The half marathon is a fantastic distance to run as just about anyone can run 21km or 13.1 miles if you train properly, but it is still an incredible accomplishment to reach the finish line.
With the proper amount of training and a sensible, structured half-marathon training schedule, it is a fantastic goal to shoot for.
Before we jump into what it takes to train for a half marathon in 8 weeks, we should probably ask whether or not it is possible…
…and more importantly, whether is it sensible to train for and run a half marathon in just two months.
Is It Possible To Train For a Half Marathon In Just 2 Months?
A half marathon’s a great distance, in my opinion, it’s one of my favorites.
It’s challenging enough that you have to do some training but it’s not like a marathon where it hurts. In my personal opinion, half marathons are probably the best distance to be running.
The first question you should ask yourself is… how much running experience do you have?
If you come from a non-existent running background with very little to no running, the chances are unfortunately very slim…
If you’re brand new to the sport of running and are starting from scratch, then any running coach will tell you it’s probably more sensible to push the goal out slightly.
That will allow your body to adapt to the increased training load so that you avoid any risk of overuse injuries.
We’ll talk about the pitfalls later on.
For someone that does have some form of running background, if you make the most of your training and make sure that the jumps in your training sessions aren’t too massive then… This is a very doable task.
Between possible and advisable, there is a very fine line.
I think anything is possible, it’s whether it’s advisable or not is probably the better question to ask.
Let’s talk about someone who possibly does have a previous history of running. I’d break the training down into a week-for-week program. Firstly, start with maybe one day on one day off for the first week.
Don’t go and run an hour for your first run or for your first week’s runs.
If it’s 30 minutes where it starts getting uncomfortable, then cap it at 30 minutes.
The next run can either be the same duration or 5 to 10 minutes longer. The week after that, you’ll generally build the same increments.
I’d stay clear of doing speed work because the idea is just to finish the half marathon.
The slower the progress, the more permanent the change.
Or… How do you eat an elephant?
Bit by bit.
You just need to make sure you tick the boxes as you go along, increasing your runs in duration, not necessarily mileage, the chances of you being successful are rather great, because it’s not about ‘oh, but I’ve never run a long run or never done a long run of 21 kilometers or longer… it’s the cumulative mileage in a week that makes the difference.
Consistency is probably the biggest thing that you need to focus on.
Two months is doable, but you’ve got to be consistent and you’ve just got to be sensible about it.
12 weeks is probably a better amount of time to train for a half marathon so if you do have more time, you’d better follow one of our 12-week Half Marathon training programs.
If 8 weeks is all you have, then you need to make do with what you’ve got. When training for a half marathon in two months, many runners think getting as much mileage under their belt is the most important thing. That is not the case.
Consistency is THE most important thing to focus on over the 2 months leading up to the half marathon. Rather have less mileage under the belt but be fresh and injury-free, than try cramming too much training and risk not even making the start line because you have an injury.
Let’s talk about some of those pitfalls. What are some of the dangers of running a half marathon or training for a half marathon in two months?
Dangers Of Training For a Half Marathon In Only 2 Months
The most important thing is that you need to set a realistic goal for yourself. If it’s unrealistic, the chances are high of you hurting yourself and not achieving the goal.
Training at the wrong intensity is also a danger, it’s not about how fast you can go on the day, it’s about if you can go far enough.
You need to make sure that there’s slight overreaching in your training in the sense that your week one’s long run was, let’s say 45 minutes, the next week needs to be 55.
The key to successfully training for and running a half marathon in 8 weeks is to remain injury-free.
In order to do that, here are a few things to focus on…
Training For a Half-Marathon In Two Months
There are a handful of things you need to do if you’re planning on running a half marathon in 2 months.
Here’s a quick list of the important areas to keep an eye on in your half marathon training schedule and we’ll go into more depth below:
- Build up slowly
- Run your easy runs very easy
- Structure your weekly training
- Be consistent
- Listen to your body
Build up slowly.
Patience is vital. Don’t start your training by going too hard for too long as you may end up injured.
Start slow and build up your training so that you give your body and muscles time to adjust to the extra exercise.
The rule of thumb is no more than a 10% increase in the total time run or the number of miles per week.
For example, if in week 1 you run 10 miles or 16km, then only increase it to 11 miles or 18km in week 2.
Run your easy runs VERY easy.
The pace at which you run your training runs is also important. Most good training half marathon programs will have pacing instructions for you to follow.
Most runners make the mistake of running their easy runs too hard and because of that, they aren’t able to run their hard runs hard enough. Don’t fall into the ‘no pain no gain trap’ and think that if you don’t feel shattered after every run, then they’re not training hard enough.
An easy way to gauge that you’re running easy enough is what I like to call the talk test. If you aren’t able to have a robust conversation while running then you’re not running easy enough.
Structuring your weekly training.
The first thing you need to realize is you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) run every day. Running 4 times a week is more than enough.
As mentioned before, the mistake a lot of runners make is running too many of their training sessions too hard. The temptation when structuring your weekly half marathon training is to include hill repeats, tempo runs, and interval training.
If you don’t come from a running background, you don’t need them in your training (for now). You need to build a solid base of training and that will include easy runs, long runs, and recovery runs.
PRO TIP: Just like you need rest days during the week, recovery weeks are also important to include in your 2-month half marathon training plan.
Speaking of recovery, it is vital to include it in your half-marathon training schedule. Running 4 days a week means that there will only be two days where you have back-to-back runs.
If you feel like you should be training more then feel free to add in some cross-training.
Cycling and swimming are great additions to a half-marathon training plan. They will help build your fitness but aren’t as taxing on the body as running is. If you are adding additional sessions, make sure you take at least one full day per week off from training totally.
It is still important to note how well you are recovering. If you are feeling tired all the time, remove the extra cross-training session or replace one of the runs with cross-training.
Note: Cross training is NOT strength training, so if anything, I would prefer you do strength training rather.
Strength training is also a great addition to a half-marathon training program…
Making sure you do the correct strength training is important. The good news is we’ve created a free strength training plan for runners that you can download by clicking here.
You should do at least one long run for about 2-2:30 hours with a recovery run the following day for about 45 minutes. Most runners go for their long runs on the weekend because they have more free time then.
Hill repeats and interval training are important for building up your speed and strength so make sure you have one day a week where you do one or the other.
Then on the one day left in your weekly training schedule, you should either do an easy or a long run at a slowish pace for about 1-1:30 hours. These runs should feel quite easy, result in a light sweat and feel like you could have run for much longer.
You need to follow a structured training program or create a weekly training schedule for yourself so that you know exactly what to do each week.
A good place to start is to designate 4 days a week for training. That way you can have a rest day in between most of your runs except for one. With the two days placed together, you can do a long run on one day and then a recovery runs on the following day.
So if you’re training on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, do a long run on Sunday and a recovery run at an easy pace on Monday.
Following a structured training program can help you stay organized and make sure you reach your goal – if you follow it consistently.
Listen to your body
If you start to feel any pain or muscle tightness, make sure you take some time to recover before running again. You don’t want to exacerbate any small niggles and turn them into bigger problems than they are.
It’s better to arrive on the start line slightly undertrained and injury-free than nursing an injury.
In the two weeks leading up to your half marathon, you need to taper so that your body feels fresh and ready to go on race day.
Tapering means that you are cutting back on the volume of training to freshen and sharpen up for race day so that you can cope with your planned race pace. (It does not mean “NO TRAINING”)
Two weeks before race day make sure you taper your long run down to about 1 and a half hours and then during the week before your race, only go on easy runs on your training days for about 30 minutes. Again, a well-structured half-marathon training plan will have the taper scheduled into your training.
This will make sure your muscles are in great shape and ready to run those 21 kilometers injury free and feeling strong.