Half marathons are among the most incredible achievements for all runners out there and are considered the next big goal for those who easily run the 10K.
However, a half marathon is 13.1 miles or 21,000 meters, which is more than double the distance of a 10K, so it requires a runner to put in a lot of work in order to be ready. This includes building up your running endurance and speed to run longer distances at a wide range of runs, including tempo runs, weekly mileage, and more!
Of course, preparing for such a huge competition requires hard work, consistency, and quite some time.
In today’s article, we’ll show you how to prepare for a half marathon in 3 weeks and what your expectations should be. Let’s dive right in!
How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 3 Week, Are 3 Weeks Enough?
A half marathon is a remarkably long race, so ideally, you need anywhere between 10 to 12 weeks to prepare for it.
Without preparation, you may not have the stamina and endurance necessary to finish such a long run. In fact, even if you’re physically fit, you may end up too exhausted to reach the finish line.
For that reason, preparing for a half marathon in 3 weeks only is extremely difficult but not impossible.
However, there are some expectations that you need to keep in mind. For example, if you’re a beginner, this plan is simply not for you.
This is because new runners who have never finished a half marathon before will generally lack the aerobic capacity and glycogen stores to hold enough energy to support you all the way through the 13.1 mile race.
Instead, this plan is only for experienced runners who are capable of committing to the half marathon training and are relatively fit and prepared for such an intensive run.
How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 3 Weeks: A Day by Day Plan
Now that you have a better idea about what this plan is suitable for, let’s have a quick look at your 3 week half marathon plan.
Since this plan condenses 10 to 12 weeks’ worth of work into 3 weeks, we’ll tackle the plan on a daily basis. Here’s how your plan should go:
- Day 1: Start by running 25 minutes. You should run most of the distance at easy pace but if you can’t, walk or jog 1 minute for every 3 minutes of running. Start a post-workout session (15 minute foam rolling) from night 1 even if you don’t feel the fatigue.
- Day 2: Run 30 minutes at a tempo pace with walking breaks for 1 minute every 3 minutes. Have a double post workout session (15 minute foam rolling + 15 minute icing) at night
- Day 3: Run 40 minutes at a tempo pace with walking breaks for 1 minute every 3 minutes. Have a double post workout session at night
- Day 4: Run 25 minutes without walking breaks with post-workout therapy.
- Day 5: Rest day + post workout recovery massage
- Day 6: Run 40 minutes at a tempo pace with walking breaks for 1 minute every 3 minutes. Have a double post workout session at night.
- Day 7: Run 60 minutes at a race pace with walking breaks for 1 minute every 3 minutes. Have a double post workout session at night or double the strength training session without running
- Day 1: Run 30 minutes at a tempo pace without walking breaks. Have a single post workout session at night
- Day 2: Run 50 minutes at a near race pace with walking breaks for 1 minute every 5 minutes. Have a double post workout session at night.
- Day 3: Run 50 minutes at near race pace (slow down to tempo pace if necessary) with walking breaks for 1 minute every 5 minutes. Have a double post workout session at night.
- Day 4: Run 30 minutes without walking breaks. Have a massage session on that day.
- Day 5: Run 20 minutes without walking breaks. Have a single post workout session at night
- Day 6: Run 40 minutes without walking breaks. Have a single post workout session at night
- Day 7: Run 90 minutes. This should be a tempo-based easy run, but if you can’t, walk or jog 1 minute for every 3 minutes of running. Have a cryotherapy session or ice your hips, calves and knees for 15 minutes each.
- Day 1: Run 50 minutes at a tempo pace without walking breaks. Have a single post workout session at night
- Day 2: Run 70 minutes at a near race pace with walking breaks for 1 minute every 5 minutes. Have a double post workout session at night.
- Day 3: Run 40 minutes at race pace without walking breaks. Have a double post workout session at night
- Day 4: Rest day + post workout recovery massage
- Day 5: Run 25 minutes at tempo pace. Have a single post workout session at night.
- Day 6: Run 20 minutes at easy pace and rest well at night
- Day 7: half marathon race day + a cryotherapy session or ice your hips, calves and knees for 15 minutes each.
What Is the Best Way to Track Your Running Progress?
Tracking your progress is one of the most essential aspects of preparing for a half maratho. Since you’re doing tiny improvements every day throughout your 3 week plan, tracking your pace and progress while doing your tempo run is quite essential.
This doesn’t only help you keep up with your advancement through the half marathon plan, but the sense of achievement also provides you with a significant motivation boost that will help you stick to the plan!
One of the simplest and most convenient ways to monitor your progress is using a tracker app. These apps keep track of all the essential aspects while running, such as recording the speed, distance, interval training, average half marathon pace, and much more!
There are plenty of options to choose from, such as “Strava”, “Runkeeper”, and “Nike Run Club”. You can try various apps at the beginning of your 3 week preparation plan and continue using the one that you’re satisfied with the most.
You should keep in mind that your numbers might vary from one app to the other, but the differences would be marginal and you won’t have to worry about it.
Tips to Keep in Mind While Preparing for a Half Marathon
Now that you know what you should do on each day of your condensed half marathon training schedule, here are some extra tips that you should keep in mind while preparing for your half marathon.
1. Use Proper Running Shoes While Running
Brand new running shoes will have their springiness and cushioning intact, which is extremely essential to improve your performance in such a limited amount of time.
In addition to the shoes, you might want to consider buying all the necessary gear and products you use while running.
2. Dial in Your Diet and Supplementation During That Time
In addition to running gear, make sure that you buy all the necessary food for the next 3 weeks from a grocery store, as you won’t have enough time or energy to go shopping in the next 20 days.
Make sure that your list has all the necessary food that you eat for a healthy diet to prepare your body for the marathon and avoid too many veggies because excessive fibers can cause gut problems while running.
Additionally, make sure that you get all your vitamins, fuels, and other supplements to provide your body with all the necessary nutrition for tissue recovery.
3. Keep Track of Your Hydration Levels
Staying hydrated is important at all time but it’s extremely critical in the case of intensive training. Dehydration makes you dizzy and week, so your performance will be massively impacted.
Additionally, letting your muscles dehydrate then drinking water cause cramps, according to studies.
For that reason, you need to keep your muscle properly hydrated throughout your training to avoid injuries.
4. Consider Hiring a Training Coach
If you want personalized training based on your own fitness condition, you might want to hire a running coach.
These coaches don’t only create a custom training plan that suits your schedule, but they also provide you with the motivation and support needed to stick to your training.
5. Combine Your Daily Runs with Strength Training
Some people are preparing for a half marathon to compete while others only want to complete the race. If you only want to compete, you must combine your daily runs with proper cross training as well as strength and endurance exercises.
These workouts don’t only strengthen your running muscles but also provide them with the energy necessary to get you to the finish line.
Remember to diversify your workouts to stay engaged. For example, combine your runs with swimming, hiking, resistance bands, cycling, etc.
If you’re physically fit but you’ve never run a half marathon before, cross training shouldn’t be a priority for you/
6. Use Post Workout Recovery Techniques
As you’ve noticed from the training plan, you’ll need to do a post workout recovery session nearly every day.
These recovery techniques are extremely critical for your body to recover after strenuous running exercise and they should make you feel much better in the long run.
You can also ice your knees every few days for about 10 minutes to relieve the pressure of your intense workout plan.
7. Don’t Overthink a Failed Run
Regardless of your level of expertise, there will come times when you’re not able to keep up with the pace and you might botch a run.
If you’re condensing your plan in such a small time, this is likely to happen a few times. In that case, the key here is to not sweat it or overthink it much.
Simply move on and continue as if it never happened while working on avoid those mistakes in the future.
8. Never Start Running Without Stretching and Warmups
Throughout the previously mentioned plan, you should never start running without taking at least 5 to 10 minutes to stretch and warm up your muscles, especially if you’re running in a cold morning.
Luckily, warm ups can be as simply as marching or jogging in a slow pace or cycling on a stationary bike.
Avoid rushing your warmup because a pulled muscle due to lack of stretching can end up causing you the the half marathon.
9. Get Proper Rest and Sleep
Although stretching after a workout is debated among athletes, almost all runners agree that having proper sleep and rest is as critical as the runs.
This is because your body is goes into a full recovery mode while resting and sleeping. So, if you don’t have enough sleep after a workout, you might end up injuring yourself.
10. Allow a Small Percentage of Flexibility in Your Schedule
Lastly, you should remember that, even with such a tight schedule like this 3 week plan, you should still give yourself a bit of a wiggle room for any surprises. This wiggle room can be up to ± 5 minutes or ± 1 mile.
Final Thoughts On How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 3 Weeks
With that said, our guide for the 3 week half marathon training plan comes to an end. As you can see, How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 3 Weeks is extremely difficult but it’s fairly doable.
however, you should always keep in mind that you’re condensing 10 to 12 week work into 21 days or less, so you have a little wiggle room in your schedule and your expectations shouldn’t be high when it comes to results.
Lastly, keep the previously mentioned tips in mind in order to reduce the stress on your body and improve your performance while training and racing.