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Go From Couch to Half Marathon in Just 20 Weeks with this Training Plan

Thinking of taking the 13.1-mile plunge but not sure where to start? This half marathon plan will carry you from the sofa to the start line—and across the finish too.

You’re sitting on the couch watching television when inspiration strikes. You hear a woman on the news recount her story of going from feeling unhealthy and sluggish to running a half marathon. You see the glow on her face and the energy in her body and suddenly you realize: This is it. This is my next goal. I want to run a half marathon.

Then reality strikes. You haven’t worked out in months and maybe you’ve never run before in your life. How can you run a half marathon when you can’t even run to the end of your block?

Good question, and here’s a simple answer: You start from where you are, build up slowly so you enjoy the journey, and practice patience along the way. Here’s how you’re going to make it 13.1 miles. 

Make It Yours

The Couch to Half Marathon Plan is all about flexibility. At first glance, you’ll notice that the schedule uses run-walk intervals. Although this plan lists specific intervals, feel free to adjust it to make it fit for you.

You may be able to follow this plan as it stands, or it may feel too aggressive. If this is the case, simply adjust the intervals to include less running and more walking. Perform only the intervals that feel comfortable for your body so that you’re able to cover the distance more safely and reach race day without injury.

Understanding the Half Marathon Training Plan

The run-walk workouts start with a walking warm-up (not listed in the chart), then alternate time running with time walking and finish with a walking cool-down. For instance in the first workout in week one, you run at a comfortable effort (just a bit quicker than your fastest walking speed) for one minute and then follow with two minutes of brisk walking and repeat that a total of 10 times. As the program builds, so does your running time.

RELATED: Don’t Shun the Run-Walk Method

Once a week, you will do a long workout. You’ll start out with 3 miles and build from there. Every few weeks this distance will drop to allow your body time to recover. The long workout will be vital to teaching your body how to spend time on your feet, utilize fat as an energy source, and simulate the half-marathon distance. 

This half marathon training plan builds to running two 10-mile long runs to prepare you for the 13.1-mile distance on race day. Why not go the whole way in training? Because when you push to run longer miles too quickly, your risk for injury skyrockets. Ten miles is plenty to prepare you well for a half-marathon race.

Click here to download and print the half marathon training plan.

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 30 min

10x

Run 1 min + Walk 2 min 

Cross-Training 

30 min

30 min

10x 

Run 1 min + Walk 2 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

3 miles 

Run 1 min + Walk 2 min

Rest
2 30 min

10x

Run 1 min + Walk 2 min 

Cross-Training 

30 min

28 min

7x

Run 2 min + Walk 2 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

3 miles 

Run 1 min + Walk 2 min

Rest
3 28 min

7x 

Run 2 min + Walk 2 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

28 min

7x 

Run 2 min + Walk 2 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

4 miles 

Run 2 min + Walk 2 min

Rest
4 28 min

7x 

Run 2 min + Walk 2 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

30 min

6x

Run 3 min + Walk 2 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

4 miles 

Run 2 min + Walk 2 min

Rest
5 30 min

6x

Run 3 min + Walk 2 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

30 min

6x

Run 3 min + Walk 2 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

4 miles 

Run 2 min + Walk 2 min

Rest
6 30 min

6x

Run 3 min + Walk 2 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

30 min

5x

Run 4 min + Walk 2 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

5 miles

Run 3 min + Walk 2 min

Rest
7 30 min

5x 

Run 4 min + Walk 2 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

30 min

5x 

Run 4 min + Walk 2 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

5 miles

Run 3 min + Walk 2 min

Rest
8 30 min

5x 

Run 4 min + Walk 2 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

30 min

5x 

Run 4 min + Walk 2 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

6 miles 

Run 4 min + Walk 2 min

Rest
9 30 min

6x

Run 5 min + Walk 1 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

30 min

5x 

Run 4 min + Walk 2 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

6 miles 

Run 4 min + Walk 2 min

Rest
10 30 min

6x

Run 5 min + Walk 1 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

36 min

6x 

Run 5 min + Walk 1 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

4 miles

Run 4 min + Walk 1 min

Rest
11 36 min

6x

Run 5 min + Walk 1 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

36 min

6x

Run 5 min + Walk 1 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

7 miles

Run 4 min + Walk 1 min

Rest
12 30 min

6x

Run 5 min + Walk 1 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

35 min

5x

Run 6 min + Walk 1 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

8 miles 

Run 4 min + Walk 1 min

Rest
13 35 min

5x

Run 6 min + Walk 1 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

35 min

5x

Run 6 min + Walk 1 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

5 miles 

Run 5 min + Walk 1 min

Rest
14 35 min

5x

Run 6 min + Walk 1 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

40 min

5x

Run 7 min + Walk 1 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

9 miles

Run 5 min + Walk 1 min

Rest
15 40 min

5x 

Run 7 min + Walk 1 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

40 min

5x

Run 7 min + Walk 1 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

6 miles

Run 6 min + Walk 1 min

Rest
16 40 min

5x 

Run 7 min + Walk 1 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

36 min 

4x 

Run 8 min + Walk 1 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

10 miles

Run 6 min + Walk 1 min

Rest
17 45 min

5x 

Run 8 min + Walk 1 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

45 min

5x

Run 8 min + Walk 1 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

7 miles

Run 7 min + Walk 1 min

Rest
18 45 min

5x 

Run 8 min + Walk 1 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

44 min 

4x

Run 10 min + Walk 1 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

10 miles

Run 7 min + Walk 1 min

Rest
19 44 min 

4x

Run 10 min + Walk 1 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

44 min 

4x

Run 10 min + Walk 1 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

6 miles 

Run 8 min + Walk 1 min

Rest
20 44 min 

4x

Run 10 min + Walk 1 min

Cross-Training 

30 min

44 min 

4x

Run 10 min + Walk 1 min

Rest Cross-Training 

30 min

Rest Half Marathon

Tune In

It’s crucial to listen to your body during this process. If you’re struggling to finish a workout or have aches or pains, it means your body isn’t recovering properly. If that is the case, repeat the week you’re currently on, or keep the distance the same as stated in the half marathon training plan, but do more walking and less running.

Whether you develop your own run-walk interval of choice or follow the schedule as is, by the end of this plan, you’ll be able to decide for yourself to run the whole way on race day or to use run-walk intervals to cover the distance. Both are great ways of racing, and it’s best to go with what your body allows.

Always remember to have fun and keep smiling. You’ve got this!

RELATED: 3 Training Ingredients for Your Fastest Half Marathon