How To Run a Half Marathon in a Month and Up Your Game

If running 13.1 miles is a challenge you’d love to add to your list of achievements, we’ll show you some tips on how to run a half a marathon in a month. Even if you only have a short timeframe to train for it, it still might be a feasible goal for you. Let’s see how you can do it!

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How You Can Successfully Pull This Off

  1. Be Honest About Your Training Level

  2. Dedicate Yourself to the Long Run

  3. Keep Yourself Healthy

  4. Add in Some Walking Time if You Need To

  5. Make Sure You Take Rest Days

  6. Slow It Down

Tip 1: Be Honest About Your Training Level

If you’ve never run a race before or more than a mile or two at a time, this four-week timeline probably won’t work for you. While it’s technically possible for you to run the whole way through a half marathon, you might injure yourself.

You’ll have to increase your weekly mileage far more than the recommended 10-percent rule allows for. Rapidly increasing mileage is one of the easiest ways to injure yourself as a runner.

While injuring yourself might not seem too bad, some runner injuries are long-lasting and costly to treat. It’s definitely not worth the risk just so you can have bragging rights for one race.

The better solution would be to extend your timeline by choosing another race to give you more training time.

If you have a solid running base already, you might be able to be ready in one month, especially if you’ve done 10k races in the past. Or, if you routinely run five or six-mile stretches, you’ll be good to go if you dedicate yourself fully to training for the next month.

However, if your main goal is to complete a half marathon -- not necessarily to run it the whole way, you can still do it, even if you have run very few miles. By incorporating a lot of walking into your half marathon, you cut down on the risk of injury.

Tip 2: Dedicate Yourself to the Long Run

While other training runs, like tempo runs and fartleks, are important when gaining speed for a half marathon, your main goal is going to be concentrating on the long run.

For your first half marathon, especially under such a tight timeline, your goal should be finishing it. You probably aren’t going to set any records.

So, while increasing speed may be tempting, make sure you’re saving enough effort each week to fully complete your long runs. You’ll want to do two or four shorter runs during the week and one long run.

Don’t be tempted to make up for lost time by doing two long runs every week, because it will be more than your body can handle. You’ll feel exhausted and increase your risk of injury.

Every week, aim to bump up your long run mileage by one or two miles. If you start the first week by running four miles for your long run, go for six miles the following week.

If you start with eight miles for your first long run, you can bump the distance up at a slower pace, increasing it by one mile every week.

When you do your long runs, you don’t want to take off through your neighborhood like you’re being chased by a pack of wild dogs. Keep it slow and comfortable, a couple minutes slower per mile than your race day goal.

It may seem too easy at times, but easy isn’t always bad. If you run faster, you might not make it through your whole long run.

And, the quicker you run, the sorer you’ll feel the next day.

Tip 3: Keep Yourself Healthy

With your big day just one month away, you can’t afford to get sick. If you fall victim to a cold or the flu now, you might not be able to compete on race day.

Even missing one long run at this point may leave you unprepared to go the distance.

To give yourself your best chance of dodging illness until race day, make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and try to avoid unnecessary stress.

If you hear someone is sick, avoid seeing them until after your race. Or, if a co-worker is sick, limit your exposure to them as much as possible and carry hand sanitizer with you for when you have to touch the same surfaces they do.

How to Run a Half Marathon in a Month

Image Source Flickr user clive wren

Tip 4: Add in Some Walking Time if You Need To

During your long runs, you may find yourself unable to continue. If that happens, try walking for two or three minutes and do your best to start back up.

Sometimes that’s enough of a break to power through the agony, but sometimes it’s not. If you need to walk the last mile or two, do it.

It’s better than quitting before you’ve reached your planned distance. If the worst thing that happens to you on race day is that you walk part of the 13.1 miles, that’s not a big deal.

You’ll still complete it. Just stay on course.

Tip 5: Make Sure You Take Rest Days

Ideally, you won’t be running more than three to five days a week while you’re training for the half marathon if you’re a fairly new runner.

The other days of the week should be used for resting or light cross training, like swimming. At least one day every week should be spent without structured exercise.

Rest days are an important part of your training. During rest days, your body recovers from everything you’ve put it through during the week.

Recovery is even more important as you begin to increase speed, add hills, or up your distance. Your joints, in particular, need some downtime after intense training.

Rest days also help you become faster. Muscles repair themselves and get stronger during time off from running.

Tip 6: Slow it Down

If you start experiencing too much discomfort while you run, trying slowing your pace and see if you feel less sore the next day.

By incorporating shorter, slower runs every week, you’re still getting the benefits of running. You’re still teaching your mind and body to power through, even when running feels hard to do.

But these runs aren’t as taxing on your body as fartleks or tempo runs are. If you’re not out to crush your best friend’s half marathon time, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing speedwork for your first half marathon.

So there’s no shame in slowing your runs down. Some runners prefer not to look at a clock at all when they’re running -- they’d rather be comfortable than fast.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with other runners. That’s the beauty of running -- it’s something everyone can do at their own pace.

Stay Focused

Focusing on how to run a half marathon in a month isn’t easy, but it is doable. Even if you end up walking part of the way, you’ll still feel a huge swell of pride as you cross the finish line and collect your participation medal.

And when you do it once, you’ll likely be hooked and come back for more. You can worry about your time then. After all, you’re a work in progress.

Shannon Serpette
 

Shannon Serpette is an award-winning writer and avid runner. She ran her first 5k two years ago, and hasn’t stopped running since. She has completed a half marathon and recently earned her first Top 3 performance medal for her age category in a race.