One Month Left to Train for a Half Marathon

by Amelia

one month left to train for a half marathon
Hello, I'm running a half marathon in one month. I recently got sick with bronchitis and couldn't run for 3 weeks. I was only up to 5 miles at that point.

With only 4 1/2 weeks left to train, what is the recommended training schedule?

It's my first half, and my goal is to finish in the alotted time.

Any advice is welcome.

running tips

Answer by Dominique:
Hi Amelia,

Thanks for your question about your upcoming half marathon.

I am not sure how much time is provided to finish this half marathon. Three hours maybe?

Whatever it is, you are severely underprepared, even without the bronchitis.

So let's cover off on the following:

1. The ideal beginner half marathon preparation
2. What is the best thing to do now
3. Half marathon race strategy
4. My own story of staying ahead of cut-off time

The Ideal Beginner Half Marathon Preparation

one month left to train for a half marathon
Under ideal circumstances you do quite a few runs of 90 minutes and over to get to the starting line.

For a first half marathon in which you want to get to the end with somewhat of a smile of your face, you would ideally get to a long run of 10-11 miles.

When you have time goals you want to have a longer long run.

As an example, I generally do 15-16 mile long runs on quite a regular basis in a half marathon campaign. And actually, on quite a regular basis full-stop.

But clearly, your goal is to finish, which is a fantastic accomplishment. So, let's talk about what to do given where you are at today.

What is the Best Thing to Do Now?

Well, you have a few options.

A valid option is to pull out completely and pick out a half marathon in 3-5 months, do some more training in order to get properly prepared and then run that one.

one month left to train for a half marathon
Follow the link to find my beginner's half marathon running program, which assumes that people can run a 10k already.

Still want to do this one? Then make sure you get in all the running and exercise you can get until the race. The link to the beginner half marathon training program should give you some ideas about the types of runs to do.

My key pieces of advice to prepare as best as possible for this half marathon:

1. Train at least four times per week
2. Do run/walks in order to be able to go further
3. Get a few long run/walks in that take two hours at least
4. Don't worry too much about a long taper

Just on that last point: you do a taper to recover from a strenuous and long period of training. Because you haven't had quite a break recently, you should be quite fresh. Of course take it easy the last 2-3 days before the race.

Let's now move on to race strategy.

Half Marathon Race Strategy

Let's face it. In this half marathon you will be doing a combination of running and walking.

one month left to train for a half marathon
The best strategy in my mind, is to bring in walk breaks from the beginning. Eventually, you will be walking anyways. So, do it from the beginning and conserve some energy.

It should, hopefully, allow you to run for a longer time and to run faster.

At all times, be very conscious about the cut-off time and stay ahead of it. Know at which time you need to have past the 3 mile mark, the 5 mile mark, the 7 mile mark, etc.

With that in mind, I have a "beating the cut-off story" of my own.

My Own Story of Staying Ahead of Cut-off Time

I participated in an ultra-marathon once. It was 56 km (40 miles) long with 1,500m (5,000 feet) of elevation. And the cut-off time was 8 hours.

Oh, and the race is held in the middle of Australian summer. So, the sun is fierce and the temperature can be punishing.

I was not very well prepared for this race. In terms of training. But I had my race strategy worked out perfectly well.

I had worked out where I wanted to be after 1 hour. And after 2 hours and after 3 hours. I wanted to be at the half-way point at 3 hrs 30. After that there was a huge climb following and I knew that would take extra time.

But all I had to do was get to the 38km mark at the 5 hr mark. This gave me 3 hrs (180 minutes) for the final 18km. That was simple. Just stick to staying under 10 minutes per km on the remainder of the course which had a bit of undulation left in it, but nothing severe anymore.

All I did for the next three hours was do just enough running such that my GPS would tell me I'd be faster than 10 minutes per km. Just a little bit.

In the end, I finished that ultra in 7 hrs 52 minutes. Eight minutes to spare is not a lot on eight hours. But of all the races I have run, I consider this to be one of my best executed race plans to date.

I was realistic about my fitness situation and adjusted my race plan accordingly. And it all worked out beautifully.

So, that's what I wish for you Amelia. Train well over the next month. Work out a good race strategy. And then execute well so you make it to the finish line before the cut-off.

All the best.
Kind regards,

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