“Busy Mom on the Run” HALF Marathon Training Plan

My First Half Marathon 2013After sharing my “Busy Mom on the Run” Marathon Training Plan, many wanted to know when I would share a three day a week HALF Marathon training plan. Well, today’s your lucky day! Now, everyone is different, so I can’t tell you this plan will work well for you, but this is essentially the plan I have followed when training for all five of the half marathons I have run. I have finished each of them faster than the last, so I must be doing something right! My current PR is 1:49. I’m determined to beat that at my next half this fall.

I say “essentially” because as busy moms we know we have to be flexible. A Tuesday 5 mile run can easily turn into a Wednesday 3 mile run because your child stayed home sick from school and you only had a half hour free the next day. That’s ok, you can swap around the days a bit as needed. For me, my main goal in training is not to skip my scheduled long runs and to find a way to get in two shorter runs for the week with some rest and/or cross training in between.

1 Cross + Strength 3 m run Cross + Strength 3 m run Rest 4 m run Rest or Cross
2 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 5 m run Rest or Cross
3 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 6 m run Rest or Cross
4 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 7 m run Rest or Cross
5 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 8 m run Rest or Cross
6 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 9 m run Rest or Cross
7 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 10 m run Rest or Cross
8 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 6 m run Rest or Cross
9 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 11 m run Rest or Cross
10 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 12 m run Rest or Cross
11 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 10 m run Rest or Cross
12 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 2 m run Rest Rest RACE


In some training plans you will hear talk about pace or running hills some days. I try not to overthink this stuff because I’m lucky to just get out for a run. I usually just focus on running at a comfortable pace, especially for my long runs. If you want to work on getting faster, try running one of your shorter runs at a quicker pace. For example, I want to run my upcoming marathon in under four hours which puts my race pace at about 9 minutes per mile. That’s my pace for my long runs. My friend and renowned running coach Hal Higdon actually recommends doing long runs extra slow, “anywhere from 30 to 90 or more seconds per mile slower than race pace.” Do what works best for you, but don’t overthink it. My pace for shorter distances is closer to 8 minute miles so I usually run one of my shorter runs around there. But I’m slowly learning that faster is not always better. Like my good friend who is a tri-athlete likes to say, “I train slow and race fast!” You should practice running at the pace you want to run your race, but not every time you run. Do what works best for you, but don’t over think the pace. As a busy mom, just feel good that you are getting the miles in.


I’ve allowed for two or three “cross” training days because those are a little more flexible and can potentially be done at home before the kids wake up or during their nap. For me, cross training includes either a 30 to 40 minute elliptical workout, a spin or circuit/”boot-camp” class or (don’t laugh) a workout video plus I always do some training with weights. I like to mix things up and keep things fresh. My fear is that if I run too much I will get bored or burned out. I enjoy too many other activities to only run and I feel strongly that cross-training helps me run faster. As the miles build and my runs get longer I begin to stick to “safe” cross training activities that will not leave me feeling sore and unable to properly accomplish my runs.


You’ll notice I have only included one or two days of rest here in my plan. Here’s why. With kids at home, I know that when I get the chance to run or get any workout in, I’d better take it. Because there is no doubt that some unforeseen event will arise on a day when I have a workout planned and that will become an unscheduled rest day. Like I always say, “Seize the Day” or really it’s more like “Seize the Hour” when you’re a running mommy. However, if I have cross training scheduled on a particular day and haven’t had a rest day yet that week and/or can tell my body really needs it, I sometimes use a ‘CROSS’ day for rest instead. One or two rest days a week are very important for me.


Just a few years ago I hadn’t run more than a mile and really had no desire to do so. If you haven’t read about how I began running and how I built up to my first half marathon a year later, here is a post with a little bit of my background, 10 Reasons Why I Run.

Many people say that 13.1 miles is their favorite race distance. I suppose I’d have to agree. After running two full marathons now and training for my third this fall, there is a big difference between the amount of time and effort required to train for a half versus a full. Training for and running a half marathon is a nice challenge that takes determination, strength and mental toughness without beating up the body the way 26.2 miles can. Yet finishing 13.1 miles offers a wonderful boost in confidence and empowerment.

My next half marathon is coming up on September 13, the River Run Half Marathon here in Cleveland, Ohio. It happens to be the same race as the first half I did back in 2013 (pictured above) and is still one of my favorite courses. Then it will be on to the Chicago Marathon on October 11. Sharing this plan with you has got me excited to get out and run some more races.

Good luck to you as you embark on training for 13.1 miles. If I can do it, I know you can too.


PLEASE NOTE: I am not an expert. Just an average mommy and an average runner. This is simply my personal blog where I’ve captured my own training plans. Please consult your doctor before training for a marathon or beginning any new exercise routine.

My Busy Mom on the Run Training Programs are modification of programs created by Hal Higdon. All of his programs are available for free on his website. Hal also posts tips and answers questions on Facebook at Hal Higdon’s Marathon.

5 thoughts on ““Busy Mom on the Run” HALF Marathon Training Plan

  1. CC

    So, I have recently found your page 🙂 I am a busy mom who is in complete, full-on panic mode over an upcoming half. It will be my 2nd. With out boring you, a lot has been going on in my little world and my running has suffered. I have E I G H T weeks until my half… I am currently only running about 3 miles (notice I said “about?”) Sigh. I am starting THIS plan of YOURS tomorrow. I need help and am hoping this is it. I will only get up to 10 miles by my half but that’s exactly how far I’d run before my last and I managed. Thanks so much for sharing this post and your success in using it. Fingers crossed for this Maine Mama Runner! Looking forward to reading more on your blog (when I am not running or sleeping 😉 ~cc


    • Hi! I’m so sorry I never replied. For some reason I never saw this. How did it go? For the record these days I only leave myself 6 weeks tops to train for a half because I simply don’t have the time. I run 3 days a week. During the week I run a couple of 3 or 4 milers. On Saturdays I do a long run. I do 6 miles, then 8 the next weekend, 10 and then maybe a 12 miler. That’s all I need now. I find it keeps me from overtraining. Thanks for reading! Ashley


    • Hi! It has been awhile but I think I stuck with my 3 day a week training and ran a few miles on Tuesdays and Thursday’s and for long run days on Saturday I believe I did like 5 the weekend after race 1 and 8 miles the weekend before race 2. Does that help? Good luck!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s