Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Jenny Hadfield
How to Train for a Half-Marathon with a Run-Walk Program
Here’s how to structure your walk breaks and build up to running continuously during your training.
I started running about a year ago and have been using your run-walk program for 5K and 10K races. I have two goals for this year: train and run a summer half-marathon and one in fall, and build up to running continuously. I currently run four minutes and walk two minutes for my workouts. Can I do this at the same time, or is there a better way to go at it? ~Thanks, Chrissy
It sounds like your running is going well, Chrissy–congratulations. You get bonus points for thinking this through and giving yourself plenty of time to accomplish your goals. That goes a long way in accomplishing your goals safely and enjoyably!
One of the great assets to using interval running (running mixed with walking, in this case) is the tremendous degree of flexibility. You can vary the intensity of your running within the interval, the amount of time that you run, and the walking time. Because of this, you can definitely accomplish both goals this year.
You currently have a solid base of run-walking, which is a good starting point for your half-marathon training (by the way, the 4/2 is my husband’s favorite interval). One way you can train for your half-marathons and increase your running time is to break your year into two seasons, one for each half-marathon. That way, you can build your running time slowly and make the most out of each event.
For the first half-marathon, I’d recommend continuing to run-walk for the long training runs, and focus on building your running interval to continuous running for the mid-week runs. For example, in my Beginner Half-Marathon Training Plan, there are three to four running workouts per week; one long run plus two to three shorter runs.
Season One Goal > Build your running interval time for the mid-week workouts.
For the Long Runs:
Follow the training plan in this plan, but instead of running continuously run-walk with your 4-2 run-to-walk intervals. This will allow you to build up endurance and time on your feet with the interval your body knows and loves.
For the Mid-Week Runs:
Follow the training plan, which begins at 30-35 minutes, but instead of running your normal 4-2 run-to-walk ratio, you’re going to build the running time. Here is an example of an effective progression rate for these runs through the 14-week training plan:
Week 1: Perform 1-2 runs with a 4-1 run-walk ratio and one run with a 4-2 ratio.
Week 2: Perform 1-2 runs with a 4-1 run-walk ratio and one run with a 4-2 ratio.
Week 3: Perform 3-4 runs with a 4-1 run-walk ratio.
Week 4: Perform 3-4 runs with a 4-1 run-walk ratio.
Week 5: Perform 1-2 runs with a 5-1 run-walk ratio and one run with a 4-1 ratio.
Week 6: Perform 3-4 runs with a 5-1 run-walk ratio.
Week 7: Perform 1-2 runs with a 6-1 run-walk ratio and one run with a 5-1 ratio.
Week 8: Perform 3-4 runs with a 6-1 run-walk ratio.
Week 9: Perform 1-2 runs with a 7-1 run-walk ratio and one run with a 6-1 ratio.
Week 10: Perform 3-4 runs with a 7-1 run-walk ratio.
Week 11: Perform 1-2 runs with a 8-1 run-walk ratio and one run with a 7-1 ratio.
Week 12: Perform 3-4 runs with a 8-1 run-walk ratio.
Week 13: Perform 1-2 runs with a 9-1 run-walk ratio and one run with a 8-1 ratio.
Week 14: Race week > Perform shorter taper runs with a 10-1 ratio.
Run your first half-marathon with a 4-2 run-walk ratio to allow your body a strong race finish and to cover a new personal record distance (13.1) with the run-walk strategy. It’s a fantastic race day strategy for first-timers, as it breaks the distance up into timed intervals and reduces the impact on the body.
Season Two Goal > Run continuously for the mid-week runs and build your running interval time for the long training runs.
For the Mid-Week Runs:
Follow the beginner training plan again, but this time you’ll be continuously running the mid-week workouts, which begin at 30-35 minutes early in the season and build to 40-45 minutes.
For the Long Runs:
Follow the beginner training plan mileage buildup, but instead of run-walking 4-2s, build the running time week to week. Here’s one way you could build your running interval time for the long runs.
Week 1: Long run 4 miles; run-walk 5-2
Week 2: Long run 5 miles; run-walk 5-2
Week 3: Long run 5 miles; run-walk 6-2
Week 4: Long run 6 miles; run-walk 6-2
Week 5: Long run 7 miles; run-walk 6-1
Week 6: Long run 5 miles; run-walk 6-1
Week 7: Long run 8 miles; run-walk 7-1
Week 8: Long run: 8 miles; run-walk 7-1
Week 9: Long run: 6 miles; run-walk 8-1
Week 10: Long run: 9 miles; run-walk 8-1
Week 11: Long run: 7 miles; run-walk 9-1
Week 12: Long run: 10 miles; run-walk 9-1
Week 13: Long run: 6 miles; run-walk 10-1
Week 14: Race day > Walk a minute every mile or use the 10-1 run-walk ratio
Let your body be your guide as you progress the long run-walk ratio. If you find yourself struggling to finish the long runs, it might be a sign that the ratio is too much or the heat of summer is getting to you. Add another week or two to the progression rate and go by what works for you.
Good luck with your journey this year. Remember you can always use the run-walk strategy for recovery days and longer runs in the heat, or mix it in with continuous running. There are a fair amount of runners out there that prefer to run-walk their long workouts and run everything else. And run-walk intervals are a staple in ultra running. Like a good friend, it’s always there if you need it!