Half Marathon Running Tips for Smart Runners

Here is my half marathon running tips for people who don’t have a lot of time to train.  The commitment on your end is only four runs a week for a 10 week period- two longer runs and two shorter ones, anything else is a bonus. 

It’s mid-March and I have signed up for a half marathon at the end of May.  I have been trying to train since December but between travelling and a few nasty colds all I have to show for it is a handful of false starts.  The panic is setting in since I now have less than 10 weeks, not a lot of time to train AND I’m currently only running a strong 5 km (3.1 miles).  Now what??? 

It is winter here in Canada so running outside is not an option for me (hats off to those who train outside all year round).  My training is done is a gym using a basic treadmill.  Canada (and most of the world) uses the metric system (km) but my treadmill only counts in miles so I’m training in miles this time around.  However, I will refer to both in this post.

To avoid any confusion a half marathon is 13.1 miles or 21.1 km.

My Half Marathon Running Tips

1.   Focus On Distance over Speed.

After consulting a few “experts” on half marathon running tips (another distance runner and information on the web) the consensus is focus on distance first.  A few years ago when I trained for my first half marathon I was running every day slooooooowly building my distance up.  Now I’m on a time constraint and I want fast results.  So I slowed down my pace slightly in lien of increasing mileage.  I set a goal each week to add another mile (or 1.6 km).  The trick here is to honour this goal even if it means you’re alternating between running and walking.

Image courtesy of news.health.com

2.    Focus on Quality over Quantity Runs to Improve Runs.

My previous way of thing was the more runs I did to prepare the better off I was.  WRONG!  Listen to your body by knowing when to take a day off makes you a better runner.  Now I never run more than three days in a row.  I learned the hard way that it’s important to give your body a day (or two) to rest and rebuild tired muscles.  A day off not only improves my performance once I run again but it also prevents injury.  I speak for experience – most injuries happen within weeks before a race.  I cannot think of anything more discouraging.

3.    Interval Training is a Smart Runner’s Best Friend.

In the past I never did interval training because I didn’t realize how powerful it is despite what the experts where saying.  I’m a bit stubborn.  This time around I turned to interval training because running on a treadmill can be boring, especially when you’re training for a half marathon.  My rule of thumb is the quicker I’m out of the gym the better.  And guess what?  Thanks to my new found love for interval training my mileage has improved a lot quicker in my long runs vs. if I trained the long way- a lot of long boring long runs.

Interval training improves cardiovascular fitness which will improve both your speed and distance quickly.  Training this way boosts your metabolism and keeps on burning calories even after a workout.  A little extra motivation for those who started running to lose weight.


Half Marathon Running Tips for Interval Training – Two Different Sessions to Alternate Between

  • Interval Training Session 1:  30 minute session with no incline for someone who is already running at 5.3 miles (8.5 km) per hour.    Start by walking at a brisk pace of 4 miles (6.4 km) or greater for the first minute.  Bring the pace up to 6.5 miles (10.5 km) for the second minute.  Third minute resume same walking pace of 4 miles (6.4 km) or greater.  Keep alternating between the two for 30 minutes.  If you find the speed too slow (or fast) adjust accordingly.
  • Interval Training Session 2:  40 minute session for someone who is already running at 5.3 miles (8.5 km) per hour.  Warm up for about three minutes at a brisk pace of 4 miles (6.4 km) or greater per hour.  At the four minute mark increase the speed to 5.8 miles (9.3 km) per hour and run for 5 minutes.  At the eight minute mark resume back to walking at a brisk pace but this time increase the incline to 5 (or an incline that challenges you) and walk for five minutes.  At the 13 minute mark go back to 5.8 miles (9.3 km) per hour run and lower the incline.  Alternate between sets until the 38 minute mark and use a 2 minute cool down (minimum).  I personally found the sets with the walking incline more of challenging.  If you find the speed too slow (or fast) adjust accordingly.


Half Marathon Running Tips to Stay Motivated

Going from running 3.1 miles (5 km) to running a half marathon can be discouraging.  If you think about it you’re taking the distance you’re running now and running it THREE MORE TIMES.  It’s quite an achievement.

Don’t be discouraged.  When you first start you might find yourself out of breath easily.  Don’t give up. Know that with each additional run you’re increase you’re endurance.  Your body is working on getting stronger so your body may start to ache. 

When I started training I found my appetite really increased a lot. I literally could eat the fridge afterwards.  It was really important to keep healthier food choices around.  Take it one step further by fueling your body with non-processed foods will give you better results.  After my first few distant runs I was so tired I went to bed early that night and had an awesome sleep.  As your body becomes use to the mileage it will adjust.


It’s easy to follow these half marathon running tips by creating the habit of going to the gym a few times a week to train and the results will start to show.

Want more inspiration for half marathon running tips?  Click here.