Half Marathon Training Plan

Completing your first half marathon can seem like a daunting prospect, but rest assured that with a good training plan in place, the 13.1 mile distance is achievable to runners of all levels! For those with busy schedules the training is also requires less commitment and allows more flexibility than a full marathon training schedule. 

Training for a half marathon

There are plenty of great reasons to sign up to a half marathon event, including running to raise money for charity, improving your fitness level or taking on your next challenge after completing a 10K. Whatever your reason for running, you’ll want to do some training to be at your best on race day, as well as avoiding any nasty sprains or injuries!

How long does it take to train for a half marathon?

Whilst there are no hard and fast rules about how long you must train to complete a half marathon, it’s worth noting that the majority of training plans available run the course of 10 to 12 weeks. The amount of time it takes an individual to prepare and build up their fitness to run the 13.1 mile distance will also be affected by factors such as your age, weight, fitness level and individual goals.

For total beginners, or those who don’t have much experience with long distance running, it is best to train with the goal of completing the course in mind, rather than aiming for a specific time. Those who have more running experience may want to take on more challenging training programmes that focus on improving speed and endurance. Using fitness apps and trackers throughout your training can help to keep you focused on your progress and make your training more interesting.

Below, we explain some of the different marathon training programme lengths and what you can expect to achieve by following one.

Training plan for a half marathon in 6 weeks

If you want to be ready for a half marathon in 6 weeks, you’ll need to already have a solid base of weekly running to build upon, meaning that this programme is not likely to be suitable for beginners. For those who are already consistently running however, a 6 week training plan can help you to challenge yourself and bridge the gap between shorter runs and longer distances, all the way up to your 13.1 mile run on race day.

The training plan combines strength training, cross training, long runs, short runs and tempo runs to help you to build up to running your half marathon and crossing the finish line comfortably.

Training plan for a half marathon in 8 weeks

Following on from the 6 week plan above, an 8 week plan offers a little more time to prepare for a half marathon, but is still best suited to runners who already run regularly. You’ll be running 4 days per week, including a mix of shorter and longer runs, gradually building up to double figures in miles before you head out and complete 13.1 of them on race day! Additionally, you’ll also be doing a couple of sessions of cross training each week, which could include swimming or cycling. Remember to take rest days too to give your body time to recover from your workouts!

If you are competing in an event that involves a varied terrain, or if you want to help build up your running speed, you can make the programme more challenging by doing more hill runs and tempo runs.

Training plan for a half marathon in 10 weeks

For anyone who has completed a 5K or 10K event before and now have their sights set on accomplishing their first half marathon, a 10 week training schedule is a great place to start! The 10 week training plan will start out with shorter runs in the initial weeks which will gradually build up to longer distances – by the final weeks of the training plan you should be able to comfortably run or run/walk 30 to 40 miles per week.

If you have a few half marathons under your belt already, then a 10 week time period is ideal for working on your running time and overall fitness. Maximise your training efforts by incorporating more challenging elements such as interval training, hill runs and running with small weights.

Training plan for a marathon in 12 weeks

If you are new to longer distance events, 12 week programme will be the most sensible training option, giving you a good head start with your fitness before race day. Although this plan will assume that you are doing at least some running each week already (3 to 5 miles), the build up to longer runs is gentler, with smaller increments of distance added over the weeks. 

Cross training and strength training form part of your training too and are an crucial to helping you to build up your overall strength and fitness level. Typically, you will complete 2 shorter runs and 1 endurance run each week, with strength training and rest days in between. Of course, experienced runners can take on longer training plans too, but may want to up the intensity if they are looking to accomplish tougher goals for their half marathon event.

Round up

Generally, the more time you have to train for an event, the better – especially if this is your first half marathon. It’s important to note however, that runners of all abilities should make sure they consult a trained medical professional before undergoing any new training programme, and make sure you take adequate rest days to avoid injury.

By race day you’ll have put a lot of hard work into your training, so make it count by remembering to pace yourself throughout the course of the race (don’t use all your energy blasting out the first few miles!). Hydration is also key – so don’t forget to drink plenty of water.


If you are looking for your next half marathon, take a look at our event listings to find the perfect event for you - Half Marathon Listings

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UK Half Marathons

Half Marathons are a great challenge for any runner, if you have successfully completed a 10k run then this type of event might be next on your list. The training will require a lot more effort and time due to the length but it will be even more rewarding when you cross the finish line. For runners who aspire to one day run a marathon, a half marathon is a great bridging event between shorter races like a 5K or 10K and doing a full 26.2 miles.

Why run a half marathon?

Even If you’ve never run competitively before, signing up for a half marathon can be a great way to motivate a change in fitness and lifestyle and push your abilities to run longer distances. You’ll need to stay committed to a good training plan before your race to avoid injury, but it will be totally worth it once you cross that finish line!

Not only is it a great form of cardiovascular exercise, running a half marathon has plenty of other great benefits too. Firstly, if you’re looking to start running as a way to lose some weight, signing up to a half marathon event will give you something to stay committed to, and through your training, you’ll work on getting your heart rate up, burning calories and losing weight in no time.

Another reason to sign up for a half marathon is to raise money for charity. Half marathons are popular options for runners who want to fundraise and there are hundreds happening across the UK every year. Some people even choose to run in fancy dress to keep things fun!
Finally, running your first half marathon is a great way to really challenge yourself and improve your long-distance running ability. Once you’ve finished a half you’re sure to want to take on your next challenge of a marathon.

Half marathons near me

There are lots of well-known half marathon events in the major cities across the UK, but you may not have know that there are also loads of events that take place in smaller towns and villages, including in your local area too. As half marathons are popular events and great for fundraising, you’ll find that there are new events starting in the UK all the time, meaning that there is bound to be one that is easy and convenient for you to get to. Another benefit of joining one of the smaller half marathon events nearby is that you’re less likely to miss out on a place and joining fees are generally lower.

If you’re looking for ways to get more active, or even start exercising more with a friend or partner, training for a half marathon together is a great way to introduce a little friendly competition and also support each other in reaching your fitness goals. Our website has plenty of half marathon events that you can join all over the UK, so be sure to take a look for half marathons near you using the search bar on the left. You can then find races based on location and other options using the filters to find the perfect event for you.

Half marathons near me and fundraising

Running a half marathon to raise money for charity is a fantastic thing to do. As well as the better-known events, such as the Great Run series, there are plenty of smaller local events you can sign up to as well. In fact, a lot of smaller local charities organise their own events to raise money for specific causes, and many of these will have benefits for the local community.

Setting up funding for a half marathon is easy too. Most charities will provide you with a sponsorship pack to get started you can also do online fundraising and share your goals with your friends on social media. Running in a local half marathon race is also an ideal way to raise money for charities that are based in your local community, and also a great way to get more familiar with your local area.

Charity half marathon events are growing in popularity every year, so if you want to get into running then these are a great place to start!

How can I find charity half marathons near me?

If you’ve decided to run a half marathon for a charity, you may be wondering where you can find charity races nearby. You can find them here of course! On the UK Fitness Events website, you’ll find pages of fitness events that are taking place all across the UK. Use the search bar on the left and once you’ve filtered down the type of race you’re looking to take part in, you can then further refine the results by selecting your location and then choosing from a range of charities that you are interested in supporting.

If you’d like to support a charity that isn’t listed, you’re welcome to do that too! Be sure to check the website of your chosen charity to find out more about getting started with fundraising.

Training for a half marathon

Half marathons are a big commitment, and the 13.1 mile race will certainly put your body to the test. I’ve you’re relatively new to running of have only done shorter races previously, you’ll find that half marathons require a much longer training plan, where you have to train both your body and mind to be able to stand up to the length of the race.

If your goal is to eventually do a marathon you’ll need to get lots of training done before you even look at the track! Start off similar to a 5K prep with smaller runs and sprints and then slowly build up the length of the runs you do. Nutrition will also be important as you start to complete longer runs to make sure your muscles have adequate fuel to keep you going. Take a look at our guide for Half Marathon Training.

Where are the best UK half marathons?

With so many half marathon events to choose from all over the country, it’s difficult to choose the best! Each course has its own perks and challenges, but here are a few of the most popular half marathon events on our site:

Cardiff Half Marathon  |  Royal Parks Half Marathon  |  North London Half Marathon  |  Liverpool Rock and Roll Half Marathon  | Reading Half Marathon  |  Leeds Half Marathon  |  Brighton Half Marathon  |  Birmingham Half Marathon  |  Bath Half Marathon  |  Bristol Half Marathon


Related posts

Are you looking for some more information on half marathons? We have some great quick-read articles covering everything from pace, training and nutrition to top tips. See some of our related posts below:

How long is a half marathon?

Half Marathon Training Plan

Top half marathon running tips

Calories burnt running a Half Marathon

Best Half Marathons in the UK

What is the average half marathon time?

How to run a half marathon faster

What to eat before a half marathon