Can I Train for a Half Marathon in 16 Weeks?

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Four training tips to help you run the 13.1 miles in the Half Marathon

You just signed up for your first half marathon and the race is only 16 weeks away. Now you are wondering if you have enough time to train and prepare for reaching the finish. Your 16-week time frame, however, is ample time for training, building endurance and improving performance. While the training will be challenging, it will also be fun, with the anticipation of competition to drive your development and growing fitness over the next few weeks.

Set Your Goals

The first step to a 16-week half marathon training schedule is outlining your fitness goals, goal race time and baseline fitness level. These factors influence the design of the program, including the types of workouts and overall intensity. As a general rule, beginners should have a basic fitness level with the ability to run three miles at least three to four days per week.

Distance Workouts

The workouts you’ll complete during the half marathon training program are designed specifically to improve your performance and prepare you for race day. Each workout covers a distance of about three to 10 miles, depending on the goal of the individual workout. Sample running workouts include weekly long runs to build endurance and stamina, recovery runs to prevent overtraining, and interval workouts to improve speed and pacing. Running workouts typically take place about four to six days per week along with two days of strength-training workouts.

Enter Short Races

Your 16-week half marathon training program provides ample time to prepare for the race. One of the best ways to refine your preparation is to find local 5K or 10K races that take place during your half marathon training. For example, run a 5K at week four and then a 10K at week 10. Shorter races are competitive and fun, but they can also be used as a tool for monitoring performance and improvement. Experiment during these races to get valuable practice in pre-race nutrition and preparation.

Peaks and Progress

Throughout the 16 weeks of training, the rigor gradually increases as your fitness level improves before gradually tapering, or decreasing, as race day approaches. At the beginning of the training program, intensity and mileage increases by no more than 10 percent each week. For example, if you run 30 miles during week one, week two will cover no more than 33 miles. After peaking your training in weeks 12 and 13, the intensity tapers in order to allow for a full recovery before the race.


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