How to Train for a Half Marathon: Your Training Calendar

Everything you ever wanted to know about half marathon training but were afraid to ask. This week: your training calendar.

After the stiflingly hot days of summer, fall’s cooler weather is the perfect time to bring your workout routine back outdoors. Pounding the pavement beneath a canopy of vibrant foliage, kicking through drifts of fallen leaves…not only does the seasonal shift provide plenty of visual appeal, but the breezy mornings and crisp afternoons can add a much-needed spring in your step after non-stop humidity and heat. Before the days are cut short and winter sets in, now is the time to set new workout goals and begin taking the strides towards achieving them, especially if you’ve had run a race on your bucket list. Fall may seem early to be thinking about spring races but, with qualifiers coming up in the next few months, it’s the perfect time to begin your training. And who better to train you than long-distance runner and FP Me babe Audrey Roloff? This past spring Audrey provided her expertise for taking your run routine to the next level, and today she’s back, sharing a half marathon training calendar to help you start reaching your goals for fall and beyond. Take it away, Audrey…


Get the look: Ballerina Crop TopLotus LeggingFitness TrackstrapGel Fit Sana


(click here & save large version to desktop)


(click here & save large version to desktop)


(click here & save large version to desktop)

This training plan was created for someone who is already active, and relatively fit for their age. Please understand that this is not a set-in-stone training plan to get you in shape in three months and run a stellar half marathon. This training plan is designed as a flexible framework, not a definitive outline.

The key to training for a half marathon, or training for anything really, is to listen to your body. You must be willing to let your body rest and recover just as much as you are willing to work hard towards your goal. It’s common for runners to think that the key to becoming a better runner is to run more. Before you begin any training plan, you must crush this myth, or it will crush you. Training to run any endurance race is just as much about recovery, rest and feeling refreshed, as it is about blood, sweat and tears. You must learn to trust that your body is actually making fitness gains when you allow it to recover, instead of constantly pushing through the aches, pains, and fatigue — which is inevitable as you continue to tack on the miles.

As you read through the 13-week training calendar, you will see that each day offers a suggested time for how long you should run. Running for time, as opposed to distance, is referred to as “minutes-based training.” The reasoning behind minutes-based training is that it forces you to listen to your body. Minutes-based training forces your run to be a direct result of how you felt that day. Miles-based training causes a temptation to compete with yourself by running faster, in order to finish sooner. Hence, miles-based training tends to cause more injuries, resulting from progressing too fast. Running faster and further on your easy run days is not a sign that you are getting fitter. You must run easy on your easy run days, so that you are able to run hard on your hard workout days.


This training plan suggests 8 weeks of base-training before adding in hard workouts. Base-training is low intensity training that gradually builds until your body has adapted aerobically, muscularly and mentally, before making big fitness gains through higher intensity and longer-duration workouts. Ideally, you would have more like 13 weeks of base-training before adding in hard workouts, but this training plan is geared for someone that only has three months to get in shape before stepping to the starting line.

You will notice that, at the end of week six, there is a suggested distance to run instead of time. The reason for this? So that you can learn what it feels like to run half the distance of a half marathon, because you are halfway through your training calendar. You will also notice a “long-run” at the end of each week. From week six on, the long runs transition from minutes to miles. This is because, at this point in your training calendar, it is important to begin learning and gauging pace. Pace is an important thing, especially when running a 13.1 mile race. Pace keeps you from burning out by starting too fast, and it helps you progress throughout the race to ideally run faster near the end. This is why you will see “progressive-runs” listed on the hard workout days during week 10.

It’s always important to remember that it is OK to cross-train by simulating the suggested running time on a stationary bike, elliptical, in the pool, etc. My college cross-country and track coach had a rule that he referred to as the “72-hour rule.” If any ache, pain or sickness arose we were ordered to rest or cross train for 72 hours before attempting to run again. This rule will get you to the starting line — trust it.


To prevent injury and fatigue, each week also has a built in “off” day which can be supplemented with some type of low intensity cross training. Examples of this might be yoga, Pilates, swimming, aqua jogging, Barre3, etc. Consider supplementing these types of cross training on your easy run days as well. At the very least it is important to do core every other day. A strong center is what keeps your running gate balanced and strong, which prevents all kinds of injuries. Many running injuries stem from a weak core or weak glute muscles. These two areas are great to target if you choose to supplement strength training into your training plan.

The last couple weeks are lower intensity and lower miles/less minutes of running. This is because you want your body to be rested and ready to go on race day. It takes at least 10 days to reap the benefits of a VO2 max or threshold workout, so there is no point in doing workouts like tempos and hill runs in the 10 days leading up to race day. You won’t reap those benefits until after the race, so might as well give your body more rest than work during these final weeks. The reason behind the “strides” (short 150 meter sprints) added in the final weeks — it only takes a day or to to reap the benefits from a speed workout. These strides are what will help you pass those 15 people in the finish shoot!


Get the look: Heisman Pullover



Get the look:San Jose HoodieWishbone Bra


About Audrey: I’m Audrey Mirabella Roloff. My blog is called Auj Poj, and it’s a hodge podge of life. My life mantra is, “Always More” which you can read about on my blog. “Always More” originated as something I wrote on my hands with Sharpie for my cross-country and track races, as a reminder that I always have more in the tank than my body lead me to believe. I was a runner in college for Oregon State University. I am a runner, writer, camper, red-lipstick fanatic, railroad-lover, adventurer, storyteller and farm girl wanna-be. Currently living in Bend, Oregon with my Farmer, Jeremy James Roloff.

Photography by Jeremy James Roloff – follow him on Instagram and check out this website here!

Be sure to follow Audrey on FP Me and Instagram!

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

Inspiring! I can’t say I all of a sudden feel motivated to start running (I SUCK at running) but seeing how hard you work for this is definitely motivating me to get off my ass and work out.

8 years ago

Respect! I do run, but training for something to prove how fast or how long I can run has never occurred to me, I guess I’m just not the type for it. But anyways, a very inspiring post!

8 years ago

Thank you so much. I’m delaying my first half-marathon because I wasn’t training right. This schedule is oh so cute and insures my pretty limbs will be in shape or the starting line :)

8 years ago

Love love! thanks for reading guys!

8 years ago

This is so inspiring!
Jabeen x

8 years ago

Just started day 1! What do you suggest as some excercises for core days? And how long are we talking?

8 years ago

I wish I found this earlier, as I’m training for my first half marathon in around 5 weeks time! I’m definitely going to incorporate a bit of this into my current training schedule though. I was just wondering what breakfast foods you like to eat before a long run? I prefer running as soon as I wake up so usually it’s on an empty stomach, except before my race I’ll obviously have to have breakfast and I have no idea what to have! Thanks xxx