RW's 10-week sub-1:25 half-marathon schedules

Classic schedules for the half

Posted: 7 May 2000
by Bruce Tulloh

This band covers serious athletes. The schedule will take you up to over 50 miles a week, which is about as much training as is compatible with a lifestyle that involves a job and a family.

The main ingredients of the programme are repetition and interval running, but with an emphasis on continuous, fast-paced runs to build up your speed endurance. Thus, much of your steady running should be at around threshold pace, which is reckoned to be the speed of your best 10 miles; this is slightly above half-marathon pace, but it is the best pace to train at.

For a bit of variety you also need some hill running and some short, fast bursts to ‘zap’ the muscles’ enzymes.

As the training progresses, you should have the feeling of building up strength, because of your increased mileage. However, you’re allowed one low-mileage week as a recuperation phase before doing a serious race over 10 miles or 10K.

Above all, you’ve got to listen to your body and fit your training to its needs, rather than impose a rigid schedule. The pattern is: hard effort, followed by easy running until you’re ready to run hard again. As race day approaches, the efforts become easier and the recovery periods longer, so that you’re bursting with energy on race day.

Remember that what you do in the last week won’t make you run any faster. Doing nothing at all would cause you to put on weight, so you do need to keep running, but anything too long or energetic may leave you tired on the big day.

  Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
WEEK 1 5M easy 7M steady 4 x 1200m (or 4 x 4 mins), with 3-min recoveries. Warm down 6M easy Rest or 3M jog 6-8M steady, inc a few strides 8-10M easy
WEEK 2 5M easy 7M hilly run, working hard on the hills 5M easy 6-7M, inc 8 x 1 min fast, 1 min slow in the middle Rest or 3M jog Warm up, then 5M fairly fast. Warm down 8-10M steady
WEEK 3 6M easy 6M fairly fast, then 1M easy 4 x 5 mins, with 4-min recovery jogs 5M easy Rest or 3M jog 8M, inc fast bursts 10-11M steady
WEEK 4 6M easy 6-7M hilly run, with hard bursts up hills 6M easy 6-7M, inc 10 x 1 min fast, 1 min slow, and 6 x 30 secs fast, 30 secs slow Rest or 3M jog 1M jog, then 6M fairly fast, then 1M jog 10-12M slow
WEEK 5 6M easy, off-road Warm up, then 6-7M, inc 6 x 2 mins fast, 2 mins slow 6M, starting slow, finishing faster Intervals: 12 x 400m, with 90-sec recoveries 3M slow jog Warm up, then 5M fairly fast. Warm down 10M steady
WEEK 6 6M easy 3 x 2M at threshold pace, with 6-min recoveries 6M easy 8M fartlek on grass, inc 20 x 30 secs (approx) 3M jog 5M, no pressure 3M warm-up, then 5-6M race (not flat-out)
WEEK 7 5M easy, off-road Rest 2M jog, then 5-6M at half-marathon pace, then 1M jog 5M easy, inc 8 x 200m strides Rest or 3M jog Rest Warm up, then race 6-10M. Warm down
WEEK 8 6M easy, off-road 7-8M, inc bursts up hills 6M easy 6 x 1M with 3-min recoveries 3M easy jog 5-6M on grass 14-15M slow
WEEK 9 6M easy 3 x 2M at threshold pace, with 6-min recoveries 6M easy 8M fartlek on grass, inc 20 x 30 secs (approx) 3M jog 5M, no pressure 3M warm-up, then 5-6M race (not flat-out) or 13-15M steady
WEEK 10 5M easy, off-road 6-8M at a comfortable pace 2 x (8 x 200m) fast, on grass, with 1-min recoveries 6M easy, inc 1M at race pace Rest or 3M jog 4M easy, in race kit 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

I have been running for non competitively for 10 years am 33. Over last 2 years I have done 2 x 10K, one 1/2M and two 10 mile races.
My problem is that I seem to always run between 6:40 and 6:50 per mile whatever the distance and I want to run a 1:25 Great North Run in Sep.

Posted: 20/03/2003 at 20:27

Wow......if only I could run at 6:50 per mile!!
Posted: 20/03/2003 at 20:37

Glen, the best way to improve your speed is to train at a faster pace than 6:40.

This can be achieved either by doing tempo runs, which involves 2 or 3 mile warm up, followed by 3 to 6 miles as fast as you can go, followed by at least 1 mile warm down. Or do some interval sessions on a track or piece of flat ground. You should be able to come close to 6 min mile pace for 800 metre repeats. There's lots of information on these speed sessions available on various web sites, including RW.

If you do this consistently for at least 6 weeks you will definitely notice an improvement in your pace. A regular long run of between 13 & 15 miles would also help.
Posted: 20/03/2003 at 20:50

I agree with Drew about Tempo runs - basically to run faster you have to run faster !! To ease into it, you could run your normal training route at your normal pace until half way, then try to run faster for the 2nd half. Then next time try to speed up a little sooner, until you're running faster the whole way.

And keep a log of your time improvements over the same routes to see your progress and motivate you.

But remember that running improvement isn't linear, so don't get disheartened. Sometimes you can go for a couple of weeks without improving, then suddenly and unexpectedly jump to a new level. Must be your body responding to the cumulative effect of all the extra effort.

Posted: 21/03/2003 at 09:57

Isn't the GNR particularly busy ? Wouldn't a smaller event give you a better chance of getting your target time without being impeded ?
Posted: 21/03/2003 at 10:09

Cougie's right, the GNR is a nightmare for sticking to your own pace. Which fits in with another point I forgot to make earlier Glen - I think you could benefit from doing a few more races, as you say you've only done 5 races over 2 years.

There's no way in training to truly simulate the feeling of a race, and the extra adrenaline you generate which pushes you to faster times than you could imagine.
Posted: 21/03/2003 at 10:17

It'd be a b*mmer if you were capable of doing a 1.25, but couldn't get through a wall of grannies walking.

Ian is right about the more races thing.
My first half I was so unsure about the distance, so paced myself way too slow. Next one I was a bit more daring, then I ran a marathon, and a few weeks later another half. I figured if I could run 26, then 13 is just a sprint, so I went flat out from the start and got a 1.26.

Race experience is very useful.
Posted: 21/03/2003 at 10:21

Drew has it spot on - variety of training. The way to run faster is to train faster. Obviously this will tire you out so you need recovery runs at slower than your natural pace.

You might find it useful to go to a running club who will guide you through the various speed sessions on offer.

1:25 is a great base to start from with no speedwork! My first half was 1:49. I bet you could get that to under 1:20 in 6 months if you put your mind (and body) to it.

Also agree with Ian - more races really sharpen you up.

Good luck
Posted: 21/03/2003 at 19:04

What is the Runners World readers' opinion about much I can change the order of this schedule? I normally do my speed session on Tuesday, fartlek Thursday, Long run on Saturday, rest day/v short run on Sunday. So if I swap around the sessions to fit in with that, I would still have the same overall effect, with a hard day/ easy day structure, and still get the same effect.

Posted: 25/03/2007 at 13:31

tempo runs are the key try some fast fartlek runs for 40 - 50 mins, mix your week up with some interval training such as 8 or 12 400m runs almost flat out with a 300mtr jog recovery followed by 2m warm down, include sessions such as 2 mile jog then 4 x 1m at 6.30 pace followed by 2 mile warm down. you should see an improvement good luck.
Posted: 30/05/2007 at 18:51

I've nothing really to add to what's already been said. Good luck!
Posted: 26/06/2009 at 16:33

too right about getting stuck in GNR, having done the last 5 have now decided not to ever enter again, frustrating and picked up an injury due to swerving around a line of pink clad women (i can say that as i am one!)
Posted: 24/09/2011 at 07:20


If you can get into one of the front pens at the GNR then it's nice and clear and not a bad race for a PB thanks to being overall downhill. I think you just need to say on your entry form that you intend to run it in 1:40 or less (although I'm not quite sure of the cut-off).

Posted: 15/07/2013 at 22:02

Given the OP was 10 years ago, I wonder if Glen ever did go 1, 25

Posted: 15/07/2013 at 23:44

Yep, 6:40 to 6:50 m/m, it's crap, and you'll only get slower as you get older, you might as well give up now. Go and make yourself a lard sandwich and buy some comfy jogging bottoms for expansion.

Posted: 16/07/2013 at 08:18

Sorry, bit late to the party but I wonder if anyone can help.

I’m trying to translate translate the described exertions in this plan into usable heart rate zones but seem be having difficulty with the definition given for ‘steady’ miles which according to the author should be run at around threshold pace (described as pace of best 10 miles and therefore slightly above HM pace). ‘Threshold’ to me would suggest about 86%-92% of max HR which I’ve assimilated to TE 8 on the plan but its seems that it is suggested that all the ‘steady’ workouts should be run at a TE of 7. Can anyone, perhaps the author, explain this to me please?

Here are my full workings for reference:

Based on 188% MHR – Zones: Garmin Connect
TE 5 Z1 – Warm up 66%-73% 124-137
TE 6 Z2 – Easy 73%-79% 137-149
TE 7 Z3 – Aerobic 79%-86% 149-162
TE 8 Z4 – Threshold 86%-92% 162-173
TE 9 Z5 – Maximum 92%-100% 173-188
TE 10 Z5 – Maximum 92%-100% 173-188


Posted: 22/03/2016 at 07:33

Have you measured your max heart rate? I know my long runs would fall below your steady description so it depends how long the steady runs are? I guess if they're short?

Then again my long runs are longer than 10 miles so it's correct that they are easier than 10m pace.
Posted: 22/03/2016 at 07:44

Thanks Cougie

I've calculated my max rather than measured it as 188% although, based on historic logs of my past HRM data I don't think 188% is going to be way off my actual MHR.

Steady runs according to this training plan seem to vary between 6 miles in week 1 right the way up to 15 miles (week 9). At the moment, as far as my long runs are concerned, I tend to do these in the Aerobic range I've posted above and cover up to 20 miles in distance.

I think the issue for me really is that, when trying to shoehorn the Training Efforts proposed into this plan into my calculated heart rate zones, TE7 seems too low to constitute a lactate threshold effort. I guess I'm questioning whether the author really intended for a Steady run to be done at a Threshold pace or whether the intention is to run Steady in a more aerobic state.

What do you reckon?


Posted: 22/03/2016 at 12:53

If Steady is your 10m race pace - then I can't see you can use it for a 15m run ?

I prefer to go on pace rather than HR now - how does your pace compare to your goal HM time ?
Posted: 22/03/2016 at 13:04

I agree with you but that's what this article seems to suggest we should be striving for. This makes me question whether the definition of Steady the author has given is precisely what they intended.

I've always paid more attention to pace in the past myself but a few people I've been speaking to recently really recommend HR training over pace as it supposedly provides a more accurate and consistent measure of exertion taking into account a wealth of factors (wind, terrain, tiredness etc).

I actually haven’t run a 10 miler at pace before but my last HM race pace was around 07:00.

I’m looking to knock between 10 and 30 seconds per mile off of that.

Posted: 22/03/2016 at 18:00

To be fair to Bruce Tulloh he does say "much of your steady running should be at around threshold pace" not all steady running. I think I'll attempt the majority of the Steady runs with a TE of 8 (for me 86%-92% of MHR or 162-173BPM).

Posted: 23/03/2016 at 06:52

I wanted to comment on this schedule because it is the first I've used after returning to running (just had second child 8 months ago). I thoroughly enjoyed the variety with the speed work and felt very confident going into the race. While I came short of my goal on race day (time was 1:26:15) due to an unavoidable illness caught from my children + some serious wind on the course, I did run 1:25 a few times in training. 

I feel with this training that a 1:23 would have been achievable had all of the race day factors played in my favour (the u cause I'm Canadian), and am now looking to train for a 1:20 in the spring. Has anyone else who enjoyed this program moved on to run a 1:20 or thereabouts and if so what schedules did you find useful?

I would note that I also used a core program in combination with the above schedule from runners world ( I made a few modifications moving the squats/lunges to about 60/per and doing this 3x per week.


Posted: 18/11/2016 at 01:00

If you've run 1.25 in training - wouldn't that take it out of you and set back the weeks training ? Especially if you did it a couple of times.

Save that amount of hard work for race day.
Posted: 18/11/2016 at 11:04

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