Half Marathon Training: From Couch, 5k, 10k, to Race Day

Half Marathon Training From Couch, 5k, 10k, to Race Day

Whether it’s always been a personal goal to run a half marathon, you’re taking the next step towards a full marathon, or you’ve been roped into it by friends. If you follow a good half marathon training plan you can get into shape to knock out a decent time within a few months.

If you have experience running, then great. Most people can run a 10k before moving on to a half marathon. But going from the couch to 21k is possible with the right level of dedication.

From Couch to 10k Training Schedule

Ideally, you will already be running 2-4 times a week. This is a great place to start as a beginner, with each run being 20-30 minutes.

If not, here are some steps to get you to the 10k run mark.

A typical week would look something like this:

Monday – 2 miles

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – 2 miles

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Rest

Saturday – 3 miles

Sunday – Rest

The rule of thumb is to increase your runs every other week.

So for two weeks, you’re following the same running schedule, then on the second week pushing yourself by increasing your runs with whatever feels comfortable but challenging.

This has been a tried and tested method for a long time in the running world and works wonders.

Try adding an extra 1-1.5 miles to your weekend run every other week and a little less to the other two runs. It doesn’t matter if you can’t run the whole distance, walking a little is fine too as you get into better condition.

After keeping this up for 10-12 weeks you will find running a 10k race no problem at all. Then you can move on towards training for the 21k half marathon.

5k to Half Marathon Training Schedule

If you’re already a keen runner and can manage 5k without too much of a problem then you can skip the 10k and work up to a half marathon in 10-12 weeks.

A typical week of training will look like this:

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – 30 minutes

Wednesday – 30 minutes pushing yourself

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 40 minutes

Saturday – 30 minutes pushing yourself

Sunday – 5k run

There are a lot of different ways to adjust the plan moving forward. What most people do is just change the Sunday run distance.

Try adding 1k the first couple of weeks, then move forward in 2k intervals, and 3k intervals as it feels comfortable.

The key is to push yourself on the days indicated, rest sufficiently inbetween, and then the longer distances will become easier.

Half Marathon Training 10k and 5k from the couch

10k to Half Marathon Training Schedule

The half marathon is the next step for most runners who have completed the 10k.

If you’re running 10k and working on your times, you know what it means to train and how to work up in increments to push yourself, but a half marathon is still going to be a bit daunting!

The main difference most runners implement into their schedule when moving from 10k to 21k is strength and conditioning work at the gym when moving from 10k to 21k is strength and conditioning work at the gym.

Keep reserving that one day a week for your long run, and two days for running, but slot in a day for gym work also.

There are two benefits to gym work; firstly, you’re taking some of the impact off your knees, ankles, and feet. Secondly, adding strength through heavy weights reducing your chance of injury and increases muscle stamina.

The Importance of Resting Inbetween Training

Training, eating well, and resting are the three pillars of personal fitness.

You’ve probably heard it a million times, right?

Resting is vitally important when training for a half marathon, or any running goals for that matter. One of the most common mistakes a beginner makes is overtraining and under-resting.

It’s frustrating sitting it out when all you want to do is increase your distance an extra mile, or run an extra 30 minutes. But the facts are, without the proper rest you’re going to improve slower.

As you push yourself to run further you’re actually damaging your muscles. Without adequate time to repair and strengthen, they simply can’t perform better than before.

There is also impact on your muscular-skeletal, joints, and bones when running. All of which deserve some much-needed rest.

Another important factor to pay attention to is that your immune system is also compromised when you’re training hard.

If race day is approaching you need to take extra care of your body and load up on vitamins and nutrients to avoid missing the day due to a cold or flu virus.

It happens to a lot of people. They often blame their bad luck or someone they’ve been around with a cold virus without realizing their immune system was at a low point due to the intensive running.


Here are some of the more common questions around half marathons:

How Far Is 21k in Miles?

21 kilometers is approximately 13.1 miles. It makes it sound a shorter distance to some being a lower number, but it’s all psychological.

How Long Does It Take to Run a Half Marathon for the Average Person?

While it’s important to set realistic goals that push you, the average time for someone who has trained for a half marathon is around two hours. You can use this as a benchmark and certainly be very proud of yourself if you make this time.

How Many Miles Is It Safe to Run in a Week?

If you’re a complete beginner dragging yourself off the couch then you shouldn’t be running more than 2-4 times a week, with each run a couple of miles to start with.

Increase the distance you’re running every second week. Listen to your body and find the sweet spot where you can push yourself and realize gains.

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