Have you got big plans of competing in a half marathon?
Whether you want to compete in your very first marathon or you’re just coming back after a small hiatus, even though it might not seem like it, it is very much possible for runners to prepare for a half marathon in a month or less – and we’re here to show you how to do it.
With a fitness foundation already in place, getting mentally and physically prepared to handle the demands of a half marathon is doable in around 4 weeks.
The only question is – what training plan is going to be the best for preparing you to take on the challenge of a half marathon in just a few weeks?
This is where we come in to lend a helping hand.
In this article, we are going to be talking you through a 4 week training program that will help to get you prepared for the race – both physically and mentally.
Along the way, we are also going to be sharing with you some additional tips and tricks to help you get the very most out of your half marathon run.
So, without further ado, whenever you’re ready – just keep reading!
Who Will Benefit From This Training Program?
Before we get any further into this article, it’s first important that you make sure to consider whether or not you are currently able to do the following – as this will greatly determine whether or not you are going to be able to prepare for a half marathon in a short period of time:
Ideally, you should be able to do the following at your current fitness level –
Have the ability to run at least 6 miles without stopping, and can do so comfortably without feeling as though you are pushing yourself to your limit.
Have a record of covering at least 20 miles of running per week, whether alone or as part of a local running group.
Have at least 3 months of consistent running practice under your belt at the time of reading this guide.
If you do not currently have this experience at the time of reading this guide, rest assured that you will still be able to compete in a marathon.
However, depending on how long you have until the marathon takes place, you might find that you are unable to get ready for the marathon within the time frame that you currently have left.
To give you a better idea of how long you will need to prepare for a half marathon if you do not currently have a fitness foundation (such as what we have talked you through above) then you will typically need to make sure that you are following a training plan for around 12-15 weeks prior to the big day, as anything less is more than likely not going to be enough for you to get adequately prepared for the marathon distance.
However, if you do currently have a fitness foundation in place and you need to cram in a training schedule that is less than a month or so – we’ve got you covered!
Below, we are going to be talking you through a simple and easy to follow training program that will get you ready and prepared to take on the half marathon on the big day! You know what to do -just keep reading.
Last Minute Half Marathon Training Plan
Now that you have been able to decide whether or not you are going to be able to realistically get yourself prepared for a half marathon in around 4 weeks – we are now going to be talking you through our last minute training plan that will help you train your body (and mind) to ensure peak performance on the day.
Believe it or not, last minute training for a half marathon is far more common than you might think!
Whether you’ve forgotten that you’ve signed up for an upcoming half marathon or you simply want to enter into a half marathon run in the near future – just keep reading for a last minute workout plan that will help to get your body prepared for the demands of the long distance run. Let’s take a look:
Before you even think about beginning your training program, you are first going to need to make sure that you are taking a few things into account prior to starting your training.
First things first, one of the most important considerations that you are going to need to make when considering training for a half marathon last minute is whether or not you already have a fitness base in place.
If you are the type of person who regularly runs each week (including long distance runs of at least 6k) then you should find that you are able to comfortably handle the demands of a half marathon, which is 13.1 miles.
However, if you are not the type of person who regularly goes on runs, or you are unable to handle at least 6 miles at your current fitness level without feeling exhausted – then you are most likely going to need a little longer to get your body prepared to handle the demands of a long distance run.
To follow on, if you aren’t a regular runner or you’re just coming back out of an injury, you might find that a shorter run is going to be best for you – especially if you do not have a lot of time to prepare.
To give you a better idea of what run might be best for you, it is generally considered that novice runners (or those who do not have a running foundation in place prior to beginning training) will typically be able to get their body conditioned enough to handle around 5k in a space of around 4 weeks.
Along with considering whether or not you are going to be appropriate for the half marathon run, another important consideration that you should consider prior to undertaking your training program is what the allotted running time is by the half marathon organizers.
To make sure that you are going to be an appropriate candidate for participating in the half marathon, it is important to make sure that you are going to be able to finish the run within the timeframe outlined by the organizers.
Even though it is normal for runners to all finish at different times, in order to ensure that you are going to be able to participate in a responsible way – it is recommended that you consider what time the half marathon is set to finish.
Just think about it: if you aren’t able to finish within the allocated time frame that is provided by the race event organizers, then this could disrupt the system that the team event organizers are following, including preventing water stations from closing at the allocated time, as well as even endangering yourself due to roads no longer being closed.
To make sure that you are going to be able to responsibly and safely run in the upcoming race event, it is recommended that you utilize your training time to create an estimate of how long it will take you to complete the run.
Last Minute Marathon Training Plan
If you want to prepare for a marathon at the last minute, then the best way that you can do this is by focusing on building your stamina and fitness ability fast.
With that being said, check out the following training plan to ensure that you are able to get your body prepared to handle the demands of running in a half marathon!
|1||Cross training + 5k||Cross training + 6k||Rest or 6k with speed intervals||5k easy tempo run||Rest or 6k easy run||3 mile run + interval training||Rest|
|2||Cross training + 5k||Cross training + 6k||Rest or 6k with speed intervals||5k easy run||Rest or 6k easy run||3 mile run + interval training||Rest|
|3||Cross training + 5k||Cross training + 7k||Rest or 7k tempo with speed intervals||5k easy run||Rest or 6k easy run||3 mile tempo run + interval training||Rest|
|4||Cross training + 5k||Cross training + 5k||Rest or 6k with speed intervals||5k easy tempo run||Rest or 6k easy run||Rest||Rest|
Keep in mind, you are free to accommodate the above training plan as you see fit.
If you would like to extend the length of your training plan then this is completely fine to do, as well as if you would like to modify the way that you will be exercising on each day.
Remember, no matter how much cramming you are planning to do – it is very important that you remember to take the time you need to give your body enough time to rest and recover!
This is going to be especially important for you to follow in the final week of your training plan.
If it is possible to do so, we recommend that you incorporate a taper period at least 7 days before your run, as this will ensure that your body is given enough time to rest in preparation for the run so that you will be able to enjoy optimum performance on the big day.
To follow on, to help give you a better understanding of the various terms that we have included above, keep reading for a breakdown of the different exercises that we have included in our training program above:
If you aren’t already aware of what this is, it is essentially a type of training that will allow you to give your muscles and body a break from strenuous activity – while still getting a great workout in.
In order to get your body prepared for a marathon run in just a few weeks, it is highly recommended that you carry out some type of cross training at least 5 times a week, as this will ensure that your body is in peak condition come the day of the race.
Cross training can be anything from spending 30 minutes on the elliptical, working up a sweat on a spin bike all the way to enjoying a few laps around the swimming pool.
This activity is highly versatile and you have the option of incorporating more than one kind of cross training exercise in your plan.
Another exercise activity that we have included in the guide above is something that is known as speed intervals.
If you weren’t already aware of what we mean by this, speed intervals are a type of interval training – and will encourage you to build up your stamina and stride speed ability in just a few weeks.
By incorporating them into your runs, not only will you find that you are able to completely streamline your training program in preparation for the half marathon, but you are also going to find that you are able to get a better idea of what your current fitness levels are in preparation for the event.
Towards the end of the training program, you will notice that we have included tempo runs into your schedule.
If you weren’t already familiar with the term, a tempo run is simply a run that will encourage you to carry out the run at a certain pace/tempo.
While this isn’t something that you would necessarily need to do if going on a regular run throughout the week, by incorporating tempo runs into your training schedule – you will be able to push your body to increase its speed and stride ability without causing you to over exert yourself or push your body too hard.
In addition to this, tempo runs are great ways to gain a better understanding of your current level of fitness – as this will help you gain a better understanding of whether or not your body is going to be able to handle the demands of a half marathon before you enter it.
Last but certainly ot least, another exercise activity that we have included in the training program above are easy runs – which are exactly what they sound like!
A commonly used term in the running community, an easy run is essentially a run that is of a far lower intensity than other types of runs and exercises listed inside the training program.
As we’re sure you’re already well aware, it’s very important to make sure that you aren’t overloading your body with training in the run up to your half marathon – especially if you are trying to cram in training just a few weeks before the day of the race.
This is where the magic of easy runs comes into the mix!
An easy run is a run that you should jog or take at a slower pace, which means that you will have the ability to cover the distance needed to prepare you for a half marathon, without leading your body to become fatigued!
An easy run is also a great activity to opt for if you don’t want to take a rest day, as it is one of the more laid back exercises you can do when preparing for a half marathon.
As a side note, before we move on any further – it is important to remember that you are free to change around the training program that we have provided above as you see fit.
You can switch exercises around or even swap them out for new ones that are better suited for you – it’s entirely up to you, and you will be the best judge of character when it comes to creating a tailored half marathon training plan for last minute entries.
To follow on, along with making sure that you are following a training plan such as the one we have provided you with above when training for a marathon – in order to maximize your performance and ensure that you get the most enjoyment out of the run on the day, we also recommend that you elevate your training with the following guidance:
- Make sure that you are doing cardio each day: Unless you are taking a rest day (it is important to make sure that you are giving yourself plenty of rest throughout the entirety of your training schedule) on days when you are planning to train, it is highly recommended that you incorporate cardio exercises alongside running. Besides being a great way to increase your discipline abilities, plenty of cardio is going to be a surefire way for you to increase your stamina fast – so it’s a great way to get ready for a marathon when pinched for time.
- Try and prevent blisters before they have the chance to form: As a runner, we’re sure that you’ll be no stranger to blisters! However, while they are a common occurrence for runners of all levels and abilities, if you do not have a lot of running experience (or you’re planning on pushing yourself to get prepared for a half marathon in just a few weeks) then there is a high chance that you’re going to develop some blisters. As you don’t have enough time to allow your feet to get tougher, we recommend wearing plasters for additional protection, high quality socks and specially designed running shoes to ensure optimum comfortability.
- Consider training with a partner: Who doesn’t love an accountability partner? If you have the option to train with another person while getting yourself ready to take on the demands of a half marathon – we strongly recommend that you do so. By training with a partner instead of by yourself, you will be able to enjoy the benefit of having someone to hype you up and encourage you to keep going when you need it most. In other words, an accountability buddy will be able to challenge you to push yourself to new heights, especially if you’re the type of person who tends to throw in the towel.
- Don’t forget the race snacks! Last but certainly not least, the final piece of guidance that we have to share with you to make sure that you are able to get the most out of your run is to make sure that you are eating snacks. Along with staying hydrated and making the most of all the water stations that will be provided by the race organizers on the day, we also recommend that you consider bringing along some race-suitable snacks that will help to fortify your body and provide it with some much needed fuel during those points of the race that you will need it most. We recommend considering bringing along some race gels, as these will be easy to carry and you can open them without breaking your stride or having to come to a stop.
Last Minute Marathon Training Tips
Before you go and begin the training schedule that we have provided you with above, we are just going to take a moment to share with you some of the top marathon training tips that we have to share with you.
By following the tips and tricks that we are going to be sharing with you below, you should find that you are not only able to maximize your performance, but also get the most enjoyment out of your marathon long distance run, too.
Let’s take a look:
Tip One: Place Emphasis On Your Weekly Long Distance Run
As a frequent runner, we’re sure that you’ll already be getting in at least one long distance run per week.
So, with that in mind, along with making sure that you are following a training program (such as the one that we have shared with you above) you should also make sure that you are placing plenty of emphasis on your long distance runs – as these are going to be key in preparing you for the marathon.
While carrying out these runs, you should be sure that you are running at a pace that feels comfortable for you, as this will help to give you a better idea of what your current fitness and stamina levels are.
Tip Two: Increase Interval Training
Along with making sure that you are placing plenty of emphasis on your long distance run throughout the week, if you are wanting to hit some new personal bests during your marathon – you should be sure to incorporate plenty of interval training, as this will help you to get your speed up.
By making sure that you are doing plenty of speed repetitions alongside all of the training guidance that we have shared above, you should find that you are able to enjoy a much more powerful stride on the day of the race.
Tip Three: Don’t Ignore A Taper Period!
This is one of the biggest tips and pieces of advice that we can offer you.
Even though it is very important to make sure that your body is in peak health and fitness ability – it is also just as important that you are making sure your body is getting all of the rest that it needs in order to recover from the rigorous training you are going to be putting it through.
This is where the beauty of a taper period comes into the mix!
If you weren’t already aware, a taper period is essentially a time in which you will begin to slow down your training and lessen the amount of intensity.
By doing this, you will then be giving your mind and body some downtime to rest, recover and relax.
Many runners find themselves overlooking a taper period (especially when the big day is looming) however, it is very important that you make sure to include one, otherwise you are more than likely going to find that your body isn’t able to perform in the way that you might expect on the day of the marathon.
During the taper period, we recommend that you reduce the intensity of your training as well as the length of your runs, as this will provide you with the ability to slow down, relax and ready yourself for the official big marathon run.
By making sure that you are incorporating a taper period into your marathon training run, you should find that your body is able to offer you a much more effective performance on the day, as you will have given yourself some downtime to rest and recover.
Tip Four: Know When To Quit!
Along with making sure that you are giving yourself plenty of time to rest and not overdoing the training, it is also just as important to make sure that you know when to quit if you need to.
Even though it can be easy to go into panic mode when trying to prepare for a half marathon in just a few weeks or so, by making sure that you understand when to stop – you will be able to make sure that you do not force an injury or push your body to a point that it cannot currently handle at your current fitness level.
In other words, it is important that you aren’t being hard on yourself, as the last thing that you want to do is to push yourself to your limit during the training stage – only to find yourself stuck dealing with an injury, or even bodily fatigue from strenuous training.
Before you embark on your half marathon training plan, it is a good idea to make sure that you are taking the tie to consider whether or not the goal that you have in mind is a realistic one, as well as heart or not your current fitness level is high enough to be able to handle the demands of a long distance half marathon run.
Tip Five: Let Go Of Expectations
Another great tip that we have to share with you (both before and during your half marathon run) is to let go of any expectations that you might have placed on yourself.
Remember, the most important priority when it comes to running is your enjoyment of the run, so placing unnecessary or even unrealistic expectations on yourself is only going to be setting you up for failure.
As we’re sure you’re already well aware, running is just as much about your mindset as it is your current fitness level.
So, instead of putting pressure on yourself to hit a new personal best, or to be one of the first round the course – why don’t you instead place emphasis on enjoying the atmosphere of the day, the friends that you might make, as well as the beautiful scenery that you’re sure to pass as you complete the run?
By letting go of expectations and instead focusing on having fun – you’re going to find that you have a much more happy experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Should You Do Your Last Long Run Before A Half Marathon?
While you are preparing for a half marathon – timing is always going to be key, especially when you don’t happen to have a lot of it!
If you fall into the category of “last minute runner” rest assured that by making sure to utilize your time correctly in the run up to the big day, you should find that you are able to take the race in your stride – especially if you already have a foundation in place and are following a training program such as the one we have talked you through above.
Along with this, it’s also a good idea to get a long distance run into your schedule in the days close to your half marathon, as this will allow you to get a better feel for how your body responds to the distance before the official half marathon comes along.
Generally speaking, even though the answer will be different for everybody, it is generally recommended that the half marathon taper takes place around 2 weeks before the big day, as this is close enough to get an idea of your general fitness ability, while also being far enough away from the day for your body to have the time that it needs to recover itself.
Can You Prepare For A Half Marathon In 4 Weeks?
While it is certainly possible for runners to prepare themselves both physically and mentally for a half marathon run just one month prior to the race day – the answer to this question will ultimately depend on what your current fitness level is, as well as how consistently you have been running over the past 3 months or so.
If you are a runner who is able to easily cover around 6 miles without feeling out of breath or physically exhausted, as well as a runner that typically tends to cover around 20 miles of distance a week – then you should find that you are able to quite easily prepare yourself for a half marathon in just 4 weeks or so.
However, in order to make sure that you are properly prepared, you should be sure to follow a training schedule, such as the one that we have provided for last minute runners.
On the other hand, if you are a beginner runner (or a runner that doesn’t typically tend to cover around 20 miles a week in distance over the course of various runs) then you are more than likely going to discover that you need a little longer to prepare, such as 8 weeks.
With all of that being said, when considering entering a half marathon race, it is a good idea to make sure that you are doing so with plenty of time to prepare, regardless of what your current level of fitness is, or how much training that you have been doing.
How Do I Prepare My Body For A Half Marathon At The Last Minute?
If you’ve decided that you would like to enter a half marathon at the last minute, the best way that you can physically prepare your body to handle the demands of the race is by making sure that you are following a strict training schedule in the weeks running up to the big race day.
By making sure that you are following a strict training schedule, not only are you going to be able to guarantee that you will get the best training possible, but you will also be able to effectively manage your time and effectively prepare your body for the race without causing yourself to become fatigued or run down.
Along with this, if you do not currently have much time to spare and want to get yourself ready for a half marathon in just a few weeks, then you should also be making sure that you are fortifying your body with all of the nutrients that it will need to be at peak performance.
This includes lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy carbohydrates as well as lots of protein.
In addition to making sure that you are following a strict training program and making sure that you are eating well, you should also make sure that you are prioritizing your rest and allowing your body (as well as your mind) to recover in between each training session.
What Shouldn’t You Do Before A Half Marathon?
This is a great question to ask yourself, as many runners can often find themselves overlooking this detail when preparing themselves to take on a long distance run like a half marathon.
When it comes to running a half marathon, there are a variety of things that you should refrain from doing in order to make sure that your body is able to offer peak performance ability, while also making sure that you are mentally prepared to take on the run.
To help you understand the don’ts when it comes to preparing for a half marathon – let’s break them down below:
- Don’t shorten the training program: This is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make when preparing for a half marathon! If you’re a last minute runner, so long as you have a fitness foundation already in place, then you should find that you are able to prepare your body for a half marathon in around 4 weeks. However, if you do not have a base to work from, then you will most likely find yourself struggling to handle the demands of a shortened training program – so it’s important to make sure that you are following a program that is going to be the correct length for your current fitness level.
- Don’t place expectations on yourself: Along with making sure that you are following a training program that is going to not only be able to help you prepare for your half marathon but also ensure that you have enough time to comfortably prepare for the half marathon – you should also make sure that you are refraining from placing unnecessary expectations on yourself. Instead of trying to push yourself to hit a new personal best or to be in the top first runners to complete the race, we instead recommend that you put more emphasis on your enjoyment, as well as the fulfillment you will get from completing the race.
- Don’t force yourself to run if you need a break: When it comes to long distance runs, many runners (regardless of their level of ability or years spent as a runner) will typically find themselves trying to avoid allowing themselves to break into a walk when they are struggling or need a water break. Remember, the most important priority when it comes to your run is your happiness and enjoyment, so if you find that you need to stop and walk for a few minutes, then we strongly recommend that you do so. Listen to your body and make sure that you are giving yourself a break as and when you need it – you’ll find that the run is far more enjoyable and fulfilling, and believe it or not – even the most experienced of runners finds themselves needing to take a short break from time to time.
There we have it! You’ve made it to the end of our guide.
Now that you have taken the time to read through everything that we have talked you through above, we are hoping that you are now feeling far more confident about how you can get yourself ready for the half marathon.
Before you go, why don’t you consider giving this page a bookmark?
That way, while you are following the training plan that we have provided you with above, you will know exactly where to find the schedule, as well as what you should be doing on certain days.
Along with that, by saving this page, you will also be able to refer back to the various tips and tricks that we have shared above in order to help you get the very most out of your half marathon and perhaps even hit a few personal bests along the way!
Thank you for reading, and good luck!
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