What is the average time for a half marathon?

The half marathon is probably the most popular race distance here in the United States and worldwide and for good reason!

It's a challenging race distance but doesn't require the time commitment that a full marathon does.

Before a runner commits to a half marathon they generally start to question how long it will take them and what a good half marathon time is.


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On this page we will talk about:


What is the average time for a half marathon?

The average finish time for a half marathon for recreational runners is two hours.

Men typically complete the race about 15 minutes faster than women, and this time has remained relatively constant since the 1980s.

If this is your goal is to have a personal record of a 2 hour or under 2 hour half marathon finish time then you are in luck!

I have a Sub-2 Hour Half Marathon Finishing Time Goal Training Schedule for you right here!

A common goal for the half marathon for elite athletes or professional runners is between 1:10:00 and 1:30:00

Many runners like to base a "good half marathon time" off of what their current mile time is.

Here is a chart that correlates your mile time with a good half marathon finish time. 


What Is the Current World Record for a Half Marathon for Elite Runners?

It is absolutely amazing how fast elite half marathon runners can run this race!

The men’s and the women’s world records for the half-marathon distance were set in 2021. [3]

In the elite male runners category, Jacob Kiplimo set the record at 57 minutes, 31 seconds, on November 21, 2021, while competing in the Lisbon Half Marathon.

For the elite female runners, Letesenbet Gidey ran a half-marathon distance in 1:02.52 at the Valencia Half Marathon on October 24, 2021.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) keeps a third record based of race results on events where only women compete. Peres Jepchirchir holds the best time in this category at 1:05.16.

Many elite runners use the half marathon race as a stepping stone into a full marathon which is a great strategy whether you are an elite runner or not.


what is a good half marathon time for me

There is no such thing as a “good” or a “bad” half-marathon time.

Each runner has specific goals they hope to meet when navigating this distance or entering a competition.

That means someone might see a three-hour timeframe as good, while a professional runner might see 2.5 hours as bad.

The goal should be to keep improving your half-marathon time as you continue training. Factors such as the weather, your fitness level, the course, and your age play a role in what the clock says when crossing the finish line.

Here is a look at the historical average times for half-marathon runners based on age group, whether this is your first half marathon and your ability level to use as a reference.


Average Half-Marathon Times for Men

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AVERAGE HALF-MARATHON TIMES FOR woMEN

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Marathon and Half Marathon Pace Charts: On this page you can find a half marathon and marathon pace chart and finishing time calculator.

There is also a way to create your own miles splits/ goal race pace wrist bands inside the Digital Running Log which also features a half marathon and marathon pace calculator so that you can stay on target with your time limit! 

You can see an example of this calculator in the photo below. After you input your finishing time goal you are then able to print it off, cover it in masking tape or laminate it and make a wrist band out of it to use during your training runs or on race day! 


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Average Half Marathon times for older runners

You don’t stop running because you reach the age of 50.  In fact, I am so inspired by those who reach out to me running their first half marathons in their 50's, 60's and 70's! 

Tens of thousands of competitors enter half-marathon events each year globally to continue challenging themselves to stay fit, try new things, or remain connected to an activity they love.

But what is the average time for a half marathon one you hit the grand 50+? 

The average time for runners in the 50+ demographic increases by approximately 15 minutes for every ten years of additional age for men and women.

That means advanced runners can still finish the 13.1 miles in under two hours when they have an advanced fitness level. It reaches about four hours for beginners who are in their 70s or 80s.

If you’re in your 50s, a time under three hours is considered good.

Women in their 50s or older should add about 20 minutes to their average time compared to men. That means a great time for someone in their 70s or 80s would be about 4.5 hours.

If you just turned 50, the average time to run a half-marathon for beginners is about 3 hours and15 minutes.


What Factors Play a Role in Determining Your Half Marathon Time?

Gender is a significant factor when looking at the average half-marathon times across the nearly 800 official events that organizers host each year.

Men generally have a faster pace than women, start faster, and maintain more stamina as they age when compared to women.


Age is another issue that impacts most half-marathon runners.

Even though avid runners often decrease their times in their 30s, almost everyone sees their averages increase once they reach that fourth decade of life. [4]


The other two significant factors that play a role in a runner’s average half-marathon time are terrain and weather. When the wind is at your back, you’ll typically run faster. [5]

You'll have a slower average time if you’re running into a headwind. Higher temperatures, faster wind speeds, and precipitation can significantly affect a runner's performance on the course.

Those that can maintain an average pace of about nine minutes per mile can achieve a half-marathon time goal of two hours or less.


Here's a quick summary:

Your half marathon finishing time will be affected by many factors including:

  • Your current running (aerobic) fitness level (Vo2max)
  • How many miles you run each week (or your weekly running volume)
  • Your running history - injuries, how long you have been a runner, how many races you have read
  • Your family genetics
  • Your nutrition
  • Your previous racing history
  • Your training plan & training style (see all the half marathon training plans on the website right here)
  • Race conditions - especially the weather, the course route (hilly or flat)


How much training is required for a half marathon?

Runners competing in a half-marathon have typically stepped up from 5k and 10k races.

That makes the transition easier on them physically and emotionally compared to someone just starting to run.

If you are wondering whether you are even ready for a half marathon these questions will help you determine if you are. 

It takes the average runner about ten weeks to train for a half-marathon race. If you’ve been training full-time for at least six months for other competitions and run at least five miles daily, it is possible to accelerate this training into six weeks.

The key to a good training regimen is to give yourself enough time to adapt to the longer distance. If the longest race you’ve run is a 10k, you’ll be doubling that distance with your first half-marathon.

Runners that try to advance their training too quickly increase their risk of injury. [2]


training tips to consider for running a half marathon

Whether you’ve entered a race to compete or started your training for the first time, the best training tip is to focus on your gear. High-quality running shoes are crucial to your success, especially when you want to decrease your average time.

There should be complete support to all parts of the foot to decrease impact stresses up the leg.

Most runners must replace their shoes after 300 to 500 miles.

You’ll get about four to six months out of a pair when running 20 miles per week.

If you’re training for a half-marathon, you might need to cut that time in half.

Once you’ve got your running shoes, consider adding these tips to your training routine.

Here's a guide to finding the best running shoes as a half marathon runner.


1. incorporate speedwork

Speedwork increases a person’s lactate threshold. It boosts endurance while increasing speed, especially when incorporating tempo drills and interval training into your workout.

Many half-marathon runners use hill runs to become stronger and faster.

One of the best runs to help you build speed are tempo runs. Interval training runs are also excellent at training you to sustain your goal race pace on race day.


2. Add Strength Training

Endurance is necessary for a half-marathon, but so is strength. It helps to build a well-rounded weekly workout routine that trains all your muscles.

One of the best ways a runner can strength train is by running hills or on an incline.

If you have a set of tall bleachers with steps and open access in your community, consider adding one day of running up and down them to improve your endurance strength.

You can also use your stairs at home or a steep incline on a treadmill to achieve results.

Here's a guide on how to run hill repeats as well as hill sprints.

If you are looking for strength workouts geared specifically towards half marathoners and marathoners then you might enjoy the 11 workouts that are inside the Strength Training Plan for Marathoners and Half Marathoners.


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3. Plan for the Race

Don't start out too fast during on race day. It helps to pace yourself for a long run. If you burn too much energy early, your average times will be slower than expected.

Try to check the race route, plan for the weather, and understand your strengths and weaknesses.

Do you excel when starting slow, then cross the finish line strong? Will you need hydration or food to fuel your body at specific times?

If you can adapt your pace and follow your plans, pulling down those average half-marathon times will be much easier.

Pacing Tips for Long Runs

A guide to running your best long runs


4. don't ignore mental preparation

It helps to visualize the half-marathon before running the race or route. When you’re on the course for two hours or more, there can be voices of self-doubt in your head that try to speak. Instead of listening to them, focus on the positive. [8]

Each step matters when you’re running 13.1 miles!

Some runners use a mantra they repeat to keep their pacing or remove negative thoughts.

Counting games is another way to take your mind off the strains and discomforts that develop.

Something unexpected happens during most long-distance runs. If you have backup strategies to help cope with an upset stomach, unexpected pain, or poor weather, it’ll be easier to adapt to those changing circumstances.

The Mindset Training Plan for Marathoners is a training plan with mental prompts, tasks and techniques to help your brain work for you instead of against you during the marathon or half marathon!


5. Create a Running Schedule

It takes a significant commitment to train for a half-marathon event.

Most half marathon training plans will have one or two rest days featured after a demanding workout.

They also incorporate a couple of more specific workouts depending on the goal of the training plan.

A good training plan for a half marathon will have at the very least 3 runs scheduled per week (at the minimum 2 easy runs and one long run).

Most plans are around 10 to 12 weeks of training however I do have a 6 week half marathon training schedule and a very popular 8 week half marathon training schedule.

Stretching, self-care, and low-impact activities can boost your fitness without putting in the full energy expenditure required on the other days.


6. Focus on your nutrition.

As a half marathon runner you don't need to obsess over carbo-loading like marathoners might want to however finding sports drinks or energy drinks that provide you with quick carbohydrates is a must and can really make or break you on race day.

If this is your first half marathon, it is a great idea to test a couple different energy drinks to find which one you like best.

Here's a guide on the best energy drinks for marathon and half marathon runners.

Here's another guide on the differences in nutrition between a half marathon and a full marathon.


Final Thoughts on the Average Time for a Half-Marathon

The crucial takeaway is to remember that everyone has unique physical capabilities and challenges to manage.

Although the average time is two hours when all competitors are considered, several influences can raise or lower that for you.

Although a weekly long-distance run is helpful when training for a half-marathon, it helps to incorporate speedwork and strength training into your routine.

Then plan your race carefully, visualize your goals, and strive to reach those positive outcomes.

Each training day makes you stronger.

Try to keep that thought in mind as you prepare to run your first half-marathon or your next event!


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References: 

1 http://www.skyandtelescope.com/press-releases/astronomers-unravel-marathon-mystery-2/

2 https://www.runnersworld.com/health-injuries/a20812228/how-to-prevent-common-running-injuries/

3 https://www.worldathletics.org/records/all-time-toplists/road-running/half-marathon/outdoor/men/senior

4 https://www.furman.edu/first/wp-content/uploads/sites/168/2020/01/4_FIRST_RunningAgingandPerforman.pdf

5 https://www.outsideonline.com/health/running/racing/race-strategy/how-much-does-heat-slow-your-race-pace/

6 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670

7 https://www.womensrunning.com/training/how-often-should-you-run/

8 https://drgiamarson.com/the-benefits-of-visualization/