Half Marathon Training
Julie Allen Reo, PT, MS
The Department of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy
Duke University Health System
Last week my teenaged daughter and her friend were discussing running a half marathon this spring. She asked my opinion about when would be a good time, as they are graduating high school in May. I told her the truth. You will need to establish a good base of training three times a week, three miles distance, for three months. Then you should follow a training program that slowly increases your
weekly mileage at about 10% per week. So, next fall would be the best time. I think I lost her interest when I said training.
Researchers have argued that most running injuries are related to training errors. We may be built to run, but we are usually overcommitted. Today’s typical runner is working, raising a family, driving all over town, yet still logging miles in the dark and racing a half marathon 1-2 times a year. Running is a part of your life, but indeed life goes on all around it.
Keep your training simple, and allow for flexibility in your training plan.
A variety of training plans can be found on the internet. A good one should include 3-5 days per week of running, cross training with focus on core and hip strength 1-2 days per week, and at least 1 complete rest day. Incorporate speed or tempo training if you have time goals, and a weekly long run.
Assuming a base level of fitness, most training plans will start with a long run of 4-6 miles, and progress slowly over 12+ weeks to the goal distance. The final week of training should be about decreasing mileage to save up for your event. After the race, be sure to include time off for recovery. Cardiovascular fitness is
maintained for 2 weeks, so your joints will thank you, and your heart will still be happy.