Advanced Half Marathon Training Plan

“The human spirit is indomitable. No one can ever say you must not run faster than this or jump higher than that. There will never be a time when the human spirit will not be able to better existing records.” – Sir Roger Bannister

The Advanced Half Marathon training plan is similar to the Intermediate 13.1 training plan, except that you begin with a 9-mile long run in week 1 and progress to a 16-mile long run in week 10.  This plan includes 5 to 6 runs per week with a focus on long runs, speed workouts, tempo runs, race pace workouts, and cross-training sessions.  The goal of this Advanced Half Marathon plan is to improve your 13.1-mile finish times and performance!

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 Advanced 13.1 training plan includes weekly 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 who consider themselves seasoned half marathon or 10K runners will want to choose this training plan to improve finish times.  You should be running 4 to 6 times per week for 45 to 90-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 Intermediate Half, Intermediate 10K or Advanced 10K training plan and building your fitness up to the level of this Advanced Half Marathon program.

At a glance

  • Length: 12 weeks
  • Typical Week: 5 Day Run/Walk (1 Speed Workout, 1 Tempo Run), 1 Day Cross Train, 1 Day Rest
  • Longest Workout: 16 miles
Download 13.1 Advanced Plan
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Half Marathon Advanced Training Plan Terminology

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

Warm-Up: Walk for 5 minutes at an easy effort before every workout (run-walk 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 the days workout.

Cool-Down: Walk for 5 minutes at an easy effort after every workout (run-walk days and cross-training days). A proper cool-down will help to gradually bring your heart rate and breathing rate 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 from 1 to 10. 1 is considered ‘At Rest’ and 10 is considered ‘An All Out Level.’ Use this scale to stay in the correct range listed in the training schedule for a given day (i.e. 6-7).

Heart Rate: If you have access to a heart rate monitor then use this device to stay in the correct range listed in the training schedule for a given day (i.e. 60-75% of maximum heart rate).

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 a cross-training workouts. If you are already active 3 to 4 days per week, then start the cross-training as scheduled in the plan. Activities for cross-training may include cycling, elliptical, rowing, strength training, swimming, and more. Cross-training allows you to rest your running muscles and work opposing muscle groups. These activities will help to reduce the impact on your body and the risk of injury. Cross-training can also speed up recovery time between run-walk workouts. Cross-training workouts should be done at a moderate level, Perceived Effort of at least 7, or a Heart Rate of 75-80%.

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 free-weights, resistance bands, weight machines, or classes such as pilates, yoga or cross-fit. Include exercises for upper body, core, and lower body. Warm-up with a walk or another form of cardio. 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 4, then progress to 2 to 3 sets of each exercise for 8-12 repetitions.

Flexibility: Stretch lightly after every warm-up period. Stretch again after every workout to improve flexibility, increase circulation, and reduce the risk of injury.

Easy Effort: Easy pace/effort is considered slightly above what you can maintain a conversation, 70-75% of maximum heart rate, and 6 to 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 to 8 on the Perceived Effort scale.

Speed Workouts: Warm-up with 10-15 minutes at an easy pace. Then complete the appropriate speed workout for the day. All hard efforts are considered 90-95% of heart rate, 9+ Perceived Effort. You should be able to hear yourself breathing hard. It is very important to make sure your easy recovery effort is truly easy. Running to fast during the recovery can have a negative impact on your performance during these workouts and throughout the other parts of the training plan.

Fast Finish Runs: Run the first 40-60% of the run at an easy pace. For the last 40-60% of the run, steadily increase your pace every 5 to 10 minutes. Finish the last 10 minutes of the run at a hard effort, 90-95% heart rate, 9+ on Perceived Effort. These runs teach you how to correctly pace yourself from the start of a race, to the fast and strong finish of a race.

Race Pace Effort: The goal of these runs is to build confidence and endurance to maintain your goal race pace. Start these runs right at your average goal pace for the half marathon and maintain the pace the whole distance. Practice nutrition and hydration just like you plan to do on race day and make adjustments as you learn from your body.

Tempo Runs: These workouts will build your lactate threshold and endurance. Warm-up for 20-30% of the total time at an easy effort. Then run prescribed about of time at a pace slightly faster than race pace (15-30 seconds/mile). Between each hard effort, recovery with a 5-minutes at an easy effort. Repeat for the prescribed number of times. Allow for an easy cool-down period after tempo efforts.

Download 13.1 Advanced Plan