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how much time do you need to train for half marathon?

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if you are a beginner:). is 5 months enough?
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Well that seriously depends on your current level of conditioning. Are you able to actually jog a mile at a decent pace without walking now? If your answer is yes, then you're probably in good enough shape to give it a try

You will however need plenty of training and it won't be easy in a time frame such as five months. What you need to do is sit down and devise a schedule where you run 3-5 days a week with rest days, and workout days in between. Eat plenty of healthy foods to keep yourself energized, and don't give up on yourself. 

If you commit yourself I promise that you will be able to finish a half marathon. 

A complete beginner? I say give it a try, too, but 5 might be stretching it, a lot.  I mean, it can take months to get up to just 3 miles.  I started training for my first half,  coming up next weekend, in October and it's been quite tough.  I had been running 3miles every other day for about a month and I could run about 6 miles slowly with a 1-2 minute walk break every 5-10 minutes before I started serious training.

Once you have built up to 3 miles you can start looking into longer distance training and you will have a much better estimation of what your body can handle. 

I recommend the Jeff Galloway running plans for absolute beginners, as a guide.  I found his Half Marathon book very useful.

Feel free to message me if you have any questions!  I love running! 

If you are new to running the first place to start is a 5K training plan.  Galloway has excellent plans in his books and online.  There is also a great Learn to Run thread in this here forum.  I followed that plan myself:

Learn to Run

well, I am not a complete beginner. I used to run 5 months ago but then stopped and now I want to go back. I know that I should do 5 K first.... something to begin with but I am just asking if 5 months are enough time for the half marathon ? or am I unrealistic?

well, I used to run 1 mile per 12-15 minutes... slow I know but that was without a lot of training.
Totally doable - as long as you are realistic about it. For example, if you haven't run in 5 months, and used to run one mile at a 12 - 15 min/mile pace, don't expect to finish the 1/2 marathon in 2 hours.

If your goal is simply to complete the distance, you'll be fine. You'll probably run it at the same pace as you were running previously, maybe a little slower - but for your first half marathon, your goal should be to finish, and not to worry about how much time it's going to take. Besides, there's no rule that says you can't walk a little if you have to :)

I did my first half marathon in January. I had loosely followed a training program I found at htm

I say "loosely" because sometimes it took me 2 or 3 weeks to be able to run the "long run" that Hal Higdon suggests (usually the Sunday run).  I didn't do the "races" that he suggests...often because there just wasn't one in my area on the weekend that it was planned for. I did try and do those runs a little faster than my normal pace - to try and mimic a race.

Have fun training. If you sign up for the half, you'll be more likely to stay motivated to train. Good luck to you!!
fitnessfreak, thanks a lot:) there is a 5 K before the half marathon that I am interested in. There is 3 weeks in between. Is that too much?

the rule is all the participants have to finish the half marathon within 3 hours otherwise, he/she will be transported from the race:)) it will be a disaster lol

thanks for the support. Yes, I believe it is a great motivation.

Hmm, I do not want to discourage you because I am a devoted runner and encourage everyone to incorporate it into their lifestyle. Running is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, physical as well as mental! That said, I think it's a stretch to try a half marathon in 5 months, when you don't run at all now. Hal Higdon (link from Fitnessfreak) is the best training program I've come across, but even the novice program says that you need to be able to run 3 miles, 3-4 times per week before starting the training program. What really caught my eye was that you said you are going to do a 5K, but then there are only 3 weeks after the 5K until the half marathon. Have you ever run a race before? It seems rash to run your first race, and then turn right around and run a half marathon. Your legs, joints and lungs need to be gradually trained to sustain 3 hours worth of exercise.

Like I said, running is a wonderful thing that should be incorporated into your life. You have your whole life to run races. But if you push too hard not only will you strain your body but it won't be fun, and immediately after the race you will drop running because it will have become a chore. So my advice is to definitely work towards that half marathon if that's what you want, but keep it fun. You could definitely train seriously enough to finish it in 5 months, but keep in mind the ultimate goal is a lifetime of health, not one race. Good luck!

Oh yeah, and while you're training, you should join our Run Around the World thread. We could use your miles! Hee hee!

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I have to second jenka's good advice. Train for the 5K.  There's plenty of time to work up to 3 miles.  If, after that first race, you decide that you like the experience, find a 10K (6.2 miles) and train for that. 

Even better, join a running club or find some people to train with.

Lots and lots of great advice here....

Joining a running club is a terrific idea.

The local Road Runners Association is a great start, running stores always seem to have their own groups and programs, and can get you connected with other runners.

Happy running!

Thanks everyone for such a great advice.

Jenka, I went to the gym tonight to rate my performance on the treadmill for the first time in a such a long time.I remember last time I ran 3 miles was in Oct.2007.

anyway, I finished 3.1 miles without stop. My pace was a mile per 12-13 minutes. I am very happy about that and I didn't expectt it.

what do you think?is half marathon in 5 months a doable goal?

Also, I have a second question. Is running and weight training totally the opposite? I am worried if I will start a serious training, I will lose my muscles..... I already lost some because I have been lazy since the holiday season and was not able to  come back. The idea of joining a race will give me great motivation but I am bit worried about my muscles....

You will lose some muscle *and* gain some, if you only run.  Basically your body will begin to re-distribute the muscle in your body based on where it is needed.  You will likely lose most of the muscle in your arms.

But running doesn't mean you need to stop weight training. Weight training combined with a running program is highly recommended.  Basically, weight training can be considered your cross training on your "off" days.  Most, if not all, beginner training programs have incorporated cross training days.  I do weight training on my cross training days, myself.

Great Advice from everyone- I thought I would share my experience

I trained for my first marathon (Nike Womens Marathon Oct 2007) and could only run 3-4 miles when I started the training.  I took it slow. literally, even if I felt I could run a quicker pace, I kept it slow. I trained with Team in Training which was great for several reasons I won't go into at this point. Similar workouts are on and use their "smart coach" training tool. I recommend doing a 2 mile timed run to get a good time to enter into the training tool so that it will have an accurate time to base your training and marathon paces on.

Here are the downsides- I didn't do all of the training each week, skipped the long runs a couple of weekends, and didn't do any of the "hills workouts". (as we all know San Fran is VERY hilly!!!) AND THE RESULTS OF INCOMPLETE TRAINING: I began having serious knee and back issues at mile 19 and had to walk the remaining distance in pain. My opinion- if I had trained properly, I would have avoided my injuries. In other words- DON'T DO WHAT I DID!!! fully commit to training and do not skip runs or workouts!!!

As for the weight training- Your running will benefit from weight training. According to a couple of training programs, cross training is recommended 2X a week. I have worked out my knee and back issues with a physical therapist and will begin training soon for the same San Fran Marathon in Oct 2008. I was encouraged to continue my 2x/week weights during my training.

Of course- this is my experience and I hope it helps you come to the best decision for you.

DO NOT use the Runner's World Smart Coach.  It is designed for advanced runners who have been running like 20 miles a week at least for 2 years.  Hill workouts and speed training are only recommended for advanced runners.  Beginners should only do easy runs and the occasional short tempo run.  This does not mean that you shouldn't try to push yourself occasionally or should avoid running in gently hilly areas; that's fine.

For beginners, I recommend using the Galloway Race Pace prediction tool:

The Magic Mile 

Then you ad 2 minutes to that for your average training pace.

Marnee, Thank you for this information. I looked at the website. It is great. the half marathon training schedule for runners and walkers is good but I don't understand what does XT stand for? also the program suggests running 14 miles only one time. Is that enough training for the race ?

I don't want to lose muscles in my arms.. is there a way to avoid that?

Galloway has a training class in NY. The cost is  $99. Do you think it is good to join? or I just can do it on my own? I have a gym membership.

XT stands for Cross Training.  Basically on that day you can do any activity you like, including weight training.

14 miles only one time is more than enough.  Actually, if you only make it up to 10 or 11 miles, you will have enough of a base to conquer those 13 miles.   There are some beginner programs that only go up to 10 miles.  I only made it up to 11.5 myself.

Keeping muscle in your arms means exercising your arms.  Throw in some decent arm exercises, pushups are great, on your cross training days and your arms will stay nice and strong.

I think you can do this on your own, for sure!  If you are a very social person then joining a group is a good idea and will keep you motivated and provide support.  If you are more of an "alone time" kind of person or runner, then you should have no trouble doing this on your own.  That's what I did.

The Galloway group will insist that you do run-walking, which is fine, unless you find, at some point, that you don't like the walking part (like I did).  Using run-walking to build up is absolutely essential, but you might find that after 2 or 3 months of training, you prefer to run only.  Since you can run a 5K at a decent pace (awesome), I'd recommend not joining the Galloway group as it might be too restrictive for you after a while.

Try for the social aspect of running.  I met the coolest group of runners using Meetup.  

Programs like Galloway's are terrific starting points, but don't be afraid to do more or do less as *you* see fit.

Best wishes.  I think you are going to do great!  

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Hi ,

I am also planning to run marathon in 2 months time . currently i have been training to run 15 miles a week . i pace myself about 12 miles/ min

Is there any advice whether i should sign up for the marathon ? Any suggestion how i can get myself prepare for this marathon ??  

You ought to google for more information on marathon training.  In this thread we were talking more specifically about the half marathon.

But from what I know about marathon training, a base of 15 miles per week to start off and only 2 months time is not enough to get into shape for a full marathon.  You may be ok for a half marathon distance.  

Two good sources for beginners:

Hal Higdon

Jeff Galloway 

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