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Finally, a Truly Simple Half Marathon Training Plan

When I ran my first 5K in October of 2012, it was a wonderful experience. My wife and I were able to do it together on our 3-year anniversary weekend, which made it so special.

But that 5K wasn’t the only race being held that day. The main event was a half-marathon, and people seemed to be having such a good time running it. They were just so happy! Since I’d had such a fantastic time running 3.1 miles, I decided that by the time the race rolled around again, I’d be ready to run 13.1 miles. And ten more miles was just ten more miles of joy! (said no runner, ever)

The race date was set: October 26, 2013. And I had a year to train for that half marathon. Unfortunately, I slacked for a while. I wanted to have run a 10K before the summer started, but life/work/laziness got in the way of that. Instead of taking 6.2 miles, I was running between 3 and 5 (thank you, Runkeeper archives!). That’s not bad at all, but it wasn’t where I needed to be if I was going to run 13.1 in October.

Luckily, half-marathon training from a 5K-foundation tends to take anywhere between 10 to 12 weeks. Unfortunately, almost all of them have been fairly complicated and intense. And the last time I had tried a more complex program, I got bored really quickly–it took the fun out of running because I was worried more about the details and logistics than the runs. I mean, scheduling is not the reason I became a runner.

Turns out, one of my twitter friends told me what they used for half marathon training, and when I saw how simple it was, I jumped at it:

The Simple Half Marathon Training Plan:

  • Saturday or  Sunday: your long run (ex: 8 miles)
  • Tuesday and Thursday: half of the weekend long run distance (ex: 4 miles)
  •  Each week, add 0.5 mile to short runs, 1 mile to the long runs.
  • Repeat until your long runs are 12 miles.

I did adjust this a little. By the end of it, my half-marathon training was this:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 10k (6.2 miles)
  • Saturday: long run of 10+ miles
    • (I added one mile each week, still, because I was planning on running a full marathon that never happened.)

The really important thing that you can’t forget is the long run. (I ended up loving the long run so much. So so much.) Though honestly, I had to really build up to it during first couple of weeks because of my asthma–I had to get myself trained to run in the lovely summer humidity we get here in the South before I could start doing longer distances.

And you know what? It worked. I ran a half marathon with this plan (though to be honest, it was not the one I had planned on because I got injured and had to delay it a year. Stupid bursitis.) And it was simple. A really simple half marathon training plan that wasn’t all scheduling and logistics and easy enough to remember that I didn’t need a spreadsheet. In the end, I finished my half in under 2 hours, and it was a glorious experience. So thanks, Porter. A bunch.

Good luck out there, y’all!

Have you trained for a half-marathon? Any tips for all the 13.1 newbies out there?


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  1. Jessica

    Hey there!
    Not sure if you remember me. I used to be a WoW blogger, Larisa at The Pink Pigtail Inn. Nowadays I’m blogging about movies, though I occasionally check out what my old favourite bloggers are up to. And that’s how I ended up here. I think your geek fitness project is pretty awesome.
    I’ve recently started my own since I got hooked on the app Zombies, Run!
    I bet you’ve already heard about it and for some reason decided not to use it. For me it’s perfect, almost addicting, in a good way. When I go to bed I look forward to waking up the next morning, so I can have a run before breakfast and see what will come up next with the zombie story… I can’t remember EVER looking forward to running in my entire life. It’s supposed to be painful and dull… and now it isn’t. It’s playful and fun.
    This app also comes in a beginner’s version where the goal is to run 5k after eight weeks of training. It’s perfect for gamers who haven’t exercised for years. For my own part I stick to the version for runners, but I think it’s pretty wonderful that this version exists for the people who most of all need it.

    Oh, and I also have a Nike fuelband, which also speaks to an old gamer. I haven’t missed my daily goal once since I bought it and it has truly changed my lifestyle in a good way.

    Exercising geeks today certainly have access to a lot of great tools to help them out!

    Anyway: cheers for your progress and best of luck with your half marathon training!

    • Sohei

      and Boom, just like that, nostalgia 🙂 The PPI, oh, yes, those were the days :D, back when I was a Holy Pally, Blogger (Non-Squishy Heals) and very much NOT a runner. Or a walker. I got my exercise pushing my luck and jumping to conclusions 😀

      The Blogging community really is a tight-knit one, especially in WoW circles!

      Ugh, and I am sooo slack in posting anything running related. Must remedy that!

    • B.J. Keeton

      Of course I remember you! I’m glad to see that you haven’t given up on blogging altogether, though. Personally, I’m glad to find a smaller niche I really care about. I think my gaming blogs were too unfocused (because my tastes are so eclectic) to work out. Geek Fitness, though? I heart it.

      I want to love Zombies, Run! but I have a hard time. I did the first mission and loved it, but I can’t play music through it because my playlists are on Spotify instead of being stored on my phone. So it won’t silence the music in order to continue the ZR story. It sucks, but if they ever fix that, I’ll definitely be using it to prep myself.

      So I take it you like the fuelband? I’ve looked at them a lot and for the price, I really do like what’s there. Part of me wants it more than the upcoming Fitbit wristband because of it having a clock/display on the device itself. I’m not a big fan of the Fuelpoints (in theory), but I can see how gameifying it can really help people like us a long.

      Have you tried out Fitocracy? I use it constantly, and I did a write-up on it a while back at https://www.geekfitness.net/fitocracy –If you’re a fan of the Fuelband and how it motivates you, try a RL fitness RPG. You’ll get hooked! 😉

      • Jessica

        I’ve never heard of Fitocracy before, but it might be something I liked. I really enjoy gamification of fitness activities, though I don’t feel any urge whatsoever to share my progress in social media. I’ve turned off all auto-reporting to twitter from Fuelband as well as Zombies Run.

        Re: Zombies Run, I don’t even listen to music. I’m such a podcast junkie that I need to find time to listen to them, so I do that while exercising, either it’s by running outdoors, walking or on a treadmill. So I listen to my podcasts and then, when the voice from the app breaks in, I just use the switch on the earbuds to quickly turn off the podcast until they’ve said their thing, and then I put it on again once it’s time for “music”. It works as a charm to me.
        Then again: I know others are more dependent on music for their running. To each one their own. Just wanted to point out the possibility of easy manual switching.

        The Fuelband has been an excellent motivator for me. Having that goal and a bar that needs to be filled is strangely motivating, just like when you’re grinding in a game. I’ve taken lunch walks in heavy rain, just to get the points I need for the day! Crazy, I know, but so what as long as it works? 🙂

  2. Mags

    I like the Hal Higdon training plans – free on the Internet- he’s got plans for different distances and skill levels. Good luck with your training!

    • B.J. Keeton

      I’ve glanced at the Higdon ones, but they’re so often referred to, I guess I should probably give them more than a glance.

      Also, thanks for the CommentLuv link to the sports bra blog. My wife’s been obsessing over getting a couple new ones lately, so I sent her your way. 😀

  3. P.J. Murphy

    I second the Hal Higdon online training programs – especially for your first half marathon. They’re relatively easy to follow and there is a bit of flexibility built into them. The Novice programs are perfect for beginners – I used them for my first couple of half marathons. Lately I’ve been creating my own hybrid training programs, but a lot of what I do is based on Hal’s programs.

    The other option is to join a training group. If there’s one fail safe way to keep you honest about your weekly mileage goals, it’s when a dozen or so other runners are asking you about it.

    • B.J. Keeton

      The training group is actually a great idea, which is kind of why I do this blog. It keeps me honest and motivated. I have enough people who read and interact on Twitter that if I don’t push myself, they’re asking me why not. It’s a great feeling. And as egocentric as I am, it’s a nice jolt to the ego that I can do that.

      There might be smaller local runners groups, but because I’m so rural, there’s not a running shop closer than an hour away. I’m hoping within the next year, though, to move closer and get more locally involved at that point.

  4. Ashley @ Workout to Wineglass

    Great post! Yes, for my first I did a half marathon plan I found online. I’ve got some other races on the schedule but I really want to run a PR at Rock and Roll Savannah this November. So I signed up for a custom plan by Jason at strengthrunning.com. Plan starts June 24, but I have already been getting used to the pre-/post-run regimens, etc. I think his site might have some posts of interest to you. No affiliation; just trying to point out somewhere that’s helped me focus when I’ve gotten overwhelmed by so many other sources out there 😉

  5. George

    Great article, you do really need a interesting plan that is put together by a professional. Links on my site to some great info by Canadian pro Yuri Elkaim trust it helps you

  6. Holly Martin

    Nice post Keeton! I liked the way you bifurcated the entire half marathon training plan into which exercises one needs to do on each individual day. I think this will help the readers in preparing a daily plan that is easy to follow. Thanks for sharing this article!

  7. Nicole Rice

    I got the best inspiration from this article. After reading this article, I also inspired myself for my marathon training. As a athletes, I followed your all instructions regarding this marathon training which you mentioned in your blog that’s really helpful for me. Thanks!

  8. Graham Bell

    Appreciating the time and effort you put into your website and in depth information you offer. Very inspiring and clear explanation! You’ve covered up almost all the possible info that every marathon running enthusiast should follow. Worth sharing! Please continue sharing your updates! Thanks a lot!


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