Are you working on your half marathon time or participating in an upcoming half marathon? Whichever it is, it is natural to start wondering what is a good time for finishing a half marathon.
Marathons, let alone half marathons, are challenging distances that should be considered an accomplishment, regardless of the time it took to reach the finish line.
Still, it’s great to have goals and targets, especially if you want to improve your PR and overall fitness in general.
In this guide, keep reading to find out everything you want to know about half marathon times, including the average time, elite time, running factors to consider, and how to improve your half marathon time.
What Is A Half Marathon?
A half marathon is a running distance that is exactly half the distance of a full marathon. In total, a half marathon measures 13.1 miles or 21 kilometers.
Half marathons are just as popular as marathons and can be participated in all around the world.
For runners who are yet to run in a marathon, half marathons are a great stepping stone for working up to the full marathon.
Half marathons are typically held alongside marathon events, as well as 5k and 10k runs. They are often considered the next step after completing a 10k, providing a worthy challenge for mid-level runners.
The Benefits Of Running A Half Marathon
What are the benefits of running half marathons?
Overall, half marathons are ideal for getting a “feel” of the full marathon.
Before participating in a marathon, most runners will attempt a half marathon to build their endurance and stamina, as well as log their time for other long-distance runs.
Aside from working up to the full marathon, however, half marathons offer a range of benefits that include:
- improving cardiovascular endurance and stamina
- improving cognitive functions and mental health (reducing stress)
- improving general fitness
- burning calories and body fat (weight loss)
- reducing the risk of future joint problems and heart complications
- strengthening the leg muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints
What Is A Good Half Marathon Time?
So, what is a good half marathon time?
Elite male runners will finish a half marathon within 1 hour and 30 minutes, while elite female runners will finish a half marathon within 1 hour and 40 minutes.
On average, however, a good half marathon completion time for males is around 1 hour and 55 minutes. For females, a good average half marathon time is around 2 hours and 10 minutes.
It’s important to remember that elite athletes train and compete competitively, so it’s not always worth comparing your time to elite half marathon finishing times.
In general, though, most runners – male and female – aim to achieve a running pace of 8 to 10 minutes per mile.
If a pace of 8 minutes per mile is achieved, this would mean a half marathon completion time of 1 hour and 44 minutes.
For a pace of 10 minutes per mile, this would result in a half marathon time of 2 hours and 10 minutes.
Overall, then, a good half marathon time for the average male or female runner is 2 hours.
The Factors Involved In Running A Half Marathon
Overall completion times for half marathons – or any long-distance running event – can be affected or determined by a host of factors.
These factors are worth taking into consideration both during training and while running the half marathon.
- food and drink consumption before running
- amount of sleep and rest before running
- adequate recovery between runs
- elevations on the running course
- weather conditions
- mental state
- physical state
- running form
- running shoes and running attire
Accounting for these running factors is important for achieving the best performance and running time for a half marathon.
Of course, weather conditions, such as excessive heat, wind, or rain, are not possible to control, but are still worth considering in relation to overall finishing time.
How To Improve Half Marathon Time
If you are looking to improve your half marathon time or get the best running time possible for your first half marathon, there are a number of ways you can improve your running time and achieve the best possible performance on the day.
- logging your results and progress
- consistently challenging yourself with goals and targets
- getting adequate rest and sleep before running
- allowing sufficient recovery periods between runs
- consuming energy-boosting food and drink before (and during) runs
- wearing appropriate running shoes and clothing
- training elevations and running in disadvantageous weather conditions
- wearing ankle weights while training
- practicing optimum running form
- stretching before (and after) running
- using safe performance-enhancing supplements such as creatine, BCAA, and preworkout
It goes without saying that you should train for, and complete, a half marathon before attempting one in any competitive or non-competitive event.
This will reduce the risk of injury and provide the confidence needed to complete the race on the day.
To train for a half marathon, always log your progress and gradually increase the distance that you run.
You can also improve your general performance by supplementing, eating healthily (high-energy food), wearing proper running shoes, and giving yourself adequate sleep and time to recover between runs.
The short answer? A good half marathon for most males and females is 2 hours.
This requires a steady pace of 10 minutes per mile, which is achievable for most average runners who clock a good amount of running mileage each week.
For elite runners, a good half marathon time will be closer to 1 hour and 30 minutes for males and 1 hour and 40 minutes for females.
These are competitive times, however, and should not be attempted unless the runner considers themselves ready.
Overall, marathons and even half marathons are challenging distances to complete and should be considered an achievement for all ages and abilities, no matter the time it takes to finish.
If you have run a half marathon competitively or not, consider it a fantastic achievement!