Half Marathon Pace Chart & Pro Running Tips

October 1, 2022

Are you searching for a half marathon pace chart and some new strategies to run faster? If so, welcome to Nutrition Geeks. I am glad you have made it here. Below is a half marathon time chart I hope will be helpful to you. I have run 1:07:06 for the half marathon and 2:19:35 for the marathon. So, do understand the complexities of these events and how difficult sustaining goal race pace can be.

half marathon time chart
half marathon time chart

What is a Good Pace for a Half Marathon?

A legitimate half marathon will differ from athlete to athlete. I think athletes seeking to break 2 hours are going after an extremely competitive time. Athletes seeking to break 2 hours need to sustain 9:09 per mile for 13.1 miles or 5:41 per kilometer for 21.1 kilometers. Pace sustainment is the biggest challenge for most runners. One of the biggest mistakes I made earlier in my career and others runners make is not hydrating well in the race.

4 hour marathon pace
Coach Pennington (in camo singlet) en route to his half-marathon PR of 1:07:06

Yes, you can get around that with a 5k but not in a half marathon. So, I always tell my visitors to really start paying attention to your hydration in practice. Start sitting out water bottles every 3 miles or 5 kilometers along your long run route. Have you ever watched elite runners? They are drinking, not sipping, in their races. One of the best ways to improve your half marathon is to really pay attention to your nutrition.


What is a Good Half Marathon Pace for a Beginner?

A good half marathon for a beginner could be between 2:30 to 2:45. Of course, many runners will run faster and some will finish slower. I ran 1:13 in college in my debut and it took me another 7 years to lower my PR down to 1:07. A big reason for that is simply not knowing the proper way to train for longer races. One of the biggest mistakes I was making was running long and slow every weekend.

I started doing faster, varied paced long runs and dropped 21 minutes off of my marathon time. I went from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35. Below are some examples of the changes I made to my long runs. You will see varying paces, not just a long and slow run. Remember, you don't want to run your entire long runs fast. It is a great way to get burned out. Remember, it takes the body between 3 to 4 weeks for the body to adapt. So, you have to first build a strong base of mileage first before moving to faster long runs.

  • 2 mile jog, 5 miles@5:25 mile pace, 2 miles easy, 2 miles@5:15 mile pace, 7 miles@6:10 mile pace, 2 mile jog (20 miles)
  • 2 mile jog, 8 miles@5:35 mile pace, 3 miles@6:20 mile pace, 1 mile in 5:00, 7 miles@6:00 mile pace, 3 miles easy (24 miles)

Run Long Tempo Runs

It was not uncommon for me to need anywhere from 2 to 3 days of recovery from the long runs you see above. I would always run the following week's long run between 8:30 to 9:00 mile pace. I simply didn't worry about the paces I was running at on easy days. It was extremely relaxed on the easier long runs. So, make sure you allot sufficient time in order for your body to adapt to the training that you are doing.

Coach Pennington finishing in 4th place at the 2007 California International Marathon in 2:19:35 (1:07:09/1:12:26)

My top recommendation is to train easy for 4 weeks first. Build slowly and focus on a longer training block. I would aim at a minimum of 16 weeks and preferably 20 to 24 weeks. I have created multiple resources to help runners such as yourself make massive gains in your fitness. For example, running courses and training plans ranging in duration from 8 to 24 weeks in length.


Jog on Easy Days

Far too many runners are still running too fast on easy days and too slow on harder workouts. Remember, the real benefits of your hard training are going to come after the workout has been completed. I trained with sub 2:10 marathoners who would run between 8 to 9 minute mile pace on their easy days. So, if runners of that caliber can run that slow we can back off our paces as well.

Remember, these runners can sustain sub-5 minute mile pace for 26.2 miles. The best runners are always focused on using leverage. How can I get better results by working less. Is more mileage what is needed in order to set new personal bests? No, not always. I ran my personal best for the marathon (2:19:35) on 85 to 90 miles a week. I ran up to 142 miles a week trying to improve that time and it only left me tired and fatigued. So, more mileage isn't always a guarantee.

You need to focus on hydrating well before, during and after your workouts. Also, be smart when it comes to your race. I would highly recommend focusing on running a negative split in your upcoming race. So, look at the half marathon pace chart above and start thinking about how you want to run your next race.

Do I Need Gels for Half-Marathon?

I would. It is an immediate 100 to 150 calories straight to your blood stream. I always aimed at taking one at mile 6 and 10 or around 10 to 16 kilometers. These longer races require proper hydration and nutrition in order to run effectively and not hit the wall. I cover these topics in-depth in my running courses to help runners such as yourself bypass the mistakes other runners are making.

We don't have to hit a “wall”. I didn't hit a wall when I ran 2:19:35 for the marathon. I also didn't hit one when I ran my 1:07:06 half-marathon best. That being said, I did ingest gels in both of those races. Again, focus on drinking more fluid and taking in a gel in training. You want to make training the most difficult part of your preparation. The day of the race is the celebration of your hard work

When Should My Longest Run Be Before a Half Marathon?

The half marathon pace chart listed above will give you your starting point. You can click on any of the green buttons on this post to learn more about our training resources. I would do my longest long run between 2 to 3 weeks before my main half marathon event. I believe in doing a 10-day rather than a 3-week taper. In addition, I think a major mistake runners make is to start dropping volume and intensity too far out.

10 days is plenty of time to drop your intensity and start to rest. I PR'd in every event from the mile (4:22) to the marathon (2;19:35) using a 10-day taper. So, I certainly believe changing up your taper strategy will help you get a new half marathon personal best. You won't go into your race feeling tired and more than likely, motivated and energized, doing 10-day taper.

Half Marathon Training Plan Strategies

One major tip I can share is to consider investing in a heart rate monitor. I use the Garmin 245 which helps me to stay at the proper intensities. It is very easy to over or under train when you are guessing your workouts. My aim with creating my running courses and training plans was to take the guesswork out of your preparation. I know there are many runners out there trying to break 3 hours, 2 hours and even 1:10 for the half marathon out there.

So, my goal was to share with you what 3 of the world's top distance running coaches taught me. What has been the longest tempo run you have done in the past training for your half marathon? 4 miles? 5? I would focus on working to extend your tempo efforts out toward 8 to 10 miles or 16 kilometers. Look at the half marathon pace chart above, choose a training plan and start attacking that race pace. Easy running is important but easy, aerobic efforts won't help you race at all out pace.

The world's top runners run around 40 percent of their mileage at or below their anaerobic threshold. We are running upwards of 89 percent of our max heart rate running at the anaerobic threshold. Again, the main goal training properly for a half marathon is to improve the body's lactate tolerance.

Closing Thoughts

I'd love to keep in touch. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new training and racing videos there each week focused on helping runners such as yourself hit a new personal best. Are you taking time each week to mentally train for your goal half marathon time? I ask that because there are so many runners who only focus on physical training.

I credit mental rehearsal in helping me run 1:07:06 for the half marathon and 2:19:35 for the marathon. The world's top runners focus both on mental as well as physical training. So, start spending 10 to 15 minutes daly seeing yourself getting across the finish line with your goal half marathon time on the clock. I look forward to haring about how the resources mentioned in this post helped you set your new personal best.


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