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Sub 2 half marathon - 12 week training plan and tips

Roman Brcar, 21. 03. 2024
Jaroslav Jetelina, 21. 03. 2024
Sub 2 half marathon - 12 week training plan and tips

While for some runners, completing a half marathon under 2 hours is a common routine, for others it is the ultimate running achievement. No wonder, the half marathon is the second most popular running distance in the world right after the 5 km race.

The distance of 21.09 km is significantly more challenging than the 5 and 10 km races, but it does not require as physically or time-consuming preparation as a full marathon does. So, when training for a half marathon, you don't feel like you have a second full-time job, and at the same time, not everyone dares to take on this distance.

It's simply a challenge where a structured running plan and race strategy come into play. After reading the article, nothing should surprise you, and you should have all the information needed for your successful attempt. Moreover, if you run a half marathon for the first time in a large organized race, you will find our personal experiences and advice in the article so you know exactly what to expect and what will happen.

Running a half marathon under 2 hours requires a plan

Meeting the time limit of 1:59:59 requires consistency in following the training plan, getting used to the race morning routine (waking up, breakfast), replenishing fluids and energy during the race, and strict adherence to the race strategy. This will be even more true if you have not yet run a half marathon in an organized race. It's important to realize that your pace will have to average 5:41 min / km.

Running a half marathon under 2 hours requires a plan.

Basics of Half Marathon Training

Training for a half marathon is always built around a weekly long run, which you gradually work up to from Monday through various training units. For most runners, Sunday is the best day for a long run, so let's leave it that way for demonstration.

In training for a half marathon under two hours, your longest long run should be over the race distance - that is, between 22 and 24 kilometers. This will give you confidence on race day because you will know that you ran more than a half marathon during training and that you can easily handle the distance.

Training for a halfmarathon requires consistency.

The plan outlined below has four training days: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and it spans 12 weeks. Tuesdays are for interval training at 1 and 2 km distances. On Thursday, the training focuses on tempo runs that gradually approach your race goal. Saturday is a short recovery run, and Sunday features your long run. Recovery and long runs will help you build the aerobic fitness and endurance you'll need to meet the time limit. Interval training on Tuesday and tempo runs on Thursday will help your body (especially your muscles) get used to moving for a longer time at the desired speed.

Interval training during half marathon prep.

Depending on your lifestyle, you can of course adjust the plan, but make sure that the day after a faster workout (interval or tempo) and after the long run is a rest day. Also, never schedule two hard workouts back-to-back. The body needs at least a day to recover so that it's ready for the longer run and you have rested muscles for completing the next prescribed training unit.

Training Plan: Half Marathon Under 2 Hours in 12 Weeks

Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4
MondayRestRestRestRest
Tuesday2k 6:30 min/km
6k 5:35 min/km
2k 6:30 min/km

2k 6:30 min/km
4x1k 5:10 min/km
90s rest between intervals
2k 6:30 min/km

2k 6:30 min/km
8k 5:35 min/km
2k 6:30 min/km
10k 6:30 min/km
WednesdayRestRestRestRest
Thursday10k 6:30 min/km10k 6:30 min/km12k 6:20 min/km10k 6:30 min/km
FridayRestRestRestRest
Saturday8k 6:15 min/km8k 6:15 min/km10k 6:15 min/km8k 6:15 min/km
Sunday15k 6:30 min/km17k 6:15 min/km19k 6:15 min/km16k 6:30 min/km
Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8
MondayRestRestRestRest
Tuesday2k 6:30 min/km
6x1k 5:10 min/km
90s rest between intervals
2k 6:30 min/km
2k 6:30 min/km
3x2k 5:20 min/km
90s rest between intervals
2k 6:30 min/km
2k 6:30 min/km
8k 5:35 min/km
2k 6:30 min/km
10k 6:30 min/km
WednesdayRestRestRestRest
Thursday10k 6:30 min/km2k 6:30 min/km
6k 5:35 min/km
2k 6:30 min/km
10k 6:30 min/km8k 6:30 min/km
FridayRestRestRestRest
Saturday10k 6:15 min/km 10k 6:15 min/km 7k 6:15 min/km8k 6:15 min/km
Sunday18k 6:20 min/km 20k 6:20 min/km 5k 6:30 min/km
5k 5:50 min/km
5k 5:30 min/km
5k 6:10 min/km
18k 6:30 min/km
Week 9Week 10Week 11Week 12
MondayRestRestRestRest
Tuesday2k 6:30 min/km
8x1k 5:10 min/km
90s rest between intervals
2k 6:30 min/km
2k 6:30 min/km
4x2k 5:20 min/km
90s rest between intervals
2k 6:30 min/km
14k 6:15 min/km2k 6:30 min/km
3x2k 5:40 min/km
90s rest between intervals
2k 6:30 min/km
WednesdayRestRestRestRest
Thursday10k 6:30 min/km10k 6:15 min/km2k 6:30 min/km
10k 5:35 min/km
2k 6:30 min/km
8k 6:10 min/km
FridayRestRestRestRest
Saturday7k 6:15 min/km 10k 6:15 min/km 6k 6:15 min/km4k 6:30 min/km
Sunday5k 6:30 min/km
5k 5:50 min/km
5k 5:30 min/km
5k 6:20 min/km
22k 6:20 min/km 14k 6:30 min/km

D DAY

5k 5:45-5:50
13k 5:35-5:40
3k 5:30-5:35

 

Race Strategy, or How Not to Mess It Up

Just like with any other distance or time goal, you need to consider how you will approach the race. After the starting gun goes off, you need to know at what pace and for how long you'll run, where and when you'll drink, and when to take a gel. We recommend practicing the consumption of gels and fluids every Sunday during long runs. During the race, consume plain water and gels that you are accustomed to. Avoid untested products and be mindful of what you eat the day before the race.

Halfmarathon is second most popular race distance.

For a half marathon, 3 gels should suffice, with the aim to consume 2 of them between 6-7 km and 12-14 km, and keeping 1 as a reserve. Around 17-18 km, assess how you feel and decide if you need the last gel. You'll know you need a gel if you suddenly start feeling "strange" and nauseous. You don’t want to end up in such a situation, so during your long Sunday runs, observe at which kilometer your energy starts to fade (this is when a significant drop in blood sugar occurs). You must take a gel always before this happens. Choose gels without caffeine, magnesium, and other additives. You should drink a maximum of 100-150 ml of water every 4-5 km, or 200 ml in case of extreme heat.

At the start, you'll feel fresh and determined to tackle the first kilometers of the race. Loud music will play in the starting corridor, and the runners filled with starting euphoria next to you will be impatiently shifting from foot to foot, awaiting the starting gun. Then it happens. The gun fires and nothing happens, everyone is still in place. You are still a good minute away from the starting line, which you'll practically reach by walking or at a light jog. Start your watch only after you pass through the starting gate and turn it off after crossing the finish line.

Marathon training plan under 2 hours.

During the first 2-3 kilometers, you will run in a "pack" of runners and will have limited space. Here, we recommend exercising increased caution, as you will be constantly overtaken by someone on both sides. However, do not let this disturb you and strictly maintain your prescribed pace. After 3 km, the course will start to spread out and you will be among runners at a similar pace.

Run the first 5 km at a pace of 5:45-5:50 min/km. After the 5th kilometer, gradually increase your pace to 5:35-5:40 min/km and maintain this pace up to the 18th kilometer. Between 18-21 km, nothing dramatic should happen. If you feel good, you can slightly increase your pace for the last 3 km (but not before the 18th km), however, stay within 5:20-5:35 min/km.

Beware of Pacers, Groups, and Water Stations

Professionally organized races (such as RunCzech) often have marked pacers (so-called pacemakers) among the runners, who aim to complete the race at the most popular times. For a half marathon, this will typically be 1:30, 1:45, 2:00, 2:10, etc. If you have never run with pacers before, we do not recommend trying it for the first race.

Even though pacers will run for a finish time of, say, 2:00, their race strategy is different from yours. Pacers simply set the pace and don't ease up until the finish line. Even though you might comfortably keep up with them at the start of the race, you may find yourself burning out and falling behind later in the race (around 15-17 km).

The pace of the pacers is always about 10 seconds per kilometer faster than what you trained for. So, even if you aim for the same finish time, we recommend a more individual approach. Pacers always run faster because they account for time lost around water stations.

The sub-2 hour half marathon is a popular time among many runners.

The same applies to groups that spontaneously run at "some" pace. Usually, groups congregate around one runner who "looks like they know what they're doing". Even though this may be true, the group's pace will vary from kilometer to kilometer. If you don’t monitor your pace, you could end up with breathing issues, followed by the typical side stitch.

Aid stations are a tricky spot that has cost many a runner their personal record. Here are a few tips on how to navigate an aid station without losing valuable seconds. Most runners congregate at the first tables with water, creating a large cluster that slows each other down.

Instead, bypass this standing or walking crowd and look for the last table of the aid station, where there's always clean water and no need to jostle. Just extend your hand, and a volunteer will hand you water on the go, so you won’t even have to stop. When replenishing fluids, it's recommended to slow down and take a few small sips, throw away the cup, and continue. If you drink too quickly and deeply, your heart rate will be thrown off, and you might start to feel a painful side stitch, which will most likely ruin your attempt to meet your time.

Nutrition, Hydration, Recovery, Injuries, and Gear

Responses to training vary individually. However, with any more intense preparation, you'll feel its impact on your body after a few weeks. The key to maintaining progress in training and achieving set goals is ensuring that your body has enough energy for its functions and enough nutrients for subsequent recovery.

Remember that it’s important to consume enough carbohydrates and proteins. Your daily intake of carbohydrates should be at least 5 g / kg of your body weight during the training period. If you feel fatigued during training, increase their intake and play around with the timing.

Training for a half marathon requires discipline.

The recommended daily intake of protein for aerobic athletes is 1.3-1.6 g / kg of body weight. If you're not getting enough protein from your regular diet, you might try hyve clear whey isolate, which is suitable for runners. An alternative is the classic whey protein hyve wpc 80. Both proteins are suitable for aerobic athletes since they contain no artificial ingredients or thickeners.

Don't forget to also replenish essential minerals (Sodium, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium) that you'll lose extensively through sweating. You can read more in the article about electrolytes and their function.

You can support recovery by stretching regularly after training. Pay attention to a good stretch of the lower half of the body, focusing on the feet and major tendons (Achilles tendon). Stretching can help prevent the most common running injuries. If you start to feel pain during training, it's recommended to take a break for a while. It's always better than letting an injury develop and prevent you from starting.

Recovery is an important part of the training block for a half marathon.

As for gear, the only thing you need to sort out for a half marathon are quality running shoes. The good news is that one pair will suffice for both the training block and the race. So, you don’t need to buy several models. While carbon plate shoes are a modern trend, rest assured, they are not a prerequisite for success.

Only professional athletes, whose pace is under 4 min / km, will fully utilize the potential of these shoes. You would also wear out carbon plate shoes during the training block, and by race day, they wouldn't have the same properties to give you any advantage. Proven shoe models for this distance include Asics Gel Nimbus, Asics Gel Cumulus, or Nike Pegasus.

Always choose shoes one size larger. Test your race outfit during one or two long runs to ensure nothing chafes or presses anywhere.

Conclusion

The hyve team wishes you successful preparation for your half marathon and a successful race day. We hope you achieve this goal and, above all, enjoy the race. If you have any questions about training or need advice on anything, feel free to contact me on my page, where I focus on training not only for a sub-2-hour half marathon. I'm happy to provide answers to all your questions regarding running and prepare a customized training plan for you based on your goals.

Roman Brcar
Web: https://runandsmile.net
E-mail: hellofithyve.com
Jaroslav Jetelina
E-mail: hellofithyve.com