12 Week Half Marathon Training Guide

Running isn’t just something we do, it’s a part of who we are.”

Michael D’Aulerio

If you had asked me 4 years ago if I would be writing this post, I would say HECK NO. I hated running. I would go out, try to run a mile without training, and obviously feel like I was going to die so I just figured that was what running made you feel like. Boy, was I wrong! It just took the right nutrition, gear, and plan to learn how to enjoy running. Now it’s my favorite form of exercise, and I love racking up the miles. So I’ve put together how I went from hating running to loving half marathons. Everything from my schedule to what I eat to my gear. I hope this helps somebody else learn to love running as well!

I ran my first half in May of 2018. I wasn’t ready for it and struggled so hard after about mile 8. I was cramping, had to walk some of it, and wore all the wrong clothes. I learned a lot from this race! I took some time off and got back to training in September. I just ran some easy miles for the first few months to get comfortable running a 5K again.

Part of me wishes I hadn’t taken the time off after my first race because I pretty much had to start over but that was probably a good thing. None of my first round of training was good or helpful so I knew I needed to change a lot of things.

Pre Run Nutrition

One of my biggest lessons was learning how to fuel right. I learned the hard way that I couldn’t expect my body to run these long miles if I wasn’t giving it any sort of fuel. Our bodies deserves food!

  • Whole wheat english muffins with jam, fruit, and coffee
  • Blueberry cherrios, a banana, and coffee
  • Blueberry chex cereal, a banana, and coffee
  • Kashi waffles, an apple with almond butter, and coffee

All of those meals were so good for my long runs. They didn’t make me sick or crampy and definitely gave me the fuel I needed for my 6-12 mile runs.

Mid Run Fuel

My favorite fuel for during my run is Huma Chia Energy Gels. The different berry flavors are my favorite. They taste good, don’t have a bad after taste, and definitely give me a good boost of energy during my run. If it’s a 12 miler, I usually take it around mile 5 or 6. If it’s a 6 miler and I’m struggling, I’ll take it around mile 3! They’re full of nothing but good things, and that’s hard to find in energy gels! If it’s super hot out or I’m on the treadmill and not doing a super long run, I bring out the gummy bears instead. 🙂

Post run fuel

I have a some sort of protein smoothie after every run. Sometimes it’s my normal breakfast smoothie or sometimes I have a strawberry, banana smoothie. Either way, I like smoothies because it cools me down and makes sure I get all the protein I need immediately after my run.

Mocha protein smoothie

  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1 Cup Spinach
  • 1 Scoop Chocolate Protein Powder (Vega Protein and Greens)
  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Almondmilk
  • 1 Cup Black Cold Brew Coffee
  • 1/2 Spoonful Coconut Oil
  • 6 Ice Cubes

Strawberry banana protein smoothie

  • 1 Cup Frozen Strawberries
  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (Vega Protein and Greens)
  • 1/2 Spoonful Coconut Oil
  • 6 Ice Cubes
  • 1 1/2 Cups Unsweetened Almondmilk

My gear

I used to dress wayyyyy too warm for my runs. I dressed for the weather and not for running in said weather. I get super hot about 5 seconds into running so I would heat up and be miserable in the first mile. I used to feel super uncomfortable running in shorts. Not sure if I was self conscious or just didn’t like them, but I’ve totally changed my mind and run in shorts until my legs turn blue. It has to be in the 30s for me to put leggings on now.

Me running in 60 degree plus temperatures
  • Greater than 60 degrees: shorts and a tshirt or tank top
Me running in 50-60 degree temperatures
  • 50-60 degrees: shorts and a tshirt
Me running in 40-50 degree temperatures
  • 40-50 degrees: shorts or shin length leggings and a light, long sleeve shirt
Me running in 30-40 degree temperatures
  • 30-40 degrees: leggings and a light, quarter zip up
Me running in 20-30 degree temperatures
  • 20-30 degrees: thick leggings, long sleeve shirt, quarter zip up, gloves, and ear covers
Me running in 10-20 degree temperatures
  • 10-20 degrees: two layers of leggings, tank top, long sleeve shirt, fleece jacket, vest, gloves, and a hat.

All of my outfits have been figured out through trial and error. There have been a lot of runs when I was too hot or freezing cold, and I learned from that. I also take humidity and wind chill into huge consideration because in Indiana, the temperature is usually only half the battle. I’m weird and absolutely love cold weather running. I don’t have any breathing problems or any other issues that cold air makes worse so I feel like I can go forever in the chillier months. Please be careful if you have asthma or any other breathing problems! Cold air can make it so much worse.

Me running on the treadmill

At around 15 degrees or less, I start thinking about the dreaded treadmill. Indiana gets a lot of ice so that’s also a big concern when it comes to running in the winter. Snow doesn’t bother me, but I have bit the pavement due to the ice many times. It’s never fun, but I am sure it’s a good laugh for anybody watching!

Running gear

I definitely do not have the most expensive or the best products, but I love my gear and they all work well for me!

I have worn Under Armor, Nike, Asics, and now Brooks shoes. Brooks are definitely my favorite so far! The prices are affordable, and the quality is phenomenal. I have no plan of switching to a different brand. I am wearing the Launch 6’s right now. I have super high arches and struggle with plantar fascitis, and these shoes give me the exact support I need. As for watches, I wear the Fitbit Ionic as my tracker when I run. It’s pretty spot on when it comes to distance, and it links with my Runkeeper app in order for me to track my shoe mileage and routes. It’s also extremely affordable compared to other trackers! The last product in this picture is my leash/waist band. Chance goes with me on all of my runs (unless it’s way too hot for him), and this leash is the all time best. We’ve tried quite a few. It holds my phone, Huma gel, poop bags (Chance’s :D), house key, and dog treats. I also run with a knife. It clips to the back of it and stays right in place the whole time. The leash part is super nice because Chance runs a little bit ahead of me, and the bungee cord part gives him just the right amount of leeway so he doesn’t choke. It also has a handle down by his collar if I need to grab him quickly for whatever reason. It has a hole in the belt if you don’t wear wireless headphones, and it’s also one of the only ones I have tried that stays in place while I run.

My running lights

These lights have saved our skin on more than one occasion. A lot of my runs are done in the dark whether that is in the morning before work or in the winter after work. It is so important for runners to be seen because a lot of times if people aren’t in a car, drivers don’t think to look for them. Chance is also jet black so it’s super important that I keep him lit up while we run. I attach one to his collar and his leash and then I wear one on my belt and shirt. Please be careful when you run in the dark!! We HAVE to be seen.

My Aftershokz wireless headphones

I’ve talked about my Aftershokz headphones more than once, but it’s because they’re more than that good! I will never wear any other headphones because I love them that much. They’re wireless, stay in place, and lay outside my ears so that I can still hear what’s going on around me. I didn’t realize how unaware of my surroundings I was when I wore regular headphones until I started wearing these and heard the difference. Luckily, I have Chance who warns me if anyone is in a 5 mile radius but not everybody does and it’s super important to be on guard! Don’t worry, the sound quality is still super good.

My shoe covers for running in snow and ice

I purchased these shoe covers last year when we heard we were going to have a rough winter two years ago. They definitely take some getting used to, but they help me not fall when I’m running through the snow and ice. I encourage you to walk for a few minutes with them on before your run to get used to them!

My handwarmers for running in the winter

Another cold weather lifesaver! Kyle bought me a huge pack of these hand warmers for Christmas, and they were a God sent. I put one in each glove when it’s less than 30 degrees outside, and it’s a total game changer. It’s probably just in my head, but if my hands are warm, my whole body feels better!

My running plan

First thing you have to know is I followed the Couch to 5K training plan in order to run a 5k without walking. You can download the app on any appstore and when I used it, the Couch to 5K program was free! You can choose to do it based on distance or time. I recommend doing distance to ensure you’re running the full 5k by the end. After you’ve completed the program, you can move on to mine! Remember, I am not a trainer. This is just what worked for me. Take it at your own pace and listen to your body.

12 Week Half Marathon Training Plan

S.T. stands for strength training.

Sometimes I went to a cycling or weight class at the gym, sometimes I lifted weights at home, sometimes I did Insanity, and sometimes I did work outs I found on pinterest. Truly anything works! Just work muscles you don’t normally work during running. I ran 3 times a week for the majority of my training except for the week of my race.

Wednesdays were my days for a Yoga with Adriene video or yoga class. I love having yoga in the middle of the week because it stretches me out, helps me relax, and gives my body a break mid week.

Fridays were my days for long walks in order to loosen me up before my long runs on Saturdays. Sundays work great as my rest day, but you can obviously have that be whatever day you want!

Sometimes I listen to a podcast, a book on audible, a playlist, or nothing at all. It all depends on my mood and might change mid run! The running community is an amazing one, and there are so many powerful women out there who use running as a ministry. I encourage you to check them out! I listed some of the most influential ones in my life below:

Here we are after my second half marathon in May 2019! I ran the whole thing, had a good pace (for me), and felt great afterwards! This was Kyle’s first half marathon, and he did amazing too! His longest run was 6 miles before the race so he planned on running and walking. When he started walking the first time, his muscles tensed up so he decided to run the whole thing. I don’t know how he did it, and neither of us recommend it because he HURT afterwards, but he did it! It rained the entire time, was in the 50s, and it felt terrific while running. I ran to the bathrooms as soon as I was done to change and go cheer for Kyle because it was FREEZING when I was no longer running. I fueled well beforehand, had my energy gel at mile 8, and hydrated the whole time. All of that combined with my training plan really helped me succeed this time, and it was the best feeling in the world! Runners high is for real.

The last tip I wanted to say is PLEASE be safe if you choose to run by yourself. Chance is with me 99% of the time and wouldn’t let ANYBODY get to me. I also carry a knife. Kyle is also always aware of my route if he is not running with me because I share my location with him on our iPhones. That way if I am not home when he expects me to, he can find me immediately. I advise anybody who runs on their own to have someone who they share their location with and notify when they are heading out and when they get home. It might sound over the top, but it’s better safe than sorry! Carry a knife, pepper spray, get a dog, do whatever you have to do to keep yourself safe!

I truly hope this post helps you get out there and find a love for running! Running has helped me through many hard times over the last few years, and it is so good for my mind, body, and soul. Our bodies need exercise, but it is so important to find something we love to do so we aren’t punishing our bodies every time we work out. Find what you love and go after it! Your body and mind will thank you for it.



Questions for you!

  1. Are you interested in beginning running or do you run already or neither?
  2. Is anybody interested in a running challenge?!
  3. What’s your favorite way to stay safe while running alone?

6 thoughts on “12 Week Half Marathon Training Guide

  1. Sophie says:

    Hi Miriam
    I just found your training plan on Pinterest and it led me to your blog. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with your journey from hating to loving running…and getting to a half marathon distance and enjoying it! I started running a few years ago, had a gap after an ankle break and then went from 0-5k, then to 10k (first race virtually in Sep 2020) then on towards half marathon….except my routine went off the rails at around 17.5k (life event and very bad weather and then annoyance at myself for getting so far and stopping) and now I’m starting over again. Like you, I run in Brooks and wouldn’t change to anything else. And I’ve discovered the gear that works for me too…also use Aftershokz Titanium headphones. Amazing for awareness of traffic and surroundings, as you say.
    I’m waffling on a bit now but just want to say thanks for inspiring me to get back at it and for sharing your programme. I like that it’s varied. I’m going to give it (and the podcasts) a try! 😊
    Ps I have a dog too (Dave) but he’s only small and I think his limit is about 5k!! 🤪

    • Miriam Leigh says:

      Oh my gosh you just made my day! I totally get how tough it can be when you get so far into your training and then life happens. It feels like you have to start all the way over (and in some ways you do to avoid injury) but you are a runner no matter what!! You’ve also overcome lots of obstacles, and that’s amazing.
      I absolutely love podcasts and audiobooks for running. I hope you do too! On longer runs, I will throw some pump up music on for a bit to give me a boost, but I love getting lost in a story or feeling motivated from a podcast.
      Also…. hi Dave!! 5Ks are the perfect length and very respectable 🙂

  2. Jessica says:

    I’m using your training for my first half
    Marathon in august! I have a question, when you say “ long walk” how long are we talking? I’m doing a good fast pace for an hour on the treadmill with mixed inclines. Just wondering what you mean by long walk. Thanks!

    • Miriam Leigh says:

      Oh my gosh that’s so exciting!!! You go girl. That definitely sounds like a good long walk to me! Mine are usually anywhere from 3-5 miles. Great question though! I should have specified. As always, listen to your body and get enough rest too! And please let me know how it goes!!

  3. Sarah Slater says:

    When you say gummy bears do you mean regular ones? I am about to start training for my first half. I am not going for time but completion and only have 10 weeks. The race I am doing is mostly downhill and is said to be great for beginners. I have never done anything more than a 10K (Bloomsday here in Spokane, WA). Do you have any other tips for people starting out?

    • Miriam Leigh says:

      Congratulations!! That is SO awesome! Haha yes, I did use regular gummy bears. Looking back, I know it wasn’t the healthiest choice, but it gave me a little energy boost when needed (although it might have been more psychological than physical) 😊
      Fuel your body before and after your runs!! Experiment with different foods before your runs to see what gives you the best energy and have some source of protein right after your run- I like core powers for right after because they’re easy and full of protein. Plus they don’t have the chalky taste that most protein powders do. If it’s hot, have water stashed along your route while you’re training if you can or have water with you. Always listen to your body- being sore is normal, but sharp pain is not. Give yourself plenty of rest days and STRETCH! If you can run 8-10 miles, adrenaline will carry you through the rest of the race. But there is NO shame in walking when needed. Give yourself time to catch your breath, pick a landmark in the distance, and tell yourself you’re going to start running again when you reach it. Be safe when you’re training- run with someone or a dog, and/or carry pepper spray or a knife with you. Always tell someone where you are running and when you should be back. If you wear headphones, either only wear one or wear some like aftershokz so you can still hear what’s going on around you. My legs can go a lot farther than my brain can so I try to push through when I first start running and my brain is telling me to stop (again, unless I’m actually in pain). Break in a good pair of supportive running shoes before the race and make sure you’ve ran in your race day outfit before so you know it’ll hold up and not be uncomfortable! Try to incorporate some strength training into your work outs too- it has helped me so much with running! Good luck and have so much fun! Let me know if you have any other specific questions I can try to answer 🙂

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