Half Marathon Training for the Casual Runner

I am what you would consider to be a “casual” runner. I really enjoy running, have run my share of 5k and 10k races, and when the weather is nice an outdoor run will always trump an indoor spin class. Still, for many years the idea of running a half marathon seemed incredibly out of reach. Partly because I had never actually trained for a race (I usually opted to muscle my way through a 10k race if I was feeling a bit rusty) and partly because I had never run more than six miles in a single shot.

It wasn’t until I found myself in need of a little pick me up in the fitness department that I signed up for my first half marathon in the summer of 2012 to motivate myself through setting a sizeable (to me) goal. Since then, I have run 4 half marathons and have begun training for my 5th (Boston’s Run to Remember). For me, the key to preparing for a half marathon is following a weekly running schedule, to start small, and to pace yourself. Also, it doesn’t hurt to reward yourself with new running gear! If you are a casual runner like me, you may find yourself wanting to jump into running 5 miles on day 1, but starting off with shorter 3 and 4 mile runs will ensure that you don’t burn yourself out in the first couple weeks.

Over the years I have followed several different training schedules, some lasting fifteen weeks and others lasting eight weeks. For me, I find the eight-week training schedule works best. Eight weeks is just enough time to slowly ramp up your distance but doesn’t give you much wiggle room for slacking (which is motivating to me, so a good thing in my book!). I wouldn’t necessarily recommend an 8 week schedule for someone just starting out with running, but if you are regularly engaging in cardio and can commit to one long run a week this schedule could work for you!

What I love about this training schedule in particular is that you can still work in your favorite workouts if you wish to. For example, if you are a lover of yoga, boxing, barre, Zumba, etc. don’t let half marathon training  hijack your entire week. Use one day a week (I have designated Thursdays), to enjoy a workout that you particularly like that isn’t running. 🙂

8-week half training

If you are training for a half marathon (or thinking about taking the plunge), I hope you find this schedule helpful!

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