Run A Half Marathon In Under 2 Hours: Pro Tips to PR

I want to see more runners run a half marathon in under 2 hours. This was one of my main reasons I created the running courses and training plans available to you here at RunDreamAchieve. I created the Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon Domination course to help more runners to use leverage. In addition, to use the strategies I followed to run 1:07:06 for the half and 2:19:35 for the full marathon.

run a half marathon under 2 hours

The problem for most runners is not being able to sustain pace for the entire duration of half marathon. I have experienced this in the past too. That being said, I learned where I was going wrong and made adjustments. The result was a new personal best of 1:07:06 for the distance.

So, to run a half marathon in under 2 hours means you have to practice running longer at the pace you want to hold in the race. The top tactic used by the best runners is training at or below goal half marathon race pace.

Remember, the end goal is to improve your lactate tolerance. So, training at speeds that are much faster than sub 2 hour half marathon pace is vital.

Is Running a Half Marathon in under 2 Hours Good?

Yes, a sub 2 half marathon is a highly competitive time. Also, once you break the barrier once the next step is go break the 4 hour marathon barrier. Remember, if you can hold this pace for 13.1 miles or 21.1 kilometers there is no reason why you cannot do it for 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers. So, it is just a matter of consistent training. Of course, you will have to work hard.

Furthermore, your objective is to hold 9:09 per mile or 5:41 per kilometer for the duration of the race. There are no breaks in a half marathon. So, increase the percentage of your weekly miles spent at or below these paces. The world’s top runners run around 40% of the weekly mileage at or below their anaerobic threshold.

Yes, they make it look easy for a reason. They are simply spending more of their time training at higher intensities. I would highly recommend investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 which helps me to stay at the correct heart rate zones. So, focus your attention on holding the correct heart rate zones and less on splits. Remember, the fitter you get the faster your splits will be.

How Hard is it To Run a Half Marathon in under 2 Hours?

It is not an easy time barrier to break. That being said, other runners have done so why can’t you? How long have your tempo runs been in the past training for your half marathons? 3 miles? 4 miles? I ask that because many runners are not spending enough time running at their lactate threshold. We run between 85 to 89% of our maximum heart rate running at this intensity.

I would work to lengthen your tempo run effort out to between 8 to 10 miles (16 kilometers). Again, the longer you can spend training at higher intensities the more fast twitch muscle fibers you will recruit. In addition, you will be able to sustain sub 2 hour half marathon pace longer. Also, you will slow down less than your competition.

You want to train at the proper intensities to get the best return on investment. A well-planned half marathon training plan can create enormous positive results

Also, the best half marathoners know that specific training gets the best results. You really have to think outside the box. Are you in a cold-weather state? Have you considered treadmill running?

There are times where this will be necessary. I live in South Bend, Indiana. It gets cold here and we have interesting winters to say the least.

I have always believed that long slow distance running produces long, slow runners – Sebastion Coe, Olympic Gold Medalist, 800m/1500m

How Do I Pace Myself for a Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon?

The main tactic I used to lower my half marathon from 1:10:29 to 1:07:06 was increasing the pace of my long runs. I am big believer in faster, varied paced long runs. Also, always alternate the intensities of your long runs. So, run easy one weekend followed the next with a faster long run.

Below is an example of a faster long run I was doing prior to running 1:07:06 for the half marathon. I also used this strategy to lower my marathon from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35.

  • 2 mile jog, 5 miles@5:25 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 4:55, 7 miles@6:00 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 1 mile in 5:10, 2 mile cool-down jog (22 miles)

Remember, you need to maintain 9:09 per mile for 13.1 miles. This is the average per mile pace that is required to break the sub 2 hour half marathon.

You have to learn to run farther than the distance you are planning to race.

The result?

It will build up the additional stamina and endurance you will need the day of the race. In addition, the 13.1 mile distance won’t seem so long. Lastly, running longer than the half marathon distance also increases your confidence. I would focus on long runs between 12 to 17 miles for the half-marathon event.

Learn you extend your long runs out farther and you will be so much stronger and more prepared to handle running 13.1 miles. Remember, focus on running a negative split. So, focus on running the second 6.6 miles faster than the first 6.5 miles. It is much better to be conservative early and be able to pass people in the second half of the race.

How Fast is a 2 Hour Half Marathon?

1:59:59 for the half marathon equates to 5:41 per kilometer or 9:09 per mile pace. Again, the key fundamental is to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up. Remember, if you run too much of your mileage too easily you will only become a superior long, slow runner. Of course, we all have different goals.

Your goal may not be to run a half marathon in under 2 hours. Perhaps, you are just trying to get fit enough to start and finish a half marathon. So, consistent training over a long period of time will provide results. I would recommend training for a minimum of 8 and preferably 16 to 24 week for a half marathon. It takes the body between 21 days to 4 weeks to adapt to the stresses we place on it.

So, do your best to not try to cram all of your training in a short 4 to 8 week build up. Of course, you can still get in great shape in a month or two. That being said, it does take considerable time to get into superior race shape.

This is an area of training not enough runners are paying attention to.

A 20 mile run done at 12 minute mile pace will not help you break a 2 hour half marathon.

How Many Miles a Week Should I Run for a Half Marathon?

The reason being is it is conducted at far too slow of a pace. That being said, a better option would be a 16 miler at 9:45 mile pace. You are closer to your goal half marathon race pace and it is a higher quality effort. I would run anywhere from 30 to 45 miles a week to train properly for a half marathon.

Remember, focus always on quality versus quantity. Again, you be running too much of your mileage too easily. The result is you will build endurance and burn fat. That being said, how well prepared will you be to race all out for 13.1 miles or 21.1 kilometers? So, be mindful of the quality of the mileage you are putting in.

The key strategy used by top runners is they focus running at or below goal half marathon race pace.

What would you rather do?

10 miles at 9:09 per mile pace or 20 miles at 11 minute mile pace?

Which of these two workouts do you think is going to better prepare you to run a half marathon in under 2 hours?

If you said the first workout, you are right.

I really want you to understand this. Fast running is not just for elite athletes. In addition to that, the same fundamentals work for beginners to elite-level runners. If you have been trying to break 2 hours all that is needed is a few small changes in your training routine.

How Long Should You Let Your Body Rest after a Half Marathon?

I would give my body at least 3 days of complete rest and usually around a week. Of course, many runners will go out and jog for a few minutes the days after a half marathon. So, it just depends on the athlete’s maturity level and how hard they raced. I do believe you should give yourself at least a couple days off after running an all-out half-marathon race.

Again, make sure you are running your long runs at faster paces every other weekend.

I spent 5 years doing long runs at 7:00 mile pace. That being said, I wanted to run a marathon in under 2 hours and 22 minutes. What does a 2:22 marathon equate to? Well, an average of 5.25 per mile for 26.2 consecutive miles.

What do you think was the result of my efforts?

Failure and that failure is what propelled me forward and taught me what I needed to do in order to break that time. In addition, I lowered my marathon time from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35 by way of the same principles I’m writing you about.

These tactics work. It is just a matter of you changing up the way you conduct your training. Longer, faster runs closer to your goal pace.

What is a Good Pace for a Beginner Half Marathon?

I think a good beginner half marathon is between 2:05 to 2:20. Of course, there will be some outliers out there who will run a half marathon in under 2 hours in their debut. They are the exception, not the rule. So, focus on a good starting goal. Remember, great results come about after several months and many times several years.

A great tool you can use to offset having to do 20 mile long runs at race pace is to break your workouts into smaller segments.

What do I mean?

Let’s say it is Monday. You want to do a harder workout. A great workout to get you prepared to run a half marathon in under 2 hours is as follows:

1 mile warm-up

3×3 miles at 9.00 mile pace with a 1 mile jog recovery between sets

1 mile cool-down

The purpose of this workout is to train at speed exceeding race pace. Remember, it isn’t just about training at goal race pace but running at speed exceeding race pace. That being said, do not try this workout from the onset. It takes time to get into great shape.

You may want to start off with 2×3 miles at 9:45 mile pace and go from there.

Can I Run a Half Marathon without Training?

I would not do it. Of course, if your plan is simply to start and finish with some light jogging and walking throughout the event then you should be fine. Yes, you are still going to be sore afterward, regardless. So, I would recommend at least running a few miles each week to strengthen your muscles, ligaments and joints. Also, you want to do this to lessen the likelihood that you will get injured.

The key is progression and allowing your body to adapt to the stress load you are placing upon it. It takes time for the physiological adaptations to occur. They always do for the patient athlete.

Why is running at faster paces important? It teaches the body to rely more on fat burning relative to speed you want to race at. In addition, you are teaching the body to burn less carbohydrate and use fat as your mail race fuel.

What happens when athletes training to break a sub 2 hour half marathon train too slowly?

They run out of sugar. The faster we run the more carbohydrates we burn. Running easy does not teach the body to use fat to race. Notice the bold words.

We burn fat when we run slow. This is fact but training your body by running slowly does not train the energy systems you need to train in order to run fast.

You want to conserve carbohydrates and burn fat while you race.

The longer you can hold off burning carbohydrates and use fat as your main fuel the better. Furthermore, your muscles will have the adequate sugar stores they need to continue to function at full capacity.

Closing Thoughts

Remember, the results come in the rest.  They do not come about by the workout itself.

The benefit comes in the rest, after the hard session is over with.

The best runners in the world understand this.

I have trained with some of the best Kenyan runners in the world. They know when to run hard and when to back off. Their easy days are relaxed jogging.

The majority of American runners I have trained with who are of similar ability continue to want to pay attention to pace even on easy days.

The Kenyans just jog. They don’t pay attention to miles but minutes.

If you ask a Kenyan how far they are running today they’ll say  ’50 minutes’.

Time, not mileage is their focus.

They may do 50 minutes of hard running in the morning followed by 50 minutes of easy running in the evening.

Their recovery days are taken very serious. This is the key for anyone seeking to run a half marathon under 2 hours.

If this post has helped you in anyway please leave a comment and tell me what you think. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube Channel. I’ll be creating new videos each week to help you run faster from the 5K to the marathon.

If you are seeking to break the sub 2 hour half marathon I highly recommend checking out the resources available here on RunDreamAchieve. You can click on any of the green buttons to learn more. You can also visit our testimonial page to hear what other runners are saying.

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