11 Essential Tips for Half Marathon Training (+ Training Plans)

In this post, we share our 11 Top Tips For Half Marathon Training!

Training for a half marathon is very exciting!

It’s a great goal and a fun – but challenging – distance to run.

However, it’s important to be prepared so that your race is a success. Unlike a 5K, or even a 10K, it’s hard to go out and fake your way through 13.1 miles.

And while everyone is different and their running needs vary, there are a few training tips that apply to everyone.

Here are our 11 essential tips for half marathon training!

Let’s jump in!

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1. Get Good Running Gear

  1. Now is the time to invest in some good running gear.

You’ll want at least two pairs of running shoes to rotate throughout your training. Pick your favorite pair for race day and stick with them.

Whatever you do, don’t try new shoes on race day!

That is a recipe for pain and a miserable race.

You also want to invest in a few high-quality clothing items for your long runs and eventual race.

Wear them while you train to make sure that they don’t rub, chafe, or ride up or down.

No one wants to run 13.1 miles while pulling up their pants!

2. Give Yourself Time to Prepare

  1. Before you put your running shoes on, make sure you have plenty of time to train.
  2. It’s key to put together (or find!) a solid training plan that lasts for at least 13 weeks, especially if this is your first half marathon.

This will give both your body and mind plenty of time to adjust to the new distance!

Remember, you should only add 10% more total miles every week, so you need the time to build up your mileage slowly.

Otherwise, you run the risk of getting burned out or injured.

3. Vary Your Runs

There are plenty of training plans out there, and you should pick the one that appeals to you the most.

No matter which plan you choose, make sure that it has a wide variety of runs. You want to do things like track workouts, race pace runs, easy runs, and long runs.

This variety will get your body ready for whatever race day throws at you and will make sure your mind is prepared as well!

4. Practice Race Day Nutrition

This is one of those tips for half marathon training that many runners just don’t think about!

Fuelling yourself on race day is an integral part of success.

Runners’ tummies are notoriously sensitive due to all of the jostling that occurs. So, practice your nutrition on your long runs, so you know what works best for you.

You can use gels, gummies special drinks, or good old-fashioned pretzels.

Experiment so you can find just the right combination that will get you through the race with a happy belly

5. Cross Train (for Power, Endurance and To Become Bulletproof)

It’s tempting just to run when you train for a race, but building and maintaining muscle is key to not losing any fitness you had before you started training. Plus, strong muscles will help you run more quickly and efficiently.

Focus on your whole body: work your core, legs, and arms throughout the week. Just don’t schedule leg day right before a long run.

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6. Recover Right

Besides all the running and cross-training, there is another crucial part of half marathon training: recovering!

This includes all kinds of things like foam rolling, stretching, and sleeping. Your body needs time to get over the intense training you are putting it through, so make sure you have at least one rest day built into your training plan.

You can do active recovery on that day, like walking or yoga, but it’s critical to give your body a rest so you’ll be fresh and ready to go the next week.

Check out our complete guide to half marathon training recovery!

7. Don’t Be Afraid of Walk Breaks

Some runners look at walk breaks as a sign of weakness.

They aren’t!

Sometimes you just need to walk. In fact, lots of successful half marathoners have walks built into their runs by doing intervals. This is a popular method that gets many runners to PR’s. Even if you prefer to run straight through and avoid intervals, you can still schedule walk breaks.  For example, you can time them around the water stations, so you get a mini-break before pushing yourself again.

8. Train in Different Locations

It’s easy to find the route you like and stick to it. The problem is that your body also gets used to it. When you hit it with a new route on race day, it may not adjust well to new terrain. So, try to run in different places with different types of surfaces when you train. It’s a good idea to check out the course map before the race too. If it’s a hilly course, then make sure you train on hills. Your lungs and legs will thank you on race day.

9. Choose an Achievable Race Pace

Race day nerves are very real! It’s easy to go out too fast because you’re excited and nervous. Unfortunately, running too quickly at the beginning of the race means you’ll be burned out and unable to keep going later when things get decidedly harder. Keep an eye on your watch and hang back with a pacing group for the first few miles before you take off. You can put the gas on once you hit mile 10. 

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10. Train With Other Runners

If you’re nervous about taking on the challenge of a half marathon, try finding a running group or buddy to run with.

They can help keep you accountable when you don’t feel like getting out and make the runs more pleasant.

Having someone to talk to can also make a long run go much faster!

Running groups are also a great way to make new friends who understand that all you want to talk about is running.

11. Get a Great Training Plan, and Stick To It (By the way, our’s are free)

Go ahead and check out our FREE Half Marathon Training Plan Library!

All our training plans are designed by certified running coaches and runners, because they know exactly how to structure your training and increase your mileage in a manageable way.

Of all our tips for half marathon training, this is probably the most important!

Studies show a huge correlation between how closely runners follow a training plan, and how well they perform on race day!

So go ahead and start yourself off right with a great training plan.


If you’re considering running a half marathon, then do it!

It’s a great experience, and you will feel a fantastic sense of accomplishment once it is complete. Training may seem daunting, but just take it one week at a time.

Focus on what you need to do for the day and trust your plan.

If you follow the tips for half marathon training we’ve listed, then you’ll be in great shape to enjoy your race and be ready to sign up for your second one!


Women’s Running

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of MarathonHandbook.com. His work has been featured in Runner's World, Livestrong.com, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and good beer. More at his bio.

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