plan for first-time marathoners. This plan focuses on incremental gains each week and is designed to help you finish the race. Every week involves just four days of running and three days of rest, so it should accommodate even the busiest of schedules. You’re not going to break any speed records for this first half marathon, so take it easy and stick to the plan.

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Total
1 3 Rest 3 3 Rest 4 Rest 13
2 3 Rest 4 3 Rest 5 Rest 15
3 3 Rest 4 3 Rest 6 Rest 16
4 3 Rest 5 3 Rest 8 Rest 19
5 3 Rest 5 3 Rest 10 Rest 21
6 4 Rest 5 4 Rest 11 Rest 24
7 4 Rest 6 4 Rest 12 Rest 26
8 4 Rest 5 4 Rest 9 Rest 22
9 3 Rest 4 3 Rest 8 Rest 18
10 3 Rest 3 2 (walk) Rest 13.1 race Rest 21.1
  • John

    August 22, 2015 #1 Author

    I followed this plan and stuck with it for the most part. Completed my first half in just under 2 hours, 10 minutes. It really can be done! Thanks!

    Reply

  • Toni Williams

    August 23, 2015 #2 Author

    Hi, just wanted to say thanks for the guide. I have never been a runner and I’m two weeks into the training. Looking forward to running my race in another few months!

    Reply

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