I’m Alastair, one of the founders of Trail & Kale, and I’m excited to share this 6-week half marathon training plan with you.
Although I’ve run many half, full, and ultra-marathons all over the world, I’ll let you into a little secret… after 100s of races, the half marathon distance is still my favorite!
If you’re already an experienced runner and looking for a clear, simple half marathon training plan that will help you focus on increasing your running speed with a PR goal in mind, then this 6-week half marathon training plan is a great choice for you!
Training for a half marathon in just a few short weeks is a great way to boost your running speed, focus, and gains as you work towards that imminent race day goal – and it’s pretty fun, too, given all the speed intervals and tempo runs you’ll do along the way.
What’s in this 6-week half marathon training plan
- Who this half-marathon training plan is for
- Overview of our 6-week half marathon training plan
- How to prepare for your fastest half marathon yet
- Advice to optimize performance, improve post-run recovery and prevent injuries
- Our FREE downloadable 6-week half marathon training plan pdf (printable)
- COMPANION GUIDE for this 6-week training plan
Who this half-marathon training plan is for
Runners who already run consistently
This plan is for you if you’re already running several times a week, and runs of up to around 10k are not an issue for you, but haven’t tackled a half marathon race before.
Experienced half marathon runners looking to improve their finish time
You have experience running half marathons and would like a clear training plan to provide you with structure and focus for your training in the weeks leading up to your next race day, to help you target a new PR!
The 6-week half marathon training program is not suitable for beginner runners because it includes a significant amount of speed training and assumes you already have at least 4-6 months (if not much more) of regular running experience and are capable of running the 10k distance comfortably.
If you want to train for a half marathon but need a plan that’s more suitable for beginner runners (or runners who tend to run shorter distances of say 2-4 miles at a time) then jump over to our most popular half marathon program, our 12-week half marathon training plan.
If you would prefer to train to run a full marathon or even your first ultramarathon then head over to our training plans homepage for our full library of free downloadable plans!
As with any exercise program, know your ability and experience and consider checking with your doctor before embarking on this or any other running training plan, especially if you’ve had a running injury or other issue that may affect your ability to safely and comfortably train.
Overview of this half marathon training program
This is a 6-week half marathon training plan designed to help you train for a race in just 6 short weeks – yes, just over a month from now!
Do you have a time goal in mind? This chart should help you predict roughly what your half marathon time could be based on your target average pace:
As with our other endurance running training plans, the plan is structured so that you do several runs a week, of different durations and intensities.
Your training plan will include a ‘long run’ at the end of each week.
The long run is the most important run of the week, because this is the training run that will give your body the secret sauce to running longer durations (and distances) each week, as you build up the strength and confidence to run the full half marathon distance.
This half marathon training plan also includes rest days, and a day assigned to cross-training.
These non-running days are also important components for your overall strength and recovery.
The cross-training day is extremely helpful for building your cardio and developing your VO2 max while giving your body a break from the impact of the other 4 days of running you’ll be doing each week!
How to prepare for your fastest half marathon yet
Heart rate zone training
All of our half marathon training plans (and marathon training plans) take advantage of the benefits of using heart rate zone training as a highly effective way to plan, monitor and track running effort levels and performance over time based on your own personal level of fitness.
Heart rate training is personalized to you based on your individual heart rate, and provides ranges for you to train within called ‘zones’.
Read our easy-to-follow guide to heart rate zone training to learn how to work out your heart rate zones, and how to track your heart rate while you’re running to ensure you’re in the target heart zones as outlined in our downloadable training plan below.
Gather the gear you need to run comfortably
I’m sure you have plenty of running gear already, but in case you want a checklist, make sure you have:
- A quality pair of running shoes
- Running socks
- Running tights or shorts
- For women, a running-appropriate sports bra
- A running tee or vest
- A waterproof running jacket
- Running sunglasses
- A running hat
Optional items to consider for running in the cold are warm gloves, a warm hat and a warm baselayer such as a merino wool tee.
For running in the dark then a good running headlamp is essential and a reflective running vest is a good idea, too.
Finding time in your schedule to fit training in
One of the most important things to remember when starting this training process is that dedicated, consistent training will help you achieve that half marathon PR goal.
This is a pretty intensive half-marathon training plan. I mean – it’s only 6 weeks long, so we’re packing a lot of training into a short space of time 🙂
If you tend to get distracted by invites to the pub, dinner, or other events but really want to work on achieving that half marathon PR this time around, I suggest clearing your social calendar (unless it involves a social run!) for those few weeks.
This way you can focus on training without excuses and distractions.
Believe me, this will help you commit to your goals and get down to this training business for the next 6 weeks – and it will be worth it!
Advice to optimize performance, improve post-run recovery and prevent injuries
This advice will help you make the most out of every single half marathon training run.
Before your run: Readiness, fuel, and dynamic stretching
Be prepared – get your running shoes, clothes, watch and accessories together in advance – especially if you plan to get up early to run!
Eat before your run – while you may not find this necessary for your shorter weekday training runs, it’s important to eat before your weekly long runs to ensure you have high enough energy levels to sustain running for extended periods.
Dynamic stretching – is super important as part of your 5-10 minute pre-run warm up. There’s a video demonstration of our recommended pre-run dynamic stretches in our post on stretches for runners.
During your run: Technique, heart rate monitoring, and nutrition
Develop good running technique – this includes ensuring you’re working on efficient breathing, running form and cadence during your running workouts.
Monitor your heart rate – our half marathon training plans advocate using heart rate zone training, as it’s personalized to your own heart rate data so you can ensure you’re running each run at the right level of intensity.
Nutrition as you run – Unless you’re going for shorter runs in chilly conditions, carry water with you on every run. Additionally, it’s important to educate yourself on appropriate fueling while running, especially for runs that extend beyond an hour.
Energy gels and chews are popular and convenient choices for this purpose.
After your run: Static stretching, recovery, and injury prevention
Static stretching – don’t forget to do some good static stretching after you finish each run. It will really help with flexibility and reduce post-run soreness. These are our favorite static stretches.
Post-run recovery shake – a quality plant-based protein shake will make a huge difference in reducing post-run soreness and helping your body recover after an intense endurance effort or strength training.
I suggest having one after every run that lasts over an hour.
Get plenty of rest and sleep – another proven way to help recover quicker, make sure you’re getting enough good quality sleep and that on rest days, you truly do rest!
Our FREE downloadable 6-week half marathon training plan for beginners pdf (printable)
COMPANION GUIDE for our 6-week half marathon training schedule
Our 6-week training plan is designed to be clear, and simple to follow.
It utilizes the concepts of running consistency, speed training, and tempo runs, as well as your all-important weekend long run to maximize your training gains in just a few short weeks.
Train using heart rate zones
Effort levels for each run are specified based on ensuring you’re running in target heart rate zones 2, 3, or 4, which you’ll monitor using a running watch that tracks your heart rate.
Read our heart rate training post to learn how to calculate your personalized heart rate zones, which is an essential part of how and why our training plans work so well.
You can also use this training plan without specifically using heart rate zones and tracking your heart rate, if you wish, but you’ll need to gauge your effort level based on your perceived effort, rather than using heart rate data.
Your long run and Tuesday ‘easy run’ are run at Zone 2, or ‘comfortable, conversational pace’.
Speed and hill interval runs
Your Wednesday speed (or hill repeat) interval training session will have you working up to a Zone 4! Nobody said interval training was hard (or pretty), but the speed gains you’ll get from this weekly speedwork session will make it worthwhile!
You can choose whether to run your speed intervals over a set time (eg 4 minutes at speed, 4 minutes to recover, and repeat) or distance (0.5 miles at speed, 0.5 miles to recovery, and repeat).
My personal preference is to run speed intervals based on time, and when you’re training for a half marathon (or full marathon, for that matter), I find longer intervals are more effective at training your body to run faster while sustaining that pace for longer periods of time.
So, a typical session you can follow would go like this:
- Warm up for 5 minutes, including some dynamic stretching
- Run 4 minutes at the fastest speed you can sustain for that time
- Recover by running at a comfortable pace for 4 minutes, being sure to get your breath back
- Repeat your fast and slow 4 minute intervals x4, for a total of 32 minutes
- Cool down for 3-5 minutes
- Do static stretches before ending the session.
For hill repeat training runs, run up the hill for the set period of time, then turn around and run back down but don’t track the time to run back down because it will probably be quicker just because… well, you know – gravity-assist!
Your short Friday run is run in Zone 3, at a ‘tempo run’ pace, which is intended to be uncomfortable but sustainable for the duration of the scheduled run time.
Doing these more intense runs will help you run faster and improve your VO2 max.
If you get into this training plan and start to find it a little too intense in terms of the number of running days each week, and you crave longer recovery times, then modify this training plan.
The best way to do this is to drop either the speed intervals or tempo run session and take that day as a cross-training or core strength day instead. Just don’t skip your long run (unless you’re injured and you have to)!
Warm up and cool down
Before every run, spend at least 5 minutes doing a warm up, which should include dynamic stretching.
After every run, spend 5 minutes cooling down until your heart rate is back comfortably in Zone 1. Then spend at least another 5 minutes doing some static stretches to help reduce soreness and promote flexibility and range of motion.
Our guide to stretches for runners lists our favorite dynamic and static stretches.
Cross training days
Thursday is your training plan’s ‘cross-training’ day.
This session should be around 30-45 minutes long, and be focused on achieving a comfortable, steady cardio workout without the impact of running.
You can mix up the type of cross-training you do to suit you and what’s available to you. I personally prefer static cycling (any bike works but I love my Peloton) or a trail hike. Swimming is also a great, low-impact cardio workout.
Because this is a short training plan, we don’t have any dedicated core strength training days, but you could spend some time on your rest days doing some light core work or yoga, as suggested on the pdf plan for Mondays.
Monday and Saturday are your rest and recovery days.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some activity, though, but take those days off from running.
Depending on how you feel, you could do some yoga, breathwork, or stretching to work on your overall flexibility and well-being.
I’m excited about your half marathon training journey and hope you find this 6-week half marathon training program to be an easy-to-follow and enjoyable companion along the way!