If you have already done a half-marathon and would like to improve on your time and performance, or if you can competently run 10km or 10 miles and want to build up a longer distance at a faster pace, this is the training programme to use. It incorporates intervaltraining and speed work to build up your speed and endurance, and calls for a commitment of running on 4 days a week over 3 months.
If you do not want to incorporate interval or speed training into your running regime, or do not feel physically inclined to try these techniques, just run as steadily as you can instead on these runs, using a personally calibrated heart-rate monitor to ensure that your effort remains constant and not too high. Speed runs are easier on a treadmill, but these are not the most important part of the training programme, so feel free do interval training (which is an integral part of improved running) or just steady running on these days instead.
|Week 1||Rest||30 mins easy run||30 mins interval run||Rest||30 mins speed run||Rest||3 mile steady run|
|Week 2||Rest||30 mins easy run||40 mins intervalrun||Rest||30 mins speed run||Rest||5 mile steady run|
|Week 3||Rest||30 mins easy run||40 mins interval run||Rest||30 mins speed run||Rest||6 mile steady run|
|Week 4||Rest||40 mins easy run||45mins interval run||Rest||30 mins speed run||Rest||6 mile steady run|
|Week 5||Rest||40 mins easy run||45mins interval run||Rest||30 mins speed run||Rest||8 mile steady run|
|Week 6||Rest||45mins easy run||50 mins interval run||Rest||40 mins speed run||Rest||8 miles steady run|
|Week 7||Rest||45mins easy run||50 mins interval run||Rest||40 mins speed run||Rest||6 miles steady run|
|Week 8||Rest||50 mins easy run||60 mins interval run||Rest||40 mins speed run||Rest||10 miles steady|
|Week 9||Rest||50 mins easy run||50 mins interval run||Rest||40 mins steady run||Rest||12 miles steady run|
|Week 10||Rest||60 mins easy run||60 mins interval run||Rest||40 mins speed run||Rest||12 miles steady run|
|Week 11||Rest||50 mins easy run||45mins interval run||Rest||40 mins speed run||Rest||6 miles fast run|
|Week 12||Rest||40 mins easy run||40 mins interval run||Rest||40 mins easy run||Rest||RACE DAY!|
Let your body get used to the increased activity gradually, and use the easy runs on a Tuesday as recovery runs. We recommend timing your mile times for your own interest and motivation, and also to give you an accurate idea of how long the half-marathon should take you.
When you tackle the 10 mile milestone in week 8 remember to approach this gently but steadily. If the run gets tough slow it down a bit – speed is not important. If you should need to walk for a minute at any time, then do so strongly and with purpose until you are ready to start off again at a gentle jog, but ideally you should not stop at all as this is the time the muscles will contract and continuing with a run will be harder than ever. Consider using a heart-rate monitor to keep your pace consistent – sometimes you may be going faster or at a greater effort than practical for the longer distances, and the monitor can remind you to slow a little in order to sustain the effort.
Start your interval training sessions with short bursts of faster running (perhaps 5-10 mins) interspersed with recovery jogs. However, as you improve try lengthening the duration of the faster runs, or shortening the recovery jogs in between, to build your stamina and endurance. It is not recommended to do the entire 30 or 40 minute session at a constant fast pace as the focus is more on building distance than achieving race speeds.
The training tapers off in the final weeks, and this is a good opportunity to run the shorter distances with greater speed than before, which will ultimately improve your longer distances too. Hopefully you will find that you can do the 6 mile run in week 11 at one of your best mileage speeds to date.
Remember to relax on the day before the event and conserve your energy. We also recommend that you avoid consuming spicy food and alcohol the night before the race, and think about your hydration on the day.
A few things to remember from the start:
- Respect your Rest-Days as these are necessary to allow your body to recover and adapt.
- Don’t be afraid to repeat a week if you are feel unprepared for the next part, or to drop back a week if you find the next stage too demanding at first. Everyone is different and bodies adapt at different rates.
- Wear proper running shoes in the correct size (usually around ½ a size larger than your normal shoe size) as these will provide shock-absorption, support, protection, comfort and an efficient exchange of energy from the ground. Seek advice from a specialist running shop for shoe advice and information, and to check your “pronation” (see our separate section on this).
- Think about your running apparel: avoid wearing cotton fabrics as these absorb moisture and can cause painful chafing and increased weight over long distances. If you are prone to cramping or “pins & needles” in the legs try running in compression socks/leggings, or using these after a run to aid recovery of the muscles.
- Blisters are caused by 3 main factors: moisture, heat and friction, so use synthetic socks (unless you have a skin reaction to synthetic fibres) that have flat seams and do not wrinkle up inside the shoes. Use running shoes made with a breathable, synthetic, mesh fabrics, rather than leather or PVC, and always tie shoes-laces firmly to ensure that the shoe holds fast to the foot.
- Start in the correct place in the race line-up. If you start with faster runners you will burn out quickly and find the later miles exhausting. If you start with slower runners you may get “boxed in” and find yourself having to weave a lot to overtake; effecting your pace, your overall time and the stress on your legs and ankles.
- In the event of muscle aches and strains, remember the “RICE” rule: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
- However hard it feels at first – you will get there with perseverance. Believe in yourself!
To maintain this new level of fitness, try to do at least three 40-60 minute runs every week and continue to use interval training to improve.
You are now ready to prepare for a Marathon!