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?



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  1. Stacey Racette on August 6, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Love this post SO MUCH thank you!

  2. Emily on August 6, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    This is exactly what I needed. Love it!

  3. Aminah on August 7, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    This is really helpful! I’m wondering how things work when strength training is a bit more intense (think 60-90 minute sessions that focus on a specific muscle group). This is something I’ve been struggling with for a few years now and I’d really like to increase my running again, but am worried about over doing it.

    • Jessica on September 18, 2021 at 9:11 am

      Can you tell me what HMP pace is?

      • Fitnessista on September 19, 2021 at 5:10 pm

        HMP is half marathon pace, so the ideal pace you’d like to maintain for your race

  4. Lorna on August 7, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    I love your plan, but do you have modifications/ extra weeks early on that you would add for someone who doesn’t run at all, or hasn’t in a long time? I cringed at the ‘2 miles easy’ for the first run! This seems more like a plan for someone who already has a decently strong running base.

    • Fitnessista on August 12, 2019 at 12:05 am

      i should have mentioned in the post that this plan is for those who have successfully trained for and ran a 5k and 10k. i think it’s smart to build up your mileage slowly and don’t recommend running a half unless you’ve done previous shorter races

      • Erin on January 24, 2021 at 2:26 pm

        Hi! So I am on week 10 of the half marathon training program of yours! My race day is Saturday! However I took my rest day yesterday and I did arm training today so I’m a bit ahead of schedule! I also had an appointment to do orange theory for my cross training on Wednesday but then realize that I’m supposed to take two rest days this week what do you suggest I do? I just don’t feel like I’m doing enough and I am a bit anxious for the race I know I’m ready and my 10 miles felt amazing however I’m just getting the jitters as everyone does any advice?

        • Fitnessista on January 25, 2021 at 1:07 am

          hi! i’m so excited for you!!
          i would NOT push it this week! focus on moving and make sure you have those two off days. it will make a difference and you want to feel fresh. i would skip OFT and maybe do some light core and legs tomorrow, wed and thurs off, easy (slow and fun!!) 2 miles fri and race sat. please let me know how it goes! good luck – you’ll do amazing!

  5. Martha on August 8, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    This is so helpful and came through just at the right time. I will be running the St. Jude Half Marathon in December and was trying to figure out how to incorporate strength training. Thanks, Gina!

  6. Laura on August 8, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    This is awesome!!!! Thanks so much

  7. Franciele Gassy on August 14, 2019 at 7:48 am

    This is exactly what I needed. Love it!

  8. Tara on June 29, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    RRCA run coach and personal trainer here. I’d argue that doing lower body plus sprints and/or hill work on the same day is leg overkill. Also, remember the why. If safely and successfully completing a half marathon is the goal, running should be the main focus on running workout days. Train your goal, right?Dedicate specific days to strength training so you’re not trying to do everything all at once. Dedicate specific days to running so you can accurately prepare your body. Balance it all with rest days to avoid injury and fatigue. There’s no need to strength train every day when simultaneously training for a half. Again, train the goal. That should be the message.

  9. Nichole on May 11, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    What does 5 miles with 3 miles at HMP mean? What is HMP?

    • Fitnessista on May 11, 2021 at 9:45 pm

      HMP = half marathon pace. this is your goal pace for the race

  10. Emily on August 24, 2021 at 12:21 am

    Hi! I’m on week 3 of this plan. I absolutely love it! I’ve always done strength training, and as little cardio as I could get away with. I’m really enjoying pushing my running!

    I’m wondering about the “5 mile run, 3 miles at half marathon pace.” Does it matter how those 3 miles are interspersed? (Intervals, at the beginning, the end, etc.)

    Thank you!

    • Fitnessista on August 24, 2021 at 1:29 pm

      i’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying it!!
      i would sandwich them in the middle if you can – 1 more of a slow warmup mile, 3 at half marathon pace, then 1 at a slower pace. or you can do 2 slower and 3 at HMP – whatever feels better to you!

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