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Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon Training Plan

Training Plans
(Image credit: Unknown )

Photograph: Great Bristol Half Marathon (opens in new tab)

Target time: Sub-2hr

Race pace: 9min 10sec/mile

This plan is for you if: You’ve done a couple of 10Ks – maybe a half marathon – and are looking to break the two-hour barrier.

If you’re dreaming of smashing the sub-2hr barrier, this 16-week training plan will put you in the best possible position to do that, whether this is your first half marathon or your fifth. It builds up gradually so your body has all the time it needs to adjust to the new demands you’re placing on it, reducing the risk of injury.

The plan has been put together by running coach James Poole. You will quickly notice that it involves running four or five times a week, which might seem like a lot. However, most of the runs are easy and/or relatively short, and getting into the habit of running most days will not only help you build the fitness for your half marathon but also create a running routine that will serve you well in the future.

That said, if you do feel like you’re struggling to hit every run on the plan, you can always add in an extra rest day in place of one of the easy runs, or opt for a cross-training session from time to time, hitting the pool or going for a bike ride.

How The Plan Works

The plan follows four key phases. Within each phase there are three weeks of progression and one easier week to give your body chance to recover. The four phases are:

  1. Base phase: This is the most important stage of your training as you’ll build an aerobic base and get into the habit of running regularly.
  2. Build phase 1: In this stage you’ll work on endurance and start to increase the distance of your longer runs.
  3. Build phase 2: Now you’ve got a solid base and can cover longer distances, it’s time to up the intensity with quicker runs to build aerobic endurance and speed.
  4. Hone and taper: You’re on the home stretch and you’ll start to decrease distance and dial down the intensity so your legs are fresh for race day.

There are four different types of run – easy, steady, tempo and long – plus rest days. Each run has a specific purpose and should be completed at a different pace, detailed below. Make sure you warm up before and warm down after each run.

  1. Easy run – 10min/mile: Designed to give you a good aerobic engine, these should be easy and enjoyable. You should be able to hold a conversation on an easy run, so they’re a good one to do with friends.
  2. Steady run – 9min/mile: Harder than easy runs, steady runs should be similar to your half marathon pace. Steady runs leave you more fatigued than easy runs so they feature less in your training.
  3. Tempo run – 8min 30sec/mile: These improve your aerobic endurance and speed, and should be run at a challenging pace – if you can hold a conversation then you’re going too slow. If you find you’re struggling to complete tempo runs at first, try alternating between five minutes at tempo pace and five minutes at easy pace.
  4. Long run – 10min/mile: Long runs should be slower than race pace to minimise wear and tear on your body. These runs are a great opportunity to test your nutrition and clothing to make sure everything works on race day.
  5. Rest: The best day of the week, rest is vital to give your body time to recover. Rest days on this plan are scheduled for Mondays, to give you a break after Sunday’s long run.

Sub 2 Hours Half Marathon Training Plan

Base Phase

Week 1: 18.5 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles easy
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday3 miles easy
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday5 miles long

Week 2: 18.5 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles easy
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday3 miles easy
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday5 miles long

Week 3: 21 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles easy
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday4.5 miles easy
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday6 miles long

Week 4: 20 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles easy
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday4.5 miles easy
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday5 miles long

Build Phase 1

Week 5: 21 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles steady
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday4.5 miles steady
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday6 miles long

Week 6: 23 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles steady
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday4.5 miles steady
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday8 miles long

Week 7: 25 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles steady
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday4.5 miles steady
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday10 miles long

Week 8: 21 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles steady
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday4.5 miles steady
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday6 miles long

Build Phase 2

Week 9: 23 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday4.5 miles steady
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday8 miles long

Week 10: 25 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday4.5 miles steady
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday10 miles long

Week 11: 27 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday4.5 miles steady
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday12 miles long

Week 12: 23 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday4.5 miles steady
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday8 miles long

Hone and Taper

Week 13: 25 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday4.5 miles tempo
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday10 miles long

Week 14: 23 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday4.5 miles tempo
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday8 miles long

Week 15: 19.5 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday4.5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy or cross training
Thursday3 miles steady
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday6 miles long

Week 16: 6 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday3 miles steady
WednesdayRest
Thursday3 miles steady
FridayRest
SaturdayRest
SundayRace
Charlotte Thomas
Charlotte Thomas

Charlotte Thomas is a freelance journalist and health and fitness blogger at Lunges & Lycra (opens in new tab).