How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 5 Weeks: (Free Step-By-Step Guide)

Your first, or twentieth, half marathon is only a little bit over a month away, and you still haven’t created a plan to get 100% ready for it. It’s okay, we know that life can distract you sometimes, but you could always get back on track and learn how to prepare for a half marathon in 5 weeks.

Fortunately, this step-by-step guide can be a good place to start your journey. In this article, we’ll help you get ready for this exciting challenge physically and mentally to reach the goals you have in mind.

Here we go!

How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 5 Weeks

Step 1: Make Sure Your Body Can Handle a Half Marathon

Running for a roaring 13.1 miles is surely nothing close to a stroll in the park or an afternoon beach run. Because of how intense the running challenge is, you must be sure that your fitness level can allow you to wrap up your training in 5 weeks only.

Of course, if you’re a new runner who runs two or three times per week, it’ll take you more than 5 weeks to build enough endurance for a half marathon. Here, your best shot is to start your half marathon training plan two or three months before the race.

On the other hand, people who can easily run 5K or 10K races have a better chance of preparing for a half marathon in 5 weeks or even a month.

We’re not saying that participating in a half marathon for the first time is a piece of cake for an experienced runner. It’s just that their body should be able to keep up with the extra effort after some practice.

Now that you’ve determined if your body is fit for the 5-week training plan, why don’t we introduce you to it?

Step 2: Follow a 5-Week Training Schedule

The last 5 weeks before a half marathon have technically two jobs. These are keeping your motivation high and adjusting your body’s endurance to keep up with the 13.1-mile distance of the race.

Hopefully, this training plan should get you there!

Week 1

Day 1 ●     Run 5x 1 mile at a speed that’s 5 seconds faster than your target half-marathon pace

●     Take 2 minutes to recover after each mile

●     Do cross training

Day 2 Rest
Day 3 Run at an easy pace for 1 hour
Day 4 Rest or do interval training
Day 5 ●     Do a 90-minute continuous run at a conversational pace

●     Increase your speed every 30 minutes

Day 6 ●     Do 20 minutes of running technique exercises as a warm-up

●     Run for 30 minutes while changing your tempo regularly

Day 7 Rest

Week 2

Day 1 ●     Run 8x half a mile at a speed that’s 5-10 seconds faster than your target half-marathon pace

●     Take 2 minutes between each half-mile to do a relaxed continuous run

●     Do cross training

Day 2 Rest
Day 3 Run at an easy pace for 80-90 minutes
Day 4 Rest or do interval training
Day 5 ●     Do some strength exercises to maintain your endurance

●     Do running technique workouts

Day 6 ●     Include 10 minutes of rope jumping

●     Run 3x 10 minutes at half marathon pace

●     Take 3-minute jogging breaks

Day 7 Rest

Week 3

Day 1 ●     Run 4x half a mile at a speed that’s only slightly faster than your race pace

●     Run 4x half a mile at a speed that’s a bit slower than your half-marathon pace (change speed every half mile)

●     Do interval training

Day 2 Rest
Day 3 Do 70 minutes of speed variation, alternating between medium and race space
Day 4 Rest or do interval training
Day 5 Do a 90-minute easy run
Day 6 ●     Do 60 minutes of continuous running

●     Increase your speed every 20 minutes (start easy, medium, then at half-marathon pace)

●     Take jogging breaks

Day 7 Rest

Week 4

Day 1 ●     Do cross training

●     Run 6x 1 mile at a pace that’s 10 faster than your intended half-marathon pace

●     Take 2-minute jogging breaks between miles

Day 2 Rest
Day 3 Run for 80 minutes at a relaxed pace with no recovery pauses
Day 4 Rest or do interval training
Day 5 ●     Run for 70 minutes continuously, increasing the pace every 20 minutes (relaxed, medium, then at race pace)

●     Run as fast as you can during the last 10 minutes of your run

Day 6 ●     Do 20 minutes of running technique exercises as a warm-up

●     2x 10-minute tempo runs at a fast pace with 2x 10 minutes at an easy pace in between

Day 7 Rest

Week 5

Day 1 Rest your body
Day 2 ●     Run for 40 minutes at a relaxed, continuous pace

●     4x 40 seconds of sprint runs

Day 3 ●     Do interval training

●     Run for 4x 1 mile at a pace that’s 10-20 seconds slower than your race pace

●     Between each mile and the next one, run half a mile at a pace that’s a bit faster than your half marathon goal pace

Day 4 Rest
Day 5 ●     Run for 30 minutes at a conversational pace

●     Do 4 sprint runs

Day 6 ●     Run for 20 minutes at a conversational pace

●     Do 4 sprint runs

Day 7 Run the half marathon!

As you’ve probably noticed, the last week before the race is a bit more relaxed than the previous weeks. This is because you’ll have to rest your body as much as you can so that it’s ready for the energy-consuming race.

Still, that doesn’t mean that you should rest the entire week!

You just have to do enough exercise during the fifth week to keep your body active and to boost your motivation even further.

Now that you have your plan scribbled on paper or typed into your planner, it’s time to get to work. The next steps will walk you through your everyday routine so that you can make the most out of your 5-week training.

Step 3: Focus on Your Mentality

How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 5 Weeks: Focus on Mentality

We’ve got the physical part of your half-marathon preparation out of the way, but what about your brain? The guy is technically responsible for all the training and running you’ll be doing, so it’s only fair that you make sure he’s in good spirits through it all!

How to increase motivation and improve your mentality so that you’re completely ready for the race day?

Well, here are a few neat tricks you can follow to do that:

  • Give yourself a pep talk on an especially rough day
  • Do affirmations every day before your runs or workouts to give positive messages to your brain
  • Run with a group of marathon runners who are also getting ready for the half marathon to get a dose of encouragement
  • Listen to music, an audiobook, or podcasts on your runs to keep boredom at bay
  • Visualize your goals to push yourself harder

Step 4: Don’t Skip Your Rest Days

Sometimes, you may be a bit too excited for practice that you might consider going for runs every day instead of taking breaks. While we’re fans of your enthusiasm, it’s important to maintain a balanced training plan for the following reasons:

  • Less chance of injuries, foot blisters, or cramps
  • Gives your body enough time to heal and sets it up for the next training day
  • Ensures that you’re not too drained when it’s time to run the actual half marathon

Step 5: Do Some Cardio on Your Training Days

Cardio

When you’re not resting, it’s always a good idea to include some cardio exercises. Not only can they be perfect for warming up and cooling down, but they’re also great workouts to prepare you for the race in such a short amount of time.

Here are a few of our favorite cardio exercises to spice up your training schedule:

  • Brisk walking
  • Jogging
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Rope jumping
  • Boxing

Step 6: Include Some Strength Workouts in Your Weekly Routines

Strength Training for Runners

If you choose to do interval training on your rest days, why not use the help of resistance workouts specifically to boost your endurance?

To safely do that, you must be already accustomed to strength training to prevent possible injuries. If that’s the case with you, a day or two of weight lifting or similar workouts per week can be just perfect.

Yet, not everybody is a fitness guru, and many people haven’t tried strength workouts before. Here, your best shot is to include simple exercises that can improve your stamina considerably, such as:

Step 7: Prepare Yourself for the Race Day

Now that you know what you’ll be doing for the weeks leading up to the half marathon event, here are a few tips to follow to make things easier for you on the race day:

1.   Pick the Right Clothes for the Race Day

The first thing to keep in mind is that the gear you’ll be wearing in the half marathon shouldn’t be brand new. Be it your running shoes, shirt, pants, or even socks, you must be comfortable wearing each item because you don’t want any unpleasant surprises.

If you need a new pair of shoes, don’t buy them right before the race day. Instead, get them as soon as you can and wear them while you train to help your feet adjust to them.

As a general rule, a good pair of running shoes should have about 100 to 150 walking miles on them before a racing event.

The outfit you’ll be sporting on the race day must fit your frame and not flap in the face of the wind. During the half marathon, you surely don’t want air resistance to hold you back!

2.   Put Snacks, Sports Drinks, and Water Into Consideration

Of course, you’ll need to keep your energy levels high during the race, not to mention that you must be hydrated. For that to happen, you must make arrangements regarding snacks, drinks, and water.

Determine what you’ll be eating or drinking and when so that you can prevent yourself from getting tired all of a sudden.

It’s also a great idea to take a quick look at the snacks and sports drinks that will be available at the racing event. Try those on your training runs and see if they fit seamlessly into your routine.

If none of those options suit you for whatever reason, you’ll need to carry your own snacks and drinks on the race day.

Plus, it’s essential to see how often there will be water stops and if that will work out for you. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to include water in your backpack as well.

3.   Familiarize Yourself With the Terrain

One of the coolest things you can do is to run the entire terrain where the half marathon will be held, especially if it’s a rough one. That should make you familiar with all the turns, obstacles, hills, and more so that you’re completely ready on the day of the race.

If the half marathon takes place outside town or for any reason that prevents you from doing this, there’s always an alternative. Simply, take notes on the features of the terrain and try to find similar places in your hometown to run on.

This should get you closer to your goal!

Final Thoughts On How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 5 Weeks

It sure takes a lot of effort, patience, and time to be able to run a half marathon and score a new PR. Hopefully, after you follow our 5-week training program, you should be well-prepared for the challenge.

All you have to do is slowly increase your weekly mileage, add some cross training, take fulfilling rest days, and keep your spirits high. Now that you know how to prepare for a half marathon in 5 weeks, let’s get started!

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