Building the Half-Marathon Training Plan

Back when I signed up for the Chilly Half Marathon, the only goal I gave myself was to make sure my running mileage was on the rise.  Let’s see how I did…


Not great, but I seem to be OK with 15km a week, which has been the starting point for a lot of half-marathon plans I can remember seeing in the past.  Though I couldn’t think of any specifically, and I wanted lots of room for strength training or other triathlon cross-training, I started with one I came across from Mary-Liz Johnson of Oh To Have The World On A String seen below:






Her Wednesdays have a mile of Warm-Up and Cool Down (WU & CD) along with a tempo run.  Also, 2 days a week of strength training.  Nice, but it’s in miles!  Metric system please!

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Total
1.5KM WU & CD
4.8 6.4 X 6.4 X OFF 6.4 24
4.8 6.4 X 6.4 X OFF 8 25.6
5.6 6.4 X 8 X OFF 9.6 29.6
5.6 7.2 X 1.6 X OFF 11.2 28.6
5.6 7.2 X 2.4 X OFF 12.8 31
6.4 7.2 X 3.2 X OFF 14.4 34.2
6.4 7.2 X 4 X OFF 16 36.6
6.4 7.2 X 4.8 X OFF 12.8 34.2
5.6 8 X 4.8 X OFF 16 37.4
5.6 8 X 6.4 X OFF 19.2 42.2
5.6 8 X 3.2 X OFF 8 27.8
4.8 2.4 X REST 30MIN 20MIN Rest 7.2


Ah, that’s better.  I’ve replaced “Strength” with ‘X’ for cross-training.  Here, X can be:

  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Rowga
  • Strength Circuit (especially the Matrix!)
  • Bootcamps/Exercise Classes


You’ll notice that Tuesdays are primed to be Trifecta Tuesdays with cross-training.  The plan is starting to take shape.  When I attended the TRX class with Ignition Fitness, Tommy Ferris advised me that the best thing I could do to improve running (with a view towards increasing mileage to the half-marathon level) given a family man’s limited schedule would be to have easy runs every, single, day.  Which was pretty much the opposite of what I wanted, but still, the idea stuck in my head.  What I would like to try to do is add 10-20 minutes on the treadmill after every cross-training/strength session I do at the gym.  This will mean having to be efficient in my strength sessions (which I’m all about anyway) and this kind of ‘brick’ structure to the workout comes naturally for a triathlete anyway.

Still, the program isn’t right yet.  Taking Fridays off doesn’t make a lot of sense, and weekends with the kids sometimes interferes with long runs.  Then I read Fitness Cheerleader’s training plan and she points out there’s only 10 weeks left, not 12!  After shuffling and croppiing out the first weeks:


Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Total
1.5KM WU & CD
12/30/2012 11.2 5.6 X 7.2 X 1.6 OFF 28.6
1/6/2013 12.8 5.6 X 7.2 X 2.4 OFF 31
1/13/2013 14.4 6.4 X 7.2 X 3.2 OFF 34.2
1/20/2013 16 6.4 X 7.2 X 4 OFF 36.6
1/27/2013 12.8 6.4 X 7.2 X 4.8 OFF 34.2
2/3/2013 16 5.6 X 8 X 4.8 OFF 37.4
2/10/2013 19.2 5.6 X 8 X 6.4 OFF 42.2
2/17/2013 8 5.6 X 8 X 3.2 OFF 27.8
2/24/2013 REST 4.8 X 2.4 X REST OFF 7.2
3/3/2013 RACE




Uh-oh.  I should be getting in almost double the mileage I currently am (I wish ‘kilometrage’ was a word) doing weekly  While these workouts don’t have much in the way of designated structure (speed work, hills) that’s OK  because those objectives can be tough to achieve in snow and ice anyway.  Knowing me I’ll incorporate small amounts to keep myself entertained whether it’s Fartlek (speed play) during the weekday runs or taking on an extra hill here or there.

Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point advocates a flexible training plan.  I’ll need elements of this, because the demands of the kids and work (never mind my own health being under threat of cold and flu season) will cancel some workouts.  Shifting them around from one day to the other will help, and any extra distance I rack up on the treadmill on ‘X’ days needs to count.

I want to finish in two hours (2:00:00) so according to this handy pace calculator, these should be my paces:


Your easy run training pace is: 6:35/km
Your tempo run training pace is: 5:30/km
Your VO2-max training pace is: 4:58/km
Your speed form training pace is: 4:36/km
Your long run training pace is: 6:35/km – 7:25/km
Your Yasso 800s training pace is: 4:06 / 800m


The easy and long run paces are the only ones of real interest.  Wednesdays I can either use the ‘Tempo’ run pace or my actual planned race pace which would be more like 5:42/km; it’ll have to depend how I feel.  If we get any cross-country skiing done on weekends, I’ll have to count that as an ‘X’, get some kilometers in on a Tuesday or Thursday instead (see? Flexibility) and then hope for the best come race day.

Whew! Figuring that all out before the new year felt like more work than actually running the plan!  Maybe not…

Do you like using a plan that someone else has figured out for you, or customizing? Or are plans for chumps?

2 Replies to “Building the Half-Marathon Training Plan”

  1. Consistency can be a problem when you get sick, or when the workout you were really counting on gets missed for unavoidable reasons. When I did the marathon, I got all my long runs in, which ensured I finished, but man was I ever slow (and hurting by the finish line). The short runs throughout the week count just as much… regularity and consistency, like you say.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *