How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 14 Weeks

Running a half marathon is a goal for many people, but it can seem like a bit of an uphill battle at first.

Your favorite running gear could be all you need to complete your first half marathon — that and a proper training plan.

By the end of this post, you’ll know how to prepare for a half marathon in 14 weeks. Grab your running shoes, and let’s get going with the training schedule!

How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 14 Weeks

A half marathon is a racing event with a total distance of 13.1 miles, and it’s a great chance to challenge yourself and build endurance.

Let’s jump right to the details of the training period with some tips:

Know Your Pace, Over and Over Again

Most regular runners know the average time it takes them to cover a mile on a good day. However, knowing your initial pace isn’t enough in a half marathon training plan.

As you move along the program, your pace might fluctuate. This fluctuation affects your calculations for interval training.

It’s always a good idea to re-evaluate your mile time at least once every week to keep an eye on your progress.

Keep in mind that your pace for a solitary mile is going to be significantly higher than running 13.1 miles non-stop. One way to compensate for this lag is by multiplying your mile time by 1.2.

Get Familiar With Different Running Styles

How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 14 Weeks: Different Running Styles

For a typical runner preparing for a race, there are two main aspects to tackle: speed and endurance.

Different training sessions target one aspect more than the other. However, you need both physical attributes to become a successful runner.

For instance, hill sprints and fartleks are great ways to work on your speed. Meanwhile, long and interval running help build endurance.

Besides speed and endurance, healing is also an important factor. You need recovery runs throughout the half marathon training plan, even if they may seem a bit slow-paced at first.

Work on Your Meal Plans

Meal Plan

Planning your pre-run meals weekly can help you stay on track. So, load your pantry with healthy carbs and cut down on snacks rich in fats.

While carb-loading is a focal point of any runner’s diet, that doesn’t mean you need to live off carbohydrates alone.

A moderate amount of protein can help you preserve muscle mass while doing aerobic exercises. Aim to depend on protein sources for 15% of your daily calorie intake.

Never downplay the danger of dehydration or electrolyte imbalances. Stay hydrated all day long by keeping a bottle on you all the time and taking a sip every now and then.

Follow a Training Schedule

It can be surprisingly easy to lose track of your progress somewhere along the 14-week training period before the race.

That’s why it might be better to sketch out a general program and follow it for the best results. You can come back to change things around later, depending on your work schedule.

Weeks 1-3

As you start the half marathon training program, you only need to run three days every week. By the end of week three, you should pump up the frequency to four days.

For your first day, go for a quick recovery run of around 15 minutes. Remember, recovery runs are mostly just walking at a conversational pace. Not much effort is required here!

Two weekly running sessions around 30 minutes should target speed workouts. Meanwhile, you can turn the third session into a long run between 2-3 miles focused on building endurance.

Keep in mind that you need to alternate between running and recovery days to give your body a chance to heal.

Weeks 4-6

Instead of three running days every week, try scheduling four from now on. We get that not everyone has enough free time for this, but you can keep your workouts short on busy days.

Kick up your recovery walks to 40 minutes. Plus, you can increase your speed workout to 35 minutes and focus on fartleks and hill sprints.

For the long run session, go from three miles on week four to at least five miles by the end of week six.

Don’t let the intensity of your workout sessions stain your rest days. Take one day of full-on rest every week — no runs, no walks.

Weeks 7-9

Maintain the same four training days. However, you can increase your long run by a little over a mile weekly. Aim for 10-11 miles of long tempo running by week nine.

After week nine ends, you won’t have a lot of time to work on your speed, so push your mile-time during those three weeks.

Throughout this period, you get two speed training sessions every week. Fill them in with tempo runs, fartleks, and hill sprints.

The training might be getting heavy, but you’re more than halfway done to the race day, so hang tight and keep up the good effort!

Weeks 10-12

Tune down the speed workout and strength training by the beginning of week 10. This period in the half marathon training plan is when you can master your interval run techniques.

Keep your long runs to 11-12 miles at a comfortable pace. The plateau of mileage here isn’t intended to let you slack on your training, but it’s a chance to build endurance.

Meanwhile, try to shift your energy to recovery runs over an hour twice every week at a comfortable pace.

By this point in your half marathon training plan, you’ll find your easy pace much faster than what you started with initially.

Final 2 Weeks

So far, your longest run should be around 11 miles, which ensures that you’ll cover the majority of the 13.1-mile track without much difficulty.

As a general rule, you need to cut down your workout intensity to half by the final week before the race day. Take rest days more frequently to taper down your training plan.

The longest you should go on a single running session two weeks before a half marathon is six or seven miles.

However, taking a taper from the training sessions doesn’t mean you get to mess up your meal plan!

Adjust Your Running Intervals

Interval training is ideal for both professionals and beginners mainly because of how flexible it is.

By week seven, you should have an idea about what intervals work best for you. Is it five-minute bursts followed by a minute of walking?

Take a look at your current capacity, fitness level, and goal pace. If you keep running out of breath, it might be time to take more frequent rest periods.

Feel free to shift your intervals several times along your half marathon training plan. You can even follow multiple lap durations in the same running session.

Don’t Overdo It

Do you know how people keep telling you that you need to go big or go home? Although we admire the mindset, it’s not always true.

As a runner, you need to know the difference between perseverance and overdoing physical exercises.

Increasing your running intensity too quickly might not be as helpful as you think. It’s always better to take things slowly to avoid a serious (and painful) running injury.

The beauty of warm-ups is that they help you ease into the workout. Make the most out of those quick exercises and stretches, and you’ll notice a difference in your performance.

Find Your Motivation

No half marathon training plan is complete without a little bit of motivation, at least none that we know of.

After all, 14 weeks is an awfully long time to stick to one goal. Odds are, you’ll need a “pick me up” on standby to keep you going.

Motivating factors are different for everyone. It might be raising money for a charity, reaching a fitness goal, or even just having fun with fellow runners.

It might even be the bragging rights that come with completing a 13.1-mile run, and that’s okay — we would brag about it too!

How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 14 Weeks – FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the half marathon training plan:

Q: Is it easy to run a half marathon race?

A: It depends on your overall fitness level, but it’s safe to say that it isn’t the easiest run for a beginner.

If you’re still trying your feet out in competitive running, a 5k race might be a better choice. Then you can scale up to a 10k, half marathon, and marathon training.

Q: Are cooldowns really important for a runner?

A: Yes! We get that some runners are so exhausted after a run that they just want to jump in a cap and get a ride home, but that’s not ideal.

Cooldown exercises gradually decrease your heart rate and help you recover faster after the run.

Q: What’s a good half marathon time for a beginner runner?

A: If you have moderate experience with running, two hours is a reasonable time to finish the 13.1-mile track.

Elite runners can finish the race in less than an hour, but it’s better to use the average time as a standard to evaluate your progress.

Q: Do I have to taper before a race?

A: Yes, tapering can boost a runner’s performance, and we trust you don’t want to waste 14-weeks of training just because your muscles were too sore.

We usually recommend that you set your longest run distance before week 13. That way, you can get two weeks of tapering at the end of your half marathon training program.

Q: How long does it take to recover after a half marathon race day?

A: For an average person, it takes 2-3 days to recover after running the half marathon training plan and race.

However, we recommend taking things easy for a week after the race. Maybe take a breather before jumping to the next training plan.

Final Thoughts On How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 14 Weeks

The half marathon isn’t only an opportunity to challenge yourself, but you can also have fun with it now that you know how to prepare for a half marathon in 14 weeks.

Over those 14-weeks, you have the chance to enforce a great habit and take a mental break with every run!