RW's 10-week 1:50-plus half-marathon schedules

Classic schedules for the half

Posted: 7 May 2000
by Bruce Tulloh

This band covers beginners and those who have been over the distance once before, in around two hours, and would now like to try for something a little faster. The schedules assume that you have already got into the running habit and are doing two or three miles at a time, about three times a week.

The important thing in this programme is to build up your endurance. The pattern is to keep most of the runs to 20 or 30 minutes, which can easily be fitted into the day, but to do one long run a week. This run gradually increases in distance over the weeks.

The training volume levels out at about 22 miles a week, spread over four runs. On two of those days you should be running easily, recovering from the harder sessions. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that more training is automatically better for you; unless your body is given a long time to adjust, putting in too much training is more likely to lead to overtiredness and injury.

I recommend that you enter some races after a few weeks, especially if you haven’t raced before. Run in a 10K as if you were doing the first half of a half-marathon, without putting pressure on yourself.

By the later stages of the schedule, you should know how your body is coping with the training load. If 22 miles a week is hard work, try cutting down Week 9 to 15 miles, but otherwise you can continue at the regular volume until the last week.

In the final week we start tapering; by reducing the amount of running, you will be building up extra energy stores in your leg muscles, so that you should really feel like racing by the time the big day comes.

In this schedule, you can arrange the days as you like, though try to have a rest after a hard day. A typical pattern would be Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, with the longest run on the Sunday.

  Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
WEEK 1 4M slow 3M slow 4M 3M, timed
WEEK 2 3M easy 3M, with a few 50m bursts 3M easy 5-6M slow
WEEK 3 4M easy 4M, with a few 100m bursts 3M, timed, plus 1M jog 7-8M slow (or 1 hour)
WEEK 4 4M easy 4M, inc several 30-sec bursts 4M 8M slow (or 1 hr)
WEEK 5 4M or 35 mins easy, off-road if possible 4-5M of fast-and-slow, with bursts up the hills (but not down them) 4M or 35 mins easy, off-road if possible 9-10M steady, or 10K race
WEEK 6 3-4M easy on soft ground 1M jog, then 2 x 5 mins fast, with 5-min slow jog recovery 4M easy on grass 9-10M slow
WEEK 7 3-4M easy, off-road if possible 3M, inc a few short bursts 3M on grass Warm up, then 10K race, then 10 mins walking or jogging
WEEK 8 4-5M easy, off-road 1M jog, then 2 x 7-8 mins fast, with 5-min jog recovery 4M on grass, inc several short bursts 11-12M, as slow as you like
WEEK 9 3-4M easy, on soft ground 1M jog, then 2 x 5 mins fast, with 5-min slow jog recovery between 4M easy on grass 9-10M slow
WEEK 10 3M easy, off-road 1M jog, then 1M at race speed, then 1M jog 2M jog Race day

Half-Marathon Race Preparation
Although nothing like as taxing as a full marathon, the 21K distance does need to be treated with respect, particularly if the weather is hot. You should finish your breakfast three hours before the start, but there is nothing wrong with drinking tea, coffee, water or squash up to an hour before the start, and if it is really hot, I suggest drinking half a pint of water five minutes before the start. Don’t drink half an hour before the start, or you’ll be bursting for a pee while waiting for the gun!

If you’re aiming to run fast, you should go through a gentle warm-up routine during the 20 minutes leading up to the start – jogging, stretching and striding. If you’re doing an event with a large field, you’ll probably find yourself running very fast in the first mile, so try to keep warm and loose during the final few minutes when you are wedged in the crowd.

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Discuss this article

Having done the Berko Half at the beginning of March in 2:09, I thought I would try a slightly more structured approach for the Keswick Half in May, but am confused about weeks 9 & 10 being the same?

Anyone know what I should be doing Week 9? I don't want to wreck everything, which seems to be going quite well, by getting it all wrong!

Thanks! :-)
Posted: 09/04/2003 at 11:15

(Oops, forgot to switch on notification - Dur!)

Posted: 09/04/2003 at 11:17

Stumpy, sorry I can't help. I too need some help - am on week 4 of the same schedule - 1/2 marathon in 1:50+ but missed my 7-8 mile run at the weekend. Shall I just carry on as normal? Am planning on the Plymouth Half, known as a challenging course!
Also, where it says 7-8 mile (or 1 hour), does this mean do 7-8 miles, and if you do this in less than an hour you can just stop at an hour?

Posted: 09/04/2003 at 12:19

Hi Emma,
I'm doing the four days as Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, so would probably try to do the long run either Tuesday (preferably, so you have more time to recover before the next one at the next weekend but a bit late now!) or Thursday (probably too close to the next one), as its the long run, with the time on your feet what you need to get used to I think.

Mind you, its still early in the schedule for you, so if you've missed it, well, accept it, cos you don't want to go mad trying to make it up and hurt yourself.

Having said that, there are loads of people on the forums that are more experienced than me - lets hope someone offers us both some advice!

Good luck with Plymouth - Berko was hard, which is why I thought I ought to approach Keswick sensibly!
Posted: 09/04/2003 at 13:11

Thanks Stumpy - in the land of the blind the one eyedman is king!
Posted: 09/04/2003 at 13:43

Anyone else like to help us out?

Posted: 10/04/2003 at 14:40

Maybe its just you and me, everyone else does them in less than 1:50. I guess anyone that knows wouldn't bother reading this thread!
Posted: 10/04/2003 at 16:01

I did Silverstone in 2.05, had already entered for Stratford at the end of April...
Two days after S/S suffered injury that has kept me out of running for almost 5 weeks...
Have been training again since Sun 30th...
I now have 17 days to regain what I lost... as far as I can see, not a chance...
So, you certainly are not on your own in the time frame..!!
I would appreciate any helpful advice too!! :o)
Posted: 10/04/2003 at 16:12

Back to do the notification thingy...!
Posted: 10/04/2003 at 16:14

I don't claim to be an expert here by any means, only having run one half marathon before, however, I reckon Stumpy that the reason that weeks 9 and 10 are the same is because you're tapering, slowing down on all the training so that you can be fully fit and full of energy for Race Day...well it's a thought! I'm sure RW wouldn't have got it wrong would they?....would they?? By the way, there's no way I'll be running Plymouth in less than 1:50 either!

Emma, I would run 7 or 8 miles or for an hour, which ever take you less time. (Does that make sense?!) So if you can run 7 miles in 50 mins then that's all you need to do....I think!
Posted: 10/04/2003 at 16:14

7 miles in 50 minutes - Ha!
Posted: 10/04/2003 at 16:18

Hi Spooner, I agree about the tapering, but the bit that worried me was the mention of Race Day twice.....! I figured once would be enough / more than enough!

And Emma - Ha indeed!!
Posted: 10/04/2003 at 16:26

Oh yeah, you're right - maybe it is a mistake then....??!

Posted: 10/04/2003 at 16:28

I hope so!
Posted: 10/04/2003 at 16:32

i am doing the great north run as my first half marathon and am going to aim for 2 hours ish! i would have expected that the training schedule would have gone over 13 miles at some point. will i reach 13 and stop because my legs know no diffent?
Posted: 19/04/2003 at 22:30

I've been told that like the marathon you don't need to train over 12 miles & you will be able to get round by will power, stamina, determination, bloody mindedness, crowd cheering you on, etc etc. I hope this is right!
Posted: 22/04/2003 at 08:47

I can thoroughly recommend the other schedules that runners world have for the half marathon, 12-week schedules, but they are unfortunately subscriber only.

I followed these a little while ago for sub 2 hour half, and although I didn't make it to the end of the schedule because of injury (nothing to do with the schedule, my IT band was stretched to breaking point!) I took 5 minutes off of my 10k time, and was going well for a sub 2 hour despite having only run 2.22 before a year ago. Felt a lot fitter as well

Posted: 23/04/2003 at 12:24

Hi Annajo - Are they different to these then? I am a subscriber and thought these were the only ones - maybe the others would give me the answer I have been looking for! Could you let me know where I should be looking?

Thank you!
Posted: 23/04/2003 at 12:47

Hello guys - I am going to do a half-marathon in September so plenty of time for me still.. I subscribe to the US edition so I do not have access to the subscriber only area here. Could anybody e-mail me the 12-week schedule? (
Thanks a lot.
Posted: 23/04/2003 at 15:10

stumpy, i'll try and post a link to them. not sure if I can though from subs only pages.

just have to find them again first!
Posted: 24/04/2003 at 09:31

here goes, its the second set of schedules on the half marathon page, below the set 1 schedules

half schedules
Posted: 24/04/2003 at 09:41

Thanks Annajo - if it doesn't work, just let me know where they are and I'll go look at them - I'm a subscriber so I should be OK!
Posted: 24/04/2003 at 09:41

Doh - these are the ones I started with, following the third set, looking for 1:50-plus, but there are two race days!

I think I'll compare the sub 1:50 set's last two weeks and try to apply the logic to the 1:50plus - we'll see if it works!

Thanks for your help Annajo! Wish me luck, the race is on the 4th and I have to do well as I am being sponsored for it and loads of people now know that I am running, whereas with Berko, my first half, not many people knew!
Posted: 24/04/2003 at 09:45

stumpy, look below the schedules you are using, further down the page. there is a whole different range of schedules.

good luck, though, which race are you doing?

(sorry if you already said! memory is bad today!)
Posted: 24/04/2003 at 10:48

Posted: 24/04/2003 at 11:37


very sorry for such a lethargic response - I've fixed week 9 now - hope it's not too late... and good luck!

Sean, RW
Posted: 24/04/2003 at 19:33


I am struggling a bit with my long run on this schedule; I'm on week 6, doing fine with days 1-3 but last week, the end of week 5, I did an 8 and struggled, needing to walk a few times. So this week, I though that instead of doing the recommended 9-10 mile slow I should do the 8 again to consolidate this before I move on to the 9-10.

What are you thoughts with this? The reason I'm behind on the long ones is because of a misspent lost weekend...

The race is 25th May - Plymouth half.

Thanks very much,
Posted: 25/04/2003 at 08:44

Cheers Sean - that's a relief!! I had been about right thanks to looking at the other schedules and guessing!

Annajo - I'm doing Keswick Half a week on Sunday (4th May) to raise money for Milton Keynes General Hospital Intensive Care Unit, who looked after a friend of mine recently. Sadly, Lynn passed away but the care and support she and her partner got was fantastic. Thankfully I've managed to get sponsorship that is based on finishing not time taken!!
Posted: 25/04/2003 at 09:01

best of luck stumpy, hope you raise shed loads of money and have a good day.
Posted: 25/04/2003 at 10:44

Good luck Stumpy, All the best!
Posted: 25/04/2003 at 16:20

I wouldn't worry about missing sessions. If there are relatively few long runs in your schedule and you miss one you might want to replace an easier session with the long run you missed. So long as you don't try and catch up on missed sessions by dramatically upping your training or adding hard sessions near the race it will make no difference. The most important thing is to listen to your body, if you feel tired take it easier than the schedule suggests, if you are finding the pace too easy then try pushing a little harder occasionally.

If you find you are always missing sessions then maybe look at schedule with fewer days running. Some quite reasonable runners only do 3 days a week - in fact I bet even 6/7 day a week trainers still probably do most of their quality training over 3 sessions.
Posted: 25/04/2003 at 16:57

Hi everyone,

I normally run 5k races (in about 30 mins), but have entered a half marathon in September, so loads of time to train.

I'm not sure which schedule to follow though, as I've never done speedwork or anything like that before.

Please advise!!

Thanks, Cath
Posted: 25/04/2003 at 23:50

Thanks for the advice popsider. DId my 8 miles and feel good, reckon I'll be OK even though its just under 4 weeks.

Cath, I too am a 30 minute 5k runner and went for the 1:50+ schedule running 4 times a week because I didn't want to delude myself I can do it any quicker and running 4 times a week is pretty much all I can fit in. I've enjoyed the schedule and it builds you up quite well. The speed sessions aren't nearly as bad as they sound and I have surprised myself by enjoying them - they are quite exhilerating and definitely have a positive affect on general runs. I wondered about what does fast mean and it really is whatever speed is right for you - I kept to a speed that meant I couldn't talk properly when doing it but that I could sustain for the required period and for each speed session on that run. Also, I find having a rest day before my long run makes it easier and having a rest day after gives me sufficient time to rest & prepare for that week's speed work!

Good luck, Emma
Posted: 29/04/2003 at 13:02

I did the Peterborough half earlier this year my first run and got a time of 1.57( not bad since I sufered a calf injury which took time to clear).
I'm doing the Norwich half in June and have only just found the training schedule. I'm looking at the 1.50 schedule as I don't want to overdo it.
Should I start part way through the schedule, I'm reasonably fit and can run an hour without problem but don't do speed training.

Posted: 27/05/2003 at 21:27

Hi Col,
I did the same when I used the schedules, and just reduced the speed sessions a touch to start with.

1.57 for a first half is really good - I still didn't break the two hours on my second Half three weeks ago - but it IS going to go at the next one!

Good luck
Posted: 28/05/2003 at 08:51

Stumpy, tried some speed sessions this week and bloody near killed me!
I'm going to get in a long run this Sun 8th, and take it easy next week before the Norwich 1/2.
I was hoping to improve on the previous 1.57 which in hindsight was a bit slow but I was a tad overcautious...1st race etc.
I'm worried about the heat though!

Posted: 07/06/2003 at 12:23

the first week of my schedule started well - in bed ill. but i did dorking 10 on Sunday in 1.35 with absolutly no training so i am hoping this means i'll be able to get under 2 hours for the 1/2 marathon. does this seem realistic?
Posted: 11/06/2003 at 08:18

Bec, was that 10k or 10 mile?
if it's miles, well i would say it depends on when your race is.
If it's fairly soon I think you might be a bit optimistic!
depends on the heat as well

good luck
Posted: 11/06/2003 at 18:55

it was 10 miles and my race is in september so i am just starting training now.
Posted: 12/06/2003 at 13:23

Can anyone out there help? I have been following the RW half marathon 12 week plan for an under 2:00 time - up until 2 weeks ago when I was on holiday. I tried to stick to training but it wasn't always possible to get in the necessary speed and interval sessions. There are only 10 days until race day (Blackpool) and I feel that I have lost much of my stamina and strength I have built up. Should I just follow the plan anyway, or try to build myself up a bit me more, at least for this week?
Posted: 12/06/2003 at 14:45

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