Your nerves may be getting the best of you if you only have seven weeks until your next half marathon.
Feeling nervous is valid because a half marathon is no easy feat. It’s about 13.1 miles long or, more precisely, 231 football fields.
This fact shouldn’t deter you from running the next half marathon, though.
Whether you’re aiming for gold or the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a half marathon, following a strategic training plan can ensure you’re fit enough to finish the race without injuries.
That’s why, in this article, we show you how to prepare for a half marathon in 7 weeks, so be sure to stick around!
Preparing for the 7-Week Half Marathon Training
Before you begin your 7-week training plan, you should get yourself in the right frame of mind, which you can do by taking some necessary steps.
Get the Right Running Gear
Wearing the right clothes and shoes—and getting used to them—can help you avoid injuries and keep your full focus on running.
If you’ve been running in a pair of loafers or Chuck Taylors, you should consider upgrading to a high-quality pair of running shoes.
Even if you’ve trained or competed in a 5K with non-running shoes, a half marathon is going to require shoes designed to provide your feet with the most comfort.
In addition, running shoes are designed to endure a lot of pounding on the pavement as well as high mileage runs. This means they won’t fall apart during training or the half marathon.
That said, you want to give your new running shoes plenty of time to break in before your race. Otherwise, you might get blisters and sore feet, which can be uncomfortable while running.
Wear them during your workout and make sure you run at least 60 miles in your running shoes before the race to break them in.
This also allows you to decide whether the pair of shoes are the right fit for you or not.
On hot and sunny days, you can wear a vest or a singlet to keep cool while running. Add a waterproof jacket if it’s wet and rainy.
If you’re running on a particularly cold day, you can keep warm by wearing a base layer under your shirt. You don’t want to get too hot, though, because it can be uncomfortable.
Whether it’s hot or cold, the material of your clothing should be moisture-wicking to prevent the sweat from sticking to your skin.
Another clothing item to consider is a good pair of socks. A sturdy pair of socks designed specifically for physical activity can provide adequate comfort for your feet.
If you prefer short socks, make sure they reach just above your ankles. You don’t want the shoe collars to rub on the skin of your Achilles tendon.
Adjust Your Diet
You don’t need to follow a special diet, but eating healthy meals in the weeks leading up to your half marathon can help you gain strength and improve your running performance.
In addition, proper nutrition aids digestion, which can help alleviate stomach problems. As a result, you’ll be able to train and race more comfortably.
Maintaining such a well-balanced diet can also provide your body with ample energy and repair your muscles.
That’s why your meals should be rich in vegetables, complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and fruit.
Drinking water consistently can help you maintain your energy levels and avoid injury. If you’re dehydrated, you risk experiencing muscle cramping, dizziness, and fatigue.
These symptoms of dehydration may even lead to laziness, which can demotivate you from completing your half marathon training.
For these reasons, you should stay hydrated at all times. You should also drink water regularly while training, especially during long workout sessions and long-distance runs.
What’s more, you should avoid drinks that can dehydrate you, such as alcohol, soda, and any highly caffeinated beverages.
Know the Training’s Basic Elements
Your half marathon training schedule should be made from five basic elements:
- Base miles
- Long runs
- Interval training
- Tempo runs
Creating a training program that incorporates these five activities can help you gradually gain the strength and endurance needed to run a half marathon. It also lessens the likelihood of physical and mental exhaustion.
7-Week Half Marathon Training Plan
For the first day of your training, you can go for a three to four-mile easy run—which is running at a comfortable pace. You should be able to speak full sentences without running out of breath.
You might feel a slight muscle soreness on the second day, so you should do a 30 to 45-minute strength training session. This session can alleviate the soreness and help your muscles recover.
On the third day, begin with a half-mile easy run as a warm-up. Then, switch a tempo run for 1.5 miles, followed by a half-mile run at a comfortable pace to cool down.
You can do a 30 to 45-minute recovery session the following day. You can either do strength training exercises or do cross training. Some runners, for example, prefer to do yoga or pilates.
On the fifth day, go for a three to four-mile easy run, and on the sixth day, you should go for a four to five-mile tempo run.
As for the last day of the week, you should have a full rest day. This rest day applies to all other weeks.
On the first day of your second week, you should begin with a 3.5 to four-mile easy run.
Like week one, you should do some strength training exercises for 30 to 40 minutes.
You can go for a four to five-mile speed run on the third day. Begin the first mile running at an easy pace, then transition to a threshold pace for two to three miles before finishing with a one-mile cool-down run.
On the fourth day, you can give your body a chance to recover by cross training for 30 to 45 minutes.
For the next day, you can go for a 3.5 to four-mile easy run in preparation for the sixth day.
On day six, you should go for a six-mile long run. There’s no need to overwork yourself, so maintain a comfortable pace throughout the run.
Because the intensity of the training increases slightly in the third week, you should go for a four to five-mile easy run on the first day to prepare your body.
Your strength training exercises should also last 45 to 60 minutes on the second day.
You have two training options for the third day:
- Run up a short hill and back down at a moderate pace six to eight times
- Go for a six-mile easy run
On the fourth day, you can either do cross training for 45 to 50 minutes or rest.
You should go for a five-mile run at an easy to moderate pace on the fifth day.
If you’re in good shape, you should go for an eight-mile speed run with intervals of easy and moderate pace on the sixth day.
Alternatively, you can go for an eight-mile long run at an easy pace.
You should go for a five-mile run on the first day of the week, followed by a 45- to 60-minute strength training session the next day.
On day three, you should warm up for a mile, then increase your pace for five miles before cooling down for a mile.
You should use the fourth day for a 45- to 50-minute cross training recovery session. Some runners prefer to swim or cycle at a relaxed pace during these sessions.
On the fifth day, you should go for a five-mile easy to moderate run.
Then, on the sixth day, you want to increase your mileage from eight to ten miles at an easy pace.
Begin your fifth week with a four to five-mile easy run.
On the second day, you should do a 60-minute strength training session.
On day three, you can either run uphill and back down six to eight times or run for five miles at a moderate pace.
You should do 60 minutes of cross training on the fourth day and go for a four to five-mile run on the fifth day.
On the sixth day, you should aim to run 12 miles at a moderate pace.
With two weeks until the race, you should begin taper training, which involves reducing your training intensity by half.
On the first day, you should go for a four to five-mile easy run.
The strength training and cross training sessions on the second and fourth days shouldn’t exceed 30 minutes.
On the third day, you can go for a four-mile easy run.
On day five, you can go for a three to 4.5-mile run at a comfortable pace.
For the last day of training, you should go for an eight-mile long run.
In the last week of your half marathon training, you should start with a four to six-mile easy run.
For day two, you can do strength training exercises for 30 minutes.
You should rest completely on the third and fifth days. If you want to keep moving, you can do some light stretching.
On days four and six, you should go for a three-mile easy run. Remember to take it easy, so your muscles are well-prepared for the race.
What to Do on Race Day
Starting your race right can maximize your running performance and ensure you cross the finish line in top form.
It’s normal to feel nervous on race day, but you should eat a well-balanced filling breakfast two to three hours before the race.
Make sure you get your fill of carbohydrates and protein—which can supply your muscles with enough glycogen to carry you through the race.
High-fiber foods, however, should be limited because they can cause gastrointestinal issues.
Here are some pre-race breakfast ideas:
- A bowl of oatmeal with soy milk and honey
- Pancakes with fruit and nut toppings
- Two bagels or breakfast muffins with peanut butter
- Two pieces of brown toast with two eggs cooked in olive oil
Drink Enough Fluids
You should start your race day with a 17-ounce glass of water. Staying hydrated can help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
Try to avoid fruit juices, alcohol, and highly caffeinated drinks the morning of your race. These beverages aren’t hydrating enough and may cause stomach issues.
During the race, you should consider drinking a sports drink instead of water. It’ll rehydrate you more effectively than water and replenish your body’s sodium levels, which you sweat out.
You should also plan to rehydrate yourself with six to 12 ounces of your drink every 15 to 20 minutes.
Warming up until just a few minutes before the race can raise your heart rate and pump blood into your muscles, which will loosen your musculoskeletal system.
Begin your warm-up with a 10-minute brisk walk or light jog, followed by a 15-minute set of dynamic stretches, such as straight leg kicks, arm circles, and spinal rotations.
Lastly, you should do two to three 30-second sets of high knees and jumping jacks.
This warm-up, or any other warm-up of your choice, should prepare your body for a smooth transition into a half marathon run.
Recovery Following a Half Marathon
The recovery process starts the moment you cross the finish line. You can either slow down to a light jog for 20 to 30 minutes or do some exercises to cool down.
After your heart rate has returned to normal, you should lie down and raise your legs so that they’re elevated above your head. This position will help your blood to recirculate to your heart and brain. It’ll also give your feet a break.
It’s normal to feel sore for days following the race, especially if it’s your first half marathon.
That’s why you should make sure that you take a five to ten-minute walk every three hours or so after the race and for the next few days.
If you feel up to it, you can go for a 15 to 20-minute run. These recovery walks and runs can help keep your blood flowing through your muscles.
You should also incorporate daily stretching to prevent any muscle cramps or soreness.
Final Thoughts On How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 7 Weeks
Following these tips on how to prepare for a half marathon in 7 weeks should fill you with anticipation.
Keep in mind, however, that this half marathon training schedule is flexible. You can tailor the program to your specific needs.
It’s true that training for a half marathon requires discipline and consistency. However, you can make any changes to your exercises as long as you’re focused and motivated.
You don’t want to overexert your energy on any given day, and who knows what might happen? Maybe you’ll enjoy your half marathon training and race so much that you’ll want to run the full marathon.