How to Run a Half Marathon to Lose Weight

Half-marathons are fun events that can involve runners at every skill level.

Half-marathons are fun events that can involve runners at every skill level.

Setting a goal for yourself is a crucial step in a successful weight-loss routine. If you're in shape to run on a regular basis, a reasonable goal for your exercise routine is a half marathon. At 13.1 miles, a half marathon requires a good training regimen over at least several months, depending on your level of fitness. Training and competing in a half marathon will contribute substantially to weight loss if combined with a responsible diet.

Set a schedule for your distance training. Several websites like have guides for slowly increasing your distance over a period of three, four or five months before you finally compete in a half marathon. To determine which plan is appropriate for you, try the first week of exercises and consider how difficult the routine is to complete. For a beginner, distances of one or two miles can be very difficult. Reducing the distances by half until you can complete them consistently is a good way to work up to the first week of a training regimen.

Adjust your caloric intake to promote weight loss using a caloric deficit. When you reduce your caloric intake to create a deficit, fewer calories are available than your muscles demand. Once a caloric deficit occurs, your muscles begin converting fat into energy. As long as you're actively using your muscles, you'll use excess fat as energy, promoting weight loss. Use a calorie calculator like to find your ideal caloric intake, and stay in a caloric deficit while training to burn the most fat during a run.

Use high-intensity exercises like intervals to increase your weight loss. Pushing your body into an anaerobic state, where your muscles are demanding more oxygen than your blood can transport, burns the most calories because your muscles are using the most calories that they can. This anaerobic threshold is known as the VO2 max. Pushing part of your training routine above your VO2 max will lead to the greatest increases in cardiovascular health and burn a considerable number of calories.

Keep a pace that is slightly faster than your training pace without extending beyond your VO2 max during your half marathon. By remaining below your anaerobic threshold, you'll prevent the buildup of lactic acid, which will help you avoid fatigue longer. You may extend beyond your VO2 max during the final half-mile of the race, but pacing yourself too quickly at the beginning of the race can exhaust your body's resources before you reach the 13.1-mile mark. Careful pacing will allow you to finish a half-marathon while losing weight.


  • Make sure to stay hydrated throughout your run. Understanding proper posture and wearing the right pair of running shoes will contribute significantly to your comfort on long runs. Seek the advice of running enthusiasts or experts whenever you can to improve your running form.


  • Extending your distance more than 10 percent per week can lead to stress injuries or exhaustion from too much running. Be patient with your workout and increase your training slowly over time until you reach your goal of a half marathon.

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About the Author

Max Roman Dilthey is a science, health and culture writer currently pursuing a master's of sustainability science. Based in Massachusetts, he blogs about cycling at

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