12 Week Half Marathon Training Plan + What I Ate

“I would watch people pass me on my walks, and I never envied them. I never wished to be a runner, and I never got excited while watching people cross finish lines. One day, things changed.” My Running Story! (please read first)

So you’re interested in running a half marathon? If you’re thinking “if she can do it, I can do it,” then you are in the right place. Seriously. Before you read about my training and how I managed to run 13.1 miles, make sure to check out my running story and how I got here. I’m currently in a forty-day running hiatus, but I am eager to get back out there. My running post will fill you in on how I got started, and some important key parts in becoming a better runner. 
I spent all spring and summer running. I’d run 3-5 miles four times a week. It was just me at the time, but that all changed when I met Meighan, the world’s best running partner. I thought I could only be a solo runner, but that changed as soon as we ran for the first time together. If you plan on training for a marathon, I highly recommend finding a friend or training partner to do it with you. If I didn’t have Meighan, I would have never held myself accountable or got myself out of bed early Sunday morning for our long runs. It was something fun to look forward to, and we honestly enjoyed running together. I couldn’t imagine running long runs alone ever again. (Why you should find a workout buddy.)https://simplytaralynn.com/2016/10/20/love-consistency/
Before you even start the plan, you have to complete a pre-training plan (assuming you’re starting from ground zero.) There is no point of starting a half marathon plan if you can’t run three miles. I wouldn’t even want to train for a half if I couldn’t run three miles, so let’s get you there first! This will help you build endurance, mileage, and prevent injuries. Before Meighan and I came up with a training plan, we were already running prior. We had run small and fast mileage, slow and long distance, and everywhere in between.
https://simplytaralynn.com/2016/10/27/fallesque-weekend-running-fashion-food/Before you begin, please understand that I am not a doctor or professional. This is a plan that worked for me, and you should consult with your doctor before beginning any fitness/diet routine!

Week one:  run five minutes (10-12 min mile), walk ten minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile), walk ten minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile), walk ten minutes,  run five minutes (10-12 min mile) walk ten minutes. 5x a week

Week two: run five minutes(10-12 min mile), walk five minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile), walk five minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile), walk five minutes,  run five minutes (10-12 min mile) walk five minutes. 4x a week

Week three: run five minutes (10-12 min mile), walk five minutes, run ten minutes (10-12 mile) walk five minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile) walk five minutes, run five minutes (10-12 mile), walk ten minutes.  3x a week

Week four: run fifteen minutes(10-12 min mile), walk fifteen minutes, run ten minutes(10-12 min mile), walk twenty minutes, run five minutes(10-12 min mile), walk ten minutes.  4x a week

Week five: run twenty minutes (10-12 min mile) walk thirty minutes, run five minutes (10-12 min mile) 4x a week

Week six: run twenty-five minutes (10-12 min mile) walk twenty minutes, run ten minutes (10-12 min mile) walk twenty minutes 4x a week

Week seven: run thirty minutes (10-12 min mile), walk thirty minutes.https://simplytaralynn.com/2016/12/01/perfect-thanksgiving-venice/
Whenever you finish a run, you must must must recover! Recover with rest, ice, protein, carbs, and stretching! If you stick to this recovery routine, you’ll be golden. https://simplytaralynn.com/2016/10/20/love-consistency/https://simplytaralynn.com/2016/10/27/fallesque-weekend-running-fashion-food/
After running months and months together, we decided to sign up for a half marathon together! If you browse through the running section on my blog, you’ll find all of our running posts!

We started running in the freezing cold. It was 35 degrees when we first started training, and holy moly it was hard! It’s important to train in all weather conditions.

We decided to get super serious about training when we hit week four. Running in Waxhaw was a crazy idea because it was hilly. Adding in hills is a great idea, but gradually. I remember being so tired on the last mile, but Meighan pushed me to finish strong. Make sure to find a partner that will push you, and make sure to push them.

I really enjoyed the seven-mile run. It was starting to get nicer out, and the spring flowers were blooming all around us. When you find a good trail, the run is always more exciting. The seven miles was a breeze, and my confidence in my ability to run a half marathon was growing.

This was by far the worst run ever. It taught me that I have the ability to finish even when I feel like I can’t. I’ve learned that one bad run doesn’t mean you’re an awful runner. Sometimes, we just can’t, and that’s ok! I wrote more about this awful run in the post above. I also learned that protein shakes before a run is a NO NO NO GO!

I was shocked that I completed the nine-mile run right after my 5k race. You should definitely sign up for a smaller race during your half training. You can practice eating the right food, experimenting with what works, and what doesn’t. This nine-mile run was one of my favorites! We ran in the gorgeous Charlotte neighborhoods, and it was overcast.
Another great run! I couldn’t believe I ran ten miles, and I knew right away that I was going to finish this half! I also confirmed that banana and bread were going to be my pre-race breakfast!  
It was so weird to run my long run solo, but I did it. A while ago six miles would have felt like forever, but this run felt short, and I had to tell myself to stop. This run made me realize the importance of hydration. 
OK. I lied. THIS was the best run! Meighan and I decided to do a destination run for our last long run together. HOLY MOLY was this a fun weekend. We ran down the gorgeous city of Charleston, and I never felt out of breath once. I was hydrated, and couldn’t wait for the half. I’m telling you, choose fun running trails!

Meighan was out of town this weekend, so it was up to me to fit in one more long run before the half marathon. I ran seven miles in Charlotte, and it was a bit crummy, but I still finished. I also did yoga twice that week! I ran in my race day pants to test them out, and they were a go! This is the week where you should test your race day breakfast, race time (wake up), race hydration, race fuel, and so on! Don’t run the full mileage, but treat this like race day.

Our idea of carb-loading the night before a race 🙂 We drank a ton of water, indulged in potassium, and sodium!

AND WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Questions for you!

  1. Runners! Drop a line of advice for anyone looking to run their first half/full marathon!
  2. What did you eat before your half marathon breakfast?
  3. What training mistakes have you made?


  • Amber

    Hi Taralynn,

    I came across your blog and half marathon training guide. I love it!! I am preparing for a half in September. I live in the Charlotte area and was wondering where the running path was in Waxhaw that you practiced your hills? Keep doing what you are doing!!


    Reply to Amber
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Amber! We didn’t have a specific trail that we ran. We ran the downtown area and the back neighborhoods that were extremely hilly! If you’re looking to run an extremely hilly area in Charlotte, I have to recommend the Ballantyne Country Club neighborhoods! It’s a killer!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Lisa

    Hi Taralynn

    Stumbled across your blog as I am preparing for my first marathon and you inspired the creation of me documenting my journey. I wanted to know if it is okay with you to feature this blog post in my blog post?


    Reply to Lisa
  • Allyson

    Hi! I’m going to start following your training program for my first half in January. What did you do for strength training? How long were your long walks?

    Reply to Allyson
  • Hannah

    How many miles did you typically do for the long walks? I did a 15k earlier this year and have been searching for the perfect 1/2 training plan and think I finally found it!

    Reply to Hannah
  • Hannah

    How many miles would you typically do for your long walks? I did a 15k earlier this year and loved it, have been looking for a good 1/2 marathon plan and this one looks so good!! Thanks! ?

    Reply to Hannah
  • Brittany

    Hi! Love this plan! I was curious if you run the full thing or if you do a walk/run combo?

    Reply to Brittany
  • Liz

    Awesome post!!! I’m running a half in September and I’m trying to switch up strength exercises
    . What are some of the things you did on those days?!

    Reply to Liz
  • Cassie

    Are you racing the Charlotte 13.1? I’m thinking of doing the 8k and it’d be cool to see you there!

    Congrats on the half! Hope your you’re feeling better from injuries!

    Reply to Cassie
  • Jane

    Finally! I’ve been waiting for this post!

    Reply to Jane
  • Anonymous

    Inspiring! Where do you and Meighan run?

    Reply to Anonymous
  • Leah

    Hi Tara! One thing I don’t get, every other training plan on see online has weekly mileage that’s quite a bit higher? What made you decide to run the mileage you did in this plan? Did you worry about injuries on such a low mileage plan? Thanks!

    Reply to Leah
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Hi, Leah.

      Meighan and I created a plan that worked for our schedules and our levels of fitness. We had already ran ten miles before we even started the plan, so it was a maintenance/build up plan for us.

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Amy

    Nice job on sticking with your training!

    Reply to Amy
  • Anna@Actively Anna

    Your honesty is so wonderful. I love that you say you never thought you’d be a runner, because seeing you now, I would’ve thought you’d always been one! (Had I not been following your blog all these years of course haha). I find myself getting down sometimes in thinking I could never become a runner, I’ll never be fit enough to do so, I probably can’t even jog, etc. So it’s truly nice to see that with enough determination and drive- maybe I too could start running 🙂 So truly, thank you!

    Reply to Anna@Actively Anna
  • George

    Great plan!

    Reply to George
  • Quin

    Loved this post and all of the photos and eats included. How inspiring!

    Reply to Quin
  • Amy

    What type of running shoes did you purchase? I’m in desperate need of some new sneakers, but don’t want to break the bank.

    Reply to Amy
  • Anonymous

    I loved the photos of the food you ate before the long runs! Great organizing.

    Reply to Anonymous
  • Elizabeth B

    1. Not every run is meant to be a “race pace” run. This means on your “easy” days, you should be running slower than your race pace target.

    2. If I am racing near home, I try to eat a toasted waffle with almond butter, and possibly 1/2 of a banana. If I am traveling, I try to eat 1/2 a bagel with almond butter and a banana. However I am usually super nervous so I lose my appetite but it’s so important to fuel!

    3. See #1, and I wouldn’t call it a mistake, but know that a lot of runners have stomach issues on their longer runs (trust me). So my lesson is especially before a long run, I will eat something that is easy to digest (simple carbs) and try to eat about 1 hour before the run.

    Reply to Elizabeth B
  • Elle

    Is this a recap of what you did for your half? Or what you planned to do? Just curious 🙂

    Reply to Elle
  • Anonymous

    you suck

    Reply to Anonymous
  • Rachel

    This is a really good and detailed guide! I love the autumnal pictures from when you started training 😀
    You must be so proud of all your hard work!
    I’m hoping to be doing my first half marathon in February so still plenty of time to work out a plan and get started – I’m currently comfortable running a 10km but the furthest I’ve gone is 12km (about 7.5miles).
    James on the otherhand has two HM’s under his belt this year, he always sticks to his usual everyday breakfast before one of yogurt and granola followed by a banana closer to the run 🙂

    Rachel | Coffee & Avocados

    Reply to Rachel
  • Harriet

    Thank you for sharing your training plan, I have my first half in 5 months! (It finishes on the beach) So going to read through your plan a few times and a just it to fit me.
    The best advice/quote I have been given so far is “your physical strength will get you over the start line but your mental strength will get you to the finish line”
    Before my 5k and 10k races I usually eat cereal and a banana at least 1 1/2 hours before. So I might stick to this but as the half is longer I may trial different foods to make sure I stay fuled.
    The worst mistake I made was crossfit/running training every day I got so sick.
    So now I crossfit 3x a week (currently on a month long hiatus) yoga 1-2x a week and run or walk 3x a week.

    In the lead up to your half did you invest and ware in new shoes for race day??

    Reply to Harriet
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Yes, important to adjust your plans to fit yourself!

      You seem like a beast with your workouts!!! Crossfit is TOUGH!!!

      I got new shoes two months before the half!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Mia

    Now I’m inspired to run!

    Reply to Mia
  • Kelsey

    Finally! Been waiting for this one.

    Reply to Kelsey
  • Anonymous

    Where do you get your workout clothes?

    Reply to Anonymous
  • melanie

    Joining a running club is great too!

    Reply to melanie
  • Cyndi

    Hey girl! Thanks so much for this plan, I’m going to use it to re-train for my next half at Disney!

    1. Advice: Don’t compare yourself to other runners. Push yourself, yes, but don’t try and be the best on your first round. Work up to it, and be happy with your journey.

    2. What did you eat before your half marathon breakfast?

    I ran the Disney Princess Half, and they provided us with this cute little box of a bagel, peanut butter, banana, a granola bar, and some water. It worked well for me! I was pretty nervous and it was like, 3am, so I spaced out my eating and ate really slow.

    3. What training mistakes have you made?

    I started running too fast too soon, which in turn provided shin splints and blisters. That had me not running for about 3 weeks of my training schedule! I’ll do better next time! 🙂

    Reply to Cyndi
    • Taralynn McNitt

      That is awesome!

      Comparing is awful! SO RIGHT about NEVER doing it. Especially not on social media lol

      Thats a perfect pre run meal.

      Going too fast is not good. I never worry about speed and that seems to help.

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Jane Rose

    How fun! Thank you for taking the time to write up such a detailed plan. I enjoyed the visual.

    Reply to Jane Rose
  • Anonymous

    I totally undertrained and did half of your plan and still ran the half. I didn’t do too well but this is great.

    Reply to Anonymous
  • Brooke

    Thanks for the inspiration as always!! You and Meighan are running rock-stars! ✨
    All of this advice is great! I’m just beginning my running journey now, getting ready for my first 10k this Fall (at Disney World in Orlando!). Your posts have been super helpful, and I’ll definitely keep all of this info in mind as I continue down my path of running and fitness!

    Reply to Brooke
  • Luchi

    You rock!!! I Run 12k two times a week but i AM getting bord! I have no partnet do you have some app for run? ????? 4 you

    Reply to Luchi
  • Alison

    Love this plan!

    Reply to Alison
  • Molly

    This is making me want to get back into the running game. Lately I’ve been doing more strength training and only running a few miles once or twice a week but I just miss those endorphins! Thanks for the training plan and for motivating me to get back into the running game 😉

    Reply to Molly
  • Jordan

    Awesome training plan — Your posts are always so cute and colorful, I love it!!

    One thing that I did before my first half was actually run the race course a few weeks prior to the race. That way I knew exactly what I was up against on race day (meaning hills, terrain, and road conditions). I think it helped me prepare mentally as well!

    I don’t remember exactly what I had for breakfast, but I remember butterflies. I was nervous!! I also remember how great the French Toast and Chocolate Milk was AFTER the run!

    A training mistake that I have made is not including hills in workouts. Hills are great endurance builders and skipping them makes elevation changes that much more difficult during an actual race. They are still not my favorite training run, but I know how important they are!

    Reply to Jordan
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thanks, Jordan!

      That is such a great idea. Unfortunately, mine was in NYC lol, but I definitely heard reviews on how hard the course was, so I’m glad it wasn’t as bad as everyone told me it was going to be!! I did run all of my 5K ones first!

      I’ve been craving French toast so bad lately! I think I know what I’m making this weekend!

      Yes! they are definitely a must!! And if you find the right routes, they aren’t avoidable! You can always see if your race route will be hilly or not!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
  • Laura

    1. It’s as much in your mind as in your legs… You can do this! Think positive and beat that inner voice that will at some point tell you to stop 2. Plain oatmeal made with water and a banana 3. Run on a full stomach

    Reply to Laura
  • Candice

    As you said, it’s not for beginners so I will start with the pre-train!

    Reply to Candice
  • Jordan

    If you could do anything different, would you? I am not a runner, and I don’t think I ever want to be. I love lifting, but I think it’s cool that people do marathons and such!

    Reply to Jordan
  • Sarah

    So much inspiration int his post! Very proud of you and Meighan.

    Reply to Sarah
  • Michelle

    This is incredibly motivating & I couldn’t thank you enough for the inspiration! It is hard for me to see your Charlotte posts as I miss that city SO much. My mother was diagnosed with ALS and my husband and I quickly had to pack up, rent our beloved house in Madison Park out & head to Charlottesville, VA to help my family. We cannot wait to go back to the Queen City someday and by then…maybe…just maybe I’ll be able to run a CLT race! I’m sure these mountains will help my training 🙂 Thanks again for keeping our eye on the prize with your awesome blog!

    Reply to Michelle
    • Taralynn McNitt

      Thank you, Michelle!

      SO SO sorry to hear about your mom 🙁 You are such a great daughter for being there with her! Enjoy your time in Virginia with your family & Charlotte isn’t going anywhere 🙂 xo xo I’ll keep your mom and family in my prayers!

      Reply to Taralynn McNitt
      • Anonymous

        Thank you, ?Family first 🙂 I can tell you feel the same from reading your blog for a while! Xo

        Reply to Anonymous
  • Joanne @ byjoannevirginia.com

    Ahhh! I just started training for my first half! I’m following a 16-week plan just to make sure I’m super prepared. I decided Monday, realized I had just exactly the right amount of time to train and officially signed up yesterday. I’m so nervous but excited!!

    Reply to Joanne @ byjoannevirginia.com
  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Thank you for the plan!! I have still to run my 10k, but this will be good reference further down the road in my running journey!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Reply to Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
  • Linda


    Reply to Linda

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