half marathon for runners, half marathon training schedule, 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

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: 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.

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.