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Time for a PR With Our Half Marathon Training Plan


Target Terms

Don’t be overly concerned about how fast you’re moving on easy days. You should feel fairly comfortable and be able to talk without getting too winded. This pace, or slower, is also used for any warm-up and cool-down.

F = Fartlek
Fartlek intervals improve your maximum oxygen consumption, economy and speed while building mental focus and strength. These strides will feel tough, like you are exerting about 85 to 95 percent effort, and breathing will be heavy. The challenge is to run all the intervals at a consistent pace. It’ll feel easier at first, so hold back early. The money is in the last couple. If your race is hilly, consider doing some of your fartlek sessions uphill. Start with a 1- to 2-mile warm-up before diving into your first interval. After each harder effort, jog and/or walk the minutes indicated for recovery. Finish the workout with another easy 1 or 2 miles to cool down and get in the total miles listed.

LR = Long Run
Long runs are run at a mostly comfortable and conversational pace. Bonus points if these are run on terrain similar to what is expected on race day.

Related: 2 Charity Half Marathon Plans

You can’t train hard unless you are rested. One day of rest per week at a minimum, more for beginners.

RP = Half-Marathon Race Pace
This is the minutes-per-mile pace you plan on running on race day. These miles train your body to run at your goal half-marathon pace. Start with a 1- to 2-mile warm-up before the race-pace portion. Cool down with a final 1 to 2 easy miles.

SF = Strong Finish
For the last 5 to 10 minutes of a LR, simply shift up slightly from your LR pace (about 20 to 30 seconds per mile faster). These finishes teach your body that it can push when tired.

Related: 5K to Marathon Training Plans

Tempo runs are often described as “comfortably hard.” Breathing will be labored and conversation is difficult. Consciously try to stay relaxed while running reasonably fast. Start with a 1- to 2-mile warm-up and then ease into the tempo portion. Typically the last half of the tempo effort is when you start really “feeling” it. Aim for a consistent pace. Cool down with a final 1 to 2 easy miles.

XT = Cross-training
Activities beyond running build your fitness while avoiding burnout. Good options include swimming, cycling, strength training and yoga. Keep the effort at a moderate level to avoid being overly sore for the next day’s run. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes.

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