Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

How Long is a Half Marathon

I often get asked how long is a half marathon so figured I'd write a post about it. In addition, share some strategies to help you run a faster half marathon. The half marathon distance is 13.1 miles or 21.1 kilometers. The half marathon distance is a highly aerobic event as compared to an anaerobic event like the mile or 800m. Pace sustainment is the biggest hurdle for most athletes including myself. It is very tempting to run too fast in the early stages of your race. I am a big believer in training much faster than goal half marathon race pace. The reason for this is you want to improve your body's lactate tolerance.

In addition, spending more time training at your anaerobic threshold will make for faster half marathon racing. A big problem I see is many runners run too many of their weekly mileage too slow. Remember, training smarter, not harder is the end goal. We all have been taught how to work hard but hard work doesn't always yield results. How many highly educated, hard working people do you know who are broke? Are there high school drop outs who have become multi-millionaires? Someone is using leverage and someone is not. So, the same goes for running fast. It isn't about the mileage you do but ho w you are setting up the mileage you are running.

How Long Does it Take to Run Half Marathon?

We all have different capabilities and so we all will perform at different levels. The world record for the half marathon for men is 57 minutes and 31 seconds. The fastest time ever run for a females is an outstanding 1 hour 2 minutes and 52 seconds. I almost can't believe how fast these men and women are running. I have run 1 hour 7 minutes and 6 seconds. The second fastest half marathon I have run is the 1:07:09 I ran in the first half of my 2:19:35 marathon PR.

So, for some runners the goal is to break the sub 2 hour half marathon barrier while for others it may be 3 hours. Again, we all have different capabilities. The goal with rundreamachieve running courses and our training plans is to help you get better results by working smarter. I also recommend doing long runs at a faster pace as well. There are far too many runners doubting themselves and getting discouraged. A major way to build your confidence is to start running at more aggressive efforts. No, this will not occur quickly. You need to first build a 4 to 6 week build-up of easy, relaxed mileage first. You cannot rush the process of getting into great shape. It takes about 4 weeks for your body to adapt to any stress load that you are placing on it.

What is a Good Half Marathon Time for a Beginner?

I think a good half marathoner for a beginner is a time anywhere from 2 to 2 and half hours for the distance. Of course, you can drop significant time if you stick with it. I suggest you subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel as I create new videos each week to help you stay on track. In addition, I advocate for runners of all abilities and not just for elite-caliber athletes. I am just as impressed with beginners as I am for someone who can run under a 3 hour marathon.

One of the best ways to run faster over the half marathon is to train longer at your anaerobic threshold. Your AT effort is around 88 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. So, it is most certainly not easy running but moderate enough that you will be able to run at this effort for longer periods of time. In comparison, we can only sprint for a few seconds to a few minutes. The reason being is there is high levels of lactic acid build up in the muscles which shut muscle functioning down. Of course, we can run at these intensities but for only short periods of time. Thus, we need rest in between each set. The focus behind these workouts is to run much faster than goal half marathon race pace. The result is race pace eventually becomes more sustainable.

Is it Possible to Train for a Half Marathon in 6 Weeks?

Yes, of course. That being said, longer is better. RunDreamAchieve training plans and our running courses are 16 weeks in length. So, 4 months is plenty of time to train properly for the half marathon distance. I would spend 3 to 4 weeks running easy mileage before starting a 16 week block of training. The reason being is you do want to first build a good foundation of mileage before moving into more specific, harder training. The athletes seeking how long is a half marathon are already highly driven individuals. So, they want to be as prepared as they possibly can be.

Proper pacing early on in your race is absolutely essential if you want to run fast over 13.1 miles. The big mistake many runners make is getting too hyped up in the early stages of the race. Remember, no one wins a half marathon in the first 10 kilometers of the race. Where are you at when you cross the finish line? Did you achieve your goal time or not? So, you don't want to go out too fast and slow down drastically in the last few miles of the race. It is not only not fun but demoralizing on the athlete.

Closing Thoughts

I know you were seeking the answer to how long is a half marathon but hopefully this post overdelivered. Of course, I can go much more in-depth on this topic. My recommend is to invest in yourself, your training and preparation. Check out our training plans and running courses. Also, subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new content and videos every week and hope these will helpful to you.

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