If you’re considering running a half marathon, it’s natural to ask yourself, “How long will it take me?” Average half-marathon times vary widely depending on the person’s running level and training regimen.
While some elite male runners can finish in less than an hour, other runners might choose to walk, which may take up to four or five hours.
My best half-marathon time was 02:04:43, and my slowest time was 03:03:10. As you can see, the variation is vast.
So, let’s get into the details of half-marathon times, what factors determine your finish time, and answer some common questions.
Average Half Marathon Times By Age & Gender
If you’re considering running a half marathon, you should understand how age and gender can affect your finish time.
Average half-marathon times vary widely depending on the runner’s age, gender, and skill level – this is why races have winners within different age and gender groups.
Generally speaking, male runners complete races faster than female runners of the same age group. Likewise, those in their 20s and 30s tend to run quicker than older runners.
Of course, some runners are gifted and naturally run with a swift pace, regardless of age or gender.
Average Half Marathon Time for Beginners
As mentioned, average half-marathon times vary widely, depending on the runner’s skill level and training regimen.
Average finish times range from under an hour for elite athletes to four or five hours for those who walk the race.
Average half-marathon times also differ based on age and gender. Generally, younger runners are faster than older runners, and men tend to have faster average finish times than women.
However, it’s important to note that finding an average time for beginners among complete batches of race data isn’t necessarily the best representation. Instead, those who run naturally fast will distort the data.
The following chart shares the average half-marathon times for beginners, which can help you make a more informed pick for a running goal.
Predicting Your Half-Marathon Finish Time
The best way for beginners to predict their finish time is by experimenting with different distances and varying speeds during training.
Start with shorter distances, like 5Ks or 10Ks, and gradually build up your half-marathon goal. Through your training you’ll begin to understand your natural running pace.
By the time you run your final long training run, you’ll have a better idea of how to predict your half marathon finish time roughly.
While you can use a running pace calculator to predict your time, this isn’t always the most accurate judge. Most people use these calculators based on their 1-mile time average.
Your prediction may be significantly off if you aren’t familiar with how your body fatigues while covering long-distances.
Fastest Half Marathon Time
Runners have pushed the pace on race records since race finish time recordings started.
🏅 If you’ve got your eyes set on running the fastest half-marathon time, you’ll need to run a time faster than 57:31 to best Jacob Kiplimo’s 2021 world record win.
🏅 Letesenbet Gidey holds the female half-marathon world record with a time of 01:02:52 from her race in 2021.
Factors that Determine Half Marathon Pace
Many factors influence how long it takes to complete a half marathon.
As noted, age and gender impact how fast someone will complete a half-marathon. In general, men run more quickly than women. Fitness level also plays a significant role in a person’s half-marathon pace.
But some factors can impact a single runner from one half-marathon to the next. These elements may include:
Proper preparation is essential for any long-distance race; the half marathon is no exception. You must build up your mileage and endurance before tackling 13.1 miles of the half marathon.
Training cycles turn out differently, and you’ll likely find that as your training intensity and ability varies from race to race, your finish times change too.
What you eat (and when) is just as important as how you train. Eating properly before and during your race can help improve your performance and make for a smoother, more enjoyable run.
Nutrition is one of the essential things you need to test during training. This is when you can determine what your body responds to best to know your food options on race day.
The terrain on the course can also have a significant impact on your race time.
Is the course flat or hilly? Where are the water stations and aid stations located? These details can make a difference in your pace and overall finish time.
If you train in a relatively flat place, you’ll likely experience more of a challenge if racing on a hilly course. Knowing the details of the course you plan to run can ultimately change the outcome of your race finish time.
✔️ Mental state
Your mental approach to running is equally as important as your physical preparation. Having a positive outlook, staying in the moment, and pushing yourself to keep going can help you finish faster.
I also recommend utilizing visualization the night before your race. Seeing yourself running strong and producing the feelings and emotions you’ll feel when you succeed is a great training tool.
Tips to Run a Faster Half Marathon
You must implement new tactics if you’re hoping to run a faster half marathon. You can use the following tips to take your half-marathon pace up a notch.
1. Train with a purpose
Before training for a half-marathon, set clear goals, and utilize speed work such as running repeats and strength training to maximize your training cycle efforts.
The best half-marathon training plans should set you up for well-rounded success.
2. Eat well.
Having the right fuel to power through training and a race is essential.
Choose lean proteins, complex carbs, and plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure you have enough energy to finish the race with strength.
3. Pace yourself.
Don’t start too fast and burn out on the later miles. Instead, start at a comfortable pace and gradually increase as you get farther into the race.
4. Practice visualization techniques before your race.
Visualizing yourself running strong and crossing the finish line can help you stay motivated. See yourself succeeding every mile—practice visualization before and during the race.
5. Push yourself.
The last few miles are the hardest, so practice pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone during training. This will ensure you can keep up the pace when it matters most.
This is how runners can earn that new PR in the final few miles.
6. Take advantage of rest days.
Rest is as important as running. Listen to your body and allow yourself at least one day of rest each week.
Likewise, if you experience any sickness or burnout, take the time to recoup before pushing through your training.
7. Get enough sleep.
Getting the proper amount of sleep per night your body needs to function properly will help you perform better on race day.
Our bodies repair muscle tissue while we sleep, so skimping on your rest will be counterintuitive to a proper training cycle.
8. Invest in quality running gear.
The right shoes, clothes, and accessories make all the difference in running performance. Start with high-quality items and have a more successful training cycle and race day.
9. Find a running buddy.
It’s always more fun when you have someone to push and motivate you during training runs!
Consider finding a friend to train with or look to sign up for group running with your local run store. During my marathon training days, I joined my local Fleet Feet branch and made some lifelong friends.
10. Have fun!
Running should be an enjoyable experience, so don’t forget to take time to appreciate the journey and enjoy yourself along the way.
Utilize these tips going into your half-marathon training, and you’ll surely have a better race day.
Half Marathon Pace Chart
The following half-marathon pace chart can help you predict your finish time based on the average pace per mile run. This pace chart can help you understand your half marathon time across 17 set paces.
Likewise, runners may use this chart type to aim for a set pace to achieve a particular finish time goal.
(Minutes per Mile)
If you want to complete a half marathon in less than two hours, you must maintain a pace faster than 10 minutes per mile.
Anyone using Imperial units of measurement will want to know the distance of a half-marathon using miles. A half-marathon is equal to 13.1 miles.
For nearly the entire world using the metric system, a half-marathon equals about 21.1 kilometers.
A good half-marathon time is subjective and depends on the individual. So if you’re a first-timer, any finish time is excellent!
However, if you’ve been running for a while and are looking to improve your time, the average half-marathon pace for most runners is around 11 minutes per mile. This means you may want to aim for a finish time of nearly two and a half hours or less.
For new runners, a good half-marathon time can range from two and a half hours to four hours. It all depends on your training and fitness level. The most important thing is to listen to your body and not push beyond your limit.
No matter your goals, the half marathon is an achievable race that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Even walking a half marathon is a life-changing experience.
Yes! A two-hour half-marathon is indeed a fast time. Although fast, it is more than double the time of the fastest recorded half-marathon (57 minutes and 31 seconds!).
So, while it’s considered a fast half-marathon finish time, there are still runners out there who can achieve much quicker finish times.
Yes, a 2.5-hour half marathon is an excellent time and is considered good for most runners who race this distance.
The average finish time for most beginner half-marathoners is between two and a half to four hours, so achieving a 2.5-hour finish time puts you well ahead of the pack.
Final Thoughts: Average Half Marathon Times
Half marathon times are highly individualized and depend on a person’s level of training, race terrain, general nutrition, and mental strength.
Average half-marathon times can range from two hours to four or more, depending on several factors like age and gender as well as success in training. No matter your goal for race day, listening to your body and remembering to have fun is essential.
And welcome to the half-marathon world!