Running a half-marathon is a challenging fitness goal — good for you! With a solid base of walking and yoga, you may be ready to start adding some running to your exercise routine. For safety, be sure to talk to your health care provider before increasing your exercise level.
Start by adding 2-3, 20-30 minute walk/run workouts each week; alternate walking for 5 minutes and jogging for 2-3 minutes. As your fitness level increases and the running gets easier, gradually shorten the walking intervals and lengthen the running intervals. When you can run for 30 minutes continuously, 3-4 times a week, you’ll be ready to tackle a half-marathon training program.
Training for a longer-distance race is a big commitment; give yourself a minimum of 3-4 months to prepare. Reduce your risk of injury by increasing your exercise time and mileage by no more than 10% per week, and allowing regular time for rest and recovery. Half-marathon training generally involves one gradually increasing long run per week, along with 3-4 shorter runs; alternating hard and easy workouts is recommended.
Complete training programs are widely available in fitness books, magazines, and online, and each one is a little different — there’s no one-size-fits-all plan. For best results, consult a certified fitness professional to design a plan tailored to your needs, abilities, and lifestyle. Training with a running club that includes coached workouts can also be very helpful — and motivating.
As you prepare for the big event, consider participating in shorter events — like a 5K, 10K, or 12K — to keep your training focused and to gain valuable racing experience.