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10-Week Beginner Half Marathon Training Plan

 Training Plans
(Image credit: Unknown)

Target time: Whatever you can manage

This plan is for you if: If you’re not a regular runner but you’ve taken the plunge and signed up for a half marathon that’s in ten weeks. This plan will get you in shape by the time the starting gun fires.

This ten-week plan from Soar (opens in new tab) running coach Ben Noad will take you from the couch to 21.1km via a very gradual build up in your training that will help you avoid getting injured. There are four sessions a week on the plan, but many of these will be short, or a mix of running and walking.

There are two options for each training day. The first is the recommended session if you’re in tip-top shape, and the second is a back-up plan if you’re short on time or feeling especially tired. Noad has also provided coaching pointers throughout.

The plan uses “Soar paces” to explain how fast to run in each session. These range from Soar pace 1, which is a comfortable relaxed pace where you can hold a conversation with ease, to Soar pace 5, which is a sprinting pace that you can only sustain for two minutes or so.

In between you have gradual increases in intensity. So Soar pace 2 is faster than 1, but still a pace you can hold for long periods comfortably. Soar pace 3 will be around your half marathon or marathon effort, in that it can be held for long periods but you are working quite hard. Soar pace 4 is faster still – around the effort level you’d put in when running a 5K or 10K race, so pretty tough going even in fairly short bursts.

Your five Soar paces should be personal and reflect your fitness level, and they can also change from day to day depending on how fatigued you are or the terrain you’re running on. It’s about the effort level rather than speed – there’s no point in overdoing it to smash your easy Monday session if it leaves you with nothing in the tank for the rest of the week.

Week 1

Monday

2 x 8min run at Soar pace 1 with 4min walk between to recover

Alternative session: 2 x 6min run at Soar pace 1 with 3min walk between to recover

Coaching points: This is the first session of the plan so have some fun and remember, you can’t run too slow.

Tuesday

Rest

Wednesday

10-15min continuous running at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 8-12min continuous running at Soar pace 1

Coaching points: You’re looking to run without stopping so it’s important to set off at a very easy pace.

Thursday

Rest

Friday

2 x 12min run at Soar pace 1 with 4min walk between to recover

Alternative session: 2 x 10min run at Soar pace 1 with 3min walk between to recover

Coaching points: You’re going a little longer in this session but should be able to talk throughout – if you can’t you are running too hard.

Saturday

Rest

Sunday

10-12min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 8-10min run at Soar pace 1

Coaching points: A short run to end your first race week of training. One week down!

Week 2

Monday

2 x 10min run at Soar pace 1 with 4min walk between to recover

Alternative session: 2 x 8min run at Soar pace with 3min walk between to recover

Coaching points: Try to run on grass or trails. It’s much better for your body.

Tuesday

Rest

Wednesday

14-18min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 10-14min run at Soar pace 1

Coaching points: You’re running a bit further here so it’s even more important to take it at a very easy pace.

Thursday

Rest

Friday

2 x 14min run at Soar pace 1 with 4min walk between to recover

Alternative session: 2 x 11min run at Soar pace 1 with 3min walk between to recover

Coaching points: The longest total time running so far. Mix up the route you run to keep you mentally fresh throughout.

Saturday

Rest

Sunday

10-15min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 8-12min run at Soar pace 1

Coaching points: This is a recovery day. You’re looking to bring all the week’s training together.

Week 3

Monday

2 x 12min run at Soar pace 1 with 3min walk between to recover

Alternative session: 2 x 10min run at Soar pace 1 with 2min walk between to recover

Coaching points: You’ll notice the recovery between the two runs is starting to reduce.

Tuesday

Rest

Wednesday

20-24min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 14-18min run at Soar pace 1

Coaching points: You’re starting to log longer distances now. At this point it’s not uncommon to be experience some muscle soreness and fatigue. To help counter this, purchase a foam roller and roll your legs on it for 5min a day.

RECOMMENDED: The Foam Roller 101

Thursday

Rest

Friday

2 x 15min run at Soar pace 1 with 2-3min walk between to recover

Alternative session: 2 x 12min run at Soar pace 1 with 2min walk between to recover

Coaching points: The recovery time between runs is coming down sharply now. Adjust the intensity levels accordingly so you can complete both runs.

Saturday

Rest

Sunday

15-18min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 10-12min run at Soar pace 1

Week 4

Monday

2 x 15min run at Soar pace 1 with 2min walk between to recover

Alternative session: 2 x 12min run at Soar pace 1 with 90sec walk between to recover

Tuesday

Rest

Wednesday

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 6 x 90sec at Soar pace 2, with 90sec walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Alternative session

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 6 x 1min at Soar pace 2, with 90sec walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Coaching points: Try to use an out-and-back course for the intervals. That means complete the first interval, then turn around and retrace your steps for the second interval. The key to all interval sessions is to remain consistent, so this helps you to cover a similar distance in a similar time each go. Before you start the intervals, think about your pace and whether you can you hold it for the entire session. The benefit of the session comes in the second half so try to manage your effort accordingly.

Thursday

Rest

Friday

15min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 12min run at Soar pace 1

Coaching points: This is a recovery day. Take the chance to just enjoy your running.

Saturday

Rest

Sunday

20-35min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 16-22min run at Soar pace 1

Coaching points: Sunday’s now becoming a longer run day. This helps to build the endurance necessary for completing a half marathon.

Week 5

Monday

2 x 15min run at Soar pace 1 with 1min walk between to recover

Alternative session: 20min run at Soar pace 1

Coaching points: This is the last Monday run with recovery walks!

Tuesday

Rest

Wednesday

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 5 x 2min at Soar pace 2 or 3, with 2min walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Alternative session

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 5 x 90sec at Soar pace 2 or 3, with 90sec walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Coaching points: This is in the same format as last week’s session – and will be repeated throughout the plan – so remember to use an out and back course, and keep the pace consistent.

Thursday

Rest

Friday

15-18min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 12-15min run at Soar pace 1

Saturday

Run your local free 5K parkrun (opens in new tab) and set a benchmark time. 5min warm up and 5min warm down at Soar pace 1. (No alternative session)

Coaching points: I recommend parkruns because they’re a fun, friendly environment for your first real timed test – you get a chance to see what you can do.

Sunday

Rest

Week 6

Monday

30-35min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 20-25min run at Soar pace 1

Tuesday

Rest

Wednesday

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 4 x 3min at Soar pace 2 or 3, with 2min walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Alternative session

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 5 x 2min at Soar pace 2 or 3, with 90sec walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Thursday

Rest

Friday

20min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 12-15min run at Soar pace 1

Saturday

Rest

Sunday

45-60min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 35-45min run at Soar pace 1

Coaching points: Hydrate well before you start this run and eat a good breakfast – one that you’ll eat on race day. Porridge is a great source of energy.

Week 7

Monday

35-40min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 20-30min run at Soar pace 1

Tuesday

Rest

Wednesday

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 5 x 4min at Soar pace 2 or 3, with 2min walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Alternative session

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 6 x 3min at Soar pace 2 or 3, with 90sec walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Thursday

Rest

Friday

20-25min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 15-18min run at Soar pace 1

Saturday

Rest

Sunday

55-75min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 45-60min run at Soar pace 1

Coaching points: Hydrate well and eat a good breakfast before this session to form good habits before race day. This is the longest run so far so it’s fine to have a little walk at points.

Week 8

Monday

Foam roller session

Tuesday

35-40min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 20-30min run at Soar pace 1

Coaching points: Hopefully these runs are starting to feel a little easier now.

Wednesday

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 7 x 1km at Soar pace 3 (aim for your parkrun pace), with 2-3min walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Alternative session

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 6 x 2-3min at Soar pace 3, with 90sec walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Thursday

Rest

Friday

20-25min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 15-18min run at Soar pace 1

Saturday

Rest

Sunday

Sign up for a 10K event and race it all out. 5min warm up and 5min warm down at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 60-80min run at Soar pace 1. Feel free to walk at points if needed.

Coaching points: Hydrate well before you start this run and consider taking an energy gel halfway through either session.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Running Gels

Week 9

Monday

Foam roller session

Tuesday

35-40min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 20-30min run at Soar pace 1

Wednesday

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 3 x 3km at the pace you ran the 10K at the weekend, with 5min walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Alternative session

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 4 x 2km at Soar pace 3, with 4min walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Thursday

Rest

Friday

20-25min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 15-18min run at Soar pace 1

Saturday

75-90min run at Soar pace 1. Take two to three 1min walking breaks to help you hit the target time

Alternative session: 60-80min run at Soar pace 1. Take two to three 1min walking breaks to help you hit the target time

Coaching points: This is the last long run before the half marathon. Use the kit and shoes you will use for the race to avoid any nasty surprises on the day. Take one to two energy gels on this run.

Sunday

Rest

Week 10

Monday

25-30min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 20-25min run at Soar pace 1

Coaching points: We’re in the tapering phase, reducing the amount you run, to make sure you’re as fresh as possible for race day.

Tuesday

Rest

Wednesday

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 10 x 1min at the Soar pace 3 or 4, with 90sec walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Alternative session

  • 5min warm-up at Soar pace 1
  • 10 x 45sec at Soar pace 3 or 4, with 75sec walk to recover in between efforts
  • 5min warm-down at Soar pace 1
  • 5min of stretching, focusing on the hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings

Thursday

Rest

Friday

15-25min run at Soar pace 1

Alternative session: 12-15min run at Soar pace 1

Saturday

Rest

Sunday

Race day! 5min warm up at Soar pace 1

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.