Half Marathon Training Plan

The ZAP Endurance coaches have put together a FREE 12-week half marathon training plan to get you focused and fit for a half marathon!

This 12-week half marathon training plan will include a 5k at the 4-week mark and a 10k at the 8-week mark so you can test your fitness and gauge your progress. The plan will culminate with a half marathon at the end of the 12th week.

Every week we will provide the coming week of training here in the ZAP Newsletter. We are providing 3 different training plans: Groups A, B and C.

Coach Pete working with the ZAP team during half marathon training.

Group A is designed for beginners, or those coming back from a long break in training, whose primary goal is to finish the 13.1 mile distance. The plan for Group A will peak at roughly 20-23 miles per week and run 3-4 days per week.

Group B is designed for people who have been training more consistently and are ready to ramp up their training. This group will peak at approximately 35 miles per week and run 4-5 days per week.

Group C is designed for runners who have been training consistently and have a strong background of running up to 40-50 miles per week. This program will peak at approximately 50 miles per week and run 5-6 days per week.

Feel free to shift the easy days around a little bit to fit your schedule or to blend mileage from the various groups if you would prefer to be somewhere between 2 of the groups.

Half Marathon Training Plan Weeks 1, 2 & 3 Overview:

You can find more information on ZAP Personal Coaching here.

The primary goal in the first 4 weeks of the program will be to build our training volume up toward peak volume. Building training volume is one of the most important components for successful distance running, particularly as the distances get longer. For the half marathon we’ll want to establish a strong aerobic base of easy miles to build our more intense training upon.

Joe and Andrew run uphill strides during half marathon training.

We will supplement this mileage building window with some weekly hill workouts. Hill workouts are a great way to begin harder training because the impact stress is much lower than a similar intensity on flat ground. Hills are also a wonderful way to build strength.

These hills will help you build strength in your legs by improving muscle fiber recruitment. Running uphill with proper posture reinforces that posture and muscle firing patterns when you’re running on flat ground.

Think about leaning into the hill from your ankles while keeping your torso and spine tall and long. You want to get your feet off the ground quickly, driving your knees forward and your elbows back. In general, the hills are not meant to be all-out sprints. The goal is to focus on running smoothly and powerfully with good form.

Aim for a quick pace, but with the goal of trying to get a little farther each time. You should finish knowing you could have gone a little faster. Ideally, your hill will be a moderately steep grade, something along the lines of 3-4%.

If you have lower leg issues (history of achilles or calf pain) then skip the hills and perform the same duration repeats on flat ground.

Half Marathon Training Week 3

Group A

Monday: 25-30 minutes Cross Training

Tuesday: 3-4 miles easy running finishing the final 10min of the run with 4 x 20second uphill strides with a walk to the bottom between each

Wednesday: 25-30 minutes Cross Training

Thursday: 3 miles easy running

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 5-6 miles easy running

Sunday: 40-60min walk

Weekly Total: 12-13 miles in 3 runs + 2 Cross Training Sessions

Group B

Monday: 40-60min walk

Tuesday: 4-5 miles easy running finishing the final 10min of the run with 4-6 x 20second strides post run

Wednesday: 5-6 miles easily finishing the final 15min with 6 x 40sec uphill strides with a very easy jog to the bottom between each (be patient on the first 1-2, 40 seconds is a lot longer uphill thank you think!)

Thursday: 30-40min cross training or walk

Friday: 5-6 miles easy running with 4-6 x 20sec strides post run

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 7-8 miles easy running

Weekly Total: 21-25 miles in 4 runs + 1 Cross Training Session

Group C

Monday: 40-60min walk

Tuesday: 6-7 miles easy running with 6 x 20second strides post run

Wednesday: 7-8 miles easily finishing the final 20min with 8 x 45sec uphill strides with a very easy jog to the bottom between each (be patient on the first few, 45 seconds is a lot longer uphill thank you think!)

Thursday: 4-5 miles easily

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 5-6 miles easy running with 4-6 x 20sec strides post run

Sunday: 10-11 miles easy running

Weekly Total: 32-37 miles in 5 runs + 1 Walk

Half Marathon Training Week 2

Group A

Monday: 30-35 minutes Cross Training

Tuesday: 4-5 miles easy running finishing the final 10-15min of the run with 6 x 30second uphill strides with a very easy jog to the bottom between each

Wednesday: 25-30 minutes Cross Training

Thursday: 4 miles easy running

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 6-7 miles easy running

Sunday: 40-60min walk

Weekly Total: 15-16 miles in 3 runs + 2 Cross Training Sessions

Group B

Monday: 40-60min walk

Tuesday: 4-5 miles easy running finishing the final 10min of the run with 4-6 x 20second strides post run

Wednesday: 5-6 miles easily finishing the final 15min with 8 x 45sec uphill strides with a very easy jog to the bottom between each (be patient on the first few)

Thursday: 30-40min cross training or walk

Friday: 6-7 miles easy running with 4-6 x 20sec strides post run

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 9-10 miles easy running

Weekly Total: 24-28 miles in 4 runs + 1 Cross Training Session

Group C

Monday: 40-60min walk

Tuesday: 6-7 miles easy running with 6 x 20second strides post run

Wednesday: 8-9 miles easily finishing the final 20min with 10 x 60sec uphill strides with a very easy jog to the bottom between each and an additional 90sec rest at the bottom after #5 (be patient on the first few, 60 seconds is a lot longer uphill thank you think!)

Thursday: 5-6 miles easily

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 6-7 miles easy running with 6 x 20sec strides post run

Sunday: 12-13 miles easy running

Weekly Total: 37-42 miles in 5 runs + 1 Walk

Half Marathon Training Week 3

Group A

Monday: 2-3 miles easy running

Tuesday: 4 miles easy running finishing the final 15min of the run with 2 x (45 second uphill stride / 30 second uphill stride / 15 second uphill stride) with a very easy jog to the bottom between each stride and 2 minutes rest at the bottom between sets. Aim to run the shorter strides a touch faster than the longer strides and to progress farther on each set.

Wednesday: 25-30 minutes Cross Training

Thursday: 4 miles easy running

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 8-9 miles easy running

Sunday: 40-60min walk

Weekly Total: 17-20 miles in 4 runs + 1 Optional Cross Training Session

Group B

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 4-5 miles easy running finishing the final 10min of the run with 4-6 x 20second strides post run

Wednesday: 6-7 miles easily finishing the final 20min of the run with 3 x (50 second uphill stride / 35 second uphill stride / 20 second uphill stride) with a very easy jog to the bottom between each stride and 2 minutes rest at the bottom between sets. Aim to run the shorter strides a touch faster than the longer strides and to progress farther on each set.

Thursday: 3-4 miles easily

Friday: 30-40min cross training or walk

Saturday: 3-4 miles easy running with 6 x 20sec strides post run

Sunday: 11-12 miles easy running

Weekly Total: 28-32 miles in 5 runs + 1 Cross Training Session

Group C

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 6-7 miles easy running with 6 x 20second strides post run

Wednesday: 8-9 miles easily finishing the final 20min of the run with 4 x (60 second uphill stride / 45 second uphill stride / 30 second uphill stride) with a very easy jog to the bottom between each stride and 2 minutes rest at the bottom between sets. Aim to run the shorter strides a touch faster than the longer strides and to progress farther on each set.

Thursday: 4-5 miles easily

Friday: 6-7 miles easily

Saturday: 3-4 miles easy running with 6 x 20sec strides post run

Sunday: 14-15 miles easy running

Weekly Total: 42-47 miles in 6 runs

Key Training Terms:

  1. Running Easily: This is a pace where you could hold a casual, full-sentence conversation. Your breathing should remain relaxed and comfortable, not labored. For Group A folks this may necessitate a 1 minute walk every 5-8 minutes of your easy runs. Typically, this pace is going to be somewhere between 1 and 2 minutes slower than your half marathon pace. Let the effort be your guide though, not the pace, even if it falls outside that pace range. This last point is critical for recovery and being able to adapt to the training and improve.
  2. The abbreviation “sec”is short for seconds, and “min” in short for minutes.
  3. Strides: Unless otherwise indicated strides should be done after you finish your run. These are designed to improve your running mechanics and get your body comfortable with running more quickly. Take as much rest between each of them as you need to feel fully recovered. And remember, these are not top speed. They are quick, but  you should ease back into them and focus on maintaining a smooth, relaxed stride throughout. Focus on good form rather than attaining top end speed.

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