Average Time to Run a Half Marathon | Pro Tips

Are you wondering what is the average time to run a half marathon? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I am glad you have made it here. How fast you cover this distance will be determined on various factors. My goal with this post is to share some tips that helped me to run 1:07:06 for the distance.

No, it wasn’t easy and it didn’t occur overnight. In fact, I hit the first half marathon of my marathon PR (2:19:35) in 1:07:09. It was only 3 seconds slower than my personal best for the half-marathon.

I spent a great deal of time training below sub 5 minute mile pace in training. My goal was to break the 2:22:00 marathon barrier and eventually broke 2:20:00 instead. The tactics I used I will briefly cover in this post. My aim is that you get some similar results by changing up the way you prepare for your races.

The half marathon is a highly aerobic race. That being said, you still need to build your speed and stamina in this event. Remember, we want to improve the body’s lactate tolerance. Easy running will not produce this effect.

What is a Good Time for a Half Marathon for a Beginner?

The average time for a half marathon for beginners ranges from 2:20 to 3 hours. Of course, we all have different capabilities. There are some runners who can go out and run a half marathon under 1 hour. Also, others that need 3 hours or more to complete the distance. I always recommend to my visitors to focus on a minimum of 16 and preferably 20 weeks to prepare properly for this event.

It takes between 21 days to 4 weeks for you to adapt to the stresses you are placing on the body. So, not being in a rush is essential to run a fast half marathon time. I have created running courses as well as training plans that can help speed up your learning curve available here. Are you seeking a new online running coach? If so, I also work with serious athletes who are seeking excellence as well.

How Long Does it Take to Run a Half Marathon on Average?

The average time for many athletes is right around 2 hours. The sub 2 hour half marathon is a highly competitive time though. It won’t just fall in your lap. You need to sustain 9:09 per mile for 26.2 miles or 5:41 per kilometer for 42.2 kilometers to run a 1:59:59 time. I also created a course called the Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon Domination course to help runners seeking to break this barrier, if interested.

The key tactic here is to teach the body to use what it has much of, fat, at race pace. In addition, to conserve what it has much less of, carbohydrates. Remember, the end goal is to slow down less than your competition. So, we have to improve the body’s lactate tolerance. I would first focus all your energy on spending at least 4 weeks running easier, aerobic mileage. You can also add in doing strides twice per week during this training phase.

Strides aren’t long enough to build up any lactic acid. So, they won’t fatigue you. Also, they are great for acceleration drills, practicing your form and warming up. You can do strides before, during or after your easy runs. The faster you are seeking run this distance the more strategic you have to be.

Can the Average Person Run a Half Marathon?

Yes but it does take discipline. The average individual is really going to have to want to do this in order to be successful. It is much easier than running a marathon with it only being half of the distance. That being said, you do need to get out and consistently put in the work. I have built training plans from the mile to the 50k distances to help ease concerns of what work out that need to be completed.

Of course, not every runner has a time goal in mind but most do. The majority of runners out there want to cover a half marathon in a specific time. So, the training plans and running courses I have created focus on doing exactly that. How can we get the athlete in peak shape using leverage. Leverage simply means doing more with less. There are far too many runners out there working too hard and still missing their time goals.

Why? Too much time spent running aerobically is one reason. Again, if your goal is a specific time. You have to train sufficiently at, near and far below that goal half marathon time. Faster running helps to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers. The more of these you can recruit the more economical (efficient) you are going to race.

What Happens to Your Body after a Half Marathon?

There is a great deal of muscular trauma after racing a half marathon. So, muscular tightness is one of many things that happen to your body after running a half marathon. As mentioned above, focus on a 4-week build up of easy aerobic mileage first. You want to make sure your body is strong and prepared before moving into faster track and road workouts.

20 week marathon training plan pdf
Coach Pennington finishing in 4th place and top American at the 2007 California International Marathon 2:19:35 (1:07:09/1:12:26)

I would highly recommend getting a massage, hydrating well and replacing lose glycogen with pasta. One of the best remedies I have ever found for chronic, tight muscles is dry needling. You can find just about any physical therapist in your town or city that can do this for you. It is similar to acupuncture. Of course, you won’t need this after racing a half marathon though. You will just need to rehydrate well, rest and get some food in you.

How to Improve Half Marathon Time

How to go from an average time to run a half marathon to great times takes heavy emphasis on speed. Yes, you still need to focus on build endurance too and running easy. That being said, to run fast you have to train fast. Easier said than done, I know. As mentioned above, the top recommended time frame to train is 12 weeks minimum and preferably 20 weeks.

3 to 5 months is plenty of time to prepare adequately for the half-marathon distance.The 4 phases of training we focus on with the running courses and training plans are…

  • Aerobic base-building phase
  • Half marathon specific training phase
  • Speed development phase
  • Taper phase

I believe a 10-day rather than focusing on a 3-week taper will do wonders for your half marathon performance. You don’t want to start dropping intensity and volume too far out from your main event. I set personal bests of 14:18 for 5K, 31:09 for 10K, 50:54 for 10-miles, 1:07:06 for the half and 2:19:35 for the marathon using this strategy. It works.

Focus On Longer Tempo Runs

A lot of times runners just don’t spent enough time training at their anaerobic threshold. The anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid starts to build up at higher levels in the body. So, it is uncomfortable running at this intensity. I highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I started using heart rate monitors in 1995 during my freshman year in college.

how to pace a half marathon
Coach Pennington setting his personal best of 1:07:06 at the 2007 Philadelphia Rock and Roll Half Marathon

My collegiate coach, Jack Hazen, introduced me to this form of training. Jack is one of the world’s top distance running coaches. I use the Garmin 245 and highly recommend it. Heart rate monitor training will ensure you are running at the correct heart rate zone during your tempo runs. AT pace is around 85 to 88 percent of your maximum heart rate.

What has been the longest tempo run you have done in the past preparing for your half marathon races? 5 miles? 6? I would focus on extending that toward 7 to 10 miles. Of course, you want to start around 2 to 3 miles at first. Again, patience is key.

So, allot sufficient time for your body to adapt to the stress you are placing on it. What is the average time to run a half marathon? You could be a 3 hour half marathoner today and a year from now a 2 hour half marathoner. Yes, you can drop that much time if you do things correctly in training.

Run Longer Runs

How much more confident will you be if you worked your long run out to around 18 to 20 miles? Long runs of 8 to 10 miles will build endurance. That being said, you have to think outside the box and bigger. The majority of your competition will do the work if you choose not to. So, longer, easy runs will build confidence, burn fat and make you extra strong for this distance.

Remember, don’t run long and slow every single weekend. There are many runners making this mistake. I dropped my half marathon PR from 1:10.29 to 1.07.06 using this strategy. In addition, lowered my marathon PR from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. Also, always alternate a faster, varied paced long run followed the next week with an easy, relaxed long run.

The benefits of you hard, anaerobic (without oxygen) training will come within the rest period. So, the benefits are going to come after the workout is completed. Google the word “Supercompensation”. You are already a leg up on your competition. I can bet they have never heard of that term.

Faster, Varied Paced Long Runs

As mentioned above, faster long runs are essential to drop significant time off of your half marathon. These types of workouts are built into the training plans and courses that I teach here at RunDreamAchieve. Below are some examples of the faster long runs I was doing prior to running 2:19:35. Remember, we don’t start doing long runs like this until mid-way through the training plans.

It is not uncommon for you to need 2 to 3 days recovery after these. The long run is the hardest workout that I do. I credit this style of training to helping me earn a USA Track and Field Olympic Trials “A” standard time in the marathon.

  • 2 mile jog, 10 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 3 miles@5:55 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles@5:25 mile pace, 1 mile jog (23 miles)
  • 1 mile jog, 5 miles@5:45 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles@5:20 mile pace, 5 miles@6:00 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 3 miles@5:35 mile pace, 2 mile jog (22 miles)

The following week’s long run was easy and relaxed ranging in page from 7:30 to 9 minute mile pace. Again, recovery is critical and you have to allot sufficient time for the body to adapt.

Hill Work

To take a average time to run a half marathon and make it a much better time hills are a great way to improve. Speed work and hills are great vo2 max workouts. Vo2 max is your body’s maximum oxygen uptake. You are running at between 95 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate at this effort. The key benefits to workout like this is they help make goal half marathon pace to feel that much easier.

The only way to do this is running at significantly faster than goal pace. I would focus on finding a hill between 200 to 300 meters long and doing repeat sprints up. You can jog or walk down for recovery depending on your current fitness level.

Closing Thoughts

Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I make new video content there each week to help runners such as yourself make big gains. You are more than welcome to visit the about page if you would like to know more about my racing and training background. I hope that this post has been helpful to you. You can reach me anytime at nathanpennington [at] protonmail [dot] com if you have any questions or concerns.

Keep me posted on your progress. Remember, it is what you do the other hours of your day after the workouts that will determine your success rate. You have to stress the energy systems of the body often. That being said, you also need to take it easy on those recovery days. There is only so many times you can push the body to its limits before you get a diminished return on your time investment.

Anything worth doing is worth doing correctly. The resources available here will help to safeguard you against mistakes many others runners are making. I hope these running tips will help to take the average time to run a half marathon and speed up the fitness process.

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