Half marathon advanced running guide

This training guide will get you improving your half marathon time in 12 weeks.

For those who have finished numerous half marathons and who want to push themselves even further, the half marathon ‘Personal best’ training guide is designed to help you achieve your personal best (PB).

To achieve your PB you need to improve both your endurance and your speed. The best way to do this is by increasing the length of your runs, the pace you’re running at and by combining distance and speed training sessions. This training guide incorporates these principles to improve your endurance and speed so that you can run your PB on race day. 

Download your half marathon 12-week training guide as a pdf

Training days explained

Easy runs: The runs on Mondays, Wednesdays and sometimes Fridays or Saturdays are designed to be done at a comfortable pace.

Stretch + strengthen: After your long Sunday run, Mondays are for stretching (this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stretch on other days) and Mondays and Wednesdays are for strength training. Strength training, particularly for your core muscles, is an important focus of this training guide. Bodyweight-based activities like push-ups, chin-ups or dips are beneficial or light weights with high reps at your local gym.

Distance: The training guide has distances, from 5.0km to two hours. The time-based run, scheduled for Sundays, may see you running further than your half marathon distance but the aim is to forget about the kms and to find rhythm in your running.

Rest: Your muscles need time to recover and rebuild, so ensuring adequate rest is just as important as the runs in this guide. In particular, taking the time to rest before and after your long run will help reduce your risk of injury. Be realistic about your fatigue level, especially in the closing weeks of the program, and don’t be afraid to take an extra day off now and then.

Hills: Hill training helps strengthen your quads and build speed. This guide has three hill sessions, all in the first half of the program. If you find these sessions work for you, you can substitute hill sessions with any of the interval runs.

Speed sessions: To increase your speed to achieve your PB you need to train at an increased pace a couple of sessions per week. This guide alternates interval running with tempo runs. An interval workout usually consists of fast runs separated by walking or jogging. The guide begins with 5 x 400m and reaches 10 x 400m the week before your half marathon. Walk or jog between each. Medium pace is around your 10km best time pace and fast pace is around your 5km best time pace.

Tempo runs: This is a continuous run with a buildup of pace in the middle. A tempo run of 30 to 45 minutes would begin with 10-15 minutes easy running, build to 15-20 minutes at medium pace near the middle, then 5-10 minutes easy toward the end. The pace buildup should be gradual. A tempo run can be as hard or easy as you want to make it.

Warm-up: A good guide for a warm-up is to jog 1-2km, sit down and stretch for 5-10 minutes, then run some easy strides (100m at near race pace). Cool down afterwards by doing half the warm-up distance.

Pace: In the guide some workouts are designed as pace runs to get you used to running the pace you will run to achieve your PB. For example in week 10 you run a session of 8.0km at PB race pace. Remember to do a short warm-up before starting each of these pace runs.

Long runs: Run at a comfortable, conversational pace, except on those days where a negative split run is prescribed. A negative split run is one in which you run the first half of the run at a comfortable pace and the second half at an increased pace i.e. you cover more distance in the second half of the run than you do in the first.

Cross-training: Even though you are focused on achieving a PB, cross-training is still an effective session as it helps with active recovery and injury prevention. It could be swimming, cycling, walking, rowing, or a combination that includes strength training.

Flexibility: You need to make the guide work for you. Over a 12-week program, it is important to be flexible and mix up days and runs when you need to. If you miss a run you can make it up. The real aim is to be consistent with your training, and the overall details won’t matter.

Test: The idea with the test runs is to measure your time, progress and fitness, if it suits you. Another option is to find local fun-runs at these distances so you can time your race and get used to running with other competitors.

Download the full guide here.

Recommended reading - Issue Four Winter 2013

Community

Letters from a young doctor

 “The promise I made during my visit to Swaziland was to return to Australia to tell the stories…”

Read more
Experts

Adequate vitamin D over winter

Keeping vitamin D up during the winter months has a range of health benefits for bones and muscles.

Read more
Experts

Beating cancer step by step

Research suggests physical activity may help improve survival after a cancer diagnosis.

Read more
Travel

Hats off to Lake Wanaka

Drive north just over an hour to explore New Zealand’s picturesque Lake Wanaka.

Read more
Recipes

Spinach and pumpkin risotto recipe

Pearl barely risotto packed with spinach and pumpkin.

Read more
Experts

Diabetes myths busted

Busting some of the common myths associated with diabetes.

Read more
Recipes

Chocolate mandarin cake recipe

This dairy free, gluten free chocolate mandarin cake is a tasty crowd pleaser.

Read more
In Brief

Possible flu cure unveiled

A new drug is proving effective in preventing the spread of different strains of influenza.

Read more
Experts

Myopia: How to treat short-sightedness

What causes myopia? Can it be fixed? Ophthalmologist Dr Colin Chan explains.

Read more
Community

The best places to ski in Australia

Here are some of the best spots in Australia for a snow trip.

Read more
Community

Healthy eating made easy

Simple tips to make healthy eating easy.

Read more
In Brief

Health advice as easy as ABC!

Double your dose of be. over winter with the new A-Z Guide - For Better Health.

Read more
Lifestyle

Keep your pet toasty in winter

Just as we feel the cold and need to rug up in winter, so too do our furry friends.

Read more
Lifestyle

Sight set on eye health

Aussie rocker Kirk Pengilly discusses eye health, specs and health challenges of touring.

Read more
Community

How dense are you?

As Patron of Osteoporosis Australia, Helen Dalley is turning our focus towards bone health.

Read more
Recipes

Beef and winter veggie stew recipe

A tasty one pot winter warmer to soothe the soul.

Read more
Experts

Killer heels

Some women confess to feeling more confident in heels, but at what cost to the feet and body?

Read more
Community

Clear the mind, tone the body with reformer pilates

How reformer pilates can help you get long and lean – and move better every day.

Read more
Experts

Chinese medicine for the four seasons: Winter

Get through the winter months with Chinese medicine.

Read more
In Brief

What man flu?

Do men exaggerate the symptoms of the common cold? The research is in!

Read more
Experts

Exceptional ageing

By 2020, 18% of Australia's population will be over 65 and by 2050 this will be well over 24%.

Read more
In Brief

Eating fish for a longer life

Study reveals another reason to incorporate fish into your diet.

Read more
Community

Kitchen Cabinet Gatherings

How you can join the Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Program community.

Read more
Recipes

Silverbeet, chickpea and ricotta rolls recipe

Healthy vegetarian alternative to the classic sausage roll.

Read more
In Brief

The Australian Dietary Guidelines explained

Here's how to make sure you're eating a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups.

Read more
Community

9 snow gear essentials

Stay warm and protected from the elements with the right gear. Here's what's on our winter wishlist.

Read more
Lifestyle

Park City style

We reflect on the spectacular snowfields at Utah's Park City Mountain Resort.

Read more
Lifestyle

The history of the x-ray

Health humorist Nick Snelling uncovers the origins of the Röntgen ray.

Read more
Community

Action for healthy outcomes

Don't let joint pain get the better of you.

Read more
Experts

Super-foods!

Your mum was right, eat your greens!

Read more
Community

Amazing eye facts

Optometrists Association Australia provides reasons why you should visit an optometrist.

Read more
Experts

Choosing running shoes

Liam Rothwell goes over the most important things to consider when buying a pair of running shoes.

Read more
Experts

When to buy new running shoes

Podiatrist Liam Rothwell shows us what to look for when deciding whether to replace your shoes.

Read more
Community

Improving healthcare delivery

Doctor Andrew Wilson shares why he is optimistic about the health industry's challenges ahead.   

Read more
Travel

A lesson in Japanese cuisine

Be magazine learns the secrets to balanced Japanese cooking.

Read more
Community

The powder capital awaits

A comprehensive guide to the powder capital of Australia: Mount Hotham.

Read more
In Brief

Million dollar health award

Google and Facebook have teamed up to launch a multi million dollar health award.

Read more
Community

Mighty fighting family man

Former midfielder and father of four, Shane Crawford is all about raising healthy, active families.

Read more
In Brief

Retirement and rural living

A recent NSW study shows that retirement due to ill health is more likely in rural areas.

Read more
In Brief

Australians unaware when it comes to diabetes

Almost half of global diabetes sufferers go undiagnosed.

Read more
Community

Bound to the board

Olympic snowboarder Alex Pullin talks training, recovery and his favourite snowboarding runs.

Read more
Lifestyle

Expanding pooches

Is your pooch watching its waistline?

Read more
Community

Bye bye booze

Comedian Adam Spencer shares how his life changes for the better when he gives up alcohol in July.

Read more
Community

Snowy Mountains are waiting

Perisher consistently delivers near perfect powder at the highest terrain.

Read more
Community

Melbourne marathon course

Complete the Medibank Melbourne marathon in 7 minutes!

Read more
Lifestyle

What is the perfect sandwich?

How to make a humble sandwich healthy and scrumptious.

Read more
Lifestyle

Inspirational and fearless

How a radical incident changed Kathrine Switzer's life.

Read more
Community

A day in the life of Eddie McGuire

Eddie McGuire is living proof that the more you do, the more you can do.

Read more
Community

Dry July

$10 million is 10 million reasons to help adults Australians living with cancer.

Read more
In Brief

The seated alarm

Researchers have come up with a way to remind us to step away from our desks - a chair alarm!

Read more

Bring on the beans and bananas

Are you getting enough potassium in your diet?

Read more
Community

Medibank Melbourne Marathon

Always thought about training for a marathon one day? Now's the time to get started.

Read more
Community

Products in the spotlight

From snacks to self-cooling towels, get the lowdown on new health products.

Read more
Health Check

JulEYE

Turning our focus to the health of our eyes this July.

Read more
Community

SALA Festival

Hundreds of exhibition spaces come alive during SALA festival.

Read more
Lifestyle

Focus back on 2 fruit, 3 veg

Local growers explain how your fruit and veg gets from farm to table.

Read more
Community

City chill

Ice skating, ice hockey and tubing are all on the cards with a trip to the Medibank Icehouse

Read more
Lifestyle

42.195 marathon facts

Some interesting, some informative, some inspiring and some odd, here are 42.195 marathon facts.

Read more
In Brief

Food allergy knowledge, parents and schools…

Would you recognise the symptoms of an allergic reaction to food?

Read more
In Brief

Nutrition info now in search

Make smarter food choices using Google

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.