June 25, 2017

A "Walk Your First Half-Marathon" Training Plan

Finally! I have been meaning to post this for a while. When I wrote the Six Month Half-Marathon Training Plan for Beginners (a running plan), I received several requests from people asking me to write a half-marathon plan for walkers.

Walk Your First Half Marathon Training Plan

I have trained for and walked a couple of half-marathons (I've also walked a couple without training--don't do that!), and it is actually much tougher than one might think. In fact, I found walking a half-marathon to be harder than most of the ones I've run. While walking, you will be on the course roughly twice as long, and that really takes a toll on your body. Even as an avid runner myself, a "simple" seven mile training walk felt very difficult and left me sore for days!

Just last month, I walked a half-marathon without really training for it; I thought since I was a runner for the last seven years, I wouldn't have any trouble walking a half. Let me just say, it kicked my ass. Not as bad as the others I've walked, but it certainly wasn't not a "stroll in the park", either.

Walking the Indy Mini Marathon 2017
Starting to get tired at only mile 7

The first half-marathon that I walked was in 2008, and I was well over 200 pounds. I thought to myself, "It's just walking, anybody can do that." So, I made the mistake of not training for it. On race day, I felt like I was going to die. It was awful!

Pretty sure I was near death at this point in 2008's race

The following year, in 2009, I was even heavier--253 pounds--but I made sure to train for the race. And that year, even though my weight was up quite a bit, I felt much better than the previous year! My longest walk before the race was 10 miles. It wasn't easy, but the training prepared me to get that 13.1 miles done on race day.

Katie Indy Mini Marathon finish photo 2009
Feeling pretty good after the race in 2009

If you are thinking of walking a half-marathon, I can't stress enough how important it is to train for it! You need to toughen up your feet so you don't get blisters; train your muscles to endure a very long period of exercise; figure out a fueling plan; and prepare your cardiovascular system to handle the endurance of such a long race.

That said, I have written a plan for people who would like to walk their first half-marathon (or second or tenth--it will train anybody). This plan is 13 weeks long--roughly 3 months. If you are physically unable to start with Week 1, I recommend walking four days per week for as long as you're able, until you can walk for two miles without stopping. Then you should be prepared to start on Week 1 of the plan.

This plan assumes you have gotten permission from your doctor to follow it as written (or with your doctor's modifications). Feel free to change around the days of the week to fit your schedule. I wouldn't recommend doing the interval walks back to back with the long walks, but other than that, it can be rearranged as needed.

I think the plan is pretty self-explanatory, but feel free to ask me any questions! Best wishes as you train to walk your first (or hundredth) half-marathon!

Here is a printer-friendly plan!

I just have a small favor to ask... if you share this plan, please share this blog post rather than the plan itself. I only get paid as a blogger based on the number of page views I have on my blog, and since I spend so much time writing these free plans, it'd be awesome if you'd share this page :) Thanks you!

I've also written a post about tips for training for your first half-marathon, and even though I had geared it toward runners, most of it is fitting for walkers as well. Enjoy!


  1. Katie, I absolutely love this. Just today I was doing my walk/run in preparation to go to Dublin with From Fat to Finish Line. I am currently signed up for the 10K but I'm dialing it back to the 5K. I do not want to stress about mileage I have never completed, but mostly the cut off time worries me. I was surprised to learn that Dublin requires a strict 1:40 time to complete a 10K. I am an 18 minute mile walker. Running makes me slower because I am so tired out after just a few intervals of running.

    Today as I was running I found myself hating it. The thought literally went through my mind "I wish there was a plan for walkers." Voila! This plan appeared on my feed.

    That's not to say that I will give up running entirely, but I am confident this plan will set me in motion to achieve my goals.

  2. I've walked a marathon every year for gosh, maybe 9 years now, and those first couple of years were SO AWFUL. I didn't prepare for it at all. I remember sitting down after one during my commute home and barely being able to get up after a half hour. TRAINING HELPS! It hurts every year towards the end of the race (err... walk) but being in shape and doing some sort of training helps so much with the aftermath. And I do know some marathon runners who did this same walk and won't do it again.

  3. Your timing is perfect! I'm no longer able to run, but I still love doing organized events. I've been sticking to 5Ks but just this weekend came across a listing for a local half marathon that is walker friendly and I was thinking of signing up. I think this post is my sign to just do it! Thank you!

  4. Funny because I walked my first half marathon (due to injury) after running many halves. I was amazed at how much more difficult it was to walk the half. Way easier to just run it! When I tell people that, they think I'm crazy, so it's good to read that you feel the same. 😊

  5. I just did a half marathon walk on Saturday and used this plan to train. I didn't follow it perfectly, missed some days here and there and started a week too late which I realized at like week 11. Anyway, this was a great plan. I did the half marathon in under 4 hours which is way better than I was doing in training and wasn't broken at the end of it, which is what i was looking for. It even rained on us and I was strong and good to go. Thank you so much for providing this. It really made a big difference. My now significantly more well muscled thighs also thank you.

  6. This is great! Do you have a customizable template for walk/running a half? I'm a mom who can only run on specific days and I would like to edit this to fit my workout days.

    1. I'm sorry, I don't have a template, but you can definitely mix the days up however you'd like!


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