Lifestyle

A 20 Week Half Marathon Training Schedule for a Non-Runner

sausage dog half marathon

The Great North Run is now done and dusted and I’m happy to say that I completed it, I beat my goal time and I surpassed my fundraising goal. A massive success all in all. The GNR had a great atmosphere about it, and it ended up being super friendly, even though it’s the largest half marathon in the world. (Close to 60,000 people ran it this year.) 

 

Here are my tips for running the Great North Run:

    1. Get to Newcastle the night before. You have to be there fairly early in the day and public transport can always go awry so try to be in Newcastle on Saturday night for the Sunday race. Luckily we had friends to stay with, but be aware that hotels book up about a year before the run so they can be hard to find. (Similar to finding a hotel during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival).
    2. During the run, so many kids will hand you snacks. (Cookies, Jelly Babies, Haribos that you don’t really need to bring your own snack). Ditto water. 
    3. The end of the run finishes in South Shields and it takes forever to get back in to Newcastle. It literally took Sam and I longer to get back in to Newcastle to our car than it took us to run the race. We had to queue for an hour and a half to get on a Metro train back in to town, so if you have a friend or family member that can park somewhere to whizz you away after the race, opt for that.


My Great North Run Training Plan

I modified a lot of training plans in preparation for the Great North Run. Here’s what I ended up doing. If you’re starting at running zilch (you don’t run at all), I’d follow the breaks shown as an asterix for non-runners (NR). I considered myself a hobby runner, in that I ran a few times a week, but for never more than 30 minutes and at a super leisurely pace. 

Week 1: 

Monday: run for 30 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 30 minutes *
Saturday: run for 3 miles

*NR: run for 1 minute then walk for 2, repeat

Week 2: 

Monday: run for 30 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 28 minutes *
Saturday: run for 3 miles

*NR: run for 1 minute then walk for 2 minutes, repeat

Week 3: 

Monday: run for 28 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 28 minutes *
Saturday: run for 4 miles

*NR: run for 2 minutes then walk for 2 minutes, repeat

Week 4: 

Monday: run for 28 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 30 minutes *
Saturday: run for 4 miles

*NR: run for 3 minutes then walk for 2 minutes, repeat

Week 5: 

Monday: run for 30 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 30 minutes *
Saturday: run for 4 miles

*NR: run for 3 minutes then walk for 2 minutes, repeat

Week 6: 

Monday: run for 30 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 30 minutes *
Saturday: run for 5 miles

*NR: run for 3 minutes then walk for 2 minutes, repeat

Week 7: 

Monday: run for 30 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 30 minutes *
Saturday: run for 5 miles

*NR: run for 4 minutes then walk for 2 minutes, repeat

Week 8:

Monday: run for 30 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 30 minutes *
Saturday: run for 6 miles

*NR: run for 4 minutes then walk for 2 minutes, repeat

Week 9:

Monday: run for 30 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 30 minutes *
Saturday: run for 6 miles

*NR: run for 5 minutes then walk for 1 minute, repeat

Week 10: 

Monday: run for 30 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 30 minutes *
Saturday: run for 4 miles

*NR: run for 5 minutes then walk for 1 minute, repeat

Week 11: 

Monday: run for 36 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 36 minutes *
Saturday: run for 7 miles

*NR: run for 5 minutes then walk for 1 minute, repeat

Week 12:

Monday: run for 30 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 35 minutes *
Saturday: run for 8 miles

*NR: run for 5 minutes then walk for 1 minute, repeat

Week 13: 

Monday: run for 35 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 35 minutes *
Saturday: run for 5 miles

*NR: run for 6 minutes then walk for 1 minute, repeat

Week 14:

Monday: run for 35 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 40 minutes *
Saturday: run for 9 miles

*NR: run for 6 minutes then walk for 1 minute, repeat 

Week 15:

Monday: run for 36 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 36 minutes *
Saturday: run for 7 miles

*NR: run for 5 minutes then walk for 1 minute, repeat

Week 16: 

Monday: run for 36 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 36 minutes *
Saturday: run for 7 miles

*NR: run for 5 minutes then walk for 1 minute, repeat 

Week 17: 

Monday: run for 36 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 36 minutes *
Saturday: run for 7 miles

*NR: run for 8 minutes then walk for 1 minute, repeat

Week 18: 

Monday: run for 45 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 45 minutes *
Saturday: run for 10 miles

*NR: run for 8 minutes then walk for 1 minute, repeat

Week 19: 

Monday: run for 45 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 45 minutes *
Saturday: run for 6 miles

*NR: run for 10 minutes then walk for 1 minute, repeat

Week 20: 

Monday: run for 45 minutes *
Wednesday: run for 45 minutes *
Saturday: rest

*NR: run for 10 minutes then walk for 1 minute, repeat

Then the race! 

Have you done any races before? What are your running tips?

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  • It’s so interesting to see peoples running schedules for prep for a half marathon! I did two runs over ten miles but very much increased the mileage slow and steady each week until my longest run pre-race which was 11.5 miles! What time did you manage to get in the end? Alice xxx

    http://www.woodenwindowsills.co.uk

    • Just under 2 1/2 in the end. A friend who had a baby recently did it un under 2 which kind of put me to shame! 😉 x

      • That is INSANE, your time was absolutely brilliant (partly because that’s also the time I did it in too!) I didn’t really use time as my goal – just getting around! But secretly I was happy to do it in under 2.5 hours! xxx

  • My goodness – what an accomplishment! As a NR, I can’t imagine all that you went through to achieve this goal. Three questions: 😉 How excruciating was it to start? Was it difficult to keep this schedule up during the summer? + most interestingly perhaps: Do you think you will continue a running schedule now that you’re finished?

    • OHH interesting questions. It was never excruciating because you start off in such small chunks so it never got painful. My biggest problem was that I always found it boring. It was actually easier to keep up during the summer. Mostly because we were too poor to go on any travels together but also because it wasn’t unbearably cold so it was slightly more enjoyable. (Back in March/April I had to run with earmuffs on which was zero fun). And as for your last question, I’m not sure. I never really found the joy or freedom in it that people talk about. Sam’s into his running (his cousin is the British ultra-marathon champion) and it was nice to have something that we could do together, but I’m not sure that I’d ever run on such a strict 3 times a week schedule again. (Unless I was doing a charity thing again) x

  • This makes me really want to run the half marathon… I have knee issues so I’m not sure I can do it but this seems so so amazing!!
    Lucie, xx

    http://thefrenchpier.blogspot.com

    • There were definitely some people who were walking it for charities, if you wanted to be involved in a half marathon but didn’t want to risk your knees (which I totally understand – they are precious!) x

  • You don’t even know how much I wish I’d read this 19 weeks ago! 😅 I’m running my 2nd half marathon next month — the first was in 2014 and I managed 2hrs50 on no training but broke my foot in the process which wasn’t ideal! So this time I’ve tried to actually train but can’t bring myself to go running more than two or three times a week.
    Is this the plan you followed? I can’t believe you managed such a good time on just a few short runs a week :O

    • Oh my goodness- how did you break your foot? That sounds awful! I’m so sorry!

      It was an amalgamation between a few plans recommend by Runner’s World and the NHS. The longest run that they recommended doing before the race was 10 miles (and by the point that the 10 miles was done you’ll have built your stamina gradually so that it doesn’t feel that bad) and then the adrenaline and excitement of the race day will get you through the remaining few miles.

  • Aw you both ran it? Awesome! I have no interest in running marathons, but next year I want to sign up to this sprint triathlon challenge and that’s 5k, so my modest goal is work up to that 🙂 may try your schedule/ technique anyhow!

    • Ohh you should do the NHS Couch to 5K training – I’ve heard such good things about it (that it’s very gentle and gets you there gradually but comfortably). It’s a downloadable podcast that you listen to as you run, telling you when to run, when to walk, when to stretch etc x

  • SO well done! I’ve always loved running, but I didn’t run at all during my pregnancy, so when I was training for the London marathon a few months after having the baby, I felt like I was starting from the beginning again. I think your schedule looks great, and it obviously paid off, I’m always much more motivated to go when i’m training for something, or when I have someone I can run with – it really pushes me!

  • You are amazing! I didn’t realise Sam was running with you – I feel bad about not donating to his charity fund now too!

    I did try to take up running once. But… it’s cold outside.

    • Don’t feel guilty – the company that he works for guaranteed to double whatever he raised so he ended up pulling in just over a grand for the Stroke Association, I think. x

  • Miu

    Wow, I am so in awe at every runner! My stamina is very bad and at the same time I’m too embarrassed to work out in public, but one day I will to the C25k app 😉