How much prep as a minimum for a 1/2 marathon


 i know this is a niaive question, but here goes...

I am a 38 yr old male who is moderately fit, plays 5 aside, goes to the gym couple of times a week. But over the past month I have began to become a bit more serious about my running and fitness. Spent a few weeks doing 5k 3 times a week and then in the past 2 weeks i have started to up the distances a bit.

Last week i joined a running club and have also been running with a friend. To my surprise my first outing with the club was on a slow 9 mile run !! This was 5 miles further  than I had run in about the past 16 years so i was proud to have completed it and awoke the next day. That was Sunday. Monday I ran 4.5 miles, Tuesday 6 miles and tonight 3 miles. I know I need to rest also, but this was just due to commitments, so I will rest tomorrow.

 So, particularly over the past week to two I have felt I am making quick progress and feel really comfortable running the 5 miles, the 9 was demanding particularly as 3-4 miles of that was on a continous hill.

My ultimate goal is to train for a marathon next spring and I have a 24 week programme to work on which looks perfect. However I have the bug and would like a challenge imminenetly. I looked to see if there were any 1/2 marathons before the end of the year and the last i can find in this area is dublin on 17th september. So is this too soon for where I am now.

I should say I ran two half marathons in a previous life 18/19 years ago so I know the distance but I was much younger then (i should say I ran both very slowly about 2hrs 10 mins with absolutely no training) so even 5 weeks training would be progress 18 years later.

 So what do you think? is it a non starter or worth a trip.


  • Hi Shaun

    Personally I would say it would be too soon and you have to ask yourself why you would be entering it. Most people entering a half marathon do a 12 week training regieme (or even more). You only have to look at the training guides on this site to see some of the schedules. I'm not saying you couldn't do it, but what are you going to get out of it? A lot of people use a half marathon as as guide to fittnes within a maraton training programme, so I would wopuld look for a half somehwere around late February/early March next year. I would use the next few months building up your endurance moderately so that if the marathon next spring is your goal you are at least prepared to start the training - maybe there are some shorter distance near by in the next month or so you could aim for? Running with the Club is a great start and you'll get better just going out with them and getting motivated by the other runners.

    Good luck

  • I'm sure you could get round - I once did a half on a total of 13 miles training in the previous 6 months. However, it did hurt like hell from mile 9, and I even had to walk a bit in the last mile. I finished in 1:52, about 20 mins slower than when I've trained more sensibly.

    I think my suggestion would be to look for a couple of 10k's which would give you something to aim at, and if you can find 2 say a couple of months apart would (hopefully) give you a boost to see improvement. Make no mistake racing hard for 6.2 miles is not just an easy option. You could also maybe look and see if there is something off-road, possibly slightly longer around Dec/Jan as this would be great for strengthening up. Then you'd be in an ideal position to look for a half in early spring as part of your marathon prep.
  • dprovan - I'd say you could do a half marathon in Autumn, if your goal is just to get round. But as KR suggests, your biggest risk is wanting to progress too quickly and end up running yourself into an injury. It's not fun and puts a lot of people off from running altogether ("it wasn't right for me").

    Just ask some of the coaches at the running club who know you a bit better if it is the right goal at the right time - you never know, it might be UNDER ambitious!!

    Either way, a 24 week program for marathon prep is going to require you to start building mileage soon. So I think that as long as you don't try chasing down an impressive time goal in the HM, you should be just fibe to get in that longer run. But don't think you can go straight on to running 50 mile weeks without a visit to the physio or hospital.

    Good luck, TD image

  • dprovan, Well done on the 9 miles! However, a word of caution. It looks from your post as if you have just made a massive leap in total mileage run in a week. That's why TD has posted as above. To expand on that. When you start to build up mileage, there is a general 10% rule which is advised almost universally: i.e. total mileage not increased by more than 10% each week and length of longest run similarly. Of course, you can do more as a 1-off (for very good reasons, most people run a marathon with a previous longest run of about 20 miles!) and a few people find that they are lucky and can build up quicker, particularly if they are younger and have been active in other running sports. But for most of us, it can be a recipe for disaster.

    There are various good articles on the WWW about building up mileage and it may be worth spending a while reading up on some related articles, some on this site, others such as Hal Higdon's site, or are pretty good too, but the choice is wide, and growing...

    Good luck with it all. image
  • thank you everyone for the responses. I know what you are all saying makes sense and I am going to knock the half marathon idea in the autumn on the head.....

     Instead, I will focus on continuing to build my fitness and will do some 5ks/10k races and work my way up. Thanks for taking the time to share wisdom

  • Hmm.. I'm going to play Devils advocate and say go for it.
    You've got 2-3 weeks and obviously some latent fitness with the football and some gym.

    A hm isn't that hard, max of maybe 150 mins, and not way past your limits.
    You say the 9 m run had 3-4 miles hills even, so worth more in terms of development for flat running.

    I did my first hm doing 3-5m and a long 7-9 runs over 3-4 weeks before the day, charity place came up short notice.

    It wont be pretty or pain free.. But the feeling of achievement cant be beat after.
    Aim to get around and set a huge PB difference next year then.
  • I would say that the key risk you face. Kind of one-off surges in distance aren't likely to cause huge problems - a bit of stiffness perhaps, but trying to run fast early on places a big strain on muscles and tendons in particular - which are not yet ready for the stress.

    5k and 10k races can require some hard running and my feeling is these are much more likely to bring you to your knees than long, slow(er) running.

  • CindersCinders ✭✭✭

    If you want to make a decent go of a half then wait longer and see how your training with the club goes and then pick one. 

    Like the others have said....if you just want to get round then  you're probably able to now.

    I did a half 2 weeks ago, longest run of 8 miles and missed a lot of training due to illness.  I ambled round, finished ok and it didn't hurt at all.  However, I now want to better that so have picked out a half for next Feb image

  • hi guys

     I am still hedging on the side of leaving it for now, but who knows. I went out and ran 4.2 miles yesterday and went a bit quicker than normal ( did it in 37 mins) so since sunday I have closked 26 miles this week which represents a huge increase in my total miles.... I feel a bit tired now, mainly stiff....

     I am out with the club tomorrow again for a long slow run so I will see how that goes... maybe sounds strange but now i know the distance we will run tomorrow (last week i just turned up and done it) i am not sure how it will go.. I will keep you posted

  • Just be careful with the "huge" increase in miles

    I think your latent fitness is pretty good but the extra miles will be a strain

    Better to take it slower, maybe drop one session for gym work perhaps core based or some swimming

    Still think you could run a half, just not aim for any time then knock 20+ mins off the next time.
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