How To Go From Zero To Half Marathon

Yes, you can run a half marathon for your first race!

There are no rules to say you must complete a 5K or a 10K before doing a half marathon. We welcome beginners and first timers to the Windsor Half Marathon in September. So if you want to join us – but it will be your first race – no problem!

Here’s how to go from zero to half marathon finisher in 6 months. Which gives you plenty of time to prepare for the 2019 Windsor Half Marathon.

Your First 3 Months Of Training

As an inexperienced distance runner, you need to put in the basework to (literally) “get you up to speed”. This isn’t a criticism of your fitness. It’s just a sensible acknowledgment that you are about to enter new realms of endurance. So spend some time working on that aspect of your fitness.

 

This aerobic focus should last 12 weeks. If you have longer, then spend longer on it. You can’t do too much base training. The only risk to extending it past 12 weeks is getting bored. There is no physical or physiological reason to fear taking it past the 12 week period, if you have the time.

 

At this stage, you’re not thinking abut the half marathon. This is not about race training, it is about getting a solid cardiovascular base in place, building your confidence, and getting you fit before you push on.

Here’s how this aerobic period of base training could look

Weeks 1-6

Day 1 Rest or cross train

Day 2 Easy 20-30 minute run

Day 3 Easy 20 minute run + 20 minutes extra cardio (easy cross training like cycling or fast walking)

Day 4 Rest

Day 5 Easy 20-30 minute run

Day 6 45 minutes cross training

Day 7 45-50 minute easy run + 20 minutes walk after the run

 

Weeks 7-12

Day 1 Rest or cross train

Day 2 30 minute run with 8 x 100m strides towards the end

Day 3 Warm up for 15 minutes (easy running), then do 6 x 2 minute bursts of moderate speed with 2 minutes easy running between

Day 4 Rest

Day 5 45 minute run with 8 x 100m strides towards the end

Day 6 60 minutes cross training

Day 7 60-75 minute easy run (building up the time from week 7-12) with 1 minute bursts of moderate speed every 5 minutes for the middle 45 minutes.

 

See how this is all about time on your feet, basic fitness, and cardiovascular work? It’s not about speedwork, sprints, or any kind of high intensity training. This base period will get your heart fit, your muscles strong, and will burn calories so you are in good shape to train for a half marathon.

 

What’s Next?

After your first 3-4 months of this kind of base fitness training, you can shift into an adaptive phase where you start to prepare for the half marathon. This will last 4-6 weeks. Your Sunday long run will increase slightly, with some longer bursts of higher speed. From here, you can start your half marathon training programme. You will feel fit, light, and sound – ready to tackle your half marathon plan like a seasoned runner!