Training for a Half Marathon – Running Tips

Today’s post is all about training for a half marathon, specifically someone’s first half mary.

A reader needed to talk to a half marathon expert for a college project and Ryan Hall didn’t answer her calls so she hit me up for some advice.

(I tried to use my new laptop’s camera for this vlog, um… yeah. It’s not good. I won’t use it again.)

Ask a Monican…

Training for a Half Marathon

1) What training program would you recommend for a somewhat newbie runner like myself?  (Running just shy of a year, very casually.)

2) Is my base of 3 miles adequate, or should I start building up now?  (I’m planning to start training in, like, late June?  For an October race?  Maybe?  Depending on your answer to #1 up there.)

3) Is cross-training super important?  (I’m inherently lazy and have limited time for exercise; when I’m not running, I work a desk job or am in class.)

4) When should I start thinking about integrating fuel into my runs?  (I usually just take off a couple hours after breakfast, but I know that probably won’t fly once I start hitting my long runs.)

5) What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started training for your first race?  (Sorry; that is a potentially wordy one there.  I apologize!  If it’s too vague, let me know!)

Seriously, Monica.  You are so super sweet for helping me out!  I realize your schedule is really busy right now, so knowing that you’re taking time aside to help me out pretty much makes you the awesomest person in the world.


Half Marathon Training plans mentioned:

Hal Higdon half marathon training

Jeff Galloway half marathon training

Got a question for this Monican?

Ask in the comments or email me runeatrepeat at gmail dot com


  1. Steve says

    Great suggestions. And I just went through this. Started in mid-October from ZERO running base for an end of March half-M. Very glad I did – lost 2 weeks late October when I discovered my IT band and a few muscles I didn’t know I had! Several other points where life got in way or I just needed a day (or days!) off. Had solid aerobic base from several years of cycling, but ALL my running & tri friends warned I needed the extra time to get my legs ready for running. They were quite right.

    Used Hal Higdon Novice 1, cycling 2-3x/week & weights 1-2x/week for x-training. Also ballroom dancing with wife 2 nights/week (happy spouse or SO = support for running) so VERY glad they sort of use different muscles. (and a few morning I shortened or blew off the running because I needed the sleep!)

    Officially started following the Higdon plan late December. He has a Q&A forum on Training Peaks (accessible with the free membership). My 1st 5K and 10 Miler races as prep. Found this blog while looking for ideas and what works for other folks, maybe searching for info on eating for runners?

    The foam roller became my new bestest friend. And Pro Compression socks rule! I loathe treadmills even more than bike trainers, no matter how good my music or cute the person on the next ‘mill. Still don’t stretch enough. Runs up to ~1 hr usually before breakfast or lunch, just had big glass of water before leaving. > 1 hr, brought gel packs or bites (easier if you open the bag before leaving) and small water vials (winter, not sweating much). I would bring more fluids or route past water sources for warmer weather. Use training & shorter races to figure out what works. Like I found running > 1hr on empty stomach was a bad idea, and long run day after a hard bike workout a worse idea (combing the 2 – even more worse!). Bananas & choc milk great for immediate post-run. I bought new shoes early March as I felt the 1st pair were wearing out and not quite right.

    Almost all my training runs were solo. Would have been better with friends but schedules & abilities never matched up. Kept friends who run appraised and got great support from them. Ran the 10 miler & half-M with friends, which helped our pacing. We split up at the last few miles when we went for our own best pace and celebrated afterwards. Good luck!

  2. Emily says

    You are adorable, and I just love your videos. I wish I had been able to enjoy my first half marathon, but I just didn’t. Obviously enough to run many more, but not like I should have. I was grossly unprepared for the elevation, and I was more focused on running a better time than just enjoying it. Your advice is so spot on. Listen to her ladies!

  3. says

    This post literally could not have come at a better time. Just today I made the decision to run my first half and it is coming up super fast (June 30- 2 months to train) I’m super nervous but this helped so thanks!

  4. Kaz says

    I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions, Monica. I’ll definitely let you know how it goes. I have several months to freak myself out over this. ;D

    But seriously — your advice is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you so much! <3

  5. says

    Great video! This was basically me about a year ago. When I started, I didn’t have a base, and started slowly over the summer, then building up to longer distances. My race was also in October and I started training in June.

  6. says

    LOVE this video!!
    Another training program and the one that I tend to use for everything is Runner’s World! :) You can kind of customize it to fit your needs/fitness…
    I would definitely say cross training is important for muscle balance and to strengthen your hips!! I just did a Vlog about that yesterday in relation to knee pain that I’ve been plagued with lol…

  7. Kay says

    perfect timing for this post! Yay I just picked out my first half :)
    thanks! I like the first training program listed

  8. says

    Hal and Jeff’s programs work but lets look at our full and half marathon training a little differently with the Sole Runners Full and half Marathon Training Programs: Minutes instead of miles, incorporate running form into your training.use the benefits of yoga, cross-train, understand heart-rate training and more.

    Check us out at

    Great for beginners. Group and virtual training available.

  9. says

    I love running. This was me not too long ago when I was training for my first half marathon. Great tips. I find that picking a consistent time of day and the same days each week helped me keep with my training schedule as I built up to my first race. Good luck to all the first timers out there!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *