Posted by: Joe English | July 25, 2010

Training — What’s the longest run I should complete to prepare for half-marathon?

running-advice-bugBari writes in with a question about running to the forum Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans. I recently completed training a group of Sisterhood contributors for their first half-marathoners and Bari wants to know more about their training.


I just completed my 2nd 10k using Hal Higdon’s 10k novice training program. I’m now toying with the idea of a 1/2 marathon in October. I’ve downloaded Higdon’s 1/2 marathon novice program. I’m a bit perplexed as to why the longest run during the training is a 10 miler the week before the half. Does Hal really expect me to add essentially a 5k to my longest run ever? His intermediate program has training runs up to 12 miles, but there is also a ton of speed work and other “stuff” that I’m just not ready to incorporate.

Here’s my question: When you lovelies were training for your half, what was your longest run before the race and how did you feel moving from that distance to race distance? Also, how in the heck did you find time to train, what with kids and families and jobs and all that other crap?

Good questions Bari. In my answer here, I’ll try to explain how long your longest run should be to get ready for a half-marathon. I won’t try to answer the second part of your question regarding finding time to train, other than to say that we all have to be creative in making the time to train. When it comes to taking care of the kinds that may mean using a baby jogger, a day-care service at your gym or swapping babysitting duties with another runner so that you can each workout. It can be a real juggling act to get in those runs. But the bottom-line is that if you want to make your half-marathon happen, the most important part is finding time to do that training. I’m sure that you’ll find a lot more on the Sister Hood of the Shrinking Jeans about those topics.

What is the longest run needed to get ready for a half-marathon?
To answer the question of the longest run needed to get ready for a half-marathon, we first need to start with the type of runner and the amount of time available. I would split first-time half-marathoners into three groups: a) first timers with very little time to prepare, b) first timers with lots of time to prepare and c) more experienced runners who are stepping up to the half-marathon for the first time and want to be more competitive in their first race at the distance. There are some interesting nuances that come about when you separate runners into these three buckets, so let’s look at each.

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