12 Week Intermediate Half Marathon Training Plan To Run A Faster Half

If you can run a half marathon but want to do it faster, this speed-focused intermediate half marathon training plan is for you.

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If you can already run a half marathon and want to run or race this distance faster (because who doesn’t love working towards a new PR?), this is the training plan for you – and our downloadable pdf is completely free!

I’m Alastair, one of the founders of Trail & Kale, and I’m excited to share this 12-week intermediate half marathon training plan with you.

In this post I explain how to run a faster half marathon by sharing:

  • training tips for improving your speed, strength and endurance
  • our free 12 week intermediate half marathon training plan for runners who want to improve on their half marathon time and want a relatively low-mileage training plan to help get you there.

12 week intermediate half marathon training plan free pdf to download
This is me, cruising through the end of a ‘long + slow’ half marathon training run

Who this 12-week intermediate half marathon training plan is for

Hmm, ‘intermediate’ – what does that even mean?!

If you run regularly each week and have a base weekly mileage in the region of 13 miles (22 kilometers) or more, and are comfortable starting a training plan that commits you to stepping up your mileage, and probably your training intensity, then this 12-week / 3 month half marathon training plan is for you!

This plan is designed to help experienced runners focus on your running speed and endurance so that you can achieve a faster overall half marathon race pace – so it’s a great choice if you’re chasing down a new half marathon PR for your next race!

By following this training plan you will be doing 4 runs a week, including a long run, tempo run and speed intervals session, as well as two core strength / cross-training sessions.

If you’re a runner who:

  • is new to the half marathon distance (perhaps you regularly run shorter distances, such as 5k), and are more focused on completion rather than a specific half marathon pace (and time), or
  • prefers to follow a more mellow training plan that commits you to three runs a week,

then check out our 12-week half marathon training plan for beginners, which may be a better option for you.

Why not sign up to our weekly newsletter and get access to all our training plans, completely free, plus tons of great running advice and running gear reviews.

If you are not currently a runner and have not run before

If this sounds like you, you likely have a little more preparation to do, which starts by following our 8-week Couch to 5k training plan in order to build up to being able to run for around 30 minutes at a time (around a 5k in distance, or 3.3 miles) before moving on to training for a half marathon.

Oh, and if you’re in your 40’s, haven’t really run before, but would love to start doing so, we have the perfect guide for you, entitled: ‘Start Running After 40: How The Couch to 5k Plan Made Me A Runner!‘.

That post shares all the tips, techniques, training plans, and even a super inspiring story from a Trail & Kale reader who followed our Couch To 5K Training Plan in her late 40’s – needless to say, she’s totally hooked on running now!

If on the other hand, you’d prefer to learn how to run longer and train for a 10k, half marathon or full marathon then head over to our training plans homepage to check out those longer distance training plans – we have so many training plans for you to choose from! 🙂


Overview of this intermediate half marathon training program

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:

Intermediate Half Marathon Training Plan Goal Half Marathon Finish Times

This training plan has six key elements, which are in line with the key principles of how we runners can train to run faster, as outlined in our in-depth guide to running faster.

1. Speed Training

Speed training is like the secret sauce for running faster and increasing your achievable race pace, and it’s intervals that are the go-to speed workout, that you’ll be doing once a week. Trust me, it will be worth it!

Intervals are really tough but are the best thing for increasing your speed as a runner. Your legs learn how to move fast, the aerobic capacity of your lungs will get stronger, and your VO2 max will start increase.

2. Tempo Runs

Tempo runs help you find that sweet spot where you’re pushing yourself but not going all-out. You know, that pace where you can talk but only in short phrases.

It’s these tempo runs that ultimately train you to run faster, for longer. This is essential for achieving that target half marathon race PR. So, in this intermediate half marathon training plan, you’ll do a tempo run once a week, too.

3. Rest and Recovery

Don’t underestimate the power of a good rest day. Seriously, your muscles need time to repair and grow stronger, and taking time off running allows them to do just that.

This doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch all day (although, yes, sometimes it’s necessary). Recovery routines for runners include active recovery like stretching, light cycling or other cross-training activity, or simply a walk with your dog, resting, and eating protein rich food.

4. Easy Long Runs to Build Endurance

To run a half marathon in one go, you need to train your body (and mind) to be able to run for that long… without getting injured in the process.

This training program helps you do this by incorporating a weekly ‘long run‘ that gets a little longer in mileage almost every week, to help you build up your distance running capability without overdoing it and suffering from over-training.

5. Core Strength Training

A strong core (and glutes actually) is a runner’s secret weapon as it helps with posture and balance, which in turn can improve your running form and efficiency.

Our free training plan includes one weekly session dedicated to building strength and fitness, without any running.

Each week, do a strength training session that can be done at home without any equipment. I’ve linked to an intensive home strength workout video I created, or do the simple, more relaxed suggest core strength moves outlined in the downloadable pdf training plan.

6. Lifestyle Changes to Help Improve All-Round Fitness Levels

Significantly reducing your consumption of junk food and booze, which provide ’empty’ calories with little to no nutritional value, will really help you achieve your targeted fitness gains.

Fuelling your body with nutritious meals and staying hydrated with water is key to keeping your body healthy as you progress in your training.

And sleep, don’t skimp on it; during good quality sleep is when your body recovers and rebuilds itself – it’s also when your mind decompresses, makes sense of the day, and stays sharp.

Small lifestyle changes can boost your overall fitness levels, making you not just a better runner, but a healthier person.


stretches for runners 2
Don’t skip those important post-run static stretches!

Advice to optimize performance, recovery time and help prevent running injuries

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.

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 training plans are most effective for runners who are able to monitor their heart rate using a running watch – you’ll notice we state which heart rate zone you should be in for each run on our training plans. We’re big proponents of 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, it’s advisable to carry water with you on every run.

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 to do after a run.

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 12 Week Intermediate Half Marathon Training Plan pdf (printable)


COMPANION GUIDE for our 12-week intermediate half marathon training schedule

Like all our half marathon training plans, this plan is designed to be simple to follow and prioritizes running consistency each week, as well as ensuring each week includes dedicated speed training and cross training sessions.

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, 4 or 5, which you’ll monitor using a running watch that tracks your heart rate.

Heart rate training zones by Trail and Kale
Use these heart rate training zones to assess your effort level while following this 12-week intermediate half marathon training plan

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 speed intervals run will get you working up to a zone 4, and your tempo run, and probably your half marathon race day, will get you running at or above a zone 3 for most of the run as you push the intensity for prolonged (but sustainable) periods of time.

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.

Happy training!

I’m excited for your half marathon training journey and hope you find this 12-week intermediate half marathon training program to be an easy-to-follow and enjoyable companion along the way!

Alastair
Alastairhttps://www.trailandkale.com
As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.

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