How long does it take to go from running hiatus to half marathon?

So, St. Louis is at last going to have a Rock & Roll marathon! The inaugural one is October 23rd this year. I know I’m not in good enough shape to train for a whole, but a half might be doable. This would be my second half marathon (I’ve done 3 marathons and 1 half).

Challenge: I’m just getting back into running. I can go for about a mile, then I have to walk for 5 minutes. Then another mile, then I have to walk.

Pro: I tend to get my tone back relatively quickly after not having run for a while, though I’m almost painfully slow right now. I’d probably be doing the old man shuffle on longer runs for a while.

Anyway, what are the odds I can be in good enough shape to run a half marathon in six months if I’m dedicated and run 4-5 times a week from now 'til then?

I’m going to find some shorter races regardless, but any opinions? Feel free to share your experiences.

I started running seriously in Oct 2009 (with no real running background) and ran my first half marathon in Jun 2010. If you have marathon experience in the past I’d say you would have no problem running a half in 6 months with that training schedule. You’re main concern would be an overuse injury from training.

I took the winter off and started up again four weeks ago. I’m running a half in seven weeks.

Look up / Google Hal Higdon’s half marathon training plans - they’re pretty good and have a variety of plans depending on if you’re starting from scratch or not. I’d give yourself about 16 weeks at least if you’re starting from nil, and the Higdon plans generally have you running four times a weeks (three shorter, one long).

When you’ve been in shape and lost it, it comes back much faster than the initial build up.

You should be fine for October.

I ran all of my marathons (and shorter distances) doing a jog/walk (usually about 3-1). If you train with that at least part of the time it might help avoid injury issues, even if you don’t use it in the race itself. I myself will never again run any other way for distances.

Anything is possible. I went from playing tennis to the marathon in 13 weeks and still beat three hours. That was long ago. I was young and could run all day long and recover from injuries almost overnight. What you can do depends on your healing power and ability. Everybody is not cut out for the marathon. Some people top out at 10K as their max. Beyond that they only have injuries.

Your only running a mile before stopping scares me. Keep that up for a brief while, but move up in mileage ASAP. My advice is to run however far you can run and quit for the day. For me running is not linear. Ten miles is not ten times as hard as one mile. Once you can run three miles comfortably, you can probably run eight miles once in a while. Start with the assumption that you can run the longer distance and make your body force you to stop. That’s just my opinion. I realize others like “programs” and schedules. The rule of thumb is that you can run three times your daily average during a race. A marathoner should be training ten miles a day or more.

Thanks for all the responses so far!

I’m going to shoot for a 10k race in early summer (early June) and see how I’m doing. I’m not too concerned about the lower mileage…yet. This will be the third time I’ve gone on hiatus for an extended amount of time, and so far I’ve bounced back quickly each time. Then again, this will be the first time I’ve gone on hiatus and decided to run a half marathon this quickly after getting started again.

Plus, I’m older than I was last time. Not much older - just 2 years - but each year I age, I’ve noticed that it’s more and more crucial to remain consistent with exercise, which is just one reason I want to do a half marathon. It’ll force me to keep up with training because I have to in order to finish the half safely.

Also, half-marathons are fun, dammit. This one especially looks like a blast.

Anyway, like I said - thanks for the responses, and keep 'em coming!

This is really bad advice and is a good way to injure yourself. Running until your ‘body forces you to stop’ is not smart training, and you’ll end up injured or discouraged.

Slowly increasing your mileage - I believe the rule is an increase of 10% max a week - is the best tactic to get your body used to the increased mileage without causing injury.

I should have reiterated that this is only my humble opinion.
Most people under estimate what they are capable of performing. Their barriers are psychological more than physical. Yes, increasing 10% is a safer level of mileage growth. Even at my advanced age I increase more that that after an injury. When I was younger I’d start off at 3, 6, 9 12 each week after a long injury or surgery. I must add that those injuries were few and not always running related. When I run, I don’t listen to music or have long discussions with others. I concentrate on what’s happening to read my condition. I know there are other people who want to push themselves to the limit and back down from there.
This is only my humble opinion.

I did the Rock & Roll half marathon in Vegas in December and it was one of the best running experiences I’ve had – lots of energy, very well-organized. I’d love to do it again – and this year, the race is being held at night! I hope you have the same experience in St. Louis.

I am still relatively new to running – started with C25K in 2009 – and chose the Higdon half-marathon training program. It worked out very well for me as a beginner, and as pointed out above, there are different training plans depending on your experience.

Something I should have done during my training was allow about a week cushion for illness. I got a bad cold that knocked me out for about a week and a half, and could not train during that time. I was still fine for completing the half, but psychologically it would have been nice to have worked in one more long run before the race.