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Winter Half Marathon Training

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Nov. 8, 2021 to Jan. 29, 2022

  • Saturdays - Long Runs

  • Wednesdays - Track Workouts


Group training targeting winter half marathons


Chicago and Lisle

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Winter months can be challenging, but CARA's "Power of the Group" will provide you the support, community, and accountability you need to successfully run through the winter, and reach your race start line ready for success.

As Chicago's premier group training program, we have helped tens of thousands of runners successfully complete their goals. Whether you're a newcomer or experienced runner, our program provides training plans that meet you where you're at.

You will never have to go it alone. Your pace group leaders and fellow participants will give you the Power of the Group that has led CARA runners to the finish line more than any other program in Chicagoland running.

Your training program is led by CARA coaches who have national certifications and years of proven coaching success long before we bring them into CARA.​

Program Details

Program Benefits

  • 12-week training plan with four options (Run/Walk, Novice, Novice II, and Advanced)

  • Training guide and weekly education newsletters

  • Group training long Runs (Saturdays) led by group leaders for 7:30 to 11:30 pace/per mile run, and 12:00 to 13:00 pace/per mile run/walk

  • New! - Video guided half marathon tailored strength training plan

  • Coach led speed workouts (Wednesdays)

  • Hydration support at training runs, including water and Gatorade Endurance

  • Rush Physical Therapy Injury Hotline

  • Custom BOCO CARA winter training hat

  • Access to a private STRAVA group for program participants

Target Race

  • F^3 Lake Half Marathon 

Important Dates

Nov. 6: Packet Pick Up At Fleet Feet Old Town and Fleet Feet Elmhurst

Nov. 8: Training Plans Begin

Nov. 10: First Speed Workout 

Nov. 13: First Long Run

Nov. 23: Speed Workout Moved To Tuesday, November 23

Nov. 30: Deadline To Add Packet Mailing 

Dec. 25: NO TRAINING RUN Due To Holiday

Jan. 1: NO TRAINING RUN Due To Holiday (Group Long Run moved to Sunday, January 2nd)

Jan. 2: Sunday Training Run 

Jan. 29: Target Race - F^3 Lake Half Marathon

Group Long Run Locations

CARA training group long runs are offered at both a city and suburban location. Participants have access to both locations through the season and are not restricted to only their primary registration choice. However, those attending a run at Morton Arboretum will need a Morton Arboretum membership or a single-day timed entry pass in order to access the grounds. Morton Memberships can be purchased as part of the program registration or directly from the Morton Arboretum. (Click location maps for google map)

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Chicago - Waveland*
Waveland Park

Saturdays 7:30 a.m.

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Morton Arboretum

Saturdays 7:30 a.m.

*Note: Training location is returning to Waveland Park, away from its Diversey Harbor location where it has been located in recent years.

Group Track Workout Locations

CARA training group track workouts are offered at locations throughout the city and suburbs. Participants have access to all locations through the season. Locations marked with (*) use a greenway/trail for workouts.


Program Fees & Registration

Group Training: $160

  • Save 15% ($24 Discount) - 2021 & 2022 CARA Supporter Level Members


Members receive discount by logging in with membership username/password during registration.

Online registration payments are subject to a service fee by our registration provider. To avoid online payment fees, send a check for the amount owed to CARA, 1100 W. Cermak Rd. #231, Chicago, IL 60608. Provide full name, e-mail, phone number and note that check is for winter half-marathon training program fees. CARA will then contact to complete registration.


FAQ / Policies

Can my packet be mailed?

Yes, you may select packet mailing for a fee during registration. Or, after registration, packet mailing can be added within your participant account. Deadline to add packet mailing is November 30, 2021.

What training level is needed to participate?

CARA has a proven record of serving beginning runners, and long-time runners alike. Before starting our Novice Plan, we recommend that you can complete 3-4 runs per week, including at least one run of 4 miles at a pace of at least 13 minutes per mile.

What is the program's weather policy?

We will run/walk rain or shine. However, if there is lightning or other hazardous weather we will cancel or postpone. Our full weather policy and weather alerts are HERE.

Can I cancel my registration?

Participants may choose to voluntarily exit the program. Participants who exit the program by the date two weeks prior to the start date of the program (October 25, 2021), may receive a full credit of fees paid towards any single CARA program or event of any kind of equal or lesser value. Credit valid through the end of the following calendar year. To exit the program, e-mail No refunds will be issued for any reason, including injury.

Can I enter the program after the start date?

Yes, participants are welcomed to enter the program late. The deadline for registration is 4 weeks prior to the program's end date (January 1, 2021). Fees are not prorated for late entry.

Is there a CARA member discount?

Yes, a member discount is applicable to CARA Supporter Level members (Individual, Family or Student packages) with an active membership for the program year. Registrations without a member discount includes a CARA Friend Level membership. Learn more about CARA Supporter Level member benefits HERE.

How old do I need to be to participate?

Runners must be 18 years or older to participate in group training.

May I run with a pet at training runs?

No, participants may not run with pets at training runs.

May I run with a stroller at training runs?

No, participants may not run with strollers at training runs?

When and where is packet pick up?

Packet Pickup Locations: Fleet Feet Old Town

  • 1706 N. Wells St, Chicago
  • Saturday, November 6
  • 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Fleet Feet Elmhurst
  • 124 E. Schiller St., Elmhurst
  • Saturday, November 6
  • 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.



CARA training programs rely on dedicated volunteer site coordinators, group leaders, and coaches to support program participants, and provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all.


Site coordinators are recruited from experienced program group leaders. Those interested in becoming a site coordinator now, or in the future as openings are available, should contact CARA Director of Training Tim Bradley (

Group leaders are the backbone of CARA training programs. Group leaders keep runners safe, organized, on-pace, and motivated during training runs. Those interested becoming a group leader can learn more HERE.

Coaches are needed to support CARA track workouts. Experienced coaches may be tabbed with leading a workout, where others can assist with workout organization and timing while learning. Those interested in becoming a coach or assistant coach should contact CARA Director of Training Tim Bradley (​

Hydration Volunteers are needed to support hydration stations at training locations. Volunteers may volunteer for a single date, or a season. Interested volunteers can check out opportunities on our volunteer page.

COVID-19 Safety

CARA has extensive operational preparedness plans to meet all safety and gathering guidelines provided by state and local authorities. Our plans have been widely accepted and were adopted by the Road Runners Clubs of America as a national framework for a return to group running during COVID-19.

Participation expectations will be as follows:

  • Participants are expected to wear a mask or face covering when gathering pre- or post-run until they are two weeks post full vaccination for COVID19. Per CDC guidance, fully vaccinated participants are not required to wear a mask or face covering while gathering pre or post-run.

  • Do not participate if you are feeling sick or ill, and or have a fever, or if you are unvaccinated and have been in contact with someone unrecovered from COVID-19.

  • Persons from high-risk groups for COVID-19 complications should consult their physician before participating.

  • Participants are encouraged to avoid traditional forms of physical contact (handshakes, high-fives, hugs, partner stretching, etc.), as well as close group gathering (group pictures, etc.).

  • Do not spit or blow nose while running in the group.

  • Do not share personal items, such as hydration, energy gels, towels, etc.

  • Participants may be required to exit programs/events temporarily or permanently should their actions not meet expectations and or they are creating risk for themselves or others.