12-Week Half-Marathon Training Program

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By Takia McClendon

When Kiera asked me to create a half-marathon training plan, I was excited to create something to help her cross the finish line at the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November. If you've been following her on Instagram, you know that she's been spending a lot of time on her yoga mat and at the gym and less time putting in long distance mileage.

With her new routine in mind,  I wanted to create a program that allows her to do the workouts that she loves and still make time to get in her weekly mileage over the course of 12 weeks. 

If you're training for a half-marathon, feel free to follow along her schedule. Although this it's designed for someone who's run a half-marathon before, beginners can also follow along with a few modifications. 

If you're looking for a plan specific to YOUR needs, private training packages are available. Just send me an email at info@cityfitgirls.com. 


Terms You Should Know

Long Runs: Long runs are essential to any long distance training program. They increase your aerobic base and help make you a better runner. The long runs in this program are scheduled for Saturday but they can be run on Sunday if that works better for your schedule. 

Run Smart Project: Wondering what pace you should run? You're not the only one. The Jack Daniel's Calculator helps runners of all levels figure how fast or slow you should be running based on your goal race pace. 

Tempo/Threshold Runs: There's a lot of confusion about what a tempo run is. As much as I'd like to discuss lactate threshold with you, I'll save that for another blog and let you know that a tempo run should be "comfortably hard". For now, you can learn more about Tempo Runs via Strength Running

Easy Pace: Runs at your easy pace should be VERY, VERY easy. They are significantly slower than what you plan to run on race day. Even when you feel like you can go fast, go slow. Use the Jack Daniel's Calculator to find out what an easy pace is for you. 

Race Pace: This is simply defined as the pace at what you'd like to run on race day to hit your goal. 

Speed Workouts: If you are looking to beat your last half marathon time, I HIGHLY recommend doing the speed workouts. For each workout, be sure to start with a 10 minute EASY warm-up run and 8-10 minutes of a cool down/recovery jog. You can use the Jack Daniel's Calculator or this pace chart from the Believe Training Journal to find out how fast you should be going. 

Strength Training: This includes any workouts that strengthen the legs, hips, glutes, core, and other muscles that you'll need to run strong. I highly recommend adding some type of weighted movements if you have access to gym equipment. (barbells, free weights, kettle bells, medicine balls are all fair game)

Cross-Training: Cycling, weight-lifting, bootcamp, power yoga, swimming, Cross Fit, spin class, Pilates, Barre, Body Pump, etc. all count as cross-training. Try incorporating one of these workouts in your schedule at least once a week. 

Yoga: You're going to be putting in a lot of work and your body is going to need a LOT of recovery. Look for a Vinyasa Flow or other yoga styles that focus more on deep poses and stretches. If you can't do yoga, you can also search 'stretching for runner' videos on YouTube. 

Strava: Track your runs and progress using STRAVA. The app is free and can be downloaded on IOS and Android. Be sure to join the City Fit Girls community


Week 1: Build A Solid Foundation

Summary: This week is all about setting your intentions and creating healthy habits to build a solid running foundation. Next week, the workouts will get a little harder so enjoy week 1! 

  • Sunday: Yoga or Rest

  • Monday: 3-Mile Run @ Easy Pace

  • Tuesday: Strength Training 
  • Wednesday: 3 Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Thursday: Cross Training / Strength Training
  • Friday: Rest Day
  • Saturday: 4-Mile Run @ Easy Pace

Week 2: GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD

Summary: Last week was about setting up your routine, this week is about honing in on your training. On Tuesday, you'll do your first tempo run. Don't be intimidated - use this run to push yourself and I promise you'll feel great at the end. You may find yourself getting into your own head with negative thoughts but do your best to combat those thoughts with a good playlist or podcast. 

  • Sunday: Yoga or Rest
  • Monday: 3-Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Tuesday: Strength Train + 10-Minute Tempo Run
  • Wednesday: 3-5 Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Thursday: Cross Training / Strength Training
  • Friday: Rest Day
  • Saturday: 5-Mile Run @ Easy Pace

Week 3: Let's Talk About Fueling Your Long Runs

Summary: For this week's long run, you'll be running 6 miles. Now is a good time to discuss the importance of fueling for long distance. Although you can technically run 6 miles without energy gels, this is a good time to practice and make sure you have something that feels good on your stomach before you run even longer mileage. I recommend Gu or Huma but see what works best for you. In addition to using gels, find out what type of meal works best for you before and after your long run. 

  • Sunday: Yoga or Rest
  • Monday: 3-Mile Run @ Race Pace [Goal Pace] 
  • Tuesday: Strength Train + 20-Minute Tempo Run
  • Wednesday: 3-5 Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Thursday: Cross Training / Strength Training
  • Friday: Rest Day
  • Saturday: 6-Mile Run @ Easy Pace

Week 4: This Week Is All About Mental Toughness

Summary: The workouts and runs in this week's training is no joke but you can handle it. I recommend listening to Desi Linden's interview with Rich Roll or Andy Puddicombe's (from Headspace) interview on Nike's TRAINED podcast. Both discuss how athletes can overcome hard times or mental blocks and I think you'll really enjoy it. 

  • Sunday: Yoga or Rest 
  • Monday: 3.5 Miles @ Race Pace
  • Tuesday: Strength Training + Speed Workout: 6 x Hill Repeats
  • Wednesday: 3-5 Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Thursday: Cross Training / Strength Training
  • Friday: Rest 
  • Saturday: 7-Mile Run @ Easy Pace 

Week 5: Your First 'Recovery Week' 

Summary: Instead of increasing the distance of your long run, you'll give your body a 'recovery week' by decreasing the miles and allowing your body to rest. P.S. Feel free to throw some more yoga into the mix this week. 

  • Sunday: Yoga or Rest
  • Monday: 3-Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Tuesday: Strength Training + 20-Minute Tempo Run
  • Wednesday: 3-5 Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Thursday: Cross Training or Strength Training or Yoga
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 4-Mile Run @ Easy Pace

Week 6: Are You Up For A Challenge?

Summary: Since you're fresh off recovery, I hope you answered yes. For this week's long run, you'll run the first 6 miles at your easy pace and pick things up a little bit towards the end with your goal race pace.  Don't forget to log how you feel throughout the week in your journal. 

  • Sunday: Yoga or Rest 
  • Monday: 4-Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Tuesday: Strength Training + 20-Minute Tempo Run 
  • Wednesday: 3-5 Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Thursday: Cross Training / Strength Training
  • Friday: Rest 
  • Saturday: 8-Mile Run: Run first 5 miles at Easy Pace and last 3 miles at Race Pace.]

Week 7: Focus on Your Post-Run Routine

Summary: If you haven't done so already, this would be a great time to invest in a foam roller and other recovery tools like compression socks and stretch bands. Your body will need to recover in order to handle the running load that you're carrying from here on out. Also make sure you're getting enough sleep for proper revocery. 

  • Sunday: Yoga or Rest 
  • Monday: 4.5-Mile Run @ Race Pace
  • Tuesday: Strength Training + Speed Workout: 6 x 400m @ 5K Pace
  • Wednesday: 3-5 Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Thursday: Cross Training / Strength Training
  • Friday: Rest 
  • Saturday: 9-Mile Run @ Easy Pace

Week 8: Gear Check - How's Your Wardrobe Treating You? 

Summary: We're 8 weeks in and the seasons are changing. As temperatures cool down, be sure to wear moisture wicking fabrics that pull sweat away from you and keep your dry. I recommend investing in a good lightweight jacket or windbreaker to wear during your morning runs. 

  • Sunday: Yoga or Rest 
  • Monday: 5-Mile Run @ Race Pace
  • Tuesday: Strength Training + Speed Workout: 4 x 800m @ 10K Pace
  • Wednesday: 3-5 Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Thursday: Cross Training / Strength Training
  • Friday: Rest 
  • Saturday: 10-Mile Run: Run the first 6 miles at easy pace. Then run 3 x 1-Mile repeats @ Race Pace with 2-3 minute jogging breaks at Easy Pace in between each rep. Run remainder of the run at your Easy Pace. 

Week 9: 'Recovery Week' #2

Summary: Welcome to your second week of recovery. You're fresh off a 10-mile workout run and your body needs a chance to regroup and recharge. Just like your last recovery week, feel free to add more yoga. 

  • Sunday: Yoga or Rest 
  • Monday: 3.5 Miles @ Easy Pace
  • Tuesday: Strength Training + 20-Minute Tempo Run
  • Wednesday: 3-5 Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Thursday: Cross Training or Strength Training or Yoga
  • Friday: Rest 
  • Saturday: 6-Mile Run @ Easy Pace

Week 10: Walking Breaks Are Okay! 

Summary: If you have to stop to take a walking break during your 11 mile run this week, that's okay! In fact, I recommend taking a look at the course map and practice walking breaks around the time you'll be stopping for water. Although some people prefer to run through water stops, I'd rather you focus on getting hydrated and having enough time to fuel that trying to take a few seconds off your time. 

  • Sunday: Yoga or Rest 
  • Monday: 6-Mile Run @ Race Pace
  • Tuesday: Strength Training + Speed Workout: 6 x Hill Repeats
  • Wednesday: 3-5 Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Thursday: Cross Training / Strength Training
  • Friday: Rest 
  • Saturday: 11-Mile Run // Run 8 Miles @ Easy Pace and finish the last 3 miles at your Goal Race Pace. 

Week 11: Make A List And Check It Twice

Summary: This will be your last tough week of training. This is a perfect time to start planning for race day - how are you feeling? What do you plan to eat and wear? How are you getting to the start line? Whatever you do, don't wait until next week to figure this out. 

  • Sunday: Yoga or Rest 
  • Monday: 6-Mile Run @ Race Pace
  • Tuesday: Strength Training + Speed Workout: 6 x 400m @ 5K Pace
  • Wednesday: 3-5 mile run @ Easy Pace
  • Thursday: Cross Training / Strength Training
  • Friday: Rest 
  • Saturday: 12-Mile Run @ Easy Pace

Week 12: This Is What You Came For

Summary: This is it. All of your hard work comes down to this week. If you followed along the training plan, you're going to be in great shape and won't have any trouble conquering your race. On race day, don't be afraid to go for your goal. Focus on maintaining your pace and being consistent throughout the race. 

  • Sunday: Yoga or Rest 
  • Monday: 2-Mile Run @ Race Pace
  • Tuesday: Strength Training 
  • Wednesday: 3-Mile Run @ Easy Pace
  • Thursday: Cross Training
  • Friday: Rest [Optional 2-Mile Shake Out Run]
  • Saturday: Race Day - 13.1 Miles 

Takia McClendon is the co-founder of City Fit Girls. She's a Certified Level 1 USATF Coach. Follow her online at @takiamcclendon. 

If you're looking for a plan specific to YOUR needs, private training packages are available. Just send me an email at info@cityfitgirls.com.