Last Updated: July 4th, 2022

Can you get prepared in 20 weeks?

For a half marathon?

For a beginner?

Running only 3 days a week?


This 20 weeks half marathon training plan where you will be running for only 3 days a week, is targeted towards absolute beginners…

This plan will start off runs where a beginner can keep going…

I’ve provided this plan in this way so that, you don’t get scared and can actually follow the plan to completion. Completion…yes, this is my plan with this schedule. I’m not trying to tell you that you will be a world-class runner if you follow this plan…No…

If you follow this plan to the ‘T’, you will be able to finish your first half marathon with comparative ease and a good time.

However, if you find this plan to be difficult, there is one more couch to a half marathon plan, that is a bit more relaxed than this one…You can follow that as well.

20 week half marathon training plan-min

20 Week Half-Marathon Training Schedule (3 Days A Week)

Below is the 20 week half marathon training schedule. You will be running for a max of three days. We have also included the cross training and strength training schedule that you should follow.


20-weeks half-marathon training plan for beginners

What kind of exercises should you include for running a half marathon as a beginner?

Running a half marathon is a tough task and there is no doubt about it. However, if you skip strength training exercises, then you will be making this task even more difficult.

Then what should you do?

If you check this plan, you will find that you will be doing strength training or cross-training exercises at least 3 days a week.

This will be providing you with enough strength, to carry on this tough task, with minimum chances of injury.

However, since running a half marathon is a very lower-body intensive exercise, you should focus more on strengthening your calves, glutes, and your core.

Focusing on glutes and claves will help you to avoid knee-specific injuries which most runners are prone to.

Also, core exercises will help you to have hip stability and also overall good running form.

So, what kind of exercises should you include in your strength training sessions.

Here are some routines that may help you with your calf, glutes, and core strength:


Is 20 weeks enough time to train for a half marathon?

Yes, 20 weeks is enough time to train for a half marathon. However, you have to have a complete focus on your training. Also not only the running part, but you will also have to be disciplined about your strength training and cross-training sessions.

As mentioned above, with strength training, you should also include some cross-training into the mix.

This will help you to have a more dynamic performance and also it will improve your coordination. Plus, it will break the monotony of constantly running.

Also, when you are running, there are only a certain group of muscles that are getting exercised. However, with cross-training, you will be engaging a different set of muscles which in turn will provide you with a more stable performance.

Now, what you can take up as cross-training?

There are a lot of exercises that can be taken up as cross-training and not only elliptical training.

Here are some examples:

  • Hiking
  • Elliptical Training
  • Yoga
  • Cycling
  • Weight Lifting
  • Bodyweight training
  • Martial Arts
  • Dancing
  • Pilates
  • Zumba
  • Aerobics
  • Swimming
  • Climbing
  • Rowing
  • Skiing
  • Boxing
  • Calisthenics

Are 2 hours 20 minutes a good half marathon time?

Yes, 2 hours 20 minutes is a good half marathon time, especially if you are a beginner since the finishing time of a half marathon is anywhere between 1 hour to 4 hours. However, the timing is typically dependent on your age, sex, and your experience.

Here is how much time you would need to run a half marathon if you are a male:

Age Beginner Novice Intermediate Advanced Elite
10 02:53:28 02:25:01 02:03:56 01:48:22 01:36:56
15 02:30:06 02:05:30 01:47:15 01:33:47 01:23:53
20 02:24:57 02:01:11 01:43:33 01:30:33 01:20:59
25 02:24:57 02:01:11 01:43:33 01:30:33 01:20:59
30 02:24:57 02:01:11 01:43:33 01:30:33 01:20:59
35 02:25:45 02:01:51 01:44:08 01:31:03 01:21:26
40 02:29:29 02:04:59 01:46:48 01:33:24 01:23:32
45 02:35:40 02:10:09 01:51:13 01:37:15 01:26:59
50 02:42:27 02:15:49 01:56:04 01:41:30 01:30:47
55 02:49:52 02:22:01 02:01:21 01:46:07 01:34:55
60 02:57:59 02:28:48 02:07:09 01:51:11 01:39:27
65 03:06:54 02:36:16 02:13:32 01:56:46 01:44:26
70 03:16:46 02:44:31 02:20:35 02:02:56 01:49:57
75 03:30:18 02:55:49 02:30:15 02:11:23 01:57:31
80 03:52:01 03:13:59 02:45:46 02:24:57 02:09:39
85 04:26:50 03:43:05 03:10:38 02:46:42 02:29:06
90 05:26:00 04:32:33 03:52:55 03:23:40 03:02:10

Here is how much time you would need to run a half marathon if you are a female:

Age Beginner Novice Intermediate Advanced Elite
10 03:24:32 02:54:11 02:30:51 02:13:09 01:59:51
15 02:58:13 02:31:46 02:11:26 01:56:01 01:44:26
20 02:44:13 02:19:51 02:01:07 01:46:54 01:36:14
25 02:42:58 02:18:48 02:00:12 01:46:06 01:35:30
30 02:43:01 02:18:50 02:00:14 01:46:07 01:35:32
35 02:44:33 02:20:08 02:01:22 01:47:07 01:36:25
40 02:48:23 02:23:24 02:04:11 01:49:37 01:38:40
45 02:54:51 02:28:54 02:08:57 01:53:49 01:42:27
50 03:04:28 02:37:06 02:16:03 02:00:05 01:48:06
55 03:16:00 02:46:55 02:24:33 02:07:36 01:54:51
60 03:29:05 02:58:03 02:34:12 02:16:06 02:02:31
65 03:44:01 03:10:47 02:45:13 02:25:50 02:11:16
70 04:01:16 03:25:28 02:57:56 02:37:04 02:21:23
75 04:21:23 03:42:36 03:12:47 02:50:09 02:33:10
80 04:48:33 04:05:44 03:32:49 03:07:51 02:49:05
85 05:35:00 04:45:17 04:07:04 03:38:04 03:16:18
90 06:59:49 05:57:32 05:09:38 04:33:18 04:06:00

 Data curtsy: running level

Can you go from couch to half marathon in 6 months?

You can go from couch to half marathon in 6 months. You need a definite plan to follow and not only the running part, but it should also include proper strength training and cross-training.

You also need to focus on your diet and include a good quantity of protein and carbs. Your performance will be equally dependent on your physical training and your nutrition during this more than 20 weeks of marathon training.

You may be averse to carbs, but don’t be…they are one of the primary groups of nutrition and for running performance, you will need carbs…

Running is a cardio exercise and for that, you need a ready store of energy and there is nothing better than carbs for that.

When you need ready access to energy, carbs are the way to go as they can be easily broken down by the body for instant release of energy. However, you need protein for the subsequent building of your muscles.

Also, don’t avoid fat as they are vital to keeping your joints in good condition. Without them, you will find that your joints are paining more or you are getting injured easily.


So, what plan should you follow now, that you have already understood the basics of your nutrition plan?

Here is one such plan to help you to go from couch to half marathon in 6 months.

Will I lose weight training for a half marathon?

You will lose weight training for a half marathon. However, this is dependent on your age, gender, weight, and experience. Also, it is heavily dependent on your calorie intake.

If you increase your physical activities, then it is very natural to lose weight provided you keep your calorie intake the same.

But then again, if you increase the intake of calories along with increasing the physical activities, then you may not be able to lose weight.

So, if you want to lose weight while training for a half marathon, then you will half keep your calories in check.

Focus on whole foods and foods with low calories but high nutritional content. This way you will be able to do lose weight, while training for half marathon.

Madhusree Basu

Madhusree Basu

Author, Admin

Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.

Related Articles