8 week beginner half marathon training

Hey there,

Emily running half marathon

Okay, so this is not my first race, but it’s the same course. It’s got a special place in my heart now!

I’m feeling all nostalgic today, and I wanted to share some training with you.

The very first race I trained for was a half marathon, and I did 8 weeks of training, so what better to share with you than an 8 week beginner half marathon training program?!

My first race

It was September 2007, I was not long home from overseas, and at a bit of a loose end. I was looking for a challenge that would focus my mind and improve my fitness. A good friend of mine was training for her first triathlon at the time, and pretty much the only way to catch up with her was to swim, bike, or run together!

Turns out you can’t gossip much when you’re doing laps in a pool, so we’d often borrow our parents’ dogs and get together for a run. She’d entered a local half marathon, and suggested I do the same.

But there were only 8 weeks until race day!

I thought I’d need at least 12 weeks to train properly, but my friend assured me I could do it. I was generally fit, but not specifically running fit. I decided to give it a go!

I spent a fair chunk of time searching for a progam online.

Lots didn’t quite fit what I was looking for, or required gear like a heart rate monitor, which I didn’t have at that time. I finally found a program that seemed doable, and started training. I’ve saved you lots of time sifting through the internet, give this program a try 🙂


The 8 week program

The training I decided to go with was very similar to this one, courtesy of Fitness Magazine.

8 week beginner half marathon training

Why this program?

There were quite a few things I liked:

  • Rest days on Mondays and Fridays, yippee! (Although I’ve since become a Friday runner).
  • Sets the expectations from the start (yes, I could run 2 miles, but wasn’t sure I could go further).
  • Includes lots of walk/run combo’s. I think this is important for beginners because it will protect you from going out too hard, to soon and risking injury.
  • It includes a cross training day on Wednesdays, which is great both for your sanity, and for your overall fitness. Don’t skip your cross training, it will actually help your running. I did swimming with my friend, and ever since, I’ve made sure I swim at least once a week when my training volumes are high: I really think it helps me avoid injury.

A few tips

  • Don’t panic if you don’t follow the schedule to the letter. It’s even okay to switch up the workouts.
  • BUT: don’t skip the longest run of the week, this is the foundation of your training and is pretty much compulsory.
  • You can shift your longest run if Sunday doesn’t suit, but ALWAYS follow it with a rest day.

So how did my first race go?

It went AWESOME! I knew from the training that if I could run 11 miles, 13 would be no problem.

I had an optimistic time of 2 hours to finish in my head, and I surprised myself by finishing in 1:53. I was ECSTATIC!

And I was hooked. I’ve been running and doing half marathons ever since. I reckon it could have been a different story if I’d started with a longer or more difficult training program though. I think 8 weeks with a mixture of workouts was absolutely perfect, and I encourage you to give it a go.

Wanting more info for beginners?

Do you need more information that will help you out as a beginner runner? You’ll also enjoy these articles:

– Choosing the right shoe (critical to get this right)

– Running guide for beginners (some good basic info for you)

– A fun look at women only running events (a great choice for your first event, especially if you’re feeling a bit nervous about it)

– A basic nutrition guide to get you feeling full of energy

– Last but not least, how to keep yourself safe out there


So go on, sign up for that race, lace up your shoes, and get that first race done.

Make sure to come back and tell me how it went in the comments below.


Your running buddy,


half marathon girl




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