Smart Strategies for How to Train For a Half Marathon

Training for a half marathon is a journey that combines endurance, strength, and mental fortitude. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or new to the race scene, understanding how to train for a half marathon effectively is key to crossing the finish line. In this guide, we’ll explore comprehensive strategies that cater to all aspects of preparation, ensuring you’re well-equipped for your 13.1-mile challenge.


Embarking on a half marathon training journey is an exciting endeavor that requires considerable dedication. Not just about running, but about building a resilient body and mind capable of conquering the miles ahead. Let’s dive into how you can lay the foundation for a successful training experience.

Laying the Foundation: Before You Start

Assessing Your Current Fitness Level

Before lacing up your running shoes, it’s crucial to evaluate where you stand physically. Are you a beginner, intermediate, or an experienced runner? Setting realistic goals based on your current fitness level will guide your training plan and prevent injuries.

Choosing the Right Half Marathon Training Plan

There are many ways to train for a half marathon, and planning training to align with your goals, schedule, and experience is vital. Whether you’re eyeing a beginner half marathon training program or a more advanced regimen, ensure you are working with a trained professional. A well-structured plan will be a mix of long runs, strength training, and rest days. A solid buildup to race-day will gradually increase mileage, allowing your body to adapt without the risk of overtraining.

Building Your Training Regimen

The Role of Long Runs in Your Training

Long runs are the foundation of any half marathon preparation, gradually increasing your endurance. Aim for a conversational pace that allows you to speak without gasping for breath. This comfortable pace ensures you’re building endurance efficiently without over stressing your body.

Incorporating Strength Training and Cross-Training

Strength training is not just an add-on; it’s a crucial part of your training regimen. It enhances your running efficiency and reduces the risk of injury. You will want to be incorporating exercises targeting your core, legs, and glutes. Cross-training days, such as swimming or cycling, provide excellent cardiovascular benefits while giving your running muscles a much-needed break.

The Significance of Rest Days

Rest days are as important as your training days. They allow your muscles to recover and rebuild stronger. Ignoring rest can lead to burnout and injuries, derailing your training efforts. Embrace rest days as part of your training, not an interruption.

Advanced Strategies for Seasoned Runners

Enhancing Your Training with Speed Work and Hill Repeats

For those looking to improve their pace and endurance, incorporating speed work and hill repeats can be game-changers. These workouts challenge your body in new ways, improving your race pace across distances.

Nutrition and Hydration Strategies

Fueling your body correctly is crucial for successful training and race day performance. Focus on a balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Hydration is equally important; ensure you’re drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your runs.

Preparing for Race Day

Tapering and Mental Preparation

The final weeks before your race involve tapering, where you gradually reduce your mileage to ensure your body is rested and ready. This period is also crucial for mental preparation. Visualize crossing the finish line, and build confidence in your training and abilities.

Gear and Logistics

Selecting the right running shoes and planning for race day logistics are final steps in your preparation. Ensure your shoes are well broken in, but not too worn, to avoid blisters and discomfort. Plan your travel, accommodations, and race morning schedule to minimize stress.

Gear and Logistics

Selecting the right running shoes and planning for race day logistics are final steps in your preparation. Ensure your shoes are well broken in, but not too worn, to avoid blisters and discomfort. Plan your travel, accommodations, and race morning schedule to minimize stress.


Training for a half marathon is a rewarding journey that tests your limits and teaches valuable lessons about resilience and determination. By following these smart strategies, from laying a solid foundation with the right half marathon training plan to preparing meticulously for race day, you’re setting the stage for a successful and enjoyable race.

Remember, training runs bring you closer to that exhilarating moment of crossing the finish line. Trust in your training, listen to your body, and embrace the journey.

Are you ready to elevate your running game and achieve your half marathon goals with personalized, expert coaching? Grit Coaching is here to guide you every step of the way. As a women-owned business led by an Olympic athlete and a renowned Obstacle Course Racer, we offer science-based coaching tailored to your unique needs. Embrace the journey with just the support you need to cross the finish line with confidence.

Unlock your potential with Grit Coaching’s training plans and become unstoppable today. Join us now and start your journey to becoming a stronger, more resilient athlete!


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.