Johnson Fitness and Wellness

How to Train for Your Fastest Half Marathon

Train for a faster half marathon
You’ve run a half marathon and now you’ve got the bug and want to improve your finish time. Excellent, you’re in the right place. The Faster Half Marathon Training Schedule is designed to those that have run at least one half marathon, and want to build on their fitness and improve their time. It’s also geared to those who have been running at least four times per week for 4-6 miles. If you’re running less, no worries, simply invest in a few more weeks of training to build your running time up to that level so you’re ready to tackle the demands of this program. Keep reading for half marathon training tips and tricks for running a personal best in your next race! This program is twelve weeks long to give your body the time it needs to adapt to the demands of building your mileage and intensity. A full 12-week plan also allows for any planned (or un-planned) life events like vacation or illness.

Download the plan

When you download the Best Series Faster Half Marathon Training Schedule, you’ll find a gradually progressing 12-week plan that includes four runs per week, two cross-training days, and one rest days.

The Zones

The colors yellow, orange and red in the training plan correspond to the level of intensity for each workout. A combination of these will build endurance, stamina, and speed.

Warm ups

Make sure to warm up for about 3 minutes before every running workout. Start easy and build to a pace closer to running by the end. This will gradually increase heart rate, breathing rate and circulation to your muscles.

Cool downs

Cool down after every run by walking 3-5 minutes, starting at a brisk pace and slowing towards the end. This gradually brings your body back to its resting state and will flush the muscles of metabolic waste.

Long Runs

The longer runs on the weekends gradually build to thirteen miles to prepare you race the half marathon distance. You’ll notice that most of the long runs are to be run in the easy, yellow zone effort. This is to build your endurance, teach your body to burn fat as a fuel source, and assure optimal recovery.

Race Simulation Runs

There are a few “race simulation runs” scattered in the long run plan. These are dress rehearsals for your race, and they teach you how to pace yourself to success. These workouts are six miles in distance, and should be run in all three zones. Run the first three miles in the yellow zone, the next two in the orange zone and finish the final mile in the red zone. The key is to start easy, pick it up, and then finish strong.

Easy Runs

The shorter, easy yellow zone runs bridge the gap between your long runs, build your aerobic fitness and aid in allowing your body to recover from the demands of the faster and longer runs. If you’re having a tough week, feel free to drop the short, easy run on Friday and run three runs that week instead.

Speed Workouts

The speed runs are shorter in time, but pack a punch with red zone running intervals. You’ll improve your speed with these fun runs and the time will fly by!

Speed Workout 1

Warm up walking for 3 minutes, starting easy and build to a brisk pace by the end.

Speed Workout 2

Warm up walking for 3 minutes, starting easy and build to a brisk pace by the end.

Tempo Runs

These are a favorite among runners because they’re done at an effort that feels good and empowering. It’s somewhere between and easy and hard running effort, and can be quite the cathartic experience when you’re finished.

Tempo Workout 1

Warm up walking for 3 minutes, starting easy and build to a brisk pace by the end.

Tempo Workout 2

Warm up walking for 3 minutes, starting easy and build to a brisk pace by the end.


Mix up your program on the cross-training days and include lower impact activities like cycling, elliptical, yoga, and strength training. A good example would be to perform the elliptical machine for 20-30 minutes at an orange zone effort followed by a total body strength program or class. Strength and flexibility are your best friends on this journey. Keep them close, and make sure to include them twice every week because they will keep you running happy and injury free.

Rest Days

These are your off days from training and activity. They aid in passive recovery from the demands of the progressive training plan and are just as important as the workouts. Finally, tune into your body and let it be your guide. It will tell you when you’re too tired to train and when you’re ready to push farther. Week by week, you’ll improve and get ready to blast your old half marathon finish time. Good luck! Coach Jenny Hadfield is a published author, writer, coach, public speaker and endurance athlete. To find out more, visit our Meet Our Writers page or visit Coach Jenny’s website.
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