How To Train For A Half Marathon With A Busy Schedule

A running coach weights in on one newbie’s plans for running her first half marathon.

newbie half

After starting to run in January, Stacy Mahoney crossed her first finish line at a Hot Chocolate 15K in March. Now the San Diego-based nurse has hit
“register” for a half marathon. But how does a newbie safely up her run game to complete the big 13.1? We asked a running coach to weigh in on the best tweaks and motivations for this first-timer’s training plan. If you plan to move up a race distance, these tips can work for you.

Dave McGovern is the national head coach for Team Challenge, a nonprofit training program that welcomes runners of all levels and supports the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.

STACY’S QUESTION: What’s the best way to get ready for a half marathon with my erratic work schedule that includes many 12-hour shifts?

DAVE’S SOLUTION: Every endurance training schedule should have a mix of hard and easy days. For you, work days will become your rest or very easy cross-training days. Your days off  from work will be your quality runs. Your schedule should look something  like this:

Monday: Work (Off or easy cross-training day)
Tuesday:  Easy 3–5 miles
Wednesday: Not-so-easy tempo 4–5 miles
Thursday: Work (Off or easy cross-training day)
Friday:  Work (Off or easy cross-training day)
Saturday: Not-so-easy tempo 4–5 miles or intervals
Sunday: Long run

STACY’S QUESTION: How can I appropriately train when I’m on vacation in Europe three weeks before my race and don’t plan on running much?

DAVE’S SOLUTION: If you can try to get in one last long run about two weeks before your race, that would be optimal—and probably a highlight of your trip. Other than that, squeeze in a couple of 4- to 5-mile progression runs per week: Start at a moderate pace and build toward race pace. I think the vacation will be great for your half-marathon prep.