Run A Half Marathon In 2 Hours: Break 2 HRS Fast and PR (2024)

How to run a half marathon in 2 hours involves a 9.09 per mile pace and a great deal of persistence on the part of the athlete.

run a half marathon in 2 hours

The majority of the world are still trying to better that time.

There are many runners that are very close and even more still who dream of making it a reality who are within an hour of the time.

I hope this article will help runners around the globe in breaking this barrier.

I know what it feels like to get a personal best. It is a great feeling to see all of your hard work and dedication pay off.

It is a far more gratifying feeling to get emails from my readers telling me my advice helped them become better runners.

What does it take to run a half marathon in 2 hours?

A half marathon in 2 hours involves running 9.09 per mile pace with no breaks for 13.1 miles.

The problem I see a lot of athletes make is they have a hard time running half this distance at goal pace.

You have to ask yourself the tough question.

Am I spending enough time per week at my goal half marathon pace? Additionally, how much of my time is spent running faster then what I want to run in the race?

If your answer is not enough then you might want to read on.

Train At Or Below Goal Race Pace

The biggest reason for lack of stamina in maintaining this effort for 13.1 miles is not enough time spent at goal pace.

Athletes that run into problems with trying to run a half marathon in 2 hours are not lacking in the potential department.

Results don’t come fast enough we begin to doubt ourselves.

Additionally, we get frustrated and start to question what are we doing and is all this work really work our time.

It was the late and great Czech Olympic gold medalist, Emil Zatopek, who said it best,

“Why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast”

The half-marathon is the fastest growing road race distance in the United States.

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The half marathon distance is the favorite race distance among men (38%) and women (43%).

What do YOU have to do to break the 2 hour barrier?

Be Patient

Results don’t always come by way of our time.

It took me from 2002 to 2007 to break the 2.20.00 marathon barrier.

We often perform our best, create our best work when our backs are to the wall and we have no other choice but to succeed.

We all have our own specific goals. Furthermore, we want to go after tough goals like wanting to run 2 hours for the half-marathon.

This is why I created rundreamachieve.com.

I want runners to feel as though what they are doing matters and is just as important as what any top distance runner is doing.

Vary Up Your Paces In Training

Lisa Rainsberger coached me from 2007-2010. She won the Boston Marathon in 1985 in 2:34:04.

This woman totally changed my reality about what is possible in the sport.

We are friends to this day and I continue to rely on her for advice.

Please, if you don’t get anything else I am writing in this post, get this.

You must train at uncomfortable speeds for longer periods of time.

 I will provide some additional tips below for runners seeking just to finish the race.

I went from a personal best of 2.40.02 to 2.19.35.

What caused that? How do you drop 21 minutes in any long distance event over 10K?

One, I didn’t have a lot of talent but I did rely quite a bit on my work ethic.

I failed numerous times from 2002 to 2007 before I broke 2.20.00. So, I cannot emphasize enough just how patient you have to be at the longer distances.

Faster Long Runs 

My long runs went from doing 16-24 mile long runs at 7.00-30 mile pace to much faster paces (5.35-40 pace).

This was a massive change in tactics for me. So, I want you to remind yourself of that so you can mimic some of the techniques I used to your advantage.

Long runs of this length and at higher anaerobic efforts can be intimidating. That being said, you will gain massive confidence in breaking the 2 hour barrier by changing up how you conduct your long runs.

For example, let’s say in the past you have done your long runs at 11.00 mile pace just focusing on time on your feet.

The distance ranges anywhere from 10-18 miles in length.

Spend More Time At Higher Heart Rates

What do you think runs at this speed actually do?

They will make you very efficient at running slow and burning fat.

Your heart will not have to work as hard, you’ll gain endurance and build capillary beds. This provides your working muscles with greater oxygen carrying capacity.

Hydrogen ions are the cause of our not being able to maintain the pace.

Runners don’t always know that. They confuse lactic acid as the main reason.

What running at slower paces will not do is teach you how to handle lactic acid clearance.

It is art and skill to run fast and to teach yourself to run long periods of time out of your comfort zone.

There is a component of lactic acid called the hydrogen ion that is the reason we slow down in races.

They make muscles acidic and lowers the pH in the blood.

This acidity irritates nerve endings and is the reason we feel the burning in our legs that we sometimes mistakenly think is lactic acid.

We can run easily for long periods of times without much effort because our body is able to convert lactic acid back into energy.

Furthermore, the hydrogen ions are also carried away easily.

Lactic Acid

This conversion of lactic acid back into energy is why we can run for long periods of time without having to slow down.

Long runs at closer to anaerobic threshold efforts will teach your body to clear lactic acid faster more efficiently.

We sustain pace longer, not experience the dreaded ‘wall’ we hear about so often. Additionally, you’ll conserve carbohydrates and burn fat at speeds relative to 9.09 mile pace.

The faster we run the more lactic acid is created.

If you are missing the 2 hour marathon barrier you have to consider breaking your long runs up into faster segments. Additionally, spend more time focusing on your overall goal pace.

The Kenyans make it look easy because they train at higher intensities for long periods of time.

Workouts

Great examples of long run workouts that will help assist you to in run a half marathon in 2 hours are as follows:

16 mile long run

first 3 miles easy (could be anywhere from 10-11.30 mile pace)

4 miles at 20 seconds slower then goal half marathon race pace (9.09+20sec=9.29 pace)

6 miles at goal half marathon pace (9.09) followed by a 3 mile cool-down

18 mile long run

4 miles easy warm-up

3 miles at goal pace (9.09)

1 mile at aerobic capacity at heart rates ranging from 170-80 beats per minute

3 miles easy

4 miles at 30 seconds slower then goal half marathon pace (9.39 pace)

1 mile hard (170-80BPM) – 2 mile jog cool-down

20 mile long run

6 miles easy

4 miles at goal half marathon pace (9.09)

5 miles easy

2 miles at 10 second faster then goal half marathon pace (8.59 pace)

3 miles easy

These workouts will get your mind and your body physiologically prepared.

Always follow one week of conducting your long runs at faster speeds with a long run at relaxed effort the next week.

Recovery

Recovery is just as important as doing faster long runs.

Don’t get caught up into believing that you have to run fast everyday to run a 2 hour half marathon.

We, as runners, want results and sometimes feel as though we aren’t doing enough or running fast enough.

Often times, we shoot ourselves in the foot by not backing off mileage when it is needed.

Runners don’t always like to take time off but recovery still plays a vital role for runners seeking to run a 2 hour half marathon.

Watch Your Volume

More miles run doesn’t always equate to faster times.

I wanted to break the 2.22.00 marathon barrier while still a 2.40.02 marathoner. I constantly visualized that goal and saw it in my mind years before it became a reality.

You have to do the same. Believe you can achieve your goal, take the necessary steps and keep fighting until you do.

I got up to as high as 142 miles a week and it did not bring me the desired result.

I dropped to 90 miles a week and ran my personal best of 2.19.35.

Remember quality of over quantity.

The 2 hour half marathon only looks challenging to runners who haven’t broken the barrier.

It will be no more but an afterthought after you make it a reality.

This takes smarter training and proper coaching.

Incorporate longer intervals into your routine

Remember, you want 9.09 mile pace to feel comfortably hard.

We want to go into the race fully confident that 13.1 miles is doable.

What are some intervals that can help runners seeking to run the 2 hour half marathon?

Furthermore, to run a half marathon in 2 hours you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

This is what we want.

I don’t want for you to feel intimidated by the goal anymore.

It is a tough, respectable goal that many runners have.

Hang on, be patient because your time is coming. You may be at 2.00.10 or 2.55.10.

Regardless, where you are, keep the faith and follow the instructions in this post.

Here are a few workouts to help you in your 2 hour half marathon quest.

  • 10×1 minute hard followed by one minute easy. Hard being at heart rates between 165-75 followed by an easy one minute easy at 130-40 beats per minute
  • 4×2 miles on the road. Focus on running 10 seconds per mile faster than goal pace for each 2 mile segment. Follow this with 8-10 minute jog recovery between sets. As you gain fitness you can add in a rep or two. Maintain the same pace and drop your recovery time to 4-7 minutes between sets.
  • 5x1K hard followed by 1K easy on the road. 8.49 pace (20 seconds faster than goal half marathon pace) per 1K hard followed by 1K easy. We want for you to maintain the same pace but dropping your recovery paces between sets.

Additional Tips

For example, start your season running at 8.49 pace for your harder 1K reps and 10.30 pace for your 1K easy segment. Furthermore, a few weeks down the road aim to run 8.49 pace for your hard 1K set and 9.45 pace for your easy segment.

These forms of workouts will help you demolish 2 hours in the half marathon distance.

You will gain fitness and will be able to handle the same (or faster paces) and your recovery pace will increase as well.

9.09 pace will no longer be as intimidating as it once was.

What is beautiful about it all is that my goal is less difficult and challenging as yours is and we are in this together.

Write Down Your Goals

Writing down goals will help you visually see your 2 hour half marathon goal and remind you of  what you have to do.

Forbes magazine did a great article called 10 Things You Should Know About Goals that pertains to running a 2 hour half marathon time.

Our brains, according to neuroscience research, release more dopamine as we draw closer to our goal.

Have you ever run a race and were only a few seconds away from achieving your objective?

How did you feel leading into the following week?

More energized and focused to commit to your workouts?

In comparison, how do we feel when we fail or drastically miss our goals?

Less motivated? More irritable?

We sometimes focus too often on the event and forget the process involved in getting there.

The article also states sharing your goals with your friends can help you achieve them quicker.

Visualize

Always visualize your goal, see running a 2 hour half marathon as reality in your mind as this will cause your subconscious to work in your favor.

I am a firm believer that we focus on attracts to us so don’t forget the mental training that also goes into running a 2 hour marathon.

My collegiate coach while attending Malone University, Jack Hazen, would have use train mentally all the time.

This is a powerful tactic the best runners utilize.

It isn’t all just about physical training. We all know running is a mental sport and yet we never focus enough on that aspect of our training.

A 2 hour half marathon is a very respectable time. That being said, you have to believe you can do it.

Closing Thoughts

I will close with two powerful quotes by Jesus Christ and Billy Mills..

I hope it will bring positive energy to you as they have to me.

The subconscious mind, cannot tell the difference, between reality or imagination – Billy Mills

We tell ourselves what is possible and what is impossible and others in our lives will gladly do the same.

It is up to us to attack those impossibilities we create and achieve the goals we are so adamantly focused on.

“What do you mean if I can?, all things are possible if a person believes” – Mark 9:23

If this article has helped you in anyway and have the 2 hour half marathon in mind I have written a book on this topic called the sub 2 hour half marathon manifesto.

Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new videos each week to help runners such as yourself get to the next level. There are also running courses and monthly, online coaching available here at rundreamachieve. You can view these options by looking at the navigation menu at the top of this website. I hope this post on run a half marathon in 2 hours has been helpful to you.

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