Your First Half-Marathon (Preview)

If you’re fairly new to the running game, or just not one for clocking big distances, then the idea of a half marathon may seem like a mountain to climb. It certainly represents a huge achievement, but the half is a distance that’s truly accessible to all runners. You included.

Our rookie-to-race-ready training plan will gradually build your endurance and confidence to get you physically prepared in just 10 weeks, and our expert advice will give you all the necessary knowledge to handle training and race day like a seasoned pro. About the only thing we won’t do is carry you over the line – that satisfaction will be all yours. 

Our panel of experienced coaches, all with years of experience in guiding new runners to the finish line, answer your training concerns

Q. Am I ready for a half?

A. If you've been running three miles, three or four times a week for six months, you're ready to start training for a half. This ‘base’ means your legs are strong enough to begin ramping up the mileage.

Q. How do I follow this plan?

A. As closely as possible. However, you can rearrange weekly runs to suit your schedule. Just allow for proper recovery the day after long runs and tempo runs – rest or do light cross-training, says coach James Staten.

Q. I like walk breaks. Is that OK, and how should I do them?

A. It’s absolutely OK. But start by taking walk breaks from the beginning of every run, rather than waiting until you're knackered. Experiment with different run/walk ratios – such as running for two minutes, walking for one minute. Then increase your run time as you get stronger.

Q. How fast should I run?

A. With our training plan, you'll do easy runs, long runs and tempo runs. If you've run a race in the past six months, you can find the precise pace your should hit in each by plugging your time into the training pace calculator at runnersworld.co.uk. If you haven't raced, run a mile as fast as you can, then plug your time into the calculator. Click on ‘Display my training paces’ to determine exactly how fast to run all the sessions.

Q. What if I need more than one day of rest after a long run?

A. Listen to your body and if you need it, take it. You can do some strength training and stretching on that second day off, says running coach Lori McGee-Koch. But a few simple adjustments to your long run may banish that fatigue. "Slow down by 30 seconds per mile, take in more protein after your run, and drink more before and during long runs," says McGee-Koch.

Q. How can I distinguish between pain I can ignore and pain I should worry about?

A. "If it's an ache that subsides within 10 minutes of a run and disappears after a day or two, you're probably OK," says Staten. But if it's a sharp pain that forces you to change your form, call it a day. And if it persists for a couple days, see a doctor or physio.

Subscribers can view the rest of the Q&As, training tips and the half-marathon schedule in the full article.

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