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

Classic schedules for the half

Posted: 7 May 2000
by Bruce Tulloh

This time range takes you up to a regular 40 miles a week, though many runners would still be able to do themselves justice by substituting one easy run for a rest day and running closer to 35 miles a week. The key here is to get used to good-quality sessions, particularly repetition runs, where you are running fast (at about 10K pace) for several minutes at a stretch.

Slightly less strenuous are the ‘zapping’ sessions, which are a type of interval training. You put in a fast burst lasting either 30 seconds or one minute, then drop to a steady jog to recover for the next one. If you don’t like using a watch, you can base the burst on a certain number of strides; 50 double strides are equivalent to a 30-second burst.

You’re allowed one low-mileage week to let your body absorb the training. This can be taken at any point in the schedule, but it’s best to do it when you have a race at the end of the week.

What you do in the last two weeks depends very much on how your body has reacted to Weeks 7 and 8. If you’re feeling tired, take Week 9 very easily. The Week 10 schedule is very light, and by the time the race comes around, you should be fully recovered and feeling bouncy.

The most useful thing you can do in these weeks is to get your pace judgement right. Work out the pace you need to achieve your best possible race time. Practise this over a measured mile, in your racing shoes, so that you know what it feels like. The first mile of your race should not be faster than this. The closer you can get to level pace, the more efficiently you will be running.

  Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
WEEK 1 5M easy 5M, a little faster than Mon 5M, inc 15 mins of 30 secs fast, 60 secs jogging 5M easy, off-road Rest 5M easy, inc some strides 7-8M easy
WEEK 2 4M easy 6M steady, on a hilly course 5M, inc 16 mins of 1 min fast, 1 min jogging 5M easy Rest Warm up, then 3M fast (timed). Warm down 7-8M easy
WEEK 3 4M easy 6M steady, finishing faster 4M easy Warm up, then 8 x 90 secs fast, 90 secs slow Rest Warm up, then 4 x 800m (or 4 x 3 mins), with 3-min recovery jogs 7-8M slow
WEEK 4 4M easy 6M, fairly fast Repetitions: 4 x 3 mins fast, with 2-min recoveries 5M easy Rest 1M jog, then 5M fairly fast, then 1M jog 10M slow
WEEK 5 5M easy, off-road 6M, starting slow, finishing faster 3 x 5 mins fast, with 5-min jog recoveries 5M easy, inc 6 x 150m fast strides Rest or 3M jog 2M slow, then 1M fast, then 2M slow Warm up, then 10K race or 5M pace run (timed)
WEEK 6 5M easy 5M, inc 16 x 1 min fast, 1 min slow 2 x 2M (approx), timed, at threshold pace 5-6M easy Rest or 3M jog 1M easy, then 4-5M fairly fast, then 1M jog 10M steady
WEEK 7 5M easy, off-road if possible Rest 8M, fairly fast 4M easy Rest or 3M jog 4M on grass, inc 6 x 200m strides Warm up, then 10K race. Warm down
WEEK 8 5M easy, off-road 6M steady, inc bursts up hills 3 x 1M (or 3 x 5 mins), with 5-min recoveries 5M easy 5M easy 6-7M, inc 10 x 30 secs fast, 30 secs slow 10-12M steady
WEEK 9 5M easy 5M, inc 16 x 1 min fast, 1 min slow Warm up, then 2 x 2M (approx), timed, at threshold pace 5-6M easy Rest or 3M jog 1M easy, then 4-5M fairly fast, then 1M jog 10M steady
WEEK 10 5M easy 6-7M at a comfortable pace Warm up, then 2M at race pace, then 2M jog 5M easy, inc 6 x 30 secs fast Rest 3M, 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

Having just completed the 10k 4 week schedule, with a pb time in a local 10K, I now have a half marathon to look forward to in 4 weeks time. My last half marathon was 90 minutes (a couple of years ago) after 3 or 4 11-13 mile runs over the 2 weeks leading up to the race. I can only train 3 times a week due to time constraints (hence the 10K schedule was great), and have no real problem with going the distance - what I need is a similar schedule to the 10K one but for the half marathon. The half marathon schedule shown on this site is a 10 weeek plan, training at short distances (rarely over 10 miles)and almost every day. How should I train in order to lower my previous time of 90 minutes? Is there a half marathon 4 week schedule?
Posted: 12/10/2005 at 15:27


Just carry on with your 10K schedule & hope for the best!
Posted: 13/10/2005 at 12:04

Hope for the best?? I've just completed the first week of preparation for my half marathon - this consisted of a 12.5K combination of jog/fast run as per the reccommended 10K plan from this site (Tuesday), followed by a 13 mile run with some 100m strides (Friday) in about 90 mins, then a slower 13 mile run (Sunday) in about 95 mins. Is this too much - I understand the need for speed work, but at the same time think that you need to get the mileage in to get used to covering the distance. If I stick to the 10K plan, with no longer runs, I'm concerned when it gets to the race I will fun the first 10K in good time but then tail off for the rest of the run due to lack of stamina. The one thing I will do is taper in the last week doing no more than 10K runs at the end. This is my plan from an amateurs point of view - how does this sound?
Posted: 17/10/2005 at 14:41

If your last half was 90 mins, and on Friday you did a 13 mile run in 90 mins, the I don't think you need worry too much about beating your previous best.

You obviously have the aerobic stamina, so if you are looking to do a much better time, I think, given that you only have 4 weeks, then 10 mile long runs, trying to do negative splits, would be the best bet.

Also, use some of your runs to practice pace, so that you don't set off too fast, and bomb out. On race day, *really* concentrate on holding a bit back in the first 5 miles, then you should have enough left for a faster finish.

Good luck!

(Although I admit Big Tim is a much faster, much more experienced runner than I will ever be, so his advice is probably well worth listening to!)
Posted: 17/10/2005 at 14:48

I would advocate running your long run over distance - i.e. about 14-16 miles. This will build stamina and enable you to run the 13.1 comfortably having gone further than that in training. During the build-up to the London Marathon this year I ran a half-marathon PB on a Sunday sandwiched in between two Sundays on which I ran 20 mile training runs. The PB was effortless as I'd run so much further the week before that it felt like a short run.

I'd also make sure you do a tempo run of about 5-6 miles during the week just to get some faster stuff in. The third session should probably be a longish run, say 8 miles, and you could make it a fartlek-type run with some fast bursts in the middle, after a long warm-up and a good cool-down afterwards.
Posted: 17/10/2005 at 17:12

OK guys, thanks for the advice. I think I will try to mix in a bit of everything that has been suggested. Maybe the tempo part one day, 10 mile/negative split another and a 13-14 miler on top. I'll also check some of the other threads that seem to cover a similar topic (should have tried this first!) Thanks again - I'll let you know how I get on.
Posted: 18/10/2005 at 10:35

Well, completed the Stevenage HM in 1:22:02, very happy in the pouring rain. 4 week plan went well, so I'm going to carry on with the training for another HM towards the end of November.
Posted: 07/11/2005 at 14:42

I want to run my first half marathon in march. I work offshore on a two weeks on and two weeks off rota.My two weeks onshore is great for training but how can I keep up the momentum when I`m offshore? I work very long hours (05.00 AM - 20.00 PM and I`m usually too tired to go to the running machine after that or it is too busy. Any sugestions?
Posted: 27/11/2005 at 13:04

Motivating yourself after a long day at work is hard - I work in Sweden 06:00 - 20:30 Monday to Thursday, and it is dark cold and wet when I go running, but the feeling afterwards is worth it. Seems you have no opportunity to run outdoors at all when you are at work, but if there is a treadmill - use it! If you have entered yourself for the race, this should be enough to make you want to train, I know it certainly is for me. Sheer panic as the race looms closer gives me the energy to get out and do it! It also feels like I am training for something rather than just trying to keep fit. I'm no expert, but treadmill mileage, although no substitute for the real thing, has got to be better than nothing.
Posted: 28/11/2005 at 11:59

Thanks Mark, although I do occasionally get on the tread mill I feel that half an hour is long enough before boredom along with tiredness sets in. Is this enough to get on with before I get home?
Posted: 01/12/2005 at 05:23

Have you tried anything to relieve the boredom? MP3 player, radio, talking books? I don't often do long runs on my own but when I do I find a radio play recorded onto MP3 makes the time fly by.
Posted: 01/12/2005 at 09:44

I don't suffer that much from boredom - long runs are a great way of clearing your head. Plus, as it is supposed to be training for a specific goal ie half marathon, then you should be focusing on the running, times, split etc. If you break it down in to smaller parts mentally it makes it easier. That's why I always register in advance for a race to get the motivation going! I bet you won't be bored during the race, so treat your training as a race with yourself. Also set yourself distances to run rather than times, and if you run quicker, the time will really fly by!
Posted: 01/12/2005 at 11:00

This is the sort of training I used for my 10K runs of which I did quite well. PB44 minutes.I am 49 and have only been running since a year past October but I feel I can do better.
As this is a half marathon, which I have registered for in march, would the same training be sufice until I get home for my long runs? I do about 40 miles a week when I`m at home to try to make up. Should I be trying to make up?
I have never tried radio play on MP3 but I shall. Thanks for the good advice.
Posted: 01/12/2005 at 18:56

One of the guys on this thread told me to continue my 10K training for the HM and hope for the best (4 week 10K schedule from this site) I ended up doing a bit of everything, basically 1 speed session (about 12K) one 11 miler with negative split and 1 13-14 mile run as fast as was comfortable. So basically 3 runs a week (total about 30+ miles)Tuesday, Friday, Sunday for 4 weeks. This gave good results. I'm no expert, but maybe you could do your 2 weeks away as 2 45 min speed sessions and a longer run per week, and then do your longer runs for endurance when you get home. The speed sessions really make a difference. Don't worry about making up, just do what you can!
Posted: 02/12/2005 at 11:02

I think this is good advice Mark and have read the other threads which gave a lot of guiding. I shall put this to good use and I thank you and Mister W for your support. Good luck to you both in the future and I look foreward to my first 1.30 half.

Posted: 02/12/2005 at 12:08

I too have entered for my first HM in March (Inverness) so will take note of all the advice I can get...
An experienced runner colleague suggested that I should get a Heart Rate Monitor to train more effectively. Can anyone point me in the direction of any articles/threads/advice for using one?
I'm off to google for plays on mp3...
Posted: 07/01/2006 at 23:40


I have just entered the paris half marathon. My pB for a half is 1:53, so hoping to go sub 1:50 for the paris half.
Is anybody doing the paris half? (5/3/06)

Would anyone suggest any warm up races prior to that? or just training?
Posted: 10/01/2006 at 17:38

If you can get in a 10K race a few weeks before you go that would be good - it certainly improved my speed for the HM race. Also its good preparation just to get your race day routine sorted (when/what to eat, when to start warm up etc.)so there's no last minute nerves and everything will start smoothly. I also tapered my last week of training before the HM so as to be fresh for the big day.
Posted: 10/01/2006 at 18:13

Thanks for the suggestion Mark Vaughn 4. I am considering a late feb 10km run to get the race day nerves out of the way.

Posted: 11/01/2006 at 17:38

This will be my second half marathon. last year's half was well worth the trip from Dublin. I trained for about 12 weeks last time and did more endurance training rather than speed. Felt that i didn't push myself enough (2 hrs 7 mins?), i was afraid to overdo it, still had some energy when i was finished, is this a good thing? i'm off to get a heart monitor, think that will help.
Posted: 23/10/2006 at 11:47

ok so there is no such thing as a 4 week half marathon schedule but is there an 8 week one?

I generally run about 10k as part of triathlon training so just looking to build up the distance but am also very unfit at the mo (relatively speaking). not too worried about finish time as just trying to kick start pre-season training but somewhere around 1.40-50 would be nice...

Posted: 08/01/2009 at 10:21

Why don't you use the 10 week schedule on here but lose for first two weeks?  Or use the smart coach?
Posted: 26/02/2009 at 09:14

I really struggle to understand some of these training schedules sometimes. I ran a marathon at the end of September, and while I can appreciate that the optimum training regime for the marathon has 3-4 runs a week, I ended up with shin splints and ended up doing one long run a week. And got round comfortably, I should add.

But for a decent half marathon (say 1:40), I really fail to see why 40 miles per week is required; in fact, I would suggest that it's somewhat unhelpful, potentially encouraging people to overtrain and cause longer-term injury. Personally, I'm fairly certain that a decent time can come from doing 20-25 miles a week - 3 runs of 4, 7 and 9-13 miles for intervals, 'limit' and long runs; and feel that the black and white approach to training of 'sub 1:50? you want to run 40 miles a week mate' vs 'you don't have the time to run 40 miles a week? Well, better resign yourself to a 2hr30 half marathon' doesn't do anyone any favours.

Posted: 03/12/2009 at 15:55

I also agree with Nick.

I completed my first half marathon a couple of weeks back having worked from a 20 week training plan for beginners. Even on the heaviest week there was not more than 30 miles.

I came from a very low base of fitness, and missed a lot of the scheduled runs because of other commitments, yet still managed to get in a few seconds under my goal of 2 hours. I'm confident that using the same training plan and completing all the runs I could easily get sub-1:50.

One thing I have found really useful though was the heart-rate monitor which also tracked my pace/speed. This allowed me to keep track of how my body was coping on training runs (like when you 'feel' really tired yet your HR is normal - you can confidently keep pushing yourself), and also kept track of my goal pace.

Posted: 05/10/2010 at 12:52

After getting back in to running, with a past of ultra-distance et al (20 years ago) I started to get in reasonable times of 9 minute miles with a training distance of 30-40 miles, but suffered a setback last September with a ripped calf muscle. To cut a long story short I now wear orthotics (short leg issue that led to calf problems), and just getting the mileage in and now running for an hour and still feeling good for it.

2 questions, as my memory has faded to remember from when I can run:

1. I noticed towards the end of the first hour that I felt like I was running quite nicely and appeared to be quicker, is that my mind playing tricks, and if not then would I expect to run a half quicker as it progressed.

2. Current strategy is to get long slow runs in and get a race under my belt. Any problems anyone would identify with that sort of strategy.



Posted: 04/02/2011 at 07:30

I was aiming to get a sub-1.50 (would have been happy with 1:49:59!) and used this schedule to train for it. Am happy to say I completed a my Half Marathon on Sunday in 1:47:48!

I had a base of running a comfortable 55min 10k so had a bit of work to do. It was quite a demanding to stay on programme and life/work ment I had to drop or rearrange some runs - but I don't think I would have got close without it (let alone 2mins under!).

Many thanks 

Posted: 21/03/2011 at 19:40

I think agree with some other posters here -- this is an unecessarily intense schedule .  Many can easily manage under 1:50 on a much lighter schedule of 3 runs per week and maybe 25/30 miles..  a speed run, a tempo run and a long run. It is better if you have a good level of fitness to begin with however. I cross train 3/4 times a week as well. Fair enough if you're trying to get a much lower time that 1:50.... but otherwise,this is not necessary in my opinion. 

Posted: 29/01/2015 at 19:03

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