Elements of Half-Marathon Training Plan

In my initial post about my goal of running the Fairfield Half-Marathon on June 23 in 1:20, I focused on the why’s of designing the plan to help me achieve my goal. It is worth repeating here: “To achieve my goal, I must design a plan to take me from where I am today (about 40 miles per week of training, 10 years older) to a 1:20 half marathon in five months.”

In this post I write about the what’s and how’s of designing the plan.

My plan comprises the following key elements:

  • Increase weekly mileage from 40 miles to 60 miles to build aerobic base.
  • Schedule 3 hard days and 4 easy days each week (alternate hard/easy whenever possible). Hard days include long run, tempo/threshold run, track workout. Easy days include runs with my 11 yo son (other than track workout) and medium run. This approach enables my body to adjust and reduces risk of injury.
  • Alternate hard/easy weeks, do not increase mileage three successive weeks without consolidating progress. Again, my body needs to adjust and this reduces injury risk.
  • Include at least one long run, increase from 8 miles to 13 miles to ensure I can run half-marathon distance.
  • Include one tempo run per week at predicted half-marathon pace (6 minutes per mile) with length increasing from 2 miles to 8 miles. Monitor effort using my Garmin 610 GPS and HRM. Helps determine what HR will be comfortable during actual race.
  • Run as much on soft surfaces as possible (trails and fields), but practice on roads so that body can race 13.1 miles on road.
  • Strengthen upper, core and lower body through free weight training and core exercises two to three times per week. Builds strength, flexibility and aids in injury prevention.
  • Ensure balanced nutrition and sufficient calorie intake to sustain training mileage and intensity. Prioritize sleep (easier said than done) to help body recover from workouts.

There are probably elements that I missed or that will need to change based on experience during the first few weeks. I would love to hear what others think and any advice is welcome and appreciated.



  1. This sounds great… have you looked at the Hansons-Brooks Project? (http://www.hansons-running.com/). They have some great information on how they train to optimize running… obviously the runners in the project are full-timers doing 90+ miles a week, but I thought it was helpful in structuring my goals and planning!

  2. Thanks for your feedback, Kaprise. Although I am familiar with the Hanson-Brooks Project, I had not looked at their half-marathon training, but at your suggestion, I am perusing their site. I like to consider myself a student of the sport, and over the years, I have read and studied advice from many coaches and runners (too many to name here), and experimented with some of what I have learned. I also ran the same Fairfield Half Marathon 10 years ago in 1:29:16, so I have reviewed my training log and lessons learned from that race.

    You mention that you have used Brooks-Hanson to structure your goals and plans, can you share your goals and plans? Any for this year? Thanks!

  3. […] week, and plan to maintain that level before increasing to 50 miles per week. My goal is to run 60 miles per week in late April. Almost half of last week’s mileage is comprised of two runs, a 10-mile run on […]

  4. […] the moment, I realized that I would sacrifice a couple of miles towards my weekly mileage, but as I said when setting my goal and designing my plan, I don’t want to be dogmatic but have fun, learn and explore. So I […]

  5. […] while staying healthy. For the first 5 weeks, I ran 215 miles. One of the principles that underpins my training strategy and plan is the principle of hard/easy weeks and days. That means I plan to alternate hard and easy weeks […]

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