When you have your sights set on a big “A Goal” race, you typically want to devote quite a few weeks—if not a few months— to training for the race, particularly if it’s anything longer than a 10k. However, sometimes, really cool race opportunities come up, which can convince you to jump into a race at the last minute.
For example, you might realize that there’s a half marathon taking place in the town you will be visiting on your vacation in a month, and you know it would be a great way to see the area on foot.
But can you train for a half marathon in a month? Is a 4 week half marathon training plan doable?
The short answer is: it depends.
If you have been training consistently for quite a few months, hitting some good mileage, and feeling healthy and strong, a 4 week half marathon training plan can be just enough to help you tune up to be in race-ready shape for a half marathon one month away.
In this guide, we will provide a 4 week half marathon training plan for advanced runners as well as tips for training for a half marathon in a month.
We will discuss:
- Can You Train for a Half Marathon In a Month?
- Tips and Important Considerations With the 4 Week Half Marathon Training Plan
- 4 Week Marathon Training Plan
Let’s get started!
Can You Train for a Half Marathon In a Month?
Is a 4 week half marathon training plan feasible and realistic?
A 4 week half marathon training plan is likely insufficient for runners who have not been training consistently for at least six months or more, especially if you have never run a half marathon before.
Additionally, if you are an injury-prone runner, training for a half marathon in 4 weeks is probably inadvisable.
The very nature of a 4 week half marathon training plan having such a short time frame necessitates fairly aggressive training, which can increase the risk of injuries.
Finally, if you are looking to nail a half marathon PR, a 4 week half marathon training plan is most likely not the best route to help you achieve that goal. Generally speaking, you want to allow a minimum of 8 weeks to train for a half marathon, and 10 to 12 weeks is ideal.
On the other hand, training for a half marathon in a month can potentially be feasible for runners who have been getting in some good mileage and who have run a half marathon before.
Ideally, you should be running 4 to 5 days per week with a weekly long run of at least 8-9 miles, depending on your race goal: if you just want to finish the race, you should be able to train for a half marathon in 4 weeks with that level of fitness, whereas if you are looking to run a competitive time, a current long run of 10+ miles is better.
Tips and Important Considerations With the 4 Week Half Marathon Training Plan
Here are a few important tips for training for a half marathon in one month:
#1: Be Honest About Your Fitness Level
We can’t overstate that your current fitness level is very important to evaluate before embarking on a 4 week half marathon training plan.
You should have a solid base so that your body can handle the mileage in the plan as written.
Otherwise, if you jump up your mileage and intensity too quickly in order to meet the demands of the training plan, you will not only increase your risk of injury and overtraining, but your body also won’t have all of the time it needs to actually adapt and respond to the training.
Physiological adaptations, such as increases in aerobic capacity, increases in mitochondrial and capillary density, and improvements in metabolic energy systems, take time to occur.
You can’t just do one long run and the next day expect that your type I muscle fibers have become better fat oxidizers, for example.
It can take a couple of weeks for the positive physiological adaptations of your running workouts to manifest.
Therefore, if you jump into a 4 week half marathon training plan with limited fitness and hope to compress your training into just one month, your body won’t be able to adapt fully and may not be race ready when it comes time to pin on your race bib.
Our 4 week half training plan is mostly just a tuneup to sharpen you for a good half marathon, so you should be running at least 25 miles per week with a long run of 10 miles or 30+ miles per week with a long run of 8-9 miles before starting it.
#2: Be Mindful Of Speed Workouts
Depending on your half marathon race goal, speed workouts may be more or less important.
If you are just looking to finish the race, speed workouts will not bear as much importance, but if you are looking to run a decent time, you should be trying to incorporate pace work.
With that said, if you have not been doing any speed workouts recently, now is not the time to jump full throttle into the two weekly hard workouts we’ve included in this 4 week half marathon training plan.
If you have only been doing distance runs, pick and choose which of these workouts you will do and substitute a regular distance run for the other.
For example, in the first week of the plan, you are scheduled to have an interval workout of 400 m repeats on the track, as well as a threshold workout later in the week with 5 x 4 minutes at your tempo pace.
If you’ve only been doing moderate-intensity, steady-state distance runs before beginning this 4 week half marathon training plan, pick one of the two workouts and run it as prescribed (to the best of your ability).
For the other workout, just do an easy run roughly equivalent in distance to the typical daily mileage you’ve been averaging over the past 6 weeks.
#3: Think About Your Pace
Long runs should be run at an easy, conversational pace, at least a minute or so per mile slower than goal race pace.
You only have a month to train for a half marathon, so running your long runs too fast will be overly taxing for your body and can compromise your recovery and performance in the other key workouts during the week.
The other distance runs on the training plan should also be run at a relaxed, conversational pace.
Your strides should be extremely fast, accelerating throughout the duration of the stride until you reach your max speed at the end.
#4: Take Recovery Seriously
Once you build in a taper, four weeks is really not much time to prepare for a half marathon. For this reason, every workout counts, and every aspect of recovery counts.
Take this month to focus on being an athlete.
This entails getting enough sleep every night, eating a nutritious and balanced diet with adequate caloric intake to support your training and recovery, drinking plenty of water, stretching after workouts, foam rolling, and implementing other recovery modalities as needed, such as icing, massage, etc.
#5: Strength Train
If you haven’t been strength training up until this point, now is not the time to start on any type of aggressive strength training plan. However, doing core work and basic bodyweight exercises a couple of times a week can be a great way to augment your training and help prevent injuries.
You just don’t want to jump into a structured resistance training plan with heavy weights when you have less than a month to go before your half marathon.
On the other hand, if you have been strength training, make sure to continue your workouts 2-3 days per week while following the 4 week half marathon training plan.
Perform your strength training workouts on days when you have an easy run or cross-training workout scheduled.
Incorporate compound exercises like squats, lunges, step-ups, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, rows, and core exercises.
#6: Listen to Your Body
Finally, and most importantly, it’s crucial to listen to your body.
It’s more important to rest or modify workouts when you need to than to hit every single workout in this accelerated 4 week half marathon training plan as written.
4 Week Half Marathon Training Plan
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|Cross training: 30-45 minutes||Speed workout: Warm up and cool down 1-2 miles (2-3 km); 10 x 400m at 5k pace with 200m jog||Distance run: |
7 miles (11 km)
|Rest||Threshold workout: Warm up and cool down 1 mile (2 km), 5 x 4 minutes at tempo pace with 90 sec rest||Easy run: 4-5 miles (7-8 km)||Long run: |
10 miles (16 km)
|Cross training: 45-60 minutes||Speed workout: Warm up and cool down 1-2 miles (2-3 km); 6 x 1,000m at 5k pace with 200m jog||Distance run: |
8 miles (12-13 km)
|Rest||Threshold workout: Warm up and cool down 1 mile (2 km), 2 x 10 minutes at tempo pace with 90 sec rest||Easy run: 4-5 miles (7-8 km) and 4 x 75m strides||Long run: |
12 miles (19 km)
|Cross training: 45-60 minutes||Speed workout: Warm up and cool down 1-2 miles (2-3 km); 6 x 800m at 5k pace with 200m jog||Distance run: |
7 miles (11 km)
|Rest||Tempo run: Warm up and cool down 1 mile (2 km), 20 minute tempo pace||Easy run: 4-5 miles (7-8 km) and 4 x 75m strides||Long run: |
8 miles (12-13 km)
|Cross training: 30-40 minutes||Speed workout: Warm up and cool down 1 mile (2 km), 4 x 800m at goal half marathon pace with 200m jog||Easy run: |
4-5 miles (7-8 km)
|Rest||Shake out: 20 minutes and 4 x 75m strides||Half Marathon||Rest|
As mentioned, a 4 week half marathon training plan is not ideal. Even for experienced runners, one month is very little time to be able to train sufficiently and see any sort of improvement. If you want to work toward a better half-marathon time and maybe even get that next PR, take 10-12 weeks to prepare well.
Check out some of our longer half-marathon training plans, along with all of our half-marathon training resources, here.