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054: How To Run a Half Marathon

podcast running Sep 20, 2018


The half marathon is said to be for those who are only half crazy.  Angie and I both tried our first half marathon to see what was possible at that distance, while knowing that we were not ready for a full 26.2.  In this episode we dive into the half marathon from several different angles.

We cover:

  • Why to run it in the first place
  • How long you will need to train
  • Key workouts to boost your preparation
  • The little extra things you should do when prepping for a race this long.  

The half marathon is a great challenge race for a time strapped runner.  The distance requires a long run, but not to the same extent as a full marathon.  It also requires you to stay connected to you speed, but without the super fast workouts around a 5k that require extensive rest and tend to last a long time.  

A safe number to be fully prepared for a half marathon is around 12 weeks.  This number depends on your starting point and your goal for the race. Runners trying to complete the race distance can focus their training on making sure they are capable of covering the distance injury-free.  If you are just starting to run, and have decided you running journey is going to begin with a 13.1 mile race, you should plan on devoted 6-12 months to the process. Runners looking to compete in the race, whether against others or simply the clock, should be looking for a solid three months after building a base up to consistent 6-8 mile runs with a long run of 10.  

While there are so many great workouts that will prepare you for the half marathon, and some will be more beneficial than others, we have a list of some of our favorites.

  • Increase the long run up to 10 miles for completion and 12-15 for competition
  • Increase the distance of your fartlek training by stretching how long you can bounce between up and down intensity until you are up to 6 miles
  • Run mile repeats (5-6 repeats) around 10k effort with 50% recovery
    • If you run for 8 minutes, you are resting for 4 minutes
    • Use this workout to replace a long run
  • Fast finish runs in which you run your normal distance but finish with a final two miles around race pace of a final one mile around 10k pace or faster
  • Extend you steady state runs by replacing a very long run with 8 miles at marathon racing pace
  • Long intervals of 2 x 3 miles or 3 x 2 miles at you super perfect ideal half marathon race pace.  Recovery with 5-7 minutes walking between reps.

Finally, some extra things to cover so you don’t get hurt in your build-up to the race:

  • All runners should be strength training at least twice a week,
  • Run strides on a weekly basis and including range of motion drill work every few days.  
  • When focused on the long race, runners should make certain they are sleeping and fueling correctly while focusing on recovery.
  • Please keep track of your shoes.  They have a life of 300-500 miles depending on the type of shoe and the surfaces they are used on. With longer training runs, the mileage build up quickly.
  • Because long runs make runner vulnerable to repetitive use injury, runners should focus on lateral strength and mobility.  
  • Lastly, runners should work on cleaning up particularly poor running form. Land light on you feet, with tall posture and a small arm swing.

With some focus and dedication, most recreational runners can become half marathon racers.  The distance and the training are not overwhelming. There is still a great challenge in the race.  As a runner, it is a treat to seek out new challenges and see just what your body can do. When you try a new experiment, you never know how much fun the result may be.  


Hope you enjoy it!! Let us know if you have any questions that you would like answered on our show!   

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