Fitness Training for a Half Marathon

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Completing a marathon race is something to be proud of. A half marathon is half the distance of a full marathon, or 21,097.5 meters, or approximately 13.7 miles. Half marathons typically take place on roads, and participants compete in them worldwide. Fitness training for a half marathon involves more than running, and a solid training schedule will keep you on track and help you increase your running speed.

Sign Up

Look for a half marathon event in your area via links, such as HalfMarathons.net1. Plan on signing up for a event far enough in the future for you to have time for training. If you’re an inexperienced runner, you may need several months to prepare for a half marathon. Picking a date and then signing up for a half marathon will help you set up your fitness goals and timelines.

Strength Training

Fitness training for a half marathon requires strength and stamina work. Although daily running definitely helps you build these, especially when it comes to long-distance running, the upper body doesn’t typically get the full workout it needs. It’s your arms and the rest of your upper body that work together to propel you forward during running. A strong upper body will help you run faster and more efficiently, and daily strength training workouts will encourage overall metabolism health. Work out with free weights, machine weights or use your own body weight, as is the case with push-ups, to strength train.


Cross-training is important for just about any type of athlete. Various forms of exercise, including aerobic and flexibility training, will keep your body and muscles agile. This helps reduce injury risk and makes the body ultimately more fit. An athlete is limited by muscles that are only trained to move in a certain way. Cross-train by performing other types of aerobics exercise, such as cycling or dancing, a few times a week. Participate in yoga or pilates classes to build agility and core strength.


Run three to four miles, three to four times per week on alternating days, suggests the Half Marathon Training—Novice website2. Remember you can substitute another type of aerobic exercise for running once or twice a week. Gradually work up to longer distances, but avoid trying to run half marathon distances in the early stages of your training to prevent injury or burn-out. If you’re just starting out, walk and jog three to four miles at a time, and be patient with yourself. It takes time to reach the level of a seasoned half marathon runner.

Rest and Diet

Without proper nutrition and plenty of rest, you increase your risk for illness and injury during training. You simply cannot perform successfully as an athlete without fuel and sleep. Avoid training supplements, especially synthetic versions. You’ll benefit most from a well-balanced diet of mostly lean protein, veggies, fruits and whole grains. Increase your carbohydrate intake, but get most of your carbs from whole grains, and avoid processed or white bread. Carbs are essential for long-distance runners and supply most of the energy that you’ll burn during your runs. Sleep a full eight hours no matter how old you are. Getting enough rest will ensure you can take on those very long distances you’re aiming for in your fitness training for a half marathon.


  1. Half Marathons in the USA and Around the World
  2. Half Marathon Training – Novice: Training for Your First Half
  3. Runner’s World: Your Ultimate Half-Marathon Training Plan,7120,s6-238-244-258-6851-0,00.html