Can I Train for a Half Marathon in 8 Weeks?

Embarking on a half marathon journey brings with it a mix of excitement and challenge. The question on many beginners’ and seasoned runners’ minds is, “Can I train for a half marathon in just 8 weeks?” The simple answer is yes, with a well-structured half marathon training plan that incorporates long runs, strength training, cross training, and essential rest days. This article will guide you through a comprehensive plan to get you from the couch to crossing the finish line.

Crafting Your 8-Week Half Marathon Training Plan

Week 1-2: Building the Foundation

The initial two weeks are all about laying the groundwork for your half marathon journey. Start with three to four run workouts a week, focusing on running at a conversational pace.

This means running at a speed where you can comfortably hold a conversation while building mileage to help get your body accustomed to running. Incorporate one day of strength training to build the muscle power needed for those later, longer runs.

Week 3-4: Introducing Variety

As you move into weeks three and four, it’s time to diversify your training. Continue with your regular run workouts, but start incorporating long runs on the weekend, gradually increasing your distance. Cross training can become your friend here, with activities like swimming, cycling, or even brisk walking supplementing your run training. These activities help improve your aerobic fitness while giving your running muscles a much-needed break.

Week 5-6: Up the Ante

By now, your body has become accustomed to the rigors of training. Week five introduces more challenging aspects, such as speed work or hill repeats, to build endurance and speed. Your long runs should be getting longer, testing your limits but also building your confidence.

Remember, rest days are still crucial. It can be hard to back off, but rest is a necessary component of any successful training plan.

Week 7-8: The Home Stretch

The final two weeks are about fine-tuning your preparation and focusing on recovery. You should have your longest run at the end of week 7, and then you should reduce your mileage during a tapering period to ensure you’re rested and ready for race day. Focus on maintaining a conversational pace during these runs to avoid injury and burnout-the work is done!.

Essential Elements of Your Training

Strength Training and Cross Training

Incorporating strength training and cross training into your plan is a great strategy to show up to the start line ready to roll. Strength training, particularly for your core and leg muscles, will enhance your running efficiency and reduce the risk of injury. Cross training, on the other hand, boosts your cardiovascular fitness without the impact stress of running, essential for overall endurance.

Rest and Recovery

Rest days are pivotal in any training program. They allow your body to heal, preventing overuse injuries, and mentally, they give you a break, ensuring you don’t burn out before you reach the finish line.

Race Day Preparation

As race day draws near, don’t let nerves get the best of you. Trust in your training plan and the work you’ve put in. Ensure you know the race route, have your gear ready, and plan your race day nutrition and hydration.

Remember, training runs have prepared you for this moment. It’s time to trust your training and enjoy the experience.


Training for a half marathon in 8 weeks is definitely achievable with the right approach. By following a structured training plan that includes long runs, strength training, cross training, and rest days, you’ll set yourself up for success. Remember to listen to your body, adjust the plan as needed, and most importantly, enjoy the journey.

Crossing the finish line is not just about the physical achievement but the mental and emotional strength you’ve built along the way. So, don’t worry, lace up your running shoes, and start your half marathon journey today.

Join the Grit Coaching Family

Ready to transform your athletic training with expert guidance from an Olympic athlete and a top Obstacle Course Racer? Grit Coaching invites you to join a community where we not only meet goals but exceed them. Our comprehensive programs provide you with all the tools you need to be successful, including expert training programs and elite coaching mentorship.

Don’t let another day pass without taking the step toward reaching your athletic potential. Contact Grit Coaching now and let us help you unlock the strength, endurance, and resilience you need to become unstoppable. 


Coach Faye in 'GRIT' athletic attire confidently poses with crossed arms.

Faye’s journey in athletics is marked by dedication and impressive achievements. Throughout her high school and university years, she was deeply engaged in running, competing for the University of Calgary’s track and cross-country teams. Her standout moments include earning the “All Canadian” cross-country status and participating in the 2008 Olympic trials for the 5000m. After obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, Faye embarked on a career as a personal trainer, where her passion for fitness and a healthy lifestyle became a source of inspiration for her diverse range of clients.

Transitioning from competitive running, Faye soon discovered her next athletic passion: obstacle course racing (OCR). Her strong foundation in running and strength training quickly propelled her to success in the OCR world. Faye’s talents were recognized in 2016 when she joined the Spartan Pro Team, and her athletic ability was furthered with a bronze medal at the Spartan World Championships.

Continuing to compete among the elite, Faye has consistently demonstrated her skill and tenacity in OCR. She has secured two 4th place finishes at both the Spartan North Americans and the Spartan World Championship. Her record of Spartan podium finishes over the past decade showcases her enduring excellence in the sport.

Beyond the thrill of competition, it’s the OCR community that deeply resonates with Faye. The opportunity to travel, share her passion for fitness and adventure, and connect with an array of positive, inspiring individuals fuels her year after year. Faye embodies the essence of the “work hard, play hard” ethos, living it to the fullest in both her professional and personal life.

Jess O'Connell

Coach Jess in 'GRIT' athletic attire confidently poses with crossed arms.

Though Jess spent much of her free time growing up competing in Irish dancing, once she hit the track, she never looked back! As a specialist in the 5000m, she boasts a personal best time of an impressive 15:06.66. Her accomplishments include competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 5000m and formerly holding the Canadian national records for the indoor 3000m and 2 mile races. Jess’s career is further highlighted by being a 15-time Canadian national team member across track and field, cross country, and road running, a four-time National Champion, a Pan Am Games silver medalist, an NCAA Division I All-American, and achieving a personal bests of 32:22 in the 10km (road race) and 4:30 in the mile.

Jess has always been “nerdy” about her training, which shows through in her impressive academic background. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University and a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Calgary. As a CSEP-CEP (Clinical Exercise Physiologist) with a High-Performance specialization, Jess holds the highest level of certification available in Canada. Jess also holds NCCP Performance Coach certification for endurance events. She applies her vast athletic experience and educational background to her role in Grit Coaching, and also serves as the distance track and cross country coach at the University of Calgary. 

Jess’s commitment to sport extends beyond her personal achievements, as she actively works to inspire and uplift the next generation of athletes. She has passionately volunteered for Fast and Female, an organization dedicated to empowering girls and young women to remain active and engaged in sports, and has served as the athlete representative on the board of Athletics Alberta, the provincial governing body for track and field. Jess believes that balance, health, and FUN are essential for longevity in sport, and she loves sharing her love of running with others.