Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Half Marathon Time Tactics | Tips to PR over 13.1M

How does an athlete go from an average to fast half marathon time? How can you cover the 13.1 mile or 21.1 kilometer distance more efficiently without slowing down? Welcome to RunDreamAchieve. I will be covering the average half marathon time by gender, ability level and age below. In addition, providing some insight of how to run more economically over this distance.

Racing is an art form. There are many people who can run easy for a given amount of time. Normalcy surrounds us all. That being said, it takes determination and focus to be good or great in this sport. We often underestimate the amount of work that is involved as runners.

What is a Good Pace for Half Marathon?

What is a good pace will defer from athlete to athlete. I believe a sub 2 hour half marathon is a very good pace for a half marathon race. It comes out to 9:09 per mile or 5:41 per kilometer pace to run a 1:59:59 time. There are many runners who focus on the half-marathon before attempting a full-marathon. The half-marathon distance is a highly aerobic event.

Yes, you still need endurance but you also need to focus also on building strength and stamina. It is a good idea to plan for running a half-marathon leading into your marathon event. You want to find out where you currently stand prior to going all-out in your marathon. I ran 1:07:06 for the half-marathon a few months prior to running 2:19:35 for the marathon. I, too, had to find out what I was capable of running prior to going after a new personal best over the marathon distance.

The goal of this article is to share with you some tactics I used to set new personal bests. I would recommend training for a minimum of 16 and preferably 20 weeks for your half marathon. Remember, it takes between 21 days to 4 weeks for the body to adapt to any stress load being placed on it. So, quick results and fitness do not come overnight.

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Should You Run 13 miles Before a Half Marathon?

A long run of 13 miles about 2 weeks out before a half marathon is fine. I believe in a 10-day taper. In fact, I set personal bests from the 5K to the 50K distance using this tactic. You are more than welcome to visit the about page if you would like to know more about my racing background. The average to run a half marathon requires work. That being said, to run a fast half marathon time categories you have to focus on speed.

A lot of times runners start to drop their intensity and mileage too far out from their main event. The idea is to continue to train hard and maintain volume up until 10 days out from your half-marathon. I have had other clients who have used this tactic that have dropped significant time. For example, a marathoner who had a personal best of 3:46 recently ran a 2:58 following my Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course.

Of course, there are many factors that go into running a fast half-marathon. You definitely want to pick a fast, flat course. In addition, choose the best time of the year to lessen having to deal with hot and humid conditions. For example, the Philadelphia Rock and Roll half marathons held in November is a great option. So, a perfect taper can help you go into your race feeling fresh and rested. You don't want to go into the race feeling tired and having started your taper too far out.

Benefits of Running a 13.1M Race

There are numerous benefits to running a half marathon. The comradery of competing with other like-minded people provides motivation to athletes. In addition, you can go after a new personal best time. A lot of times runners who produce a new personal best find additional motivation to continue to train. Of course, training for and competing in half marathons keeps you healthy and determined.

What is a good time for males and females? Well, it depends on who you ask. The average half time will be around 1 hour and 50 minutes for both males and females. Congratulations, you are in the average pace for half marathon group. Remember, if you are not yet in this pace group it certainly doesn't mean you are not a good runner.

It simply means you need to keep practicing at or below your goal half marathon pace. I recommend spending at least 4 weeks running easy, aerobic mileage first. You want to build that foundational mileage before you start conducting faster workouts. Also, start doing strides twice per week. Strides are short, 50 to 100 meter acceleration drills. The good news is they are too short to build up any lactic acid. So, you won't get fatigued doing these.

Average 21.1K Time for the Ladies

The average half time for women is right around 2 hours 1 minute and 17 seconds. A time like this is certainly a good half marathon time that comes out to 9 minutes and 15 seconds per mile. In addition, 5 minutes and 45 seconds per kilometer. The world record for the half-marathon for women was set in 2021 by  Letesenbet Gidey who ran an absurd 1:02:52.

Gidey's world record time comes out to 4:46 per mile for 13.1 miles or 2:58 per kilometer for 21.1 kilometers. The average half time for females aged 20 to 50 is between 3:05 to 2:45. Of course, more advanced runners generally run the half-marathon under 2 hours. Elite-level females usually run this distance under 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Average 13.1M Time for Men

The average pace for half marathon efforts for men is around 1 hour and 44 minutes. Athletes running under this time barrier are holding 7:57 per mile or about 4:56 per kilometer.

Men on average run a half-marathon for 1:44:14. This is a good half time with a pace of 4:56 per kilometer or 7:57 per mile. The world record for men was set by Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda who ran a time of 57:31. Kiplimo's time comes out to 2:43 per kilometer for 21.1 kilometers.

It also equates to 4:23 mile pace for 13.1 miles. Males between the ages of 20 to 50 usually run their first half-marathon anywhere from 2:25 to 2:44. The same age categories for more advanced runners run times of around 1:32 to 1:43. Elite level athletes in these age groups usually run a minimum of 1 hour and 31 minutes or faster over the half-marathon distance.

Average Half Marathon Time for Beginners

Running level did a great overview of the average half time for beginners based on advanced to elite level athletes. For example, beginners are those that are categorized as faster than 5 percent of runners who compete.

Beginners have also been running for more than one month. In comparison, advanced runners are those that are faster than 80 percent of runners. In addition, these athletes have been competing for well over 5 years. Elite-level runners are faster than 95% of athletes competing. Also, they have been running for much longer than 5 years.

So, to get beyond the average pace for half marathon competitions you have to improve your body's lactate tolerance. Yes, running easy is important. That being said, you have to train at paces considerably faster than the average pace for half marathon competitions. The goal is to slow down less than your competition. In addition, to teach the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up.

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Women Runner Profiles

  • Women: 20 years old

Average beginner half marathon time : 2 hours 45 minutes and 9 seconds

Advanced half time : 1 hour 47 minutes and 10 seconds

Average elite half marathon time : 1 hour 37 minutes and 17 seconds

Athletes running below the average pace for half-marathon events are in the 1% of top runners.

  • Women: 25 years old

Average beginner half marathon time : 2 hours 43 minutes and 54 seconds

Advanced half time : 1 hour 46 minutes and 22 seconds

Average elite half marathon time : 1 hour 36 minutes and 33 seconds

Athletes running below the average pace for half marathon events are in the 1% of top runners.

  • Women: 30 years Old

Average beginner half marathon time : 2 hours 43 minutes and 57 seconds

Advanced half time : 1 hour 46 minutes and 23 seconds

Average elite half marathon time : 1 hour 36 minutes and 34 seconds

Athletes running below the average pace for half-marathon events are in the 1 percent of top runners.

Good Beginner Half Marathon Time

Women: 35 years Old

Average beginner half marathon time : 2 hours 45 minutes and 29 seconds

Advanced half time : 1 hour 47 minutes and 23 seconds

Average elite half marathon time : 1 hour 37 minutes and 29 seconds

Athletes running below the average time for half-marathon events are in the 1% of the best runners.

  • Women: 40 years Old

Average beginner half marathon time : 2 hours 49 minutes and 20 seconds

Advanced half time : 1 hour 49 minutes and 53 seconds

Average elite half time : 1 hour 39 minutes and 45 seconds

Athletes running below the average pace for half marathon events are in the 1% of the best runners.

  • Women: 45 years Old

Average beginner half marathon time : 2 hours 55 minutes and 50 seconds

Advanced half time : 1 hour 54 minutes and 6 seconds

Average elite half marathon time : 1 hour 43 minutes and 35 seconds

Athletes running below the average pace for half marathon events are in the 1% of the best runners.

Average Time to Run a Half Marathon

  • Women: 50 years Old

Average beginner half marathon time : 3 hours 5 minutes and 31 seconds

Advanced half time : 2 hour and 23 seconds

Average elite half marathon time : 1 hour 49 minutes and 17 seconds

Athletes running below the average time to run a fast half marathon time places you in the top 1% of the very best runners.

Good Half Marathon Time by Age for Males

  • Men: 20 years Old

Average beginner half time : 2 hours 25 minutes and 17 seconds

Advanced half time : 1 hour 31 minutes and 31 seconds

Average elite half time : 1 hour 21 minutes and 42 seconds

Runners running faster than the average time to run a fast half places you in the top 1% of the best runners.

  • Men: 20-30 years Old

Average beginner half time : 2 hours 25 minutes and 17 seconds

Advanced half time : 1 hour 31 minutes and 31 seconds

Average elite half time : 1 hour 21 minutes and 42 seconds

Runners running faster than the average time to run a half marathon places you in the top 1% of the best runners.

  • Men: 35 years Old

Average beginner half time : 2 hours 26 minutes and 5 seconds

Advanced half time : 1 hour 32 minutes and 1 seconds

Average elite half time : 1 hour 22 minutes and 9 seconds

Runners running faster than the average time to run a half marathon places you in the top 1% of the best runners.

Respectable Half Marathon Time for 40 Year Old Males

  • Men: 40 years Old

Average beginner half time : 2 hours 29 minutes and 51 seconds

Advanced half time : 1 hour 34 minutes and 23 seconds

Average elite half marathon time : 1 hour 24 minutes and 15 seconds

Runners performing faster than the average time to run a half-marathon places you in the top 1% of the top runners.

  • Men: 45 years Old

Average beginner half time : 2 hours 36 minutes and 2 seconds

Advanced half time : 1 hour 38 minutes and 17 seconds

Average elite half time : 1 hour 27 minutes and 44 seconds

Runners performing faster than the average time to run a half-marathon places you in the top 1% of the top runners.

  • Men: 50 years Old

Average beginner half marathon time : 2 hours 42 minutes and 51 seconds

Advanced half time : 1 hour 42 minutes and 35 seconds

Average fast half marathon time : 1 hour 31 minutes and 34 seconds

Athletes running faster than the average time to run a half-marathon places you in the top 1% of the best athletes.

How Many K is a Half Marathon

A half-marathon comes out to 21.1 kilometers or 13.1 miles. As mentioned above, many things go into running a fast half marathon time. I am a big believer in doing faster long runs. Yes, you definitely have to be strategic with this. The long run is the most difficult workout that I do. It is not uncommon for me to jog 2 to 3 days after a hard, varied paced long run.

Remember, running long and slow every single weekend will only make you a long, slow runner. The majority of runners have specific time goals they are seeking for their chosen distance. The half-marathon is a long race. So, you also have to pay attention to your hydration practices as well. The top middle to long distance runners do not neglect this critical strategy.

You need to start placing water bottles out along your long run course. In addition, practice taking in fluid as you are doing your long runs. Below are some examples of the types of long runs I was doing prior to running 2:19:35. Again, these are a combination of both aerobic and anaerobic running.

  • 2 mile warm-up, 10 miles@5:30 mile pace, 2 mile jog, 1 mile in 4:55, 5 miles@6:00 mile pace (20 miles)
  • 1 mile warm-up, 5 miles@5:25 mile pace, 3 miles easy, 2 miles@5:15 mile pace, 6 miles@5:55 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55 (20 miles)

Fastest Time to run a Half Marathon

Focus on running longer

What has been the longest long run you have done in the past training for your half marathons? A lot of times runners simply need to run for a longer period of time to improve their race performances. So, has it been 10 miles? 12? I would recommend working your way to 15 to 18 miles in length for your long runs. Again, the longer you can spend on your feet the more prepared you are going to be.

Yes, running slow and long is still important. My only recommendation is that you don't do this every single weekend. Again, we want to work to burn fat at race pace and to conserve what we have much less of, carbohydrates. So, running faster is how you do this. That being said, you have to do both slow as well as fast long runs to see significant results.

Jog on Easy Days

There are many runners who are still running far too fast on easy days. My top recommendation is to consider investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 and it helps me to stay in the correct heart rate zones. Also, it is much easier to focus on staying in the optimal heart rate zone then to be worrying about mile or kilometer splits.

As your fitness improves so will your splits. That being said, the benefits of your hard training come from within the rest period. so, make sure you are taking it easy on those recovery days. A fast half marathon time is only going to be produced if you pay attention to all the fundamentals.

Half Marathon Pace Strategies

Focus on Your Speed Development

The half marathon is a longer event but improving your leg turnover is essential. It is not easy to sustain fast half marathon pace. I would recommend focusing on doing 1, vo2 max workout per week. Your vo2 max is your body's maximum ability to transport oxygen. Remember, the faster we run the more oxygen is required. So, speed workouts helps make half marathon race pace to feel easier.

We want that half race pace to feel more like our marathon goal race pace. Again, the faster you train the easier race pace will eventually feel. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new videos there each week to help runners like you get to the next level.

Closing Thoughts

Also, make sure to do longer tempo runs. Tempo runs are spent training at the anaerobic threshold. Your anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid starts to build up. Remember, the more efficient you run the faster times you are going to run over every distance you compete in. I hope that this post has been helpful to you and look forward to hearing about your new personal best.

There are many resources available to you here to get you to the next level. Are you interested in monthly coaching? Seeking a running course or training plan? Check out what is available here and keep me posted on your progress. I know that these running tips will help impact your performances. Lastly, make sure you are paying attention to your sleep and make time for mental training.

Mental training is often times overlooked. That being said, the very best runners know it takes both mental as well as physical training to drop significant time. So, spend 10 to 15 minute daily seeing yourself getting across the finish line with your goal half time on the clock.

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