Run a half marathon in 12 weeks: The ultimate beginner half marathon training plan

  • Post last modified:October 22, 2021
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The half marathon has seen a boom in popularity over the last decade, with more runners than ever taking part in the event. Over 10 million people in the UK regularly take part in recreational running and running events, and with events like the Great North Run and the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London, there’s no wonder the half marathon’s popularity continues to grow.

In this blog, I’d like to share my tips and training plan in order to run a half marathon in 12 weeks. But before you scroll down to view the plan, there are some prerequisites before you start this training plan. Read through the below bullet points to understand if this plan is right for you:

  • You have a good base level of fitness and you’re comfortable with running a minimum of three 3-4 mile runs each week. If this seems difficult right now, then try a 14-16 week plan instead.
  • You’ve never run a half marathon before and you’d like to start training for your first half marathon. 
  • You have time in your week to do the weekly runs. Training for a half marathon can be gruelling, but with consistency each week 

If you answered ‘no’ to any of the points above, then this training plan may not be quite right for at the moment. Check out my other training plans to find the right one for you.

Read on to learn more about my beginner half marathon training that will enable you to run a half marathon in 12 weeks.

Related: First half marathon tips: 10 things I wish I’d known before running my first half marathon

run a half marathon in 12 weeks training plan

Beginner half marathon training plan: Run a half marathon in 12 weeks

About the plan

As the plan title suggests, the plan is split into 12 weeks. There are longer half marathon training plans out there that span across 14 or 16 weeks, however I believe it is possible to run a half marathon in 12 weeks and it is an adequate amount of time to train for a half marathon if you meet the prerequisites listed in the previous section.

Each week is broken down to show you exactly what you need to do on each day of the week. Of course, there is flexibility within each week should you want to do your long run, for example, on a Saturday instead of a Sunday. The key thing is that you are able to do all the runs each week.

Related: 5 rules for half marathon training

Here are definitions for each activity included in the plan:

  • Easy run. The plan includes easy runs which are runs where you run at a comfortable pace. The general rule of thumb that I like to apply here is that you should be able to hold a conversation while you run without getting out of breath. They start at 2 to 3 miles in week 1 to 5 miles in week 11. 
  • Long run. The long run is the mainstay of any half marathon training plan and it is a key success criteria to enable you to run a half marathon in 12 weeks. It might sound obvious, but the long run is there to build your running stamina and endurance as you progress from 3 miles in week 1 to 13.1 miles eventually in week 12 on race day. It’s important you do these each week as prescribed in terms of mileage. As with the easy runs, don’t worry too much about your pace – run at a pace where you are able to hold a conversation without getting out of breath. 
  • Cross training. Cross training can take the form of walking, swimming, cycling or any other activity where you are using your aerobic fitness. Cross training is important in this plan because it can be done on recovery day (Saturday), whilst improving your overall athletic performance before your long run. 
  • Strength training. This plan also includes strength training, which I highly recommend you do in order to successfully run a half marathon in 12 weeks. Strength training should be done mid-week (Wednesday) in place of a run or after the run if you feel comfortable.
  • Rest day. It’s important to rest during your plan, and as such, I have included rest days before and after the long run. Don’t be tempted to run on your rest days, they are there for a reason to help your body recover in between runs. 
  • 5k or 10k race. I’ve included a 5k race at the end of week 6 and a 10k race at the end of week 9. Although it’s not compulsory to run a race at the end of these weeks, I highly recommend you do as it’s a good way to test the waters in terms of your progress in the plan and get you in a racing mindset. For the 5k race, my advice is to sign up to your free, local Parkrun. For the 10k race, sign up to a local race or, adjust the 

Related: How to run a half marathon in 2 hours or less

run a half marathon in 12 weeks training plan

Week by week plan

Week 1

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 2 mile easy run and/or strength training
  • Thursday – 3 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – Cross training (30 mins)
  • Sunday – 4 mile long run

Week 2

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 2 mile easy run and/or strength training
  • Thursday – 3 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – Cross training (30 mins)
  • Sunday – 4 mile long run

Week 3

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3.5 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 2 mile easy run and/or strength training
  • Thursday – 3.5 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – Cross training (40 mins)
  • Sunday – 5 mile long run

Week 4

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 3.5 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 2 mile easy run and/or strength training
  • Thursday – 3.5 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – Cross training (40 mins)
  • Sunday – 5 mile long run

Week 5

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 4 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 2 mile easy run and/or strength training
  • Thursday – 4 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – Cross training (40 mins)
  • Sunday – 6 mile long run

Week 6

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 4 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 2 mile easy run and/or strength training
  • Thursday – 4 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day or 2 mile easy run
  • Saturday – Rest day
  • Sunday – 5k race!
run a half marathon in 12 weeks training plan

Week 7

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 4.5 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 3 mile easy run and/or strength training
  • Thursday – 4.5 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – Cross training (50 mins)
  • Sunday – 7 mile long run

Week 8

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 4.5 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 3 mile easy run and/or strength training
  • Thursday – 4.5 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day
  • Saturday – Cross training (50 mins)
  • Sunday – 8 mile long run

Week 9

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 5 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 3 mile easy run and/or strength training
  • Thursday – 5 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day or 3 mile easy run
  • Saturday – Rest day 
  • Sunday – 10k race!

Week 10

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 5 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 3 mile easy run and/or strength training
  • Thursday – 5 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day 
  • Saturday – Cross training (60 mins)
  • Sunday – 9 mile long run
run a half marathon in 12 weeks training plan

Week 11

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 5 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 3 mile easy run and/or strength training
  • Thursday – 5 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day 
  • Saturday – Cross training (60 mins)
  • Sunday – 10 mile long run

Week 12

  • Monday – Rest day
  • Tuesday – 4 mile easy run
  • Wednesday – 3 mile easy run
  • Thursday – 2 mile easy run
  • Friday – Rest day 
  • Saturday – Rest day
  • Sunday – Race day!

Related: 8 ways to run for longer without getting so tired

Below you will find my beginner half marathon training plan in a handy table should you want to save this locally and refer to during your training.

run a half marathon in 12 weeks training plan

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Caroline Geoghegan

Caroline Geoghegan (aka Run With Caroline) helps people become faster and stronger runners. She started her blog in 2018 to share her passion for running. Caroline is a UK Athletics qualified Run Leader and Run Coach and NASM qualified Personal Trainer.

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