Training for that Half Marathon

All of us have been there, watching the Olympics, or any athletics meet and seeing the runners with their fit, toned bodies and their skin-tight outfits strutting along the track and field venue. While most of us will continue to sit there with our beer bellies hanging out taking a gulp of soda in between mouthfuls of crinkle cut potato chips, the special few will get off our overweight behinds and get in shape. That being said, the motivation of getting in shape can only bring you so far, we all need a goal, something that the people in our circles will ridicule if we do not achieve, Obviously one would want to impress these circles with at least a half marathon distance competitive race. The only problem is how does a slightly too round lazy couch potato who runs out of breath on the way to get a soda refill complete a 21KM distance race much less get a respectable time on it. Well, this 12-week guide to getting prepped will ensure you don’t falter part way on your 21KM adventure while almost absolutely ensuring that you get ripped in the process.

Running the 21K will involve more than just running a progressive distance all the way up to your target distance, it will involve strength training, low-impact cardio and of course running.

Before embarking on any training program, it is absolutely essential to consult your physician about the risks to your health taking into account any pre-existing health conditions including but not limited to heart conditions, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or joint pain.

Strength Training workout

Running long distances involve a lot of core and upper body strength on top of the obvious lower body power. Building up these muscles will ensure that your form is just right throughout the run that will both limit fatigue and reduce injury. Aim to complete all 3 workouts, 2 to 3 sets of each workout

Strength training workout 1: Squats

Squats have been lauded as one of the most important full body workouts that you can do in the gym and anyone who has ever done proper squats can attest to that. Squats work your core, glutes and pretty much every leg muscle you have. Paired with moderate weight shoulder presses and you have a full body workout that will help with proper running form. Start standing with feet shoulder width apart; take two dumbbells that you can easily lift 15 repetitions with. Lower hips to knee level ensuring that the back is kept straight, not arched while lifting the dumbbells above your head in a shoulder press position. Make sure to note that the knees should not move beyond toe level in the front otherwise you risk injuring yourself. Now push yourself back up to standing position while lowering the dumbells back to shoulder height. That’s 1 rep. Complete 10 for 1 set

Strength training workout 2: Lunges

While not a popular workout among gym rats, lunges have heaps of benefits for runners, they keep your torso in a tight position and build core strength while working those thighs like no other workout, you’ll realise this once you feel the burn. Take a slightly larger than natural step forward with your left leg until your right knee almost touches the floor but doesn’t making sure to keep that torso stable while holding two dumbbells at your side. The dumbbells should be a comfortable enough weight for you to do 15 reps. Now push back to the starting position making sure to remain in a stable position. Now do the same with the right leg. That one rep. Complete 10 for 1 set.

Strength training workout 3: Box jumps

Many people understand box jumps to be something that can only be done at a gym with those big wooden boxes but box jumps can be done pretty much anywhere where there is a significant enough difference in elevation between the starting and ending position. So places such as park benches, high curbs or big steps all will do in absence of a regular box. Start standing with feet shoulder width apart and jump explosively onto the top of the box, ensuring that your legs take the bulk of the impact and not the knees. You can make sure of this by keeping the knees slightly bent upon landing. Step back to the floor to limit the impact on your joints and you’ve finished 1 rep. This workout works the hamstrings and can loosen the joints, tendons and muscles. Do 10 for one set.

Low impact cardio

Low impact cardio include cycing, rowing, stepping, elliptical training, skating or even swimming. Aim to do 40 minutes to an hour of this at a moderate level of about 7 out of 10.


This training program will involve distance running, interval training and what we like to call, the comfort run.

Distance running

Start with a distance of about 5KM and work your way up to a full 20KM before the end of the program. Speed is not the motive for this training run but rather to make sure your fitness level is able to make it the full distance.

Interval training

Best done on a running track to save the joints but can be pretty much done anywhere. Start with a good stretch to ensure the muscles are nice and loose. Run at 80% of your maximum speed one round around the running track or 400m. You can limit your interval to 60seconds of running for slightly slower runners. Follow this high intensity run with a low intensity jog for the equal distance or time. That’s one round. Aim for 6 rounds followed by a 3 minute low intensity jog and stretching exercises. While being an amazing fat burner, interval training also trains the quick twitch muscles making it easier to go faster with less effort.

The comfort run

The comfort run is a run at a medium pace for a comfortable distance no more than 10KM. This will keep your muscles moving while enabling enough recovery time for your torched fibres.

The program by Day

Week 1:
  • Day 1 – 5KM distance training run
  • Day 2 – Rest
  • Day 3 – Strength training workout
  • Day 4 – Interval training run
  • Day 5 – Strength training workout
  • Day 6 – 4KM comfort run
  • Day 7 – Low impact cardio
Week 2:
  • Day 8 – 6KM distance training run
  • Day 9 – Rest
  • Day 10 – Strength training workout
  • Day 11 – Interval training run
  • Day 12 – Strength training workout
  • Day 13 – 4KM comfort run
  • Day 14 – Low impact cardio
Week 3:
  • Day 15 – 7KM distance training run
  • Day 16 – Rest
  • Day 17 – Strength training workout
  • Day 18 – Interval training run
  • Day 19 – Strength training workout
  • Day 20 – 4KM comfort run
  • Day 21 – Low impact cardio
Week 4:
  • Day 22 – 5KM distance training run
  • Day 23 – Rest
  • Day 24 – Strength training workout
  • Day 25 – Interval training run
  • Day 26 – Strength training workout
  • Day 27 – 4KM comfort run
  • Day 28 – Low impact cardio
Week 5:
  • Day 29 – 8KM distance training run
  • Day 30 – Rest
  • Day 31 – Strength training workout
  • Day 32 – Interval training run
  • Day 33 – Strength training workout
  • Day 34 – 6KM comfort run
  • Day 35 – Low impact cardio
Week 6:
  • Day 36 – 10KM distance training run
  • Day 37 – Rest
  • Day 38 – Strength training workout
  • Day 39 – Interval training run
  • Day 40 – Strength training workout
  • Day 41 – 6KM comfort run
  • Day 42 – Low impact cardio
Week 7:
  • Day 43 – 12KM distance training run
  • Day 44 – Rest
  • Day 45 – Strength training workout
  • Day 46 – Interval training run
  • Day 47 – Strength training workout
  • Day 48 – 6KM comfort run
  • Day 49 – Low impact cardio
Week 8:
  • Day 50 – 8KM distance training run
  • Day 51 – Rest
  • Day 52 – Strength training workout
  • Day 53 – Interval training run
  • Day 54 – Strength training workout
  • Day 55 – 6KM comfort run
  • Day 56 – Low impact cardio
Week 9:
  • Day 57 – 14KM distance training run
  • Day 58 – Rest
  • Day 59 – Strength training workout
  • Day 60 – Interval training run
  • Day 61 – Strength training workout
  • Day 62 – 8KM comfort run
  • Day 63 – Low impact cardio
Week 10:
  • Day 64 – 16KM distance training run
  • Day 65 – Rest
  • Day 66 – Strength training workout
  • Day 67 – Interval training run
  • Day 68 – Strength training workout
  • Day 69 – 8KM comfort run
  • Day 70 – Low impact cardio
Week 11:
  • Day 71 – 18KM distance training run
  • Day 72 – Rest
  • Day 73 – Strength training workout
  • Day 74 – Interval training run
  • Day 75 – Strength training workout
  • Day 76 – 8KM comfort run
  • Day 77 – Low impact cardio
Week 12:
  • Day 78 – 20KM distance training run
  • Day 79 – Rest
  • Day 80 – Strength training workout
  • Day 81 – 6KM comfort run
  • Day 82 – Low impact cardio
  • Day 83 – Rest
  • Day 84 – Race Day!