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Training for a half marathon? Here are 15 tips to make training easier


Training for a half marathon as a beginner is an empowering and rewarding journey.

It’s also an exciting challenge and with the right training and mindset, you can conquer this milestone!

In this guide I’ll share 15 tips you need to know for half marathon training.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your goals.

Half marathon training is very much about embracing the process. There will be ups and downs but it’s important you stay committed.

Every step forward (no matter how big) is a step closer to your half marathon finish line.


Let’s get started!

training for a half marathon

Training for a half marathon: 15 game-changing tips

#1 Set a goal

Start your half marathon journey by setting clear and achievable goals.

This means confirming a target finish time.

A target finish time will help you determine the amount of work you need to put in in the lead up to race day.

When setting a goal, it’s important you set a S.M.A.R.T goal.

S.M.A.R.T means: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound.

So instead of setting yourself a vague goal in the hope of achieving it, set yourself a goal like this:

I want to train to run a half marathon in 2 hours or less by July 2024.

Let the target time serve as motivation throughout your training.

If you’re unsure what your half marathon time should be, check out my guide on half marathon times.

Related: 3 easy ways to boost your running form and technique

#2 Find a reliable training plan

To succeed, you need to find a structured half marathon training plan that suits your needs and goals.

This means finding a plan that is suitable for your running experience, fitness levels and lifestyle.

Half marathon training plans typically last between 12 to 16 weeks and have you running at least 3 to 4 times a week.

Training for a half marathon is a huge time commitment.

Ask yourself:

Do you have enough time in your week to dedicate to training?

If you can only dedicate 1 or 2 days a week to training, then you may need to find a longer training plan.

If you want to learn how to build your own training plan, read my step by step guide on how to create the perfect training plan.

Related: First half marathon tips: 11 things I wish I’d known before running my first half marathon

training for a half marathon

#3 Progress gradually

Progression means increasing your mileage and intensity gradually.

If you progress too quickly or take sudden jumps in your training, you risk burnout, injury and overtraining.

A gradual progression allows your body to adapt and reduce the risk of injuries.

Related: 3 quick and easy habits for injury free running

#4 Invest in proper footwear

Head to a specialised running store for a professional fitting of running shoes.

Quality footwear is crucial to prevent discomfort and potential injuries.

A good pair of running shoes will provide the necessary comfort, stability and support on your runs.

Related: How to find the right running shoes: A complete guide

#6 Nutrition matters

Maintain a balanced diet to fuel your body.

This means eating a variety of foods that provides all the necessary nutrients, including carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle repair and healthy fats.

Food is fuel.

Carb loading is important ahead of race day to ensure your body has enough energy on race day.

Related: The best protein food for runners

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#6 Stay hydrated

Proper hydration is essential.

Drink water regularly and listen to your body’s cues to stay adequately hydrated during your training.

How much you need to drink will depend on factors like the weather, your metabolism and the amount of fluid you lose through sweat.

According to research, training in the heat, for example, can increase sweat rate by 10 to 20 per cent or 200 to 300 ml per hour.

Typically, it is advised you should be drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day whether you are training or not.

A simple way to check if you’re dehydrated is to check the colour of your urine.

If you urine is a dark yellow colour, this means you’re not drinking enough water.

Related: Hydration and running performance: 4 key hydration tips for runners

#7 Rest and recovery

Rest is when your body heals and gets stronger.

Plan rest days into your training schedule to avoid burnout and overuse injuries.

Your training plan will tell you when you need to have a rest day.

These are normally scheduled on a Monday (after your long run at the weekend) and mid-week.

Related: How to recover after a bad run: 8 ways to bounce back

#8 Incorporate strength training

Integrate strength training exercises into your routine.

Strength training is a crucial part of a well-rounded training plan.

It offers several key benefits compared with running alone.

While running is great for improving your cardiovascular fitness and endurance, strength training has the potential to significantly improve your athletic performance and overall health as a runner.

Strength training helps to prevent common running injuries, improves running efficiency, increases speed and power and enhances endurance.

Related: The ultimate 14 day strength training plan for runners

training for a half marathon

#9 Perfect your running form

Proper running form is all about running in the most efficient way possible.

It’s essential for injury prevention and performance.

Here are some running form basics to help you maintain good form throughout your training.

  • Focus on posture, with a straight back and relaxed shoulders.
  • Maintain a slight forward lean from the ankles, not the waist.
  • Use a midfoot or forefoot strike, as opposed to heel striking, to reduce impact.
  • Ensure a high cadence (steps per minute) to promote quick, efficient turnover.
  • Keep your arms relaxed and swing them forward and backward, not across your body.

Related: 5 key principles of proper running form and technique (and why they matter)

#10 Cross training benefits

Incorporate cross training activities like swimming, cycling or yoga into your regimen.

These activities can diversify your workouts and strengthen different muscle groups.

Trying new activities can add variety to your fitness routine, making it more enjoyable and sustainable.

It can also help you stay motivated and committed to your training plan.

Related: Is yoga good for runners? 6 benefits of yoga for runners

#11 Race day preparation

Have a race day plan and checklist to avoid surprises or discomfort on the big day.

With the right preparation, you can achieve your dreams of completing a half marathon.

Make sure everything fits and functions properly.

Related: Half marathon training plan for beginners: Week by week plan + printable

training for a half marathon

#12 Train your mind

Mental strength is as crucial as physical fitness.

Develop strategies to stay motivated, focused and calm during tough training sessions and the race itself.

Visualise yourself successfully completing the half marathon.

Picture yourself running with good form, feeling strong and crossing the finish line of your goal race.

On race day, instead of focusing on the entire distance or time of your run, break it into smaller, manageable segments.

Concentrate on reaching the next landmark or time checkpoint!

During your training and on race day, here are some mental tips to get you started:

  • Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations.
  • Learn from challenges by embracing difficult runs as learning opportunities. Recognise that they can make you a stronger runner mentally and physically.
  • Understand that not every run will be perfect, and that’s okay. Adapt to the circumstances, and remember that it’s part of the journey.

Related: 6 mental tips for long runs

#13 Listen to your body

Your body will communicate its needs.

Pay attention to signs of injury or fatigue and don’t push yourself beyond your limits.

Pay attention to your breathing as well as your surroundings and your form.

Mindfulness can help you stay grounded and reduce anxiety.

Related: How to practice mindful running: 6 top tips

#14 Community and support

Join a local running group or seek out online communities.

Connecting with other runners can provide motivation, support, and a sense of belonging in the running community.

Running with a friend or joining a running group can also provide external motivation and accountability.

Encouragement and camaraderie can make runs more enjoyable!

Related: 10 running clubs changing the world one step at a time

#15 Celebrate milestones

Celebrate your achievements throughout your training journey, not just on race day.

Keep reminding yourself of the progress you have made.

Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements during your run, whether it’s conquering a challenging hill or finishing a tough interval.

Recognising your progress will keep you motivated and positive.

Related: What is a good half marathon time? Average half marathon times by age and gender

Caroline Geoghegan