Best Training Plan for Your 1st Half Marathon

Best Training Plan for Your 1st Half Marathon
Half marathon in Hamburg (symbol image): The running route can only be mastered with the right training. (Source: Hanno Bode/imago-images-pictures)

It doesn’t matter whether you are a professional runner or a beginner: Most people have to train hard for a half marathon. There are a few things to keep in mind.

Many people dream of running a half marathon and maybe even completing the distance of 21.1 kilometers in their personal best time. But this requires the right preparation, discipline and hard training.

Training Plan: Ideal for the Half Marathon

Attention: When training for the half marathon, there is no one right variant. In addition, the plan must be tailored to your body, for example weight, height, age, previous illnesses and general fitness. Ultimately, only general tips can be given here; you should create an individual training plan together with a trainer or fitness expert.

If you are running a half marathon for the first time, you do not necessarily have to run the full distance in training. A “reasonable training structure over at least ten to twelve weeks” is much more important, advises the German Athletics Association. During this time, the running distance should always be a little longer.

The training distance in the first week often begins with four to eight kilometers. So if you know that this distance is currently not feasible for you, you should plan more time for your training.

In the last four weeks before the half marathon, distances between 15 and 18 kilometers should be covered. The longest distance is recommended around three weeks before the half marathon. This run between 16 and 18 kilometers should not be a competition, but “a calm endurance run”.

On the other hand, if you are already a professional half marathon runner and want to improve your time, you should regularly cover distances of around 20 kilometers during training. These runs should be combined with easy, short-distance runs and race-paced interval runs.

Half Marathon Training: Slowly Increase Distances

Not only does the distance of 21.1 kilometers have to be mastered, you probably don’t want to be the last to trot to the finish line. That’s why it’s important to slowly increase both distance and pace in the training plan. There are different approaches for this as well.

For example, you can start with shorter sections at race pace without looking at the clock. For example, you can choose a point (traffic light, tree, street sign) to which you can run faster and then return to a slow, steady pace.

Repeat this process over and over again for a running time of about 45 minutes and then lengthen the running segments in each of these training sessions. From about eight weeks before the planned half marathon, you should then convert this rather playful training into a fixed interval training.

With interval training, you cover fixed sections at the pace of the competition and slowly build them up in the following weeks: First, for example, two times three kilometers, then three times three kilometers, then five times two kilometers, then four times three kilometers.

Test competition as training for the half marathon

Finally, the German Athletics Association recommends taking part in a “test competition” about three weeks before the half marathon. Ideally, the competition is over a distance of only about ten kilometers.

This way you can get an idea of your training status and get used to the processes, the excitement and the atmosphere. You can also check your clothing for suitability.

End of Half Marathon Training Plan: Tapering

In most half marathon training plans, the term “tapering” appears at the end. This is the phase that serves to preserve the shape. In the last few days before the competition, you should only train a little and very easily. You should also ensure a healthy diet and avoid physical exertion.

Beginners should plan a longer period of time for this phase, such as 14 to 10 days before the competition, while experienced runners are often enough just a few days.

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Important note: The information in no way replaces professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The content of fitmodell cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.

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