What Is a Good Time for Running a Half Marathon?

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Finishing times for most half marathons (13.1 miles) range from a little over an hour for elite runners to over three hours for slower runners or walkers. Generally, it's hard to compare half marathon times because there's a huge variation among runners, depending on running experience, gender, age, and the race course.

Half Marathon Records and Average Times

A male professional runner might win a half marathon in under an hour and the women's race might be won in under 1 hour and 10 minutes.

The world record for the half marathon is 58:23 for men and 1:04:52 for women, but the vast majority of half marathon runners don't run anywhere close to those times.

The average times for half marathons in the U.S. in 2015 were 2:04:00 for males and 2:22:21 for females, according to Running USA's Annual Half Marathon Report. These times are about three to four minutes slower than the averages recorded in 2007.

Setting Your Goals

For most first-time half-marathoners, the goal is usually to finish, rather than achieving a specific finishing time. Runners who run subsequent half marathons usually find that their time improves as they train more and gain more race experience, so once you have one half marathon under your belt, you can focus on trying to beat your personal record (PR), rather than worrying about what other runners are doing.

For those with some half marathon experience, breaking 2:00 (9:09 per mile pace) is a common goal, and that time is considered a decent half marathon time among runners.

Highly competitive runners aim for other time barriers, like 1:30 (6:51 per mile pace). Or, they try to break a pace barrier, such as sub-7:00 per mile pace (1:31 half marathon time) or sub-8:00 per mile pace (1:45 half marathon time).

If you're curious about the range of typical finishing times for a half marathon that you've done or you're planning to run, look at the race results, which should be listed on the half marathon's website.

You can see the times of the age group winners, those who finished in the middle of the pack, and those who finished in the back of the pack.

What Affects Half Marathon Times?

Half marathon time can vary greatly based on several factors. Gender plays a big part, as male half marathoners tend to be faster than women in their age bracket. Although many half marathon runners continue to improve their times into their late 30s, most find that their times start to slow down after age 40. To provide fair and equal opportunities, most half marathons give awards for overall male and female winners, as well as age groups winners.

If you'd like to see a fair comparison of your half marathon time versus other runners' times, you can use an age-grading calculator, which puts all race participants on a level playing field, regardless of their age and gender. Many half marathons actually list all the race participants' age-graded finish times next to their net finish times.

Weather and course terrain also are also huge variables. A half marathoner will get a much faster time on a flat versus hilly course, or on a cool versus hot and humid day.

How to Improve Your Half Marathon Time

Aside from choosing a flat race during a cool season, here are some other tips to improve your next half marathon time:

  • Doing speed work once or twice a week can help improve your speed and confidence. Tempo runs or hill repeats will make you stronger, as well as improve your running efficiency and increase your lactate threshold. All that translates into faster running. Check out this half marathon training schedule that incorporates speed work.
  • Many half marathoners fade in the final two or three miles of the race, slowing their overall time significantly. Work on improving your finishing kick with these strategies.
  • It helps to figure out a plan for your race to avoid going out too fast or not racing to your full potential. See below for tips on how to predict your race time. Once you determine your predicted time, plan to run that pace for the entire race, making slight adjustments for the course terrain.

How to Predict Your Half Marathon Time

Predicting race times is never an exact science, but you can use a chart or calculator to determine a ballpark half marathon time, based on a recent race of another distance. Here's a race time predictor calculator to try:

  • Running for Fitness Race Predictor: Just plug in your age, gender, and time/distance from a recent race. The race should be one you ran in the past few weeks, so it's an indication of your current fitness level. The calculator then shows you how you might perform in races at other distances. This calculator shows several different predictions, based on different formulas. So you get a range of predicted times, and you can see that it's not an exact science—just an estimate.

Half Marathon Training Schedules

If you're planning to train for and run a half marathon, here are some training schedules to choose from:

A Word From Verywell

Keep in mind that your half marathon time prediction is just an estimate of what you might achieve, if you do the appropriate training for the half marathon distance. It doesn't mean that you'll automatically run that time because of your fitness level. In addition, the race course, weather conditions, and how you're feeling that day will also factor into your race time.

In most cases, only experienced half marathoners will achieve their predicted time. If it's your first half marathon, focus on completing the race, which is an incredible achievement. If you're looking for a ballpark finishing time prediction for your first half marathon, add five to ten minutes to the calculator prediction.

If you're curious where you might place (top 10 percent, middle of pack, etc.) in a particular half marathon, look at the results from last year's race. The size of the field and the range of times will probably be fairly similar this year. Note that some half marathons do have time limits, such as three hours. So if you're a slower runner or walker, make sure you find out if a half marathon you're interested in has a cut-off time. And, most importantly, just have fun!

Source:

Running USA 2015 Annual Half Marathon Report.

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