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Beginner Half Marathon Training - Seven Running Tips That Help You Cross The Finish Line

Looking for some beginner half marathon training tips?

Then look no more. 

This is where you will find the beginner half marathon training information you are looking for. 

Even for complete beginners it is possible to finish a half marathon. 

However, what is important that you take time and don't push yourself towards injury or burn out.

beginner half marathon training infographic
The Beginner Half Marathon Training Page in One Simple Picture

Beginner Half Marathon Training Tip #1 - Take Your Time

When preparing for a half marathon you will want to take your time to get there. There are beginner running training schedules available that will get you to a half marathon with only twelve weeks of training. I don't think that is quite enough.

You need more than that. I'd advise you to break your training down in three parts, each consisting of three months. In the first three months, aim to get to running 30 minutes non-stop. In the second three months, aim at getting to 10k.

And in the last three months, make the final leap towards running a half marathon.

This is taking things a bit more slowly than many programs you will find on the internet, but you have got better chances of preventing frustration and injury.

And do I have suggestions in mind for how to get to 30 minutes, 10k and the half marathon in those three month periods?

Hmm,well, yes I do... :)

Here it is:

  • Beginners Running Program 3 - From 0 to 30 minutes of non-stop running in 12 weeks

  • 10k Running Program - From 30 minutes to 10k in 12 weeks

  • Half Marathon Running Program - From 10k to Half Marathon in 12 weeks

  • beginner half marathon training

    Beginner Half Marathon Training Tip #2 - How to Begin In the Beginning...

    When starting to run you will probably not be able to cover large distances.

    Just focus on getting out there three times a week and do walk-runs.

    Walk-runs are workouts in which you combine walking with running.

    They are really useful.

    Because of the walking breaks these workouts allow you to run further than you'd be able to do otherwise.

    Build up your running slowly.

    And reduce the walking breaks slowly.

    Before you know it you will be running for longer and longer. Consistency and patience are key.

    Beginner Half Marathon Training Tip #3 - What about Speed?

    As a beginning runner, you don't need to do speed training or interval workouts. You need to work on building your endurance.

    That's much more important than speed. Intervals are very strenuous and give you a much higher risk of injury.

    So avoid them. Just focus on logging miles and being able to make it further and further.

    Now, I know that some people will not agree with me here. They have looked into CrossFit, high intensity interval training (HIIT) etc and are of the opinion that interval training is better.

    Let's just make clear that this is just another opinion. More research needs to be done on the long-term benefits of HIIT. I can agree that in the short-term interval training can help you get fitter, the question is though if it will make you healthier...?

    Also see the running for fitness page which explores the differences between running for fitness and running for health in greater detail.

    Beginner Half Marathon Training Tip #4 - Cross Trainingbeginner half marathon training

    Cross-training is a topic of much debate in the running community. 

    I advise you to incorporate some cross training into your training schedule. 

    It gives your lower legs and feet a rest of pounding the pavement constantly, while still keeping you active.

    Good examples of cross training are bike riding, swimming, yoga, pilates or weight lifting.

    Also see the cross training for runners page which talks about the benefits of cross training in more detail.

    Beginner Half Marathon Training Tip #5 - How Often Do You Run?

    Most of us see good improvements when we run at least three times per week.

    And I would really advise you to stick to that.

    Three or four times per week is plenty for the recreational runner.

    When you want to do more training, I'd really advocate throwing in some cross-training.

    Why? Well, did you know that in any given year, about 80-90% of runners have to take time of running due to injury troubles? Many of us just push through and are very bad listeners to our body.

    So, as you are starting to learn how to run, in those first six months of training when you are building up to running 10k I'd advise you to run at least three times per week. In the final three months of training, I'd push it up to four times per week.

    The half marathon is a respectable distance. It warrants a bit of extra running training. And when you have got a solid base of six months of running three times per week, then adding another run in is not going to be too strenuous for most of us.

    When only running three times per week in that final trimester, make sure you compensate by doing more cross training!

    Beginner Half Marathon Training Tip #6 - Pick Short-Term Goals for Motivation?

    Working towards a race that is nine months away can be tough. You may find yourself losing motivation or not seeing the need for a training session when your race is so far away.

    That's why it would be good if you'd pick some short-term goals. Sign up for a 5k race that is three months away. Find a 10k race that is six months away. Then start focusing on your half marathon.

    Believe me, it will have an influence on you when you are tired and grumpy and don't really want to do exercise!

    And getting some race experience is really useful as well. You'll know what it feels like to run a race. To start off way too fast. To deal with many people around you. Etc. Lots of advantages. So do it!

    beginner half marathon training

    Beginner Half Marathon Training Tip #7 - About Running Gear

    As a beginning runner, you don't need all the bells and whistles to start off. Some running shoes, socks, shorts or tights and shirt is really all you need.

    As you progress through the months, and as your budget permits, it is useful to look into some of these "bells and whistles", I'll highlight a few for you:

  • Gymboss - A really handy tool to have, pretty much immediately, is the Gymboss interval timer. It just makes run/walks and interval training so much easier. And you can use it for cross-training workouts as well. I do all kinds of different circuits with my Gymboss (e.g. 1 min push-ups, 15 sec rest, 1 min squats, 15 sec rest, 1 min crunches, 15 sec rest, 1 min skipping rope, 15 sec rest, etc).

  • GPS Running Watch - A bit further down the track, a GPS running watch is a really useful tool to have. Just being able to keep track of your speed early in a race is so, so important. 99.9% of runners have difficulty containing themselves at the start of a race. So many races get destroyed by simply going out way too fast, then struggling through the second part of the race. Don't let it happen to you!

  • I'd say that that's about it. For starters. Have a further look on this website and follow some of the links above for further info.

    In summary, beginner half marathon training is not rocket science. 

    All you need is persistence, consistency and a gradual build-up. 

    This type of approach is sure to get you to the finish line with a smile on your face!

    Other Relevant Pages

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    running tips and techniques

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