How to train for a half marathon while strength training

Sharing the details on how to train for a half marathon and keep up a running routine while making time for strength training.

Hi friends! Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Since so many of my friends are taking advantage of outdoor workouts and planning fall physical or virtual races, I wanted to re-share this post about a somewhat tricky topic: training for a half marathon while strength training.

I think it’s SO important to complement your running with some type of strength training. It can help to strengthen and protect your muscles, particularly the ones surrounding your knee and hips, to help you run faster and more safely. It’s very common for runners to get injured during training because they push it too hard and don’t train efficiently. It’s very easy to overtrain, especially with the myriad of “training plans” that are out there.

0179ginaalmondsshoot photographybyjacquelynn

When a good friend reached out about getting injured during her beginner’s half marathon plan, I took a look at it for probably 3 seconds before saying,

“That’s too much running.”

Of course, if you’re used to running and do it daily, it’s NBD to slowly increase mileage and keep running almost every day. If you’re an elite runner, of course you’re running a lot! If you’re a beginner or novice runner, it doesn’t make a lot of sense from going to “a few miles every few days” to “6 miles one day, speed intervals the next, 3 miles after that, and a 50-minute run the day after that.” It’s too much.

When you’re a beginning runner, you need to be strategic about how often you’re running (and the purpose of each run!) in addition to strength training or cross training to prevent injury and improve strength.

Please keep in mind that I’m NOT a running coach. I’m a certified personal trainer and weight loss specialist who has run a handful of half marathons. Some of them were great, some of them were roadkill. (Thankfully as time went on, I learned what worked for me and what would help me PR. In my case, it was only 2 strategic runs per week in addition to the classes I was teaching and my own strength workouts.) If you need a specific training plans for your needs, please reach out to a running coach near you, or hit up my friends Teri or Janae and see who they recommend!

I took the plan my friend sent me and tweaked it. I eliminated a couple of run days – instead of running 5-6 times a week, it’s 3-4 – and added in strength training workouts that I’ll post below.

Spoiler alert: she followed this plan exactly as written (a couple missed days because life) and ran a sub-2 hour half marathon! YESSSS!

Half marathon and strength training plan

Half marathon and strength training plan 1

(To download a full PDF version, click here.)

For the HIIT training, you’ll do 30 seconds of sprints and 30 seconds of rest for 15 minutes total. For your hill days, you’ll focus on adding resistance to really challenge your hamstring, core, and glutes.

In a time crunch? Eliminate the Monday 2 mile easy run or the bonus training on Tuesday.

Want to take a class? Add in spinning or another cardio class you love (dance, kickboxing, step) for cross training on Fridays, or try taking a barre workout on Tuesdays for your leg day. You can also skip upper body on Tuesday (only easy run) and do an Orangetheory workout on Tuesday. Please let me know if you need help shuffling things around! Instead of ADDING in more times and classes, see what you can swap for maximum effectiveness.

Strength training and half marathon plan:

These workouts use basic (but efficient) strength training moves. If you haven’t lifted weights regularly, I would make a personal training appointment to make sure your form is on point before venturing into strength training on your own. (The goal here is to keep you injury-free!) As always, talk with a doctor before making any fitness changes.

Upper body workout:

Upper body circuit workout for runners

Lower body workout:

Lower body workout for runners

Core workouts for runners:

Barre ab workout

Standing core workout

Diastasis recti safe exercises

Hip strengtheners are in this post! I recommend adding these in on recovery days.

I hope this helps a little!

Are you training for any races this fall?

What fitness goals are you going after right now?