Want to train for a half marathon – but realizing you don’t have as much time as most training plans require? Check out this 8 week half marathon training schedule! This plan will get you crossing the finish line of your race in just two months. Plus, you can choose modifications for the plan according to if you are a beginner runner or more of an intermediate runner.
How to use this 8 week half marathon training schedule:
You can scroll to the bottom to check out the plan, but first – let’s breakdown everything you need to know about how to use this plan successfully.
Who is this plan for?
This training plan is suitable for you* if…
- You are a beginner runner that can run a 5K comfortably – but haven’t ventured much beyond that yet.
- You are a beginner runner that does longer distance runs, but you don’t have any structured schedule right now.
- You are an intermediate runner looking for a structured training plan with a little speedwork (but are not looking to take home any records).
If you’re not currently at the point of being able to run at least 3 miles comfortably, try checking out my 20 week half marathon training plan for beginners. Those plans are much more gradual and better for brand new runners who need the additional time to prepare for a race. Or if you can run 3 miles comfortably but would still like a more gradual plan, try my 12 week half marathon training plan.
*Disclaimer: I am not a physician; check with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise program.
This 8 week training schedule includes 3-4 days of running per week, depending on if you are a beginner or intermediate runner…
Looking at the plan image below, you should plan to include Day 1, Day 3, and Day 4. You’ll skip the speedwork on Day 2. Speedwork is great for improving anaerobic fitness and helping you run faster – but it also increases the risk of injury. If you’re new to running and/or have had a historically low training volume/intensity, you’re better off eliminating this from the plan and using one of these two choices instead:
- 2-3 mile easy run on these days
- 30 minutes of cross training on these days
If you’re an intermediate runner – meaning that you’ve been running comfortably for a while and have maybe played around with some speedwork in the past – you should follow all the days in the plan. Depending on where you are at in your running journey, you might alter some of the speed workouts to suit your needs. (For example, increasing or decreasing the length or number of intervals).
Warm Up, Cool Down, and Stretching:
- Start each run with a slower paced jog or even a few minutes of brisk walking to warm up. Along the same lines, give yourself a few minutes of brisk walking to cool down after each run.
- Stretch after your runs. This will help keep the muscles limber and may reduce soreness later. If you struggle with overly sore legs after your runs, you could try foam rolling as well.
Types of Runs:
This 8 week half marathon training plan is broken down into 4 days of running: Days 1 and 3 are easy short runs, Day 4 is your long run, and Day 2 is speedwork.
Here are the directions for each of these:
- Easy Short Runs – You should run these at a comfortable, conversational pace. Don’t be tempted to go out too fast – you’ll save that energy for your speedwork days. (And beginners, heed that advice as well – even if you’re not doing speedwork, keeping most of your runs easy and comfortable will help you stick with the plan and prevent injuries.)
- Long Runs – These should be run at a comfortable, steady pace. You might notice that maintaining that same pace feels more challenging as you get into the longer distances – that’s OK. You can certainly add in walking breaks as needed for your long runs. Your biggest goal is simply to meet the mileage as listed, no matter how slow you need to go to complete it.
- Fartlek – Spend the first 5-10 minutes warming up at a comfortable pace. Throughout the rest of your run, build in short sprints. Let them be fun and random – make it to the next mailbox, go fast until your song ends, etc.
- Short Hills – Start with a 1 mile warm up at a comfortable, easy pace. Find a relatively steep hill. Spend about 30-45 seconds running up the hill at a fast pace, then jog back down and recover for 2-4 minutes. Repeat 4-6 times depending on your fitness level.
- Long Hills – Start with a 1 mile warm up at a comfortable, easy pace. Find a moderate grade hill (not as steep as the short ones). Spend about 60-90 seconds running up the hill at a fast pace, then jog back down and recover for 3-5 minutes. Repeat 4-5 times depending on your fitness level.
- Easy/Tough – For the midweek runs that list “easy, tough, easy” sessions – the easy should be at a comfortable running pace that you feel like you could maintain without an issue. The tough part should be run a bit faster than your goal race pace.
Cross Training and Strength Training (Optional But Recommended):
Running is a repetitive motion, so adding in some other cross training activities to your week can help to balance out that training and prevent injuries. I recommend at least 1 day a week of cross training (cycling, yoga, swimming, etc) – if you feel comfortable fitting that in.
Strength training is not a necessity to cross the finish line, but does help you become a stronger runner (stronger legs = more power in your stride).
- If you already currently strength train, see if you can maintain that at 1-2 sessions per week.
- If you don’t currently strength train but would like to try adding some in, I’d recommend adding in body weight exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, etc 1-2 days per week.
- If you don’t currently strength train and feel overwhelmed at the thought of it, don’t worry about it for now.
Your strength training can be done opposite running days, or can be done as an AM/PM workout opposite your easy short runs.
Your Overall Schedule:
Space out your running days so they are not all back to back. If you’re running 4 days a week as listed, your plan might look like a Tues/Weds/Fri schedule for Days 1, 2, and 3, and then a Sat/Sun long run. This gives your body a rest day from running after your intense speedwork (Day 2), which can be welcome.
If you decide to build in the strength and cross training, here’s how your overall week might look while training with the intermediate schedule:
- Mon – Strength
- Tues – Easy short run (Day 1)
- Weds – Speedwork (Day 2)
- Thurs – Rest
- Fri – Easy short run (Day 3)
- Sat – Long Run (Day 4)
- Sun –Light cross training (yoga, cycling, etc)
Or, if you were aiming for more of a low-key beginner schedule, here’s how your overall week might look:
- Mon – Rest
- Tues – Easy short run (Day 1)
- Weds – Cross training (yoga, cycling, etc) (Modified Day 2)
- Thurs – Rest
- Fri – Easy Short Run (Day 3)
- Sat – Rest
- Sun – Long Run
No matter what you decide to do on the days you are not running, always keep at least one day as a rest day in your schedule.
Your 8 Week Half Marathon Training Schedule:
Share with me: Have you tried using this 8 week half marathon training plan? What’s the next (or first!) half marathon you’re training for?