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How long to train for a half marathon – from beginners to advanced runners

This is one of my favorite questions many runners ask. How long should I train for 5k/ 10k/ half-marathon or marathon? I wish there was a simple answer to this complex question. My straight answer generally is – it depends!

It depends on your goals, your fitness level, how much time you can devote to running, etc. To make this easier, this article will guide you on how long to train for a half marathon based on your running experience.
Ideally, I like to keep my build-up ‘safe’ and do everything right. Thus, I will provide you with what I call ‘the best scenario” of how long to train for a half marathon based on your starting point (understand beginners, intermediate, and advanced).

How long to train for a half marathon - Beginner runners

Let’s imagine you are new to running (or almost new to the running world) and you or somebody else made you sign for your first half-marathon. Now you are wondering how much time you need to dedicate to be able to run a half-marathon. If you are new to running, I would suggest you train for at least 16 weeks. If you have some experience, you could prepare yourself for a bit less.
Generally for beginners, you should start by running close to 30k a week. You should aim to run between 5 to 8k each day. Once per week, you can try to do a longer run like a 10k for example. Try to increase your volume by about 10% each week, if you are healthy and feeling good. It’s a smart idea to increase the distance of your long run as well but do it gradually. After one month has passed, you can incorporate some workouts into your routine. Check out the half-marathon category on the Vitesse Running App and do a workout once to twice a week. You can also try out our virtual coach for the best results. He will guide you and make sure you have each necessary component to run well at your race.

How long to train for a half marathon - Intermediate runners

If you have some running experience, you might do well using a 12-week preparation. You can start with 40-50km per week and try to reach around 80-100km at your peak week. Your running experience should allow you to do two workouts per week. However, use your first two weeks like an “introduction” and try to run more mileage each day in comparison to your usual routine. For example, if your easy days are between 8-12k, add around 2-3km more to this. After two weeks of more running, you can include workouts in your schedule. Focus on your long run to do at least 16km during your preparation. To test your fitness, 3-4 weeks before your half-marathon, you can try our 30x500m workout @ goal pace in the half-marathon category.

How long to train for a half marathon - Advanced runners

If you have been running for a while and you have decided to prepare for a half-marathon, give yourself at least 10 weeks to make sure you can do well. Since you should have some solid running experience, you may need fewer adjustments to your routine. The half-marathon category on the Vitesse Running App might be ideal for you because the volume of the workouts is likely appropriate for your fitness level. If you don’t have a premium subscription, my advice is to stick to one workout for speed endurance (search for red color), one workout for strength endurance (search for purple color), and either one long run or fartlek (search for yellow color) per week. If that sounds too much, you can cut either the speed endurance or the strength endurance workout and alternate it each week (meaning one week you are doing the red color workout, next week the purple one).

The best tip here is always to listen to your body and be flexible. Give yourself MORE rather than LESS time in case something unpleasant (like injury) pops up. If you feel like you are doing too much, probably you are doing too much for your current fitness. Signs of overtraining should not be avoided. Don’t forget to also sleep, eat and hydrate well!

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