Home > Training

Dylan Wykes’ half-marathon training plan for beginners

The Canadian Olympian provides a framework for beginners looking to move up in distance

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

If you’ve been consistently running shorter distances for several months (or even a few years), you may be starting to think about tackling a longer race, like a half-marathon. Of course, jumping up in distance can be intimidating, and if you’re not exactly sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. We spoke with Dylan Wykes, Olympic marathoner, co-founder and coach of Mile2Marathon, who gave us a half-marathon training plan specifically for beginners. With this plan, you can be ready to run your first half in just three months.

Wykes wins the 2019 Ottawa 10K. Photo: Victah Sailer

RELATED: Training plans presented by Canadian Running presented by Final Surge

The plan

Wykes’ plan has you running four days per week, which is a manageable load for runners who are balancing work, family and other obligations. It also gives you plenty of rest days to ensure that you’re recovering properly between runs. In terms of mileage, the plan starts out very conservatively, with only 20K in the first week. Mileage is gradually increased over the course of the program, and your highest weekly total is 63K. For example, the first week of the plan is as follows:

Monday: rest day
Tuesday: 4K easy run
Wednesday: rest day
Thursday: 4K easy run
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 4K easy run followed by 4 x 20m strides
Sunday: 8K long run

As the weeks progress, the plan swaps some of the easy runs with other types of workouts, including tempo runs, progression runs and speedwork sessions, depending on the week. Each run also becomes a bit longer, usually by one or two kilometres each week. At the halfway mark, Wykes adds in an additional recovery or easy run to help you reach a higher weekly mileage total. For example, Week 10 of the plan looks like this:

Monday: rest day
Tuesday: 14K easy run + strides
Wednesday: 6K easy run
Thursday: tempo run (14K total)
Friday: rest day
Saturday: easy run
Sunday: 21K long run (Wykes says this is the dress rehearsal for the big day)

 

RELATED: Pro tips for winter running with Olympian Dylan Wykes and Dr. Kris Sheppard

The final week in the plan sees a significant drop in running volume as you taper down to race day. Throughout the entire plan, Wykes includes the paces you should try to hit for each run, whether it’s a recovery run, easy run, long run or workout. This plan is relatively low-mileage compared to a training schedule for a more experienced runner, but it is perfect for a beginner because it’s less aggressive, and so lowers your risk for injury while still getting you ready to complete the full distance. The main takeaways from the program are:

  • Beginners should start out small and increase their mileage gradually in order to prevent injury or over-training.
  • Even beginners should include speedwork in their training plan if they want to perform their best on race day.
  • Rest days are an important part of the program to ensure that you’re recovering adequately so that you benefit the most from your running days.

This plan does not include any strength training, stretching or mobility work, but even beginners should consider adding this into their schedules to help them remain injury-free. If you are serious about wanting to run well, you may want to consider hiring a coach. Mile2Marathon has several highly-qualified coaches across the country who can help you develop a personalized training plan to reach your goals.

RELATED: How to find the right running coach