16 week beginner half marathon training plan

The essential 16-week training plan suitable for beginner runners, take on your first half marathon with expert advice from our resident running coaches Nick Anderson and Tom Craggs from RunningWithUs.

16 week beginner half marathon training plan
Distance Half-Marathon Level Beginner Weeks 16

Training plans supplied by: Nick Anderson and Tom Craggs at RunningWithUs

For more expert training advice on running techniques click the links below:


  • Zone 1:Easy. Your running should be fully conversational and relaxed around 70% of your maximum heart rate. Don't get tempted to push too hard – easy running is the bedrock of endurance! If you are brand new to running, consider mixing running with walking (see below). Your warm up and cool down before and after faster efforts should also be fully easy and relaxed.
  • Zone 2:Steady. This is still sustainable and controlled running, just stepping up a gear from your zone 1 effort. This would be about 75-80% max heart rate for most and around the effort you might aim to complete your half marathon.
  • Zone 3:Controlled discomfort. This is an effort where you are having to put in the work. It's a hard but controlled pace where you might only be able to speak 3-4 words at a time. These efforts are run about 80-85% effort and help to build a bigger heart and lungs. Don't run so hard that you cannot complete the blocks outlined in the plan. For most this would be about 10km pace or a bit slower.
  • Zone 4:Speed work / Hard running. This is hard running at 9/10+ in effort and paces you might only be able to hold for short blocks of 4 minutes or under. This would be between 3km and 10km race paces for most.
  • Run/Walk:You may not be able to run continuously for the blocks of time outlined in the plan and that's fine! Please include a structured mix of running and walking in the early weeks. Do this from the start of all of your runs starting with 5 minute easy run, 2-3 minute brisk walk and aim to gradually build up your blocks of running.
  • 'Pick Ups':Pick-ups, or 'strides' as they are otherwise known get your legs turning over a little quicker. They are only very short bursts of faster running – don't sprint them but work at about 80-90% of sprinting effort. They should feel hard, just quick and light!
  • Cross Training:You don't have to just run. Cardio vascular cross training such as biking, swimming, aqua jogging or using an elliptical trainer can work your heart and lungs but save your legs some impact. We would also recommend a weekly core routine or Pilates class.

Week 1

  1. Mon


  2. Tue

    28 minutes

    1. Brisk walk 5 minutes
    2. 6 sets of 2 minutes run zone 1 each followed by 60 seconds brisk walk 18 minutes
    3. Walk cool down 5 minutes
  3. Wed


  4. Thu

    28 minutes

    1. Brisk walk 5 minutes
    2. 6 sets of 2 minutes run zone 1 each followed by 60 seconds brisk walk 18 minutes
    3. Walk cool down 5 minutes

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