Jerusalem Half Marathon Training Plan

half marathon training plan

The Jerusalem Marathon and Half Marathon. (Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90-IsrealTourism/Flickr)

In exactly seven weeks from today, I’ll be on the starting line of the Jerusalem Half Marathon as part of a press trip sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with El Al Airlines. Last week, I wrote about how meaningful this race will be for me. Now, it’s time to dive back into my half marathon training plan.

After the Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday, January 11, which marked the end of my 46-day running streak, I took two weeks off from running. My body needed it. I did run once during that time: On Saturday, January 18 to participate in Meg’s Miles, honoring a runner killed by a drunk driver and raising awareness for runner safety.

Come Saturday, January 25, it was time to ease back into training. The Jerusalem Marathon and Half Marathon is an odd duck in the running world in that it’s on a Friday. So my new training schedule is Saturday to Friday, instead of the usual Monday to Sunday. I’ve got an eight-week half marathon training plan mapped out and am happy to say that Week 1 is successfully behind me.

Half Marathon Training Plan

Anticipating that I’d want to run a spring half to finally nab my sub-2-hour half marathon goal, the first week of December I started using a 12-week half marathon training plan from Greg McMillan’s book, “You (Only Faster).” I worked with McMillan very briefly back in 2011, though we never actually met, and he sent me a copy of the book.

half marathon training plan

You (Only Faster)

I ran the first four weeks of the half marathon training plan, then inserted the last two weeks of a 10K training plan leading into the Walt Disney World 10K, followed by the Walt Disney World Half Marathon the next day. Then I took two weeks off. Now I’m jumping back into the half marathon training plan where I left off: Week 5, with some tweaks, with eight weeks until race-day. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s what I’m doing.

After using Runner’s World, FIRST (which I also highly recommend) and other training plans, I’ve found that I really like McMillan’s plans for two main reasons: 1) If you want to follow a plan strictly, he gives lots of options for runners who want to run anywhere from two to seven days a week. 2) If you don’t want to follow a plan strictly, he shows you how to tweak any of the plans (or any training plan at all for that matter) to suit your strengths and weaknesses as a runner.

I’ve been training with his plans from the book since last summer. I’ve got 5K and 10K personal bests to show for it. And I suspect I would have gotten a marathon personal best too had I not been sick on race day and the week leading into the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. When I was healthy, I ran my fastest 20-miler ever, and on an incredibly difficult course, three weeks before the marathon. So I’ve definitely gotten faster overall.

Jerusalem Half Marathon Training: Week 1

Saturday, January 25: 4.35 miles Easy treadmill run

Monday, January 27: 3.25 miles It was a rare 43 degree day in what we can all agree has been the worst winter ever. So I took advantage of an eye doctor appointment and ran there and back. It felt glorious. I actually got hot.

Thursday, January 30: 3.61 miles Another easy treadmill run

Friday, January 31: 5.79 miles 4 x 1 mile tempo run with quarter mile easy in between.

Week 1 Total: 17 miles

In my first week of training, I got in four mostly easy runs to help shake-out the cobwebs and skipped the longer runs in my plan. I’m hoping to do five runs a week from here on out, build my mileage back up, and start throwing in some challenging workouts. We’ll see how that goes.

Jerusalem Half Marathon Strategy

I have yet to decide how I want to approach this race. I’ve made no secret that I want to finally shatter my 2:00:30 half marathon personal best from 2012 and finally—finally!—run a sub-2 hour half marathon. Will it be in Jerusalem? I’m not sure.

half marathon training plan

Jerusalem Half Marathon Elevation Chart

It’s a 7-hour time difference from New York City, where I live. I’ll have only been on the ground over there for three days come race morning. I doubt that my body will adjust in time. Plus, it looks to be a challenging course of constantly rolling hills and not a straight-away in sight.

But they do have a 2:00 pace group courtesy of the Tel Aviv Running Club. How meaningful would it be to break, in Jerusalem, the one goal that has eluded me time and time again? I’m pretty sure tears would be involved. I’m going to sleep on it, train on it and make the decision down the road. It might even pull on audible on race morning. We’ll see.

For now, I’ve got my marching orders and my training plan in hand. Time to knock out some workouts.

Photos of the Jerusalem Marathon are © Flash 90 from IsraelTourism on Flickr and used under a Creative Commons license: Photo 1

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a regular contributor to, the host of NYRR's On The Run web + TV show, and a race announcer at events like the TCS New York City Marathon. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now she freelances as a running reporter. She's run 7 marathons, 20 halves, 6 triathlons, sings in an '80s cover band, spoils her dog + travels compulsively.

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01 2014

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