Training For A Half Marathon On A Treadmill (Beginners)

Woman training on a treadmill for a half marathon

Skydive Erick/Shutterstock.com

By Simon Gould

A half marathon is quite a commitment. You’re going to run 13.1 miles so this will take some training to reach. This plan makes full use of a treadmill and prepares you for the race in 13 weeks. Half marathons may not be the ultimate distance of a full marathon, but they are still held everywhere across the country. It’s a hard but satisfying distance to cover.

The half marathon treadmill plan

I’m going to assume you can run for 2 miles, most beginners considering a half marathon can do this. The plan is a slow build up so you can accomplish the distance in a way that won’t get you injured, whether that’s during the race or the training. Hopefully your treadmill can take a lot of use, because it’s going to get it here. Recommendations for training for a full marathon is 26 weeks, so 13 weeks for half is sensible.

I’ve incorporated some outside running, race pace, and cross training. The most important part of the plan is when you near the race day itself. There is a reduction in exercise intensity to prepare for the final day. We want all your available energy to go to the race itself. So for the whole week leading up to it, the plan takes it easy on you and you have 2 days of rest before the big day itself.

I don’t recommend you use any incline because of the stress it puts on your joints. Regarding speed, if you’re very new, take it easy so you can accomplish each training run comfortably. It’s the race where we want to push ourselves. Before the plan, you may want to get your treadmill serviced to check it all works ok. It may need lubricating. We just won’t want it going wrong while you’re doing this plan.

Key:

  • CT & LCT – This is a cross training day. You still need to do a cardio workout but the equipment changes. Try an elliptical, bike or swim on these days. LCT means a light cross training session to ease you into the long run on Sunday.
  • O – This means try and do this run outside.
  • RP – Run at race pace or faster when you see these initials on a day. This will help improve your time.

Week 1 to 5

Week12345
MonRestRestRestRestRest
Tue2 miles O2 miles O3 miles O3 miles O4 miles O
WedCTCTCTCTCT
Thu2 miles RP2 miles RP3 miles RP3 miles RP4 miles RP
FriRestRestRestRestRest
SatLCTLCTLCTLCTLCT
Sun3 miles4 miles5 miles6 miles7 miles

Week 6 to 10

Week678910
MonRestRestRestRestRest
Tue4 miles O5 miles O5 miles O6 miles O6 miles O
WedCTCTCTCTCT
Thu4 miles RP5 miles RP5 miles RP5 miles RP5 miles RP
FriRestRestRestRestRest
SatLCTLCTLCTLCTLCT
Sun8 miles9 miles10 miles11 miles12 miles

Week 10 to 13

Week111213
MonRestRestRest
Tue7 miles O8 miles O5 miles O
WedCTCTCT
Thu5 miles RP5 miles RP4 miles
FriRestRestRest
SatLCTLCTRest
Sun13 miles8 milesHalf Marathon Race!

Cross training days

Treadmills still have a lot of impact on your knees and other joints, so we incorporate cross training days. These help keep the fitness levels high and give your body and mind a break from treadmill runs. I like to ride a bike, but do whatever you want to do. Do 30 minutes at first and increase it gradually to a maximum of 60 minutes.

LCT on the plan is for light cross training. This is because it’s the day before your long runs. Really take it easy on these days. Swimming would be the best choice if you have a pool nearby. You could even do some strength training on this day. If you do, don’t overdo it so you feel overtrained for your long run. If you have no access to other equipment, then a brisk walk on an incline on your treadmill would be ok.

Preparation before, during and after the race

Running shoes usually last for 300 miles or 6 months, whichever is sooner. You may want to buy new running shoes when you’ve signed up for the race. Then you can do all your training and race in the same shoes. This way you won’t be changing them in the middle of the training plan or just before the race. New shoes need braking in and the short runs at the start are perfect for this.

The same is true of all your gear. Don’t wear something different or new for the race. You don’t want anything causing chafing or blisters. The night before the race, some people recommend eating plenty of carbohydrates like pasta. This gives you plenty of energy in your body to give your best. Make sure you eat no sooner than 2 hours before your runs.

Find out what the weather is going to do on race day and consider your gear relating to it. Get to the start at least an hour before. Make sure you remember your race bib and attach it to your vest or top. Remember any chips you need to install in your running shoes to track your time and progress. Hydrate well before and during the race.

Enjoy yourself on your run, monitor your time as you go with a stop watch. There will be hydration stations along the way so make sure you use them. Have someone at the end with an energy gel or protein bar to help your body recover. Think about a change of clothing or coat because you’ll be wet and cold with swear soon after you finish. Make sure you’ve considered how you’re going to get home.

Summary

If you’re a true beginner to running and training for a race as long as a half marathon. The plan will be a shock. It’s a lot of work and is a real commitment to undertake, but it’s easier if you’ve got a treadmill at home. It’s all worth it, you’ll feel amazing when you’ve finished the race and done your best. What you do afterwards is up to you, a full marathon maybe?

Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked*

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