The Best Half Marathon Training Program

The Best Half Marathon Training Program

Have a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I just finished my first half marathon following your Novice 2 training program. I’m 59 years old and ran 2:36:59. Sweet! My next half is in November. Which training program do you recommend?


Novice 2, both for half and full marathoners, is both a comfortable and successful way to train. Four running days a week. A touch of cross training. Two rest days bracketing tougher workouts on the weekends. The long run mileage is not onerous. A lot of runners use Novice 2 over and over again, finding they still can continue to improve by running some of the workouts a nudge faster.

Intermediate offers a step up in difficulty. Five running days a week, and one of those days I suggest doing some speedwork: 400-meter repeats alternating with tempo runs. Add to that some pace work: doing a few workouts at race pace. I’m not convinced that Intermediate is that much more difficult than Novice 2. It’s simply different.

But with a November race and those programs each only lasting 12 weeks, you have several months before you need to make a choice. I would spend those months dropping down in distance, perhaps selecting a 5-K or 10-K race this summer as an interim goal. Try doing some speedwork either at a track or on the road. You may love it; you may hate it. By the end of the summer, you should be able to make an educated guess as to which half marathon program will work best for you.

Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for'Runner's World'and author of 34 books, including the best-selling'Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that more than a quarter million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks.Hal uses'TrainingPeaks'to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans.'Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here'or on'his website.