Any runner knows that some training is necessary before taking on a half marathon. Luckily, there is a wealth of half marathon training plans available online. It is now easier than ever to build a training plan before a half marathon without the need for a running coach (but that’s also a great option!).
Still, if you’re a beginner runner looking to train for your first half marathon, the options could be a little overwhelming.
This doesn’t have to be such an issue. We gathered the basic details, timeframes, benefits, and downfalls of six popular half marathon training plans to help you figure out which plan fits your schedule, lifestyle, fitness level, and willingness to train.
The Right Plan for You: 6 Half Marathon Training Plans Compared
These six training plans are some of the most popular half marathon training plans around. When it comes to picking the best half marathon training program for you, consider your schedule, experience, and training time allotted before your race.
Longest Run: 2 hours
Training Days Per Week: 4 to 6 days
Weeks Per Program: 12 weeks
Best Features: Stretching and flexibility, strength, time-based runs rather than distance-based runs, and racing between 5K and 15K marathons.
Benefits: Dress rehearsal races are available, as well as tempo runs. The plans are diverse, so all athletic levels could find a plan for them.
Drawbacks: There are no cutback weeks available for most of the plans.
Try Hal Higdon if you want a well-rounded schedule for training.
Longest Run: 25 minutes or 17 miles
Training Days Per Week: 4 days
Weeks Per Program: Between 17 and 19 weeks
Best Features: Walk and run intervals for beginners. Beginner plan is designed for absolute beginners and features optional pace runs.
Benefits: Features extremely easy workouts.
Drawbacks: Training days run on weekends.
Try Jeff Galloway if you are a beginner looking for an easy introductory training plan. Jeff Galloway is also ideal for runners who want a plan that is simple in nature. Customized training plans are also available.
Longest Run: Customizable, sample plans cap at 11 miles
Training Days Per Week: Customizable, sample plan suggests 5 days
Weeks Per Program: 14 weeks
Best Features: Dual speed sessions per week, tips and advice for each week, recovery guidance.
Benefits: Extremely simple to modify and customize.
Drawbacks: Might be slightly too complex for beginner runners.
Try Nike if you are a seasoned runner who is looking for a customizable training plan to fit your needs. Nike is also ideal for runners who want some flexibility. This may not be the ideal half marathon training program for beginners or novice runners.
Longest Run: 16 miles
Training Days Per Week: Between 6 and 7 days
Weeks Per Program: 12 weeks
Best Features: Appropriate mix of hills and speed workouts 1-2 days per week.
Benefits: Simple schedule, challenging speed workouts.
Drawbacks: Beginner course might be too intensive for beginners.
Try Cool Running if you have run half marathons before and are looking for a simple training plan. May also be ideal for runners who specifically need a 16 week half marathon plan schedule. Beginners who are in shape may find the 6-7 day training schedule doable, but others may not.
Longest Run: 15 miles
Training Days Per Week: Between 4 and 6 days
Weeks Per Program: Between 13 and 14 weeks, plus 4 recovery weeks
Best Features: Runners can train by time, rather than mileage. Implements workouts involving cross-training. Also encourages effort by heart rate.
Benefits: Offers plans for all levels of runners, from brand new beginner to advanced.
Drawbacks: A heart rate monitor is not mandatory for this plan, but it does make the plan a little more useful.
Try Jenny Hadfield if you prefer to run by time instead of miles. This plan may not be ideal for runners who do not have a heart rate monitor.
Plans: 2 (Though runDisney also includes half marathon mashup training plans)
Longest Run: 13 – 14 miles
Training Days Per Week: 3 days
Weeks Per Program: 19 weeks
Best Features: Detailed training guide and strategy suggestions.
Benefits: Fewer days per week for runners who need a flexible schedule.
Drawbacks: The experienced plan is not very challenging.
Try runDisney if you are a beginner runner who wants to train on a busy schedule with the beginner plan. The experienced plan may be ideal for some runners but is not very challenging for most. The runDisney plans are designed by Jeff Galloway so they are similar in style to the ones available at jeffgalloway.com.
Which one of these half marathon training schedules did you choose? Or did you decide to get a running coach? Tell us about your recommended half marathon training plans in the comments below!
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