Your 8-Week Half-Marathon Training Programme

The experienced runners will tell you that if you can run 10km, you can run a half marathon with just a little extra training. We agree, but preparation is everything and the simpler the plan, the better the plan.

Image by Amy Ebedes

Image by Amy Ebedes

The half marathon is the most popular distance in South Africa because it’s long enough to test even the most hardened ultra runner, but short enough for anyone to achieve.

It’s also a great way to see if you’ve got the metal to run a marathon and beyond – no matter how long the Two Oceans and Comrades are, running a half is certainly a significant athletic achievement. Also add in that the training is manageable compared to marathons and ultras, and you recover quicker.

Whether you choose to run a half or a full marathon depends partly on time and commitment: How much time do you have to train?

Marathon training programmes usually last from 12 to 18 weeks, with numerous long runs scattered throughout. In contrast, our half marathon training programme takes only eight weeks, and it will get you to the finish line as well as ensure that you make it to the starting line healthy and ready to do your best.

RELATED: Transitioning From The Half To Full Marathon

Not only will you need to invest less training time while preparing for a half marathon than a marathon, your injury risk will be lower. Plus, you won’t need to worry about all those super-long runs on weekends, and there will certainly be less to worry about on race day. Many marathon veterans appreciate that half marathon training requires lower mileage, which means they can run those kays at a faster pace than they would for the marathon.
RELATED: Half Marathon, Full Life!

Get Started Below you’ll find two different half marathon training programmes, each 8 weeks long. One is for novices and the other for slightly more advanced runners. Choose the one that suits your needs best and go for it.

Download the 21km Novice Training Programme

Download the 21km Experienced Training Programme

Got something to say?

50 Responses to “Your 8-Week Half-Marathon Training Programme”

  1. Nadine says:

    The links are broken.

    • Our developers are looking in to it – apologies Nadine!

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks it’s working now.

    • Erica says:

      Can’t down load the program!

    • Hi Erica – what problem are you having?

    • Candice says:

      Thanks for this info it is great!

    • LINDIE says:

      Kan ek my oefendae omruil of moet ek presies oefen soos op die 21km program. Dis gewoonlik moeilik om Sondae langafstande te doen, dit pas my beter.

    • optrain says:

      Can’t download the programs….

    • Lindsay says:

      I followed this 8 week programme to get me to my first 21km race and it worked!
      Now I need to know what programme to follow to maintain this level of running so that I can do another 21km before the end of the year.

    • Diian says:

      Hi, with this program can i play squash as cross training?

    • Sure! Just listen to your body – if your legs feel too heavy when you’re running, tone it back a bit on the cross-training intensity 🙂

    • Kat says:

      The novice training program is super!
      I’m not fond of programs that include specific tempo/speedwork/fartleks because I run with music and judge my runs by distance and approximate time. I can’t always measure out 400m or 800m and I prefer to pick a fast song and do “speed work” or tempo work and then choose and easy song for the easy runs – managed to get from 5km to 10km injury free and was bags of fun!

    • owen says:

      thank you for this, i will use the novice program for my preparation for feb.17, 2013 18K race. i’m a cyclist and this will be my first run/race 😉

    • Claire says:

      On both programmes what are you classifying as the ‘easy’ runs – is it those in a lighter colour at the start of the week? Thought I had better check!

    • Andre says:

      Thanks so much for the program will start trying this. I have been running a few half marathons (5) but had no training and therefore did a lot of walking but with a pb of 2h:15 I believe with some training i can improve that time. Will be starting this plan now.

    • Angelyn Vitug says:

      I registered for 21km run and it will be on
      June 2,2013. This will be my first.I only have less than 4 weeks to prepare.Any advice for me to finish the run?thanks,

    • Heinrich says:

      hoe kan ek my voorberei vir ‘n half-marathon

    • Janis says:

      I would like to follow the 8 week novice training for the half marathon.
      I maybe a bit dense but if rest days are important why cross train on rest days? Or is the time indicated on other days(Wednesday & Saturday) is that run time or cross train time?

    • ryaN says:

      sir/maam do u have any suggestion for cramping legs in the middle of race
      actually i experience it when i took 16k run

    • scott daily says:

      Which workouts are suppose to be “easy” and which should we push ourselves on?

    • Sakshi says:


      The marathon is on 15th Dec, so i have about 5 weeks to go. Im a first time runner. I’ll be starting with 3rd week of your program. I’m already running around 6 km as of today.

      Hope, this program works out for me.

    • Adrian says:

      Thank you for the programme. I will definitely do this one.

      Thank you.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi. I am unable to get the training program – every time I click on the link it says that Internet Explorer has stopped working. Is there any other way of getting the training program?

    • Rachel Kelley says:

      I can’t work out which runs are supposed to be “easy” and which should be at the half-marathon race pace in the advanced programme? Are the “easy” ones the two scheduled for weekdays?

    • Aleksandra says:


      I’ve just downloaded the advanced program and I have the same question as Rachel : except the Wednesdays – I can’t figure out which runs are supposed to be h-m race pace..
      The program looks really great but the explanations are a bit confusing.

      many thanks in advance for your help

    • warren says:

      Good day I am currently running 3 to 5km 2 or 3 days a week. I am trying to chalange myself by registering for some longer runs. This past winter I ran my first 10Km and other than the COLD (-30°C) it was a blast. I just registered for my first Half Marathon and I hope your program will help me reach my goal of finishing a half in under 3hr.
      I am also running to help me get in shape. By next summer I hope to have lost over 90lb total and finally be below the 200 mark. To this date I have lost 32lb’s Running has changed my life for the better.

    • […] started training today using some training programme I found on Runners World on how to train for a half marathon in 8 weeks, and let me tell you something, I was not smiling […]

    • Zandile says:

      I would love to be emailed training 21km please. Yesterday done Sole Destroyer 21km in East London by 11:47:56 became 4rth Lady. I love Running even done Two Ocean Last year for the first time 05:22:29.

    • Letitia says:

      I have the same question as Lindsay :
      I followed this 8 week program to get me to my first 21km race and it worked!
      Now I need to know what program to follow to maintain this level of running so that I can do another 21km before the end of the year or even a full marathon

    • i wont run 21km if thair is arace invit me

    • Motheo says:

      Hi, I would also like to know which are the “easy” runs on the table? I am a beginner runner and have done a few 10km’s and really eager to do a 21km. This program looks so straightforward I can’t wait to try it!

    • Adri says:

      I am not sure of this program. I mean, it is for beginners. How can a couch potato run a 7 km in his/her first week? Even if you walk the distance, it is too far. And to start with a 4km on day 1? Come on guys, usually one has to start with walking and the second week alternate it with slow running for a few minutes.
      I don’t think a beginner will be able to manage this. It is too much too quick. The chances of injuries are also much higher.
      Give us a programme that starts with walking for at least 2 weeks.

    • Hi Adri,
      We certainly don’t expect absolute beginners to use this programme. We recommend beginners follow these steps ( and get a solid running base before embarking on a half marathon training programme.
      Please shout if we can provide any further assistance.

    • Duduzile says:

      I have just downloaded this, I will start my training today afternoon. It looks so interesting

    • Marek says:

      I agree that an 8 week training plan is possible, however, I would imagine that someone who wants to run a half marathon in such a short time, would at least be able to run 2-3 miles by now. If starting from scratch and wanting to run a half in 8 weeks, I think there maybe not enough time to fully enjoy it. I’ve simplified the 8 week training program here:
      Most important, make sure to enjoy yourself and you will keep running after the event!

    • mandla says:

      Hi l need a program for 21km training I’m a registered runner my first 21km l ran 1hour 21 mins only join running last year but l need some training tips

    • Rua says:

      Hi Runners World. As others have mentioned already, there is confusion about which runs are ‘easy’, which are ‘5k pace’ what 30mins refers to etc. A small amount of time in order to explain these ideas would be very helpful please. I very much hope that this request gets a response. Thanks!

  2. Gerjo Hoffman says:

    The links don’t work

  3. Gareth Oates says:

    The links don’t work. Access Denied

  4. Gerda-Elize Jacobs says:

    Links don’t work. What a waste of time and data to have been interested in this. So frustrating.

  5. Runner's World says:

    The links are back up. We had some technical glitches getting our training programmes across to the new website. Thanks for your patience. Happy training!

  6. Sthabile Khumalo says:

    For the novice program what does 30min on Wednesday and Saturday mean?

  7. In the Experienced Training Programme, what do we do on Wednesdays? For example, what does 8x400m mean? and 2x10min?

  8. Shing Wong says:

    Thank you for this wonderfull 8 weeks progamme. I did add three extra weeks, 1 week after week 4 to rest, doing absolutely nothing and after week 7 I’ve added 2 extra weeks for my skiing holiday. Today I finished my 1st 1/2 Marathon. Great training programme!

  9. Lindie Claassens says:

    Hi there, just a quick question. If I run on Saturdays can I exchange Saturday with Monday and rest on Sunday?

  10. Katherine Slaney says:

    Hi there, thanks for this training plan. For the experienced training programme, can you please advise which are the “speed workouts”, which are the “tempo runs” and which are the “race pace workouts”? Many thanks,

  11. Dave says:

    I’m also keen to know; for the experienced training programme, can you please advise which are the “speed workouts”, which are the “tempo runs” and which are the “race pace workouts”? thanks very much

  12. Roxy Du Plessis says:

    Does anyone have any advice for what to do the week leading up to a half marathon with regards to training, rest, diet etc?

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