Half marathon 16 week training schedule for beginners


Congratulations on deciding to run your first half marathon! You’ve taken a big step towards accomplishing an incredible goal. A half marathon is 13.1 miles (or 21.1km), which is a serious distance to run, especially if you’re new to running. To get there, you need to train your body to handle that distance. Luckily, our training plan will do just that! Following our 16-week schedule will build up your endurance and have you ready to conquer the half marathon come race day.

In this post, we’ll explain some of the basics that you need to understand for approaching the training plan, as well as some tips on how to manage race day itself.

Training Plan Basics

The 16-Week training plan will work, as long as you follow it! The plan requires four runs each week. The plan is split into two halves:

The First Eight Weeks: This phase is all short runs, progressively building up a base of mileage. The runs on all four days for these first eight weeks are all similar in length each week. Your goal here is to get some experience in running and to build up a base of mileage before you try going for anything harder. The furthest you run by the end of the eighth week is 3.15 miles or a 5k distance. Don’t worry about your pace on these runs. You’re just running to get the miles in and get used to the rhythm.
The Second Eight Weeks: now that you have built up your base, it is time to start building up the distance you’re able to run. Your end goal is 13.1 miles, so you need to progressively work your way up to that. Each week will still have four runs, but they will be structured to focus on slowly building you up. Following this schedule will eventually get you to a long run of 11 miles the week before the race:
Run 1: 3 miles
Run 2: 5 miles
Run 3: Long Run! This one will start at 8 miles and work up to 11 miles
Run 4: 3 miles

Don't Skip Long Runs

The most important run of the week will be the long run. You cannot miss this, and you cannot shorten it! All of the runs are important, and the plan has been crafted specifically to maximize your ability to run the entire half-marathon distance. To get there, you have to follow the plan and you have to meet the long-run requirements.

Skipping a long run or thinking you can just double down on your next run will interfere with the integrity of the plan’s structure. This could result in your not being able to train appropriately. It might even put you at risk of injury if you attempt to run the race without the proper base of endurance training.

Track Your Data

The plan comes with a worksheet in which you should track the results of each run. The key things to track are:

Cool-down: Cooldown is critical after each run! Don’t just stop running and collapse on the couch. You need to add at least a few minutes of walking at the end of each run. In the worksheet, track the total time you spent on cooling down.

Heart Rate Range: The success of the plan will depend on whether you are training your body to endure the cardiovascular requirements that are needed. Enter the high and low heart rates that you recorded during the run.

Calories: An added benefit of training for a half marathon will be the huge number of calories you burn! Enter the total number of calories you burned during the run.

Total Workout Time: Enter the total number of minutes it took you to perform each run. This data will 
become especially useful as you start working through the plan and can compare your times from similar distances.

Most of these metrics can be automatically calculated if you use a running app on your phone, such as Strava. There are many comparable apps available, but Strava is the most popular. It is referred to as “Facebook for runners” because you can connect with your friends that also use the app, post pictures that you took during the run, and comment on each other’s runs. Running apps also interface with smart watches, so if you have an Apple Watch or a Garmin, you can use those to track your heart rate and see the data automatically in the app.

Don’t Skip the Rest Days

A critical part of the plan is that you only run four times a week. The other three days can be workouts such as cross-training or strength training, but on at least one of the non-running days, you should plan on not doing any exercise and just resting.

Try this Half marathon 16-week training schedule for beginners

This sixteen week training plan has a well structured and progressive path to get you on your way for your first half marathon. It is an instant download upon purchase.