Your Windsor Half Marathon Training Plan

by | Apr 13, 2023 | Technical Articles

Joining us at the Windsor Half Marathon? Training starts here

Exciting times, you’ve signed up to the Windsor Half Marathon on Sunday September 24th. Now the training begins.

Confused about how to train for your first half marathon? Want to be sure you cover all the key sessions of a half marathon training plan.

Here’s our overview of how to set up a half marathon training plan that will get you to the finish line with a smile!

Half marathon training – the key sessions

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to half marathon training, but there are some crucial sessions that everyone – from first timer to elite – should tick off every week.

The long run

Your weekly long runs will build the foundation of your half marathon training plan. With 13.1 miles to cover on the day, you need to get your legs, lungs, and mind accustomed to running long distances.

Of course, you won’t start out with lengthy long runs. What constitutes “long” will change as your programme progresses.

Endurance is the limiting factor for most runners, and your long runs will build fitness, muscular endurance, and mental strength.

How to: start small (3-4 miles) and add 1 mile to your long run every week. Have a recovery week every 4-6 weeks (taking your long run distance to about 75%). Run at least 11 miles in training.

Bonus tip: the more preparation time you have, the more time you can dedicate to carefully building up your mileage through long runs.

The tempo run

Tempo runs are mid-distance runs held at your 10K pace. Why is that useful for a half marathon? Simple. Tempo runs build a different kind of endurance, enabling your body to withstand the build-up of lactate so you can keep going for longer without slowing down.

How to: run 1-3 easy miles to warm up, then run for 15-30 minutes (depending on where you are in your training plan) at 10K pace. Or do tempo intervals of 2-5 minutes at tempo pace with 1-2 minutes recovery job between.

Bonus tip: if you prefer heart rate training, aim to sustain 85%-90% max heart rate during tempo runs.

Easy runs

Your half marathon training plan should include easy runs or recovery runs. These serve several purposes, allowing your body to recover from the harder tempo and long runs, and getting extra miles in your legs.

Don’t forget, running should be a pleasure! Half marathon training shouldn’t mean you stop enjoying your hobby. Use your easy runs to explore new routes, see your favourite views, or run with a friend.

How to: run 3-8 miles at an easy pace at least once a week for easy runs that increase your total half marathon training mileage.

Bonus tip: don’t let your easy runs become junk mileage. Keep an eye on pace, and track all your regular variables.

When to increase mileage

Exactly how should you increase the distance of your weekly long runs and total weekly mileage?

This will depend on a few factors:
– your experience level
– how many weeks your plan covers
– how often you can run each week

For the purposes of this article, let’s assume you’re a beginner or intermediate half marathon runner and you’ll be training 4-5 times per week for 16 weeks.

Week 1 – long run of 5 miles, total mileage of 10 miles
Increase long run by 1 mile and total by 10% each week

Week 4 – long run of 9 miles, total mileage of 15 miles
Increase long run by 1 mile and total by 10% each week

Week 6 – take a deload week (long run of 8 miles, total mileage of 15 miles)
Return to increasing long run by 1 mile and total by 5%-10% each week

Week 10 – long run of 11 miles, total mileage of 30 miles

Week 12 – long run of 12 miles, total mileage of 34 miles

Week 14
Begin taper

What about a taper?

A taper refers to the 1-2 weeks before a long race, in which time you dial mileage back and reduce the intensity of key sessions.

You should drop your long runs to 8-10 miles, remove all interval training, and reduce the duration of tempo runs to 20 minutes.

The aim is to hold your fitness and endurance without pushing your body too far, so you arrive at the start line ready but rested.

See you at the Windsor Half Marathon in September!

If you haven’t signed up yet you can sign up today by clicking here