We’ll take you from the couch to finishing a 5K in less than two months—and a half marathon in just 14 weeks.

Are you a beginner with big dreams? If you’re just getting started but imagine yourself crossing some serious finish lines, this plan is for you. In less than four months, you’ll be able to finish a half marathon—and run a 5K on the way as well.

To start this plan, you only need to be able to run a few minutes at a time. A background of walking, at least 30 minutes in a stretch, three or more times a week, should be established before starting. If you’re not there yet, take the time to build up beforehand.

The goal is to strengthen endurance in a steady fashion, employing a run/walk method. You’ll slowly increase running minutes while decreasing walking minutes to finish a 5K roughly midway through and then a half marathon at the end of the 14 weeks. Both are raced in a walk/run fashion.

Each runner is encouraged to adapt the plan to her individual fitness level. If a workout seems too aggressive, add some time to the walk portion. And if it feels too easy, cut back on walk minutes and add it to the runs, maybe even eliminating the walk sections for some workouts.

You will be run/walking four times per week. Three of these workouts are measured in minutes, so don’t worry about the distance you cover. Simply repeat the intervals until the time runs up. The fourth, the long run, is listed in miles. This will ensure you cover the distances needed in preparation for your races. The walk/run changes each week and sometimes varies for the long run, so pay attention to those changes. Good luck and have fun!


Getting Started

Begin each session with a few minutes of easy walking as a light warm-up before starting the first run portion. If the workout reads: “30 min total; run 2/walk 4” it means, after warming up for 3 to 5 minutes with walking, you should alternate 2 minutes of running with 4 minutes of walking for a total of 30 minutes. Once you hit that 30-minute mark, walk another 3 to 5 minutes to cool down. The total workout would thus be roughly 40 minutes.

CLICK HERE for a PDF Version of the Zero to 5K to Half Marathon Training Plan

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

1

30 min: Run 2 min/walk 4 min

XT or Rest

30 min: Run 2 min/walk 4 min

XT or Rest

30 min: Run 2 min/walk 4 min

2 1/2 mile LR: Run 2 min/walk 4 min

Rest

2

30 min: Run 3 min/walk 3 min

XT or Rest

35 min: Run 3 min/walk 3 min

XT or Rest

25 min: Run 3 min/walk 3 min

3 mile LR: Run 3 min/walk 3 min

Rest

3

35 min: Run 5 min/walk 3 min

XT or Rest

40 min: Run 5 min/walk 3 min

XT or Rest

30 min: Run 5 min/walk 3 min

4 mile LR: Run 5 min/walk 3 min

Rest

4

40 min: Run 7 min/walk 3 min

XT or Rest

40 min: Run 7 min/walk 3 min

XT or Rest

30 min: Run 7 min/walk 3 min

5 mile LR: Run 7 min/walk 3 min

Rest

5

40 min: Run 8 min/walk 2 min

XT or Rest

45 min: Run 8 min/walk 2 min

XT or Rest

30 min: Run 8 min/walk 2 min

6 mile LR: Run 7 min/walk 3 min

Rest

6

45 min: Run 8 min/walk 2 min

XT or Rest

45 min: Run 8 min/walk 2 min

XT or Rest

20 min: Run 8 min/walk 2 min

5K Race! Run 7 min/walk 3 min

Rest

7

35 min: Run 9 min/walk 2 min

XT or Rest

50 min: Run 9 min/walk 2 min

XT or Rest

30 min: Run 9 min/walk 2 min

7 mile LR: Run 8 min/walk 2 min

Rest

8

45 min: Run 9 min/walk 2 min

XT or Rest

XT or Rest

25 min: Run 9 min/walk 2 min

8 mile LR: Run 8 min/walk 2 min

Rest

9

45 min: Run 10 min/walk 2 min

XT or Rest

50 min: Run 10 min/walk 2 min

XT or Rest

30 min: Run 10 min/walk 2 min

9 mile LR: Run 9 min/walk 2 min

Rest

10

50 min: Run 10 min/walk 1-2 min

XT or Rest

55 min: Run 10 min/walk 1-2 min

XT or Rest

30 min: Run 10 min/walk 1-2 min

10 mile LR: Run 10 min/walk 1-2 min

Rest

11

40 min: Run 10-12 min/walk 2 min

XT or Rest

40 min: Run 10-12 min/walk 2 min

XT or Rest

30 min: Run 10-12 min/walk 2 min

6 mile LR: Run 10-12 min/walk 2 min

Rest

12

50 min: Run 12 min/walk 1-2 min

XT or Rest

55 min: Run 12 min/walk 1-2 min

XT or Rest

30 min: Run 12 min/walk 1-2 min

11 mile LR: Run 12 min/walk 1-2 min

Rest

13

40 min: Run 12-14 min/walk 1-2 min

XT or Rest

50 min: Run 12-14 min/walk 1-2 min

XT or Rest

30 min: Run 12-14 min/walk 1-2 min

5 mile LR: Run 12-14 min/walk 1-2 min

Rest

14

30 min: Run 12-14 min/walk 1-2 min

XT or Rest

35 min: Run 12-14 min/walk 1-2 min

XT or Rest

20 min: Run 12-14 min/walk 1-2 min

13.1 mile race! Run 10-14 min/walk 1-2 min

Rest

Key:

Run: The pace for all runs should feel fairly comfortable and you should be able to talk without getting too winded. It’ll feel like you are exerting about 65–70% effort (0% is doing nothing and 100% is all out). When in doubt, slow down.

Walk (W): Strive to make the walk segments brisk, but you can slow down as needed to recover before the next run segment. Don’t milk it too much though, as you want to keep the momentum going.

XT (cross-training) or off: You have the option of either taking a day off to rest or doing a session of some other activity besides running. If you opt for a XT session, choose one that is low or no impact, like biking, yoga, strength training, swimming or any cardio machine at the gym. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes at an easy to moderate effort.

Long Run (LR): Saturday long runs are listed in miles. Focus on completing the distance, and don’t stress about how long it takes. LRs are run at a mostly comfortable and conversational pace, just like your easy runs, but may feel more difficult the longer you go—this is normal and slowing down your pace will help. Practice fueling before, during and after these runs to be prepared for race day. For extra benefits, cover these miles on terrain similar to that of your race.

Rest: You can’t train hard unless you are rested. Take at least one day of rest per week at a minimum. Get into the habit of listening to your body and adapting the training from those cues.

5K Race: Six weeks into the training, you’ll finish your first race! Add a warm-up and cool-down as usual, and keep your pace in check as the adrenaline can play tricks with your pace sensing abilities.

13.1 Race: You have the option of alternating anywhere between 10 and 14 minutes of running with 1 to 2 minutes of walking. Feel free to mix it up and adjust as needed during the race. For example, you may want to take your walk segment earlier while climbing a big hill, or extend the run segment if you are feeling particularly good. Listen to your body and watch the course.