How to Train for a Half Marathon

How to Train for a Half Marathon

So you’re a runner…

I’ve considered myself a runner for years.  From before the time my kids were born (my oldest daughter just turned 20), through the challenging toddler and childhood years, throughout their schooling, then my own journey back to work, and up to this very day, running has been my “meditation.”  I remember being so excited to drop the kids off at their Mom’s Day Out program (they were all of 1 and 3 years old), just so that I could have some time to go RUN.

Run, Run, Run, As Fast As You Can

I would feel so renewed and refreshed afterwards.  As they got older and life circumstances happened, I kept my sanity through a divorce by running nearly every day in a couple of my favorite state parks in my area.  As I’ve developed my career in hospitality and travel, I’ve had the opportunity to see many cities and resort areas from the comfort of my very own running shoes (a fantastic way to explore new places, by the way!).  And all through this journey, I had not yet run a half marathon.

I talked about it!  Ohhh, did I talk about it.  I loved to talk about running with other people, discussing their favorite routes, what type of weather they preferred, what their favorite brand of shoes were, all of it.  Then the inevitable question would come up:  Have you ever run a Half Marathon?  And I would hear myself give the same answer time and time again:  “No, I never have.  But I really WANT to.”Needless to say, I finally got tired of hearing myself give that same answer.  Thankfully that “other voice” in my head finally was louder, saying, “would you just shut up and DO IT??”

Making the Half Marathon Choice

If you’re going to train for a Half Marathon, you’ll need to spend some time doing your homework.  Some of the important considerations you’ll need to think about first, even before you lace up your shoes,  are:

  • Why a Half Marathon?

  • Where am I as a runner?  Can I currently go out and run 3 to 4 miles without throwing up?

  • What is my goal?  Am I doing this as a first Half Marathon and I just want to cross the finish line even if I have to crawl?  Or, am I nearly there distance-wise, and I want to be the fastest person in my age group?

Why a Half Marathon:

The half marathon distance is getting to be an incredibly popular one for runners.  I don’t know many people who can just wake up one morning and go out and run 13.1 miles.  It takes work, focus, and time to train.  However it isn’t the FULL marathon distance, which is a whole different game.  Personally, I was told by a doctor long ago when I was seeking help for a running related injury (I prefer to call it a “challenge”) that if I chose to run a full marathon, I could probably finish the race.  However that may be the end of running for me.  The distance would do me in as a runner.  I’m not willing to take that chance, since running is essential to my well-being.  I believe that running 13.1 miles is a great accomplishment for any runner, and I know from personal experience that I had to work hard to get there!


I love a good “down on my luck story” and wanted to be further inspired by someone just like me who for different reasons wants to run a half marathon.

If you want to be inspired I highly recommend The non-runner’s marathon trainer it’s worth reading even if you don’t want to complete a marathon.

How to Train for a Half Marathon

Where am I as a runner?

Like me, you may be someone who has run for years, but your “long runs” might be 5 miles.  That’s where I was at the start of my Personal Journey.  The longest distance I had run before training for a half marathon was a 10k, or 6.2 miles.  I was A LOT faster back then than I am now, however that didn’t matter.  I knew when I chose my training program that I could comfortably go out and run 3 or 4 miles, so that’s where I bench marked my starting point.

  • Don’t be discouraged if you can only run 1 or 2 miles, and have to even walk part of that distance.  Are you SERIOUS about setting your goal to train for and run a half marathon?  You will just need to give yourself lots of time to build up your distance, without getting injured.  You can still cross the finish line, and you will feel so good when you do.  It’s your mindset:  do you WANT THIS badly enough to work hard for it?

What is my goal?

Think about what you want to accomplish in your months of training for a half marathon.

  • Do you just want to cross the finish line ahead of the “sag wagons” that pick up the last few?  That’s just fine, you’ll want to focus more on distance training, and not speed.

  • On the other hand, do you want to be FIRST in your age group?  You will need to choose a training program that focuses on intervals, track workouts, and speed workouts so that you can increase your per-mile speed, while also building distance.

There is absolutely NO WRONG goal when you train for a half marathon.  It just has to be YOUR goal, something you will work for and stick with over the months leading up to the start line.