8 Week Half Marathon Training Plan

First off, thank you so much to everyone for the kind and supportive words on yesterday’s post! I appreciate it so much! You all are the best. 

Yesterday I said I would share my 8 week half marathon training plan for my spring marathon, so here’s the plan!. My if-everything-goes-right goal for this race is a sub-1:40, and even if everything goes wrong I still am aiming to run a 1:44 or faster.

The best thing about having a strong running base is that it makes preparing for races easier when you only have a couple of months. By strong running base, I mean running 4-5 days per week for about 25-35 miles per week and with long runs of at least 10 miles.

I specifically designed this plan for myself as I prepare for the St. Louis Go! Half Marathon in mid-April, so if you use it, I encourage you to adapt it to your own schedule and fitness!

8 Week Half marathon training plan

My 8 week half marathon training plan begins with a cut-back week, as I transition from base building and a weekly mileage of 35-38 miles per week to more specific and intense half marathon training. This week has a weird schedule because of Ash Wednesday and then travel over the weekend; otherwise I would run higher mileage on Wednesday, do a recovery run on Thursday, and have a long run of 10-12 miles on Friday.

Starting with the second week, I increase the intensity to include two workouts per week plus a long run. I will alternate between mile repeats and shorter duration fartleks for my speed/strength workout. My mile repeats will be run at approximately my 10K pace equivalent (7:15-7:20) and my fartlek repeats will be a bit faster, probably between equivalent 5K pace and 10K pace (7:00-7:20). If you’re adapting this plan, simply run the fartleks at your own 5K to 10K pace and the mile repeats at your 10K pace (or about 20 seconds faster than your half marathon pace). These workouts serve the purpose of building VO2max, improving running economy, and teaching how to keep a quick foot turnover. 

I’ll also switch between tempo runs and threshold intervals, both at goal half marathon pace, for the second workout of the week. My goal pace is 7:35-7:40/mile, so I’ll run my threshold and tempo runs accordingly. I’m running at goal pace instead of a slightly faster tempo pace to familiarize my mind and body with what this pace feels like. Race pace tempo runs worked really well for me in my last training cycle so I’m hoping they do this time! If you are using this plan, run these workouts at the pace you want to run your half marathon; if 5 miles is too far at the pace at first, begin at 3 miles and work up to 5-6 miles at goal pace.

I also included long runs ranging from 10-14 miles, with a few fast finish long runs. My fast finish long runs will not have a prescribed pace but focus more on picking up the pace during the last few miles to somewhere between marathon and half marathon effort. Otherwise, I want to run my long runs around 50-70 seconds per mile slower than goal pace, so I’ll aim for about a 8:30-8:50/mile pace on those. I plan on including strides after the long runs that do not have a fast finish. One of my biggest problems at my previous half marathon was keeping my pace strong at the end of the race, so I’m hoping adding strides and fast finishes to my long runs will prepare me to have a strong finishing kick at this race.

Half Marathon 

Each week includes 5-6 days of running, depending on how I am feeling. I don’t take a rest day before my long runs because I currently have not been doing that and I want to use cumulative fatigue to teach myself to mentally and physically push through the sensation of tired legs. This will make my legs feel even fresher and stronger on race day!

Tuesdays feature an easy run, Thursdays will include an easy run and Pilates, and Saturday will be either a recovery run and yoga or just yoga if I’m feeling fatigued. I’m also including a core strength and squats day on Mondays because stronger core and legs means faster running! I want to add some rolling hills on easy days as well. If I have to run on the treadmill (which is inevitable the way the weather’s been), I will run with either a 1% incline or use the incline to mimic rolling hills (0% for downhill and 1-5% for hills).

The plan begins with about 36 miles and progresses to 44-47 miles per week. Week 4 is a small “cutback week” in overall mileage, and the taper begins during Week 7. The race is on a Sunday morning. After I run the race, I plan on taking 5-7 days to do lots of yoga and resting to recover!


Question of the Day:
Have you ever designed your own training plan? How did it go? 


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