Intermediate Half Marathon Training Plan

“The advice I have for beginners is the same philosophy that I have for runners of all levels of experience and ability – consistency, a sane approach, moderation and making your running an enjoyable, rather than dreaded, part of your life.” – Bill Rodgers

The Intermediate Half Marathon training plan is a slight increase in mileage and number of runs per week from the beginner training plan. For the Intermediate half marathon training schedule, you will run four (4) times per week with a focus on longer long runs and speed/tempo workouts.

This half marathon plan is 12 weeks in length. You start with a 7-mile long run in week 1 and progress to a 14-mile long run in week 10. The gradual increase in distance will have you running farther and feeling more comfortable while covering the distance. Ending with a long run over the 13.1 distance will give you extra confidence come race day!

Speed workouts are meant to improve performance by focusing on a faster pace and efficiency. Tempo runs and race pace workouts are designed to improve your comfort levels with running a faster pace for an increased amount of time. As the plan progresses, the total running time and intensity of each session will increase.

The Intermediate half marathon training includes optional, but highly recommended, cross-training workouts.  These cross-training workouts allow you to incorporate other activities you enjoy with this training plan. Cross-training activities may include cycling, yoga, elliptical, swimming, or weight-lifting. With the goal on improving your half marathon time, cross-training workouts can make a remarkable difference in building strength and efficiency.

Individuals will want to choose the Intermediate Half Marathon training plan if they have been running 3 to 5 times per week for 45 to 60-minutes each time for at least one year. It is recommended that you have completed at least one half marathon or several 10K races in the past year. If you are running less, that is okay! Consider starting with the Beginner Half Marathon, Beginner 10K or Intermediate 10K plan and building your fitness up to the level of this half marathon training plan.

At a glance

  • Length: 12 weeks
  • Typical Week: 4 Day Run (1 Day Speed Work), 2 Day Cross Train, 1 Day Rest
  • Longest Workout: 14 Miles
Download 13.1 Intermediate Plan

Half Marathon Intermediate Training Plan Terminology

The terms in the Intermediate Half Marathon training plan are defined inside the downloaded plan, but let me define them for you here as well.

Warm-Up: Run/Walk for 5 to 10 minutes at an easy effort before every workout (run days and cross-training days). A proper warm-up will help to gradually increase heart rate, improve circulation, loosen up muscles, and prepare you for a workout.

Cool-Down: Run/Walk for 5 to 10 minutes at an easy effort after every workout (run days and cross-training days). A proper cool-down will help gradually bring your heart rate and breathing back down to normal levels after the days workout.

Perceived Effort: A way to rate your effort level based on your feelings about the level of intensity on a scale of 1 to 10. A 1 is considered ‘At Rest’ and a 10 is considered “An All Out Effort.” Use this scale in combination with Pace and Heart Rate to stay in the correct intensity level shown in the training schedule for a given day.

Heart Rate: If you have access to a heart rate monitor then use this device to stay in the correct range and intensity level shown in the training schedule for a given day.

Cross-Training: Include activities other than running and walking in your training plan. If you are completely new to exercise, then you may want to wait until weeks 4 or 5 to add in cross-training workouts. If you are already active 3 to 4 days per week, then start the cross-training as scheduled in the plan. Examples of activities for cross-training may include cycling, elliptical, rowing, strength training, swimming, or yoga. Cross-training will help to reduce the impact on your body and reduce the risk of injury from running. Cross-training can also speed up recovery time between running workouts. If you are ever feeling to fatigued or sore from running, then you may want to consider taking an occasional cross-training day as an extra day of rest.

Strength Training: A form of cross-training, strength training can be a great way to increase lean muscle and boost metabolism while at rest. Strength training can be completed using body-weight, free-weights, resistance bands, weight machines, or classes such as Pilates, Yoga, or Cross-Fit. Include exercises for upper body, core, back, and lower body. Warm-up with a run/walk for 5 to 10 minutes. If you are new to strength training, then start with 1 set of each exercise for 12-15 repetitions. The goal is to work your muscles to fatigue or until you can no longer maintain proper form during the exercise. Continue with 1 set of each exercise for weeks 1 through 3, then progress gradually over a few weeks to 2-4 sets of each exercise for 8-15 repetitions.

Flexibility: Stretch lightly after every warm-up and cool-down period. Stretching will help improve flexibility, increase circulation, speed up recovery, and reduce the risk of injury.

Easy Effort: Easy pace/effort is considered at or slightly above what you can maintain a conversation, 65-75% of maximum heart rate, and 6-7 on the Perceived Effort scale.

Moderate Effort: Moderate pace/effort is where you can hear your breathing, but you are not breathing hard, 75-80% of maximum heart rate, and 7-8 on the Perceived Effort scale.

Long Run Effort: The key to half marathon training is the long run, progressively increasing in distance each weekend. The long run should be done at a pace/effort that you can easily maintain a conversation throughout the run. Work on running with an even pace/effort from start to finish of the long run.

Speed Work: Warm-up with 5-15 minutes of running at an easy pace. Then, complete the appropriate speed workout for the day. These workouts should be at a hard effort, 90-95% of maximum heart rate, 8+ Perceived Effort. You should be able to hear yourself breathing hard. It is very important to make sure your easy recovery effort between repeats is truly easy. Running to fast during the recovery can have a negative impact on your performance during these workouts. Walk for recovery if you need to.

Racing: Consider adding a 5K Race in Week 6, and a 10K Race in Week 9. These races will allow you to familiarize yourself more with running in a structured event. If you can’t find a race during those weeks, feel free to modify the schedule around what races are available.

Adaptability: Don’t be afraid to move the workouts from day to day and week to week. This training plan is merely a guide to help you complete a half marathon. Be consistent with your training, and the overall details won’t matter. Listen to your body and progress as your fitness allows you to progress.

Training Plan Structure

The following Half Marathon Intermediate schedule is only a guide. Feel free to make minor modifications to suit your work and family schedule. You will find more information on half marathon training in the FREE downloadable file.

Download Your Half Marathon Intermediate Training Plan

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