2 Hour Half Marathon Pace | Pro Tips to PB

How does one sustain 2 hour half marathon pace for 13.1 mile without slowing down?

2 hour half marathon pace

This is a very important question. Obviously, wanting to break a 2 hour half marathon and actually doing it are two very different things.

My goal with this post and with my current work on creating 2 hour half marathon pace domination is to get you to do just that.

Break the two hour half marathon. This is a highly exclusive club that many long distance runners want to become a part of.

The thought of crossing the finish line with a 1:59:59 or faster on the clock is an attainable goal.

That being said, it will not come about by putting forth lukewarm effort. You are either all on or you are tip toeing through the tulips about this.

Why Should You Listen To Me?

Although I will openly admit I’m not the fastest runner out there I have run 1:07:06 for the half-marathon.

I’ve held 5:07 per mile for 13. 1 miles and my goal is to teach you how to maintain 9:09 mile pace without slowing.

This is 2 hour half marathon pace.

Additionally, Ive run 50:54 for ten-miles (5:05 mile pace), 1:44:05 for 20 miles (5:11 pace) and 2:19:35 for the marathon (5:19 pace).

I’ve been running for over 28 years at the time of this post. Lastly, I know what I am doing and am certain I can help you and other runners to become a sub-2 hour half marathoner.

It is not just about talent. There are many talented athletes who miss this time barrier. Why?

Lack of talent?

I don’t believe so. Lack of time spent at or below 9:09 per mile pace. You have to practice this pace, zero in on how to sustain it longer and be overly patient.

Lack of patience, for many, is the real culprit for missing this time barrier. Additionally, second guessing oneself and doubt add to this.

The talented athlete that does not work will get beaten by the athlete with heart that does.

Plan of Action

Where are you currently?




How can we get you from that to 1:59:59?

Proper execution. You have to know what workouts are best and why you are doing them. If you get in your car and desire to drive to California do you do so without a cell phone or a map?

How would you know how to get there without these tools?

You and I would be completely lost if we didn’t right?

That is the goal with the new 2 hour half marathon domination course. This post will be an introduction and overview of this new course. Additionally, it will provide some insight on the proper workouts needed to break the sub 2 hour half marathon barrier.

How Are Athletes Running 1:59:59 or Faster?

Well, they have done a lot of small things in big ways. What do I mean? They have trained at a pace that make 2 hour half marathon pace feel comfortable.

Remember, sub 2 hour half marathon pace is an average of 9:09 per mile for 13.1 miles. What this means is many of the miles run are faster than 9:09 pace.

Some are slower but most are faster than 9:09 mile pace. These athletes have simply slowed down less than those around them. So, they sustain the pace for the entire distance.

They key to making this a reality for yourself is to get the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up in the bloodstream.

This physiological adaptation occurs over many weeks and months of training. Additionally, it doesn’t come by way of running long, slow miles.

I have always believed that long, slow miles produce long slow runners – Sebastion Coe, former world record holder for 800m (1:41.73)

So, how do you get yourself to sustain this pace for the entire duration of the race? Training at speeds that far exceed 2 hour half marathon pace.

Example Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon Pace Workouts

For example, doing repeat miles at 7:45-7:55 or repeat 2- miles at 15:45-55 per rep.

Long tempo runs conducted at a heart rate of 168 to 173 beats per minute. This is at the athlete’s Anaerobic Threshold, the point where lactic acid accumulation begins to occur.

Most people can run slow for long periods of time or for at least a few minutes even if out of shape. The reason being is the body is still able to clear lactic acid out of the working muscles.

The body produces lactic acid, at low levels, even while at rest. The problem is as we run faster the body needs more oxygen and the faster in oxygen we go.

Heart Rate Monitor Training

As you get fitter the heart doesn’t have to work as hard. Additionally, it is able to clear lactic acid more effectively than when we are unfit.

The types of workouts you want to be doing to become a sub 2 hour half marathoner are those that are painful.

Make no mistake, running fast for long periods of time is an art form. Often times, all we see is the times other athletes are running but we miss the most important step.

What was the process they had to go through in order to become a 1:59:59 or faster half-marathon runner?

Additionally, what specific steps did they take in training to get across the finish line with such a fast time?

Below are absolutely essential workouts needed to break the sub 2 hour half marathon.

This is only a few, introductory ideas that will be going much more in depth with the 2 hour half marathon domination course

How Hard is a Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon?

It is not an easy barrier to break. That being said, other runners have done it and so can you. I would highly suggest to start running your long runs at faster paces. Of course, I am not saying to run faster, varied paced long runs every single weekend. Remember, we have to adapt to the harder workouts we are doing.

No other workout is more important than this when it comes to breaking a sub 2 hour half marathon.

You and I have been taught that we are to do a weekly long run in preparation for half and full marathons.

It isn’t just putting in mileage that is going to get you to 1:59:59. It is how you conduct that long run.

I would prepare by doing long runs of 16 to 22 miles for half-marathons. Additionally, if I were preparing for a marathon the distance would be anywhere from 18 to as a far as 30 miles.

That being said, the farthest I have ever run is 30 miles and I only did that one time leading into the 2011 Monumental Indianapolis Marathon

Quality versus Quantity

Below is the result of that training build up and as you can see it isn’t faster than my 2:19:35 marathon personal best.

Remember, volume isn’t always the answer. I trained as a high as 142 miles a week trying to break the sub-2:22:00 marathon barrier.

I broke sub-2:20:00 running 85 to 95 miles per week. So, the key for you to becoming a 1:59:59 half-marathoner is to use leverage.

Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon Pacing Strategy

Below is a common example of the type of workout I would recommend to athletes seeking to break the sub 2 hour half marathon barrier

16 miles – 2 mile warm-up, 9 miles at 155 to 60 beats per minute, 2 miles easy@130-50BPM, 1 mile@165-70BPM, 2 mile cool-down

18 miles – 3 mile warm-up, 3 miles@9:00 pace, 3 miles@8:40 pace, 3 miles@9:15 pace, 2 miles relaxed, 1 mile in 8:00, 2 miles@9:10 pace, 1 mile in 8:00

Of course, these are just examples.

The key thing to remember and what I will be covering in this new course for wannabe sub-2 hour half marathoners is this, variation.

No one, not me, you or anyone else should be running long runs every weekend hard. The best results come from within the rest periods of training. I would focus also on running a negative split. So, focus on running the second half of your half-marathon faster than you run the first half.

Focus On Your Recovery

You don’t get results from the workouts themselves. The results come during the rest. Yes, no one produces great race times without first doing specific training. That being said, the real results from that training come when you back off and allow your body to recover.

So, long run paces should vary each week. One week should be a planned, hard effort focused on holding the heart rate at higher levels for long periods of time.

Secondly, long run paces should vary from week to week. One week nice and relaxed followed by a long, focused effort the following week.

How Do You Pace a Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon?

There are many well-intentioned, determined runners who miss this time barrier.

Remember, it is a cumulation of many specific variables that go into becoming a 1:59:59 or faster half-marathoner.

You have to train slow as well as fast. Additionally, you have to train at paces that are at the upper limits of your anaerobic capability.

These efforts occur at heart rates of over 175 beats per minute. I am a huge advocate of heart rate monitor training. I use the Garmin 245 myself and it helps to ensure that I am not over training. In addition, I focus my attention to staying at the correct heart rate zone rather than worrying about pace.

The reason being is it takes the stress off the athlete of worrying about mile or kilometer splits. Furthermore, it allows you to focus simply on staying in your specific heart rate zones instead.

Heart Rate Zones I Recommend

Easy Running – 130-150 beats per minute

Moderate – 150-160 beats per minute

Moderately Hard – 160-165 beats per minute

Anaerobic Threshold – 166-173 beats per minute

Aerobic Capacity – 174+ beats per minute

You want to train in the higher anaerobic zones to get to a point where sub 2 hour half marathon pace is no longer intimidating.

The problem is it is painful, challenging and takes time to adapt to physiologically. Remember, a sub 2 hour half marathon is doable but a highly competitive time.

It is not an easy goal to attain so don’t expect easy training to get you to the finish line in 1:59:59 or faster.

Sub 2 Hr Half Marathon Workout Examples

Mile Repeats

One of the best workouts you can do is 4 to 7, 1-mile repeats on the track between 7:45 to 8:00 per rep.

Obviously, earlier on in your training block workouts are going to be extremely challenging. It takes time to adapt to any stress load you are placing on the body.

The key with workouts like this is to train far below sub 2 hour half marathon pace. One of the reasons I was able to go from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 for the marathon was on account of workouts like this.

What does 5:19 mile pace feel like when you can do 6 or 7, 1-mile repeats in 4:45-50 per rep?

Vary Your Paces

If you practice conducting your long runs at faster paces and factor in taking it extremely easy on recovery days you will improve.

Remember, to sustain 2 hour half marathon pace means you have to do a lot of different workouts. That being said, you be effective you have to conduct them in the right way.

Mile repeats are usually conducted at Aerobic Capacity effort. This is at around 174 beats per minute or higher.

The real result of workouts like this is they teach the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up in the blood stream.

This is why you see so many athletes making racing effort look so easy. One, they train at speeds that exceed race pace. Two, smart half-marathoners focus on quality over quantity.

Lastly, there is heavy emphasis placed on anaerobic training. This is how you get to a sub 2 hour half marathon.

A lot of people can sustain 2 hour half marathon pace for a few miles. That being said, far fewer can maintain it for 13.1 miles.

Mile repeats will make you dangerous. The reason being you are stressing the body running at paces far below your goal half marathon pace.

How to Pace Half Marathon Strategy

Remember, the faster you train the more fast twitch muscle fibers you will recruit. The more of these we can recruit the more efficient we will race. In addition, the easier 2 hour half marathon pace is going to feel. Higher mileage run too aerobically will only make you a superior, long slow runner.

Varied-pace fartlek runs

One of the best ways to master 2 hour half marathon pace is fartlek runs.

We all have done them but doing them accurately will get you to a time of 1:59:59 or faster.

Again, the key to dominating this barrier is repetitive runs far below 9:09 mile pace.

Early on, anaerobic workouts like these will be painful. That being said, as your body adapts and you get fitter you will sustain pace for long periods of time.

This is the goal we want. The problem for far too many athletes isn’t that they are not capable of the 2 hour barrier.

The reason many miss it is they simply don’t run enough miles at the correct pace. Junk miles won’t do the job.

Interest versus Commitment

Are you interested or committed?

We all have to ask ourselves that question when we make goals for ourselves.

I didn’t always know I was capable of running a 2:19:35 marathon while I was still had a personal best of 2:43:36.

All I knew is that I was fully committed. I was not tip-toeing through the tulips with my fitness.

What I did know is there were runners around me running times I dreamed of and that I had to mimic their work habits.

The reason why fartlek workouts are so powerful is the teach the body to react to pace changes just like in a race.

Fartlek Workouts To Help You Run A Half-Marathon Under 2 Hours

Here are a few typical fartlek workouts I normally do preparing for half and full marathon events.

1 hour – 1 minute hard (170+ BPM) followed by 1 minute easy (130-40BPM)

5×5 minutes – 5 minute running at @165BM followed by 5 minutes@145BPM

10x2minutes – 2 minutes@170+BPM followed by 2minutes @155 BPM

The great thing about fartlek workouts is you can create them to best fit your needs.

They can vary in distance from 200m up to a mile and they are all conducted at very high speeds.

These are at speeds you would normally run your 2 mile to 5K in.

Why do they work?

They make 2 hour half marathon pace feel easy. This is the end goal. What do we need to do in order to make the pace feel comfortable.

That being said, come mile 9 or 10 don’t expect it to feel comfortable.

What these types of workouts will help you with is your closing speed.

Runners generally slow down in the latter stages of their races. Those that have trained efficiently will be able to pick up the pace while others are fatiguing.

The above examples are just a few of many types of fartlek workouts I have used in the past and continue to use to this day.

Additional Gold Nuggets To Help You Break 2 Hours

Be more patient than those around you.

The quickest way to miss your goal is to start second guessing yourself. Look, a sub 2 hour half marathon is something many runners desire to achieve.

If it was that easy to do everyone would be doing it. Always focus on small improvements first. Set short, then long-term goals.

A sub 2 hour half marathon asks the athlete to sustain 9:09 mile pace for 13. 1 miles, no breaks.

This achievement will take time but if you are patient with the process you will succeed.

You are either all in or you are lukewarm with this.

Focus on Nutrition

Few athletes know anything about glutathione yet every cell of the human body produces it.

Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant and it helps to detoxify the body of hard metals and free-radicals.

These are waste bi-products from stress and the pollution of the air we breathe.

Remember, those athletes breaking the 2 hour half marathon are focused. Why am I bringing up glutathione?

I have never met one runner in my 28 years of experience as an athlete who has ever mentioned it to me.

Glutathione works to ensure the cells are healthy and able to deliver oxygen throughout the body.

Sick medical patients around the world have one thing in common. They have dangerously low levels of glutathione.

This is also very common in athletes and yet often times athletes don’t understand why they feel so fatigued.

Furthermore, if you want to break the 2 hour half marathon you have to maintain healthy levels of the body’s master antioxidant.

You will find very runners who will ever provide this advice to you so I highly encourage you to check out the links above.

All max products are certified drug-free by the Banned Substances Control Group as well.

There is more to life than running. Sadly, many athletes feel the need to take performance-enhancing drugs to reach the next level.

Always be able to look yourself in the mirror and say “I did my best”. Let it be that. No regrets.

Focus On Your Tempo Runs

The key here is to gradually, over time, extend the length of your long runs.

A 3-mile tempo run many be all the further you’ll be able to run in the early stages of your half-marathon build up.

As you get fitter your heart will not have to work as hard and you’ll be able to sustain pace for longer periods of time.

Furthermore, the paces at which you conduct your tempo runs will also get faster. That is the beauty of progression training.

Simply put, the body supercompensates. What this means is it becomes weaker after the workout and stronger afterward.

Physiological adaptations occur over time, nothing happens overnight. So, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t see the result as fast as you would like.

Once you get your tempo run out to about 8 to 9 miles you will know you are ready.

Make sure to read this extensive post on tempo runs that I wrote. It is a keeper.

The workouts mentioned in this post will help you sustain 2 hour half marathon pace effectively.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you have further questions. I look forward to hearing about your sub 2 hour half marathon effort.

Closing Thoughts

I hope that this post has been helpful to you. Make sure to also subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I focus on making new training and racing videos there each week to help determined runners such as yourself.

Also, be sure to start implementing mental rehearsal into your training routine. Remember, we need to train the mind equally as we train the body.

The vast majority of runners only focus on physical training. The world’s best middle to long distance runners focus on them both. So, spend 10 minutes daily seeing yourself crossing the finish line with 1:59:59 on the clock.

Also, passing people throughout the race, running strong and in control. The good news is that you can distance yourself from your competition by focusing on both of these.

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