Half Marathon Personal Best Program

This program is designed for relatively experienced runners who have run the half marathon distance previously, and wish to improve their half marathon PR.

In this program, some of your training runs will take you well beyond the half marathon distance. The object is to improve your aerobic endurance so that you will be strong enough to race the distance.

To complete this program it is expected that you've completed the half marathon distance during the last 6-9 months, and that you're currently running at least 4-5 times a week. You will need to feel comfortable running 14km the first week.

Success at any running program comes from consistency. Obviously life will force you to make some alterations to the plan, but it is important to get in the training. There are opportunities to include some races into the program, and I have suggested where races might best complement your training.

The best way to improve is to have a mix of harder training, followed by lighter training that lets your body rest and recover. We incorporate this principle by having two building or hard weeks, followed by an easy week. The outline of the program is:

  • Aerobic conditioning (weeks 1 - 12)
  • Aerobic Capacity (weeks 13 - 18)
  • Sharpening and Tapering (weeks 19 - 23)

If you wish to increase your mileage more than what is outlined in this program, it is suggested that you lengthen the Thursday or Friday run.

Download: Half Marathon Personal Best Program - 2014 (PDF)

If you have questions regarding any of the training programs, feel free to contact Bruce Deacon by email at CoachBruce@runvictoriamarathon.com.


This program is designed for the first-time half marathoner who has the goal of finishing the distance. All the sessions in the program can be completed using either a run-walk-run or a continuous running approach. The key objective of the program is for you to successfully complete the half marathon distance at the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon. The program begins with the assumption that you can already complete 8-10km in a training run or race.

No all runners doing their first half marathon are beginners, some are seasoned 10K runners who are only now stepping up to the longer distance. For these runners, you might be able to omit the walking part of the schedule and do continuous runs.

The run/walk approach is great if you are just starting your running journey, because they let you cover the distance and build up your stamina.

Not sure where you fit? Why not mix the two approaches by doing some of your shorter runs as continuous runs. This will enhance your cardio-vascular system, and also develop a little extra stamina that you will be able to then harness in your longer runs. In your long runs, especially the Sunday runs, I would use the run/walk so that you become accustomed to covering long distance using this approach, and so that you get used to transitioning from running to walking and back to running. This is particularly valuable if you are going to use the run/walk when you run the half marathon in October. I suggest working toward 9 minutes running followed by 1 minute walking. This is mainly due to the ease of keeping track of this on one's watch. However, the way you split up the time is not too important. The aim should be to use a split between running and walking that you expect to follow when you complete your half marathon.

The Program
This program is 20 weeks in duration and gradually develops your strength and endurance so that you become comfortable with completing periods of exercise of longer duration. The program requires participants to engage in 4-5 days of running a week. One of these training days (not the long run) can be replaced with alternative aerobic exercise like cycling, swimming, aerobics, spinning or water running.

A four-stage progression is followed where a specific type of training is focused upon during each stage:

  • Aerobic conditioning (weeks 1-9)
  • Hill training (weeks 10-13)
  • Pace (weeks 14-17)
  • Tapering and fine-tuning (weeks 18-20)

Long Runs
This program is designed with the long run sessions on a Sunday, but you can move these to suit your schedule. The program gradually increases the distance of the long runs to prepare you for completing the half marathon distance. The long runs are by far the most important run of the week and all efforts should be made to complete the prescribed distance during the week. If you are sick or life just intervenes, then don't try to "make up" for the missed long run. Trying to squeeze in two long runs in a week because you missed the previous week's long run, often leads to injuries or sickness.

Other Running Events
There are some opportunities to include other running events into the program, and I have suggested appropriate times when this would best fit the program.

Download: Half Marathon Go The Distance Program - 2014 (PDF)

If you have questions regarding any of the training programs feel free to contact Bruce Deacon by email at CoachBruce@runvictoriamarathon.com.


This program is designed for runners who have only recently decided to participate in the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon event and thus cannot complete a longer duration program.

This program is based upon the assumption that participants can complete 10km of running comfortably.

Because of the relatively constrained preparation period this program focuses upon two key goals:

  1. Developing the aerobic conditioning and physical strength required to successfully complete the half marathon distance; and,
  2. Developing the participants capability to run at a faster pace through tempo running and pace intervals

The basic premise is for participants to develop a consistent background of weekly running, including one "long run". The long run is placed on Sundays in this program; however, this can be modified and placed on another day if Sunday does not 'fit in' to the rest of your life's demands. The key is that the long runs should be spaced 6-7 days apart. The program outlined here is essentially the 'bare minimum' of preparation required to complete the half marathon comfortably and successfully.

Participants may add to the running outlined on the easy days and on the easier run days if they feel comfortable doing more running.

Download: Half Marathon "Just In Time" Program - 2014 (PDF)

If you have questions regarding any of the training programs feel free to contact Bruce Deacon by email at CoachBruce@runvictoriamarathon.com.


During the 1930's and 40's, Swedish distance runners re-wrote the record books thanks largely to a new training system that they developed. Its cornerstone was fartlek (Swedish for 'speed play'). The Swedes would intersperse their runs with a series of surges. These were mostly random and could range from 15 seconds to 3 or 4 minutes in duration. Run on soft forest trails, the workout used the challenges of the terrain to enhance the session. The runner might sprint to the top of a hill, or increase the pace to a physical landmark. The recoveries between the hard sections were also random.

As other nations employed this technique, structure was added. The workout could resemble a pyramid, with various predetermined hard runs. For instance, the athlete might run 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1 minutes hard separated by a fixed recovery. Alternatively, the athlete might continue with the random approach, but keep the surges to a certain duration. This might look like 30 minutes of fartlek containing 10 surges between 2 and 4 minutes.

For our program, fartlek will follow this last approach. Find a pleasant park or trail to run were the surface is soft, but consistent. This might be a grassy field, a woodchip trail or a gravel path. As the name suggests, have a sense of play. This should be a hard workout, but it should leave room for some creativity.

The workout will call for a fixed time and number of surges to be completed during this time. The surge duration will be a range (e.g., 90 seconds to 2 minutes). The recovery is left for you to determine, but generally is not longer than 2 minutes.

An example might be 20 minutes of fartlek with 5 surges of 2-3 minutes. The session might evolve like this:

0-2 minutes First surge
2-3:30 Easy jogging rest
3:30-6:30 Second surge
6:30-7:30 Power walk rest
7:30-9:45 Third surge
9:45-12:00 Easy jogging
12:00-14:40 Fourth surge
14:40-16:30 Easy jogging
16:30-19:30 Fifth surge

In other words, you get to make the decisions as to how long the surges are (within the prescribed range) and how long the rests are (in order to fit the workout within the allotted time).

If working out with a friend, take turns leading a surge and determining its duration. Keep the recoveries reasonable in length and the effort controlled. At no time should you feel as though you are running full out, rather the effort should resemble your 8 km pace.

If you have questions regarding any of the training programs feel free to contact Bruce by email at CoachBruce@runvictoriamarathon.com.


Please remember - this is not speed work or sprinting! The effort should be about 90% of your top speed, so you should always feel that you could be going faster.

I have included relaxed stride outs on a regular basis throughout the training program. This session is designed to allow you to practice and focus upon your running form. The number of strides to be completed will be between 6 and 10 depending on the location in the training continuum.

The strides are always included as part of a run. The aim should be to complete the stride about half way through the run. Thus the progression of the run would look something like this:

Start by running for 15-20 minutes to warm up.

Turn and start the strides back the direction you have come. Run fast and relaxed keeping your head and shoulders up (keep your eyes on a point well ahead of you). Move your arms in a relaxed comfortable fashion in rhythm with your stride pattern. DON'T strain or try to do an 'All Out" sprint. At the end of the 100m turn and jog slowly back to where you started to begin the next stride.

Complete the workout with 20-30 minutes of easy running.

Strides should be a relaxing enjoyable part of your training program. The aim is always to think "Loose and Relaxed".

If you have questions regarding any of the training programs feel free to contact Bruce by email at CoachBruce@runvictoriamarathon.com.


As the name suggests this is a tempo run where you run out for half of the prescribed time, turn around, and then run back. The object is to finish the tempo past the point where you started, thus covering more distance in the last half of the run. It forces you to pace yourself during the first half of the run, and to finish strongly. I suggest that the first half is run just slightly faster than marathon goal pace and that the last half is run slightly slower than 10km pace.

You should finish feeling tired, but not feeling like you are falling apart over the last few minutes. Since this is largely a pacing game, you might need to try this session a couple of times before you learn how to hold yourself back. This is an important lesson to learn, as nothing hurts more than reaching the 18k mark of a half marathon, and realizing that you were overly enthusiastic in the early miles.

If you have questions regarding any of the training programs feel free to contact Bruce by email at CoachBruce@runvictoriamarathon.com.


Running in races provides an opportunity for you to assess the progress of your training and also provides some intermediate goals along the way as you strive for the major long term goal of achieving your marathon objective (be it finishing or running a specific time).

If you wish to integrate races into the program, I suggest that you attempt to schedule to run races that fall at the conclusion of the recovery weeks. Since races don't always align with the schedule, you might find yourself racing during a training week. Reduce the planned training by 40% two days out from the race and by 60% the day before the race.

The key point here is that these races are secondary, and should be considered part of your training. Running the race at the end of a recovery week will provide a little tapering. You must be careful not to reduce your training markedly in a quest to run better at the intermediate races. Remember that the focus is to run well on half marathon day.

If you have questions regarding any of the training programs feel free to contact Bruce by email at CoachBruce@runvictoriamarathon.com.

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