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

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 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 preparation 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 half marathon sounds a bit too far or you need some inspiration, check out some other running events or give us a call for a chat.

Before You Start

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 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.

Ways to Train for a Half Marathon

There are different kinds of running 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.


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.

Half Marathon 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 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

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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.

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