Half Marathon Workouts for Beginner and Experienced Runners

Read the full article to find half marathon workouts for novice and experienced runners

In training theory, funnel periodization is the concept that workouts become more specific to the goal race as the event approaches. Further out from a race, you train all aspects of fitness, with a mix of tempo runs, interval runs, and other workouts. In the six to eight weeks leading up to a goal race, workouts prepare you for the unique demands of the race. In the half marathon, those demands include being able to hold a relatively demanding pace without fatiguing in the later miles. These half marathon workouts are designed to improve your durability at half marathon pace.

As with any distance, there are no singular “best” workouts. A wide array of workouts can be used to prepare an athlete for a race. These are simply samples of effective half marathon workouts.

Half Marathon Workouts for Novice and Experienced Runners

The novice workouts are designed for runners who are new to doing faster workouts in half marathon training. The novice workouts are also appropriate for low-mileage or injury-prone runners.

The experienced workouts are designed for those who have completed multiple half marathons and want to run faster. Since those workouts include more time at intensity, you should be running more miles per week and able to tolerate workouts without getting injured.

Progression Long Run:

What it does: If you tend to start out too fast, progression long runs will help you practice conserving your effort early and then finishing strong. Physiologically speaking, these workouts can improve your fatigue resistance (ability to hold onto a pace without physiology becoming unstable).

There are many variations of progression long runs. They can be run based on perceived effort or pace. While progression long runs can be at various intensities, these half marathon specific ones finish at half marathon pace.

Beginner: 10 mile progression run.

Run at an easy pace (1.5+ minutes per mile slower than goal race pace) for the first 9 miles. In the final one mile, increase your pace to a moderate effort or until you are running at goal pace. Jog or walk a few minutes to cool down.

Experienced: 14 mile progression run.

Run the first 10 miles at your normal easy pace. In the final 4 miles, build down to half marathon effort/pace and hold through the end. Jog or walk a few minutes to cool down.

Goal Pace Repeats:

What it does: Goal pace workouts offer psychological and physiological benefits. Physiologically, these workouts improve your durability at half marathon pace. (Or, they reveal if your goal pace is too aggressive.) Psychologically, these workouts build your confidence and refine your pacing skills before race day.

Continuous long tempo runs at goal half marathon pace have their place in training. However, doing them every week can be too fatiguing in training. By breaking them up with short recoveries, you are able to achieve the same time at intensity, just with less fatigue.

Beginner: 3 x 10 minutes at half marathon pace.

Warm up with 1 mile of easy running. Run for 10 minutes at your half marathon pace. Run easy for 2 minutes. Repeat the 10 minutes of hard running two more times (with 2 minutes easy running between each intervals) for a total of three tempo intervals. Cool down with one mile of easy running.

Experienced: 3 x 2 miles at half marathon pace.

You can do 2-mile repeats as a midweek workout or incorporate them into a long run. After a warm-up of 1-2 miles, run 3 sets 2 miles at half marathon pace. Jog for 2-3 minutes in between each 2-mile repeat. Be mindful not to run these repeats harder than goal pace.

You can progress this workout over the course of a training cycle. You might start with 2 x 2 mile at half marathon pace early on, and then progress to 3 or even 4 x 2 miles. Alternatively, you can progress 2-mile repeats by shortening the recovery intervals (from 2 minutes to 60-90 seconds) as the race gets closer.

Cruise Intervals

Workouts slightly faster than half marathon pace are beneficial even in the specific weeks of training. Training at 8K-10K pace will maintain your speed, without the fatigue of high-intensity VO2max workouts.

Intensity control is vital in these workouts, so only do them if you are able to discern what 8K-10K pace feels like. Cruise intervals feel only moderately hard during, due to the shorter intervals.

Beginner: 6 x 3 minutes at 8K-10K pace

Warm up with 10-15 minutes of easy running. After the warm-up, complete 6 repeats of 3 minutes at 8K-10K pace (moderately hard), with 90 seconds of light jogging in between each rep.

Experienced: 8 x 800m at 8K-10K pace

Warm up with 1-2 miles of easy running. For each 800m repeat, focus on a moderately hard effort – especially early in the workout when you feel fresher. Jog for 90-seconds in between each interval.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:
How to Run a Sub 1:45 Half Marathon
Ways You May be Sabotaging Your Half Marathon
How to Run a Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon
How Far Should You Run Before a Half Marathon?
What to Include in a Half Marathon Training Plan

Sign Up for My Newsletter for More Running Tips

* indicates required

Share this post

22 Responses

  1. love these workouts! I am getting excited to finally figure out what race we are training for! The half marathon distance is my fave. Sometimes I think I am starting to like a good 10k though too but overall, I pick a good half to focus on.

    1. Thank you! I’m getting excited for making your training plan also! A good 10K is fun also but they seem harder to come by – I wish they were more common!

  2. Trying to put us out of business?? lol. I might just have to use this for my own purposes 😀 I love to race the half marathon, I love to train for and run the marathon. (As I discussed in the podcast!)

  3. I love the marathon. I really love it. I love the 50 miler too! My body is built for distance. The shorter the race, the worse I do statistically.

    Great list of workouts. I still love your 8 min/4…6/3…4/2 etc treadmill workouts. One of my faves!

    1. You’re definitely an endurance machine (and a speedy one at that!). And thank you! I’m excited to do that workout again once training is done. I’m glad you like it so much!

  4. The half is definitely my favorite distance. These are really great tips for anyone getting into running or needing to add some speed!

  5. I think the half marathon is the best distance to race. I love that there’s endurance involved but that you can push your pace and do some pretty amazing things! I ‘d love to break that 1:50 barrier. I know my Florida half won’t be a PR for me–that humidity and heat will not be my friend this time of year. But maybe a local half will be a PR?

    1. I know a local half would get you past that barrier, you’ve been doing so well in your training! The half is the perfect balance between endurance and speed, which makes the training so fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *