Half Marathon Series – Picking a Training Program

Picking a Training Program - Half Marathon Series | read more at happilythehicks.com

As many of you are aware, Isaac and I are running a half marathon in March. It’s actually the second time for us to run this race, and we are excited to go back and run the Alamo 13.1 (check out my race report from last year’s race!). We started our training last week, and so far things are going pretty good. We had to modify our schedule a little bit, due to me feeling yucky, and having to ease our bodies into running so much again. The past six months we really slacked on maintaining our stamina and speed, so it’s definitely been tough getting ourselves back in shape. But we’ll get there, there’s no doubt about that! 

Picking a Training Program - Half Marathon Series | read more at happilythehicks.com Picking a Training Program - Half Marathon Series | read more at happilythehicks.com

When it comes to training for a half marathon, one of the hardest decisions (besides actually picking  race you’re going to run) is deciding which training program to follow. And this honestly goes for any race, be it a 5K, 10K, full marathon and everything in between! If you’re planning on signing up for a race soon, I hope to help you out by sharing what to look for when choosing a training program, as well some programs that we’ve either done ourselves or recommend for you to check out.

Picking a Training Program - Half Marathon Series | read more at happilythehicks.com

Picking the Right Training Program

What is your current level of activity?

This is a big one, y’all! If you can barely run a mile before beginning your training, then picking an intermediate or advanced program where you run over 20 miles in the first week probably isn’t the best idea. Instead think realistically. Ask yourself: “Will this be feasible?” “Will it challenge me?” And (most importantly) “Am I going to burn out after three days and give up on my training?” Be honest with yourself and pick a program you know you can stick to, and one that will push you to improve.

For our first half marathon, mine and Isaac’s goal was to simply finish, and since we had never run more than 6 or 7 miles at a time before we began training, we decided to follow a beginners program. It was intense, but exactly what we needed! Last year for our second half, we decided to kick it up a notch. We already knew we could do the 13.1 miles, but we wanted to beat our previous time, and incorporated a lot of speed work. I was sore the entire 12 weeks, but it was well worth it when we nailed our goal time! This year we are following another intermediate program, and we hope to beat our PR from last year. My personal goal is to get through these next nine weeks without getting sick, so fingers crossed! Last year I had strep and bronchitis, which was a big hit on our training. 

How much time can you dedicate to training?

This is a big one for me, since I get to school at 7 in the morning, and we try to run before leaving for work. I always look for programs that never have runs that are more than 5 or 6 miles on a week day, simply for time’s sake. So think about your daily schedule and how much time you are willing to dedicate towards training. Do you have time (or want to get up) before work to run, or will that happen in the evenings after work? There are so many different programs out there, and I know you will be able to find one that fits your schedule! You can also find programs that incorporate more or less speed work, depending on your goals for your training. I would recommend finding programs that include some weight lifting or toning days, because it makes a lot of difference in your strength and endurance when your muscles are toned outside of running (at least from personal experience!). 

Picking a Training Program - Half Marathon Series | read more at happilythehicks.com

How far out is your race?

When you start looking for training programs, one of the first things you’ll notice is that there are so many different lengths you can pick! 8, 10 and 12 week long ones are the most popular, but it all depends on how far away your race is. Last year we began training a LONG time before the race. We did an 8 week long couch to 10K program to get back in shape, then a 12 week long intermediate program. This year we lost track of time, and realized just two weeks ago that our race was only a little over 11 weeks off. So a 10 week program it was, and we’re going to push through it! 
If you’re running your first race, I recommend a longer program (if possible), just so you can ease your body into the routine of distance running.

Picking a Training Program - Half Marathon Series | read more at happilythehicks.com

My favorite training programs:
Beginner 14 Weeks | Beginner 12 Weeks
Intermediate 12 Weeks | Intermediate 10 Weeks
Advanced 12 Weeks 1 | Advanced 12 Weeks 2

Make sure you listen to your body during training, and don’t burn yourself out by trying to do every single thing in your program. It’s okay if you miss a day here and there as long as you are consistent and faithful the rest of the time. You can probably run a half marathon (or any race really) without putting forth much effort, but it will make a world of difference when you follow through with a program. Just ask Isaac about the difference between our first half and our second one!
If you have any questions or need some more advice about picking a training program, let me know. I’d love to help out in any way I can! 

Picking a Training Program - Half Marathon Series | read more at happilythehicks.com

Now it’s your turn to talk! Answer one of the following questions in the comments below:
Are you training or about to start training for a race soon?
What are some tips you’d like for me to share about running half marathons?

Picking a Training Program - Half Marathon Series | read more at happilythehicks.com

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What do you think

  1. Amber Marie Werner says:

    This is super motivating! Thanks for sharing. I would definitely need to start at an intermediate level because I am not a runner (yet), but I would love to get into this!
    PS. Your pup is adorable.
    Xoxo Amber

    • Girl, that’s completely okay! I did a beginner program for my first half and an intermediate for the following two. It all depends on the person running and their goals for the race. You should sign up for one near you!! It’s a great way to motivate yourself to get out there and just do it. :)

  2. Brianna Palos says:

    I am currently using Hal Higdon’s Beginner 1 plan for my first half marathon that’s coming up in March. It’s been wonderful! The thing that has helped me the most (since I am VERY much a beginner) was not worrying about time at all. I’ll admit this has been difficult because I’m pretty competitive, but it has helped me relax and enjoy the process more. I’ll never win any races, so why put so much pressure on myself? Like you, I just want to finish this race, and then maybe focus more on getting faster for any other races! ????

    • Yay for Hal Higdon! We did his intermediate plan last year and I think it’s been my favorite yet. What half are you running? There are SO many this time of year!
      And that’s what I had to do to. I’m not competitive so much against other people, but more competitive against myself. I always want to beat my previous times and get bummed when I don’t. It’s hard to not let it bother me, but sometimes the goal is just to finish a run, and not worry about the time!
      So excited for you!! <3

      • Brianna Palos says:

        Thanks friend! I’m running the Rock n Roll In Dallas with my friend who is a much more experienced runner! ???? it will be so fun!

        Do you have any sort of belt that you use and recommend for your long runs? I’m getting really tired of carrying my phone in my hand, but I don’t love any of the arm bands that I’ve tried. Maybe something on my waist would be more comfortable?

        • Oooh so fun! Good luck <3

          And actually, yes I do! I use two different belts when I run. When it's dark out, I use my GoMotion belt for the flashlight, which you can get on Amazon (http://a.co/hUDqxJA ), but it is too small to hold my phone.
          During the day I wear my SPIbelt, which I LOVE (http://a.co/5tTJJ0Q ). It's perfect for carrying my phone and keys, and I seriously don't even notice it's on when I wear it. Plus, they have SUPER cute patterns!

          I'd definitely recommend you go for the belt! I used to wear an arm band, but a belt is SO much more comfortable and cuter, if I say so myself. :)

  3. Jamie Fray says:

    Love this :) I am also training for a half marathon in March, and it will be my first one. I am using a 12-week plan by Coach Jenny Hadfield, and I had started long-distance walking 7 weeks before that. I am an extreme beginner, blogging about all my hiccups along the way, but I have found the interval training to be a very effective way to be motivated. Those short intervals are something I can finish, and finish strong. Also, I’ve already seen a big change in my endurance, and my weight loss has increased. Yay :) Anyway–thank you for sharing. Sounds like you are a fellow Texan, so good luck in your half!

    • I am so excited for you!! And giiirl interval training is my favorite way to incorporate speed training and it’s SO effective. Which half are you running?

      • Jamie Fray says:

        Oops! Sorry–just saw this :) I just did a walk/run of the Rock n Roll half in Dallas. I think you’re from Dallas, too, right? We need to get together some time–I’d love to pick your brain on some strategies for training!

      • Jamie Fray says:

        So sorry—just saw this! I ran the Dallas Rock n Roll. Well I wogged it ;) And really loved it–I’m hooked!

  4. Sarah Jean says:

    I definitely fall into the camp of “can’t run a mile” but I greatly admire people that are runners! Maybe one day I will just give it a go and see how far I get. Good luck on your race!

  5. Jackie says:

    So exciting! I am DYING to get back into running..should be cleared by my OB this week thank goodness! I have a 10k in February and then probably my first half back at it in November. It’s too hot for half marathons in FL during the summer, so my comeback race has to be in the fall. Good luck with training! Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

    • Oooh yay!! How’s the 10K training going? I know that when I get pregnant, those weeks after birth will be the longest since I won’t be able to work out for a while. Fall races are so much fun- we ran our first half was in October a few years ago and the weather was perfect.

  6. Jessica Bradshaw says:

    Love your cute photos!! I can’t wait to see all the fun from this years event. You are both going to do amazing. :)

  7. Not training but I want to get into running and working out. This article was really helpful I might try a 10 week program for running. I think that getting up early and working out before class is my best option.

  8. Neely says:

    I haven’t run a race in years but Im thinking of training for a half or maybe a 10k after i Have this baby! Love these tips!

  9. i would love to run a race this year but it is such a huge time commitment, i just cant fit in :( :(

    • Girl I completely understand! It’s SO hard to make time for running, especially when you start getting into the longer distances. We got up at 4AM this morning to fit in a 6 mile run before work. Maybe start with a shorter distance run like a 5K? Those training programs are a lot easier to work with when you have a tight schedule.

  10. Melissa says:

    Great tips!! Good luck in your race!

  11. Jen @ Saving with Spunk says:

    Needed this! I have a 15K in March and I need to start seriously training! Thanks!

  12. Mai Lyn Ngo says:

    This couldnt have come at a more perfect time. While Im deciding on a race (or if I want to race), I think ill aim for shorter runs now. I dont have a ton of time to dedicate to running atm. thanks for sharing. ill check out the training programs you shared.

  13. Alexis says:

    I’m doing the couch to 5K program. I want to run at least 2 5Ks this spring/summer

  14. Brittany says:

    I think that this is so cool! You are such an inspiration! I hate running but you make me want to give it a try!

    • Thanks Brittany! You should give running a try. I love it SO much… It’s a great way to get rid of stress, and the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment at the end of a run is the best. Just start off slow with a walk/jog and I’m sure you’ll start to love it a little too :)

  15. Thanks Kelsey! And ahhh I’d die if I ran a half in August. Running + Texas heat is a no go for me haha.

I'm becca, and I'm so glad you're here.

I'm a sinner saved by grace who loves staying active and eating healthy. I am married to my high school sweetheart, Isaac, and I'm mama to James and an adorable puppy named Lillie.

meet becca

healthy living blogger


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