How to train for your first half marathon like a boss

How to train for your first half marathon like a boss

Science alert: Running is better than everything else at making you live longer.

Ok, that's honestly mostly true. The real truth is, according to the latest research from ScienceDirect, running is a key lifestyle medicine for longevity. When it comes to running, a little bit can go a long way, and our full half-marathon guide is going to help you get there.

Running a half marathon is a great way to challenge yourself, whether you're a seasoned runner or just getting started. You might be wondering, how do I train for a half marathon? And with so many different training plans, it can be tough to know which is right for you. You don't have to Eliud Kipchoge to make it to the finish line like a boss - just follow these simple tips.

For starters, dress like you've been here before

Your apparel should reflect the conditions you'll be running in. Nothing says novice like a pair of jeans. Be sure to gear up with all the essentials you'll need to feel confident on your runs. For girls, a good sports bra and shorts are a must; for guys, a breathable shirt or tank top won't become waterlogged with all the sweat you’ll be losing. Running shoes should be comfortable and fit well, with extra space at the end of your big toe and room for your feet to swell.

Take it at an easy run pace.

If you're new to running, or coming back from a hiatus, start with a beginner-friendly training plan that gradually increases your mileage and builds up your endurance. You'll begin with an "easy run pace," because it promotes positive physiological benefits that gradually build a solid base to work toward higher-intensity training. Remember, easy running is comfortable and conversational and can vary daily depending on how you feel and how much time you have to devote to training. You'll spend most of your training time at this pace to prevent burnout or injury. You should never feel like you’re "pushing" to hit a certain pace or time on easy runs.


Man runs at a tempo pace as he trains for his first half marathon

Up your run to a temp run

Once you've gotten used to easy running regular distances, you can start adding speed work and hill repeats to your workouts to make them more challenging. It's time to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Tempo runs achieve an effort level where your body can clear as much lactate as it produces. Clearing lactate allows you to go faster over longer distances. The general rule of thumb during a tempo run suggests that if you're still holding a conversation while running, you're not pushing hard enough.

Interval pace

Interval pace training requires a few reps (short runs) you can maintain for 10 – 15 minutes at maximum effort. These short runs should come with relatively long rest periods in between. Training this way is great for building speed and endurance simultaneously.

Anaerobic pace

Anaerobic is the fastest pace you can maintain for a short period, about 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Running at this pace will help your body build up a tolerance to running fast and will make interval training easier.


Woman performs long stride sprints as she trains for her first half marathon

Long stride sprints

Strides are short, controlled sprints of 100 – 200 yards. It should take 15 – 25 seconds to run each rep, and they're done in sets of 4 – 10 reps, starting from your interval pace and working up to a sprint. Strides should be done at the end of your workout when your muscles are loose to prevent injury that might occur at the beginning of your training before you've had a chance to warm up.


Rocky Balboa sprints up stairs and shadow boxes in front of crowd

Sprinting up hills or stairs

Hill work is pretty straightforward and low impact, so it's ideal for building power or for days when you might have a small amount of joint pain. If you don't have a hill nearby, you can find a local gymnasium or high school football field and use the stairs. Remember, longer hill reps can be great to help build strength capacity, but shorter agents will develop speed and power. Hills also burn and make you feel like Rocky Balboa, so they're a must whenever you can work them into your routine.

Long distance run

The long run is the bread and butter of any half marathon training plan. Build up your mileage gradually to avoid injury, and focus on running at a conversational pace. Long runs will help your body improve endurance, aerobic capacity, and cardiovascular performance. The extra time on your feet strengthens your musculoskeletal system and enables you to work through muscular fatigue in other workouts.


Woman stretches as part of her warm-up routine when training for her first half marathon

Practice your warm-up routine to prevent injury

Warming up before a run is a great way to gradually increase your heart rate and blood flow to your muscles. It can help prevent injuries, improve performance, and make running itself feel easier. A good warm-up routine should last at least 10 minutes and include light aerobic activity, dynamic stretching, and low-intensity hip and knee movements.

Find a good cool-down routine to help prevent muscle and joint pain.

Your body naturally accumulates lactate in the legs during your training routine. When it's time to cool down, your muscles need to remove this lactate gradually so it doesn't build up and cause cramping or other problems. A cool-down routine should last at least 10 minutes and include light aerobic activity, static stretching, and low-intensity hip and knee movements. Yoga is a surprisingly great cool-down if you haven't tried it because it checks all the boxes. Runners usually have tight hips, calves, and knees, so yoga is a great way to increase mobility and add core strength.


The Neue Supply Co. half marathon training guide was developed for serious to casual runners. It covers several things to consider when choosing your half marathon training plan. If you're just starting, you must ease into something and not bite off more than you can chew. Running is a great way to get in shape, but it's also important to cross-train and work on your overall fitness. And finally, don't forget the importance of a good cool-down routine. Consider your current fitness level, what you're realistically able to commit to, and what will best help you reach your goals. And always remember to listen to your body! If something feels off, give yourself a rest or cut back on mileage. Running should be enjoyable, so ensure you're not putting too much pressure on yourself.

With all that in mind, look for our full marathon training guide soon.

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