Your Half Marathon Training and Racing Guide

The half marathon is 13.1 miles, and it’s one of the most popular distances for road running enthusiasts. It’s long enough to feel challenging, but not long enough to leave you sore for the rest of the week (as long as you train properly!).

The half marathon is also a great jumping off point for runners who have already completed a 5K or a 10K and want to increase their endurance, although prior shorter-distance racing experience isn’t required to successfully complete a half marathon. That’s why we’re here to help!

Are you ready to run a half marathon? Here’s everything you need to know before you click “register.”

Training for a Half Marathon

A man smiles as he runs along a path.

In order to reduce the risk of injury and run your best, proper training is essential to cover all 13.1 miles. By setting aside just a few hours each week to run, strength train and cross train, you can reach your maximum potential on race day.

For both beginning and experienced runners, following a training plan can help you reach your goals. Training plans provide the structure and guidance you need to ensure you reach the start line healthy and ready to race. Most half marathon training programs are between 10 - 12 weeks.

Half marathon training plans can be as general as a set amount of miles per week, or they can incorporate specific workouts with training paces tailored to your abilities. You can find a sample week of half marathon training here.

And while you can certainly train for a half marathon on your own, finding a group to run with can help you stay motivated and accountable. Fleet Feet stores around the country offer regular fun runs and training programs.

Input your zip code here and check in with the Fleet Feet nearest you to see the group runs and programs available.

Preparing for Race Day

Runners stand on the start line of a race.

After spending months training, preparing and visualizing your race, the big day is finally here. You might be excited, nervous or a combination of both. That’s normal! Race day nerves just mean that you care. So use these nerves as fuel for your performance, but keep them in check by practicing calming breathing exercises, warming up slowly and visualizing the race ahead.

In order for race day to go as smoothly as possible, it helps to plan ahead. Most races post a map or an overview of the race course online ahead of time. You can check out where the water stops will be, where the hills are and scope out the best spots for spectators.

It’s also a good idea to plan what you’ll wear ahead of time, from your outfit to your shoes. Checking the weather is always a good idea when planning your race-day kit.

A line of runners stick together during a race.