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16-Week Intermediate Half Marathon Training Plan

Training Plans
(Image credit: Unknown )

Target time: Sub-1hr 45min

Race pace: 8min/mile

This plan is for you if: You run regularly, have completed half marathons before and want to improve your time.

See all half marathon training plans

Once you’ve got a couple of half marathons under your belt, your thoughts will naturally turn to breaking the next big time barrier, and for many people that involves going sub-1hr 45min. If that’s your goal, this 16-week plan will put you in the best possible shape to succeed.

It isn’t going to be easy though. The plan, which is designed by running coach and co-founder of Advent Running James Poole, involves running five or six times a week in order to hit the total mileage required to get your body primed for success on race day.

“Six runs a week makes running part of your routine,” says Poole, “and you’ll develop a solid endurance base, which is vital for a long-distance runner. Obviously there are times when life gets in the way and missing the odd run here and there can’t be helped, so don’t panic – it’s not going to have much effect on your training. And if you feel like you need an extra rest day, substitute it for one of the easy runs in your plan.”

That said, the best way to get better at running is simply to run more. “People often don’t do as well as they hoped to because they just don’t run enough in training,” Poole says. “If you want to add some cross-training there is the option to change one of your easy runs for a session such as swimming or cycling. For best results, though, I would advise running all the sessions.”

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 – 9min/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 – 8min/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 – 7min 40sec/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 – 9min/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.

Intermediate Half Marathon Training Plan

Base Phase

Week 1: 20 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles easy
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday3 miles easy
FridayRest
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday6 miles long

Week 2: 23 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles easy
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday3 miles easy
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday6 miles long

Week 3: 26 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles easy
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday4 miles easy
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday8 miles long

Week 4: 23 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles easy
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday3 miles easy
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday6 miles long

Build Phase 1

Week 5: 26 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles steady
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday4 miles steady
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday8 miles long

Week 6: 29 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles steady
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday5 miles steady
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday10 miles long

Week 7: 31 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles steady
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday5 miles steady
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday12 miles long

Week 8: 27 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles steady
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday5 miles steady
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday8 miles long

Build Phase 2

Week 9: 27 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday5 miles steady
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday8 miles long

Week 10: 29 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday5 miles steady
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday10 miles long

Week 11: 31 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday5 miles steady
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday12 miles long

Week 12: 27 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday5 miles steady
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday8 miles long

Hone and Taper

Week 13: 29 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday5 miles tempo
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday10 miles long

Week 14: 27 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday5 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday5 miles tempo
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday8 miles long

Week 15: 21 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday3 miles tempo
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday3 miles tempo
Friday3 miles easy or cross training
Saturday3 miles easy
Sunday6 miles long

Week 16: 12 miles

MondayRest
Tuesday3 miles steady
Wednesday3 miles easy
Thursday3 miles steady
FridayRest
SaturdayRest
SundayRace

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