What is the Average Half Marathon Time?

five marathon runners crossing over a bridge in a city

26.2 miles. That’s how long a marathon is, and for some people, the thought of tackling that distance with just their own two feet can seem like an insurmountable task. With the right mindset and training, anything is possible, but many might prefer to start their foray into long-distance running with something a bit more manageable like a half marathon. If you’ve never run 13.1 miles before, you may be asking yourself, “How long is that actually going to take me?”

Since every person is different in terms of their fitness level and average speed, you can find a wide range of half-marathon times, even within a single runner’s record as they improve and their body changes. But to give you a general overview, there are average half marathon times by age and gender you can refer to as you set your goals and start your training.

Average Half Marathon Time by Age and Gender

When looking at half marathon times, you’ll often find them divided by age group and gender. According to RunRepeat’s The State of Running 2019 report, the average half marathon finishing time in the United States is two hours and two seconds for men and two hours and 16 seconds for women. 

Looking at age, the average half marathon time for men at an intermediate level between the ages of 30 and 40 hovers right around the 1 hour and 45-minute mark. The average half marathon time for women at an intermediate level who are 30 to 40 years old sits between two hours and two hours and four seconds. After the age of 40, the average times get longer for both men and women. 

How Ability Affects Half Marathon Average Times

Even if you’re the same age and gender as someone, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have the exact same half marathon time as them. Just think: Maybe they’ve been running professionally for years and you’re just starting out, or vice versa. You wouldn’t expect someone who picked up a golf club for the first time to be as good as someone who has been playing pro for decades!

If you want to really dive deeper into your training, you should factor in skill level as well, looking at average half marathon times not just by age group but also by whether someone is considered a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or elite. 

What’s Considered a Good Half Marathon Time?

First, let’s try not to get hung up on the idea of “good” and “bad” when it comes to running times. Just completing a half marathon at all, regardless of how long it’s taken you is something that you should be proud of! 

That being said, some people who are trying to qualify for a specific race or want to become professional runners may need to know what a good half marathon time is in order for them to remain competitive. The number you’ll hear often for this is an average running pace of nine minutes and nine seconds, which means completing the half marathon in just under two hours. Many competitive runners make it their goal to finish the race in under two hours. 

The Record for Fastest Half Marathon

As you start running half marathons, it can be pretty cool to see how you measure up to the world record holders in the sport. It’s also a fun way to dream big and motivate yourself by seeing what’s even possible.

On November 21, 2021, Jacob Kiplimo from Uganda set the new world record for running a half marathon by completing the race in 57 minutes and 31 seconds. It’s an even more incredible feat when you consider that that’s less than half the finishing time that many runners shoot for! The human body never ceases to amaze.

birds eye view of single woman runner on an asphalt road

How to Improve Your Half Marathon Distance Time

If you want to improve your half marathon time, there are a few things you can do. For starters, you can vary your workouts with different training sessions each week so your body doesn’t get comfortable with the routine and you find yourself plateauing. Another thing you can try is to incorporate high-intensity interval training into your routine in order to work on your stamina.

Hills may not be your favorite, but adding some hill running to your workout can also make you faster. This is because it helps to build up your leg strength, conditioning your body for faster paces, and improves your aerobic capacity, which can help you sustain a faster pace for longer.  

Run Further and Faster with a Running Coach

Having trouble making it to what you consider a good half marathon time? You might consider hiring a running coach who can create an effective program that’s tailored to your health, lifestyle, and specific goals. With their experience, they’ll likely be able to pinpoint parts of your training that you may have overlooked.

How Nutrition Affects Running Performance

While how you train is a crucial part of your running performance, it’s not the only factor. Food is fuel so what you eat or don’t eat can also affect how fast you run. It’s the same as how other athletes maintain specific diets in order to be in top condition. Since running burns a lot of calories, you need to make sure you’re eating enough calories to get enough energy.

To run your best, it can help to eat high-calorie, nutritious foods (you don’t want that energy crash that can come from sugary junk food!). Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy carbohydrates, and healthy fats are all recommended for runners to feel and perform their best.

Average 5K Time by Age

Maybe before you attempt to run a half marathon, you decide that you’d like to set out with a 5k first. That’s okay! It’s always important to listen to what your body needs and to work your way up to long distances, and there are tons of 5ks across the country for you to practice with.

As with the average finishing times for half marathons, the average 5K time varies by age and gender as well. For men between the ages of 30 to 49, it’s between 34 and 35 minutes, and for women of the same age group, it’s around 40 to 42 minutes.

The Record for Fastest 5k Race

So, how fast are some people out there running 5ks? Well, the current world record is held by Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda. In 2020, he ran a 5k in 12 minutes, 35 seconds, and 36 milliseconds. Imagine finishing a 5k in less time than it takes some people to shower!

Ready, set, go!

Now that you know more about the average time to run a half marathon, you can start tracking your own runtimes with the help of our Hours Calculator. Note down the time you start running, mark the time you finished running, factor in any breaks you took (when you have to go, you have to go!), and you’ll see exactly how long it took you to run your distance for the day.

The more you run and the faster your pace gets, chances are you’ll see that number change. Who knows, maybe you’ll even fly right past the average half marathon time for your age group and set a new personal record!

This entry was posted in Sports, Time and tagged , . By Cindy Brzostowski