Great North Run Training Plan

Training Guide - How to prepare for a half marathon like the Great North Run

The Great North run is one of the UK’s most famous events and taking part is a great way to raise money for a good cause.

With the right Great North  Run training and preparation just about anybody can take part in a half marathon but doing so will take some planning and exercise in the build-up.

That’s why we’ve put together our Alder Hey Half Marathon Training Program for the Great North Run. With our Great North Run training plan, preperation tips and schedule, you can ensure you’re in tip-top condition come race time. After all, it’s not just about preventing an injury, it’s about enjoying the race as much as possible.

If a charity half marathon sounds a bit too far or you need some inspiration, check out some other run for charity events such as 5k charity runs and 10k charity runs or give us a call for a chat to attend a shorter marathon than the Great North Run.

Before You Start The Great North Run Training

Assess your fitness. You will need some time to prepare properly for the big day, but ideally you should have some running experience. This isn’t essential but it will stand you in good stead. It’s a good idea to get the all clear from your doctor before preparing for a race.

Half Marathon / Great North Run Training Schedule

For the first phase of our training program, we’re going to factor running into five days of our week and allow for two day’s rest. You can adapt this schedule to your own lifestyle but the ideal system is to rest on Mondays and Fridays. For most people, weekends are the best time to squeeze in some real miles. That doesn’t mean we can’t do some important preparation through the week.

How To Train For The Great North Run

There are different kinds of running and training for the great north run you can do, and it is important to prepare for them all. Following a rest day on Tuesday, it is a good time to factor in some up-tempo running. Start with 5 to 10 minutes slow start and then hit your stride with 20-30 minutes of harder running, followed by another 2 to 10 minutes warming down afterward.

Next up is Wednesday and a more moderate run. Cover around 5 miles at a comfortable pace and remember you’re not against the clock here; just out to cover the ground. As always, stretching and warming up before your run is of paramount importance.

On Thursday, we can train whilst giving a number of important muscle groups a bit of a breather. Jump on a bike, hit the cross trainer at the gym or go for a swim. You’re still working out but with a much lower impact. You’re still getting the benefit of the cardio but gaining some respite at the same time. This is the best way to train for the Great North Run.


You can't be training for the great north run every day. Following a change of pace on Thursdays, it is vital to get another day of rest. This gives us yet another reason to love Fridays. Through a desire to do well you might be tempted to skip a rest day but when it comes to preparing for a big event rest is just as important as training. It’s about finding the right balance between the two.

Recuperate on Friday and prepare yourself for a weekend of serious running.

Great North Run Training - Putting in the Miles

Saturday is the most popular time for the big run of the week. Start by doing 3 miles and add a mile every Saturday. By the time the race arrives, you should be well on your way to covering a big distance.

Sunday is fun day. Around 30 minutes to an hour should be more than enough and be sure to run at a comfortable pace and simply enjoy it. You might choose to do some walking along the way, or dust off your bicycle again. The point is to add to your fine work through the rest of the week but not burn yourself out.

If you can repeat this Great North Run Training schedule in the run up to the big race, you stand to enjoy an incredible Great North Run.

The very best of luck to anybody taking part in a running event like The Great North Run; and if you’re looking for a good cause to support to make it all worthwhile, why not see why Alder Hey Children’s Charity needs the support of remarkable runners like you to make a real difference to families across the UK

About the Author

Comments (1)

  • Holly Martin Avatar

    Holly Martin

    Amazing article !!! Along with all the useful tips that you guys shared, I believe one of the best ways to prepare for the half marathon is to start early, be consistent and be sure to practice hydration to see how your body responds to the longer run. And yes, I do believe that motivation is a must to remain diligent.

Scroll To Top