What’s a good half-marathon time?

Pro runner-turned-triathlete and running coach Beth Potter explains how to work out what will be a good running time for you...

Man running a half marathon as part of a triathlon

Truthfully, there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ time for a half marathon because everyone is different and has different targets and goals for themselves.

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What’s more, as well as having different goals, many courses are faster and flatter than others, which naturally will produce faster times. And other environmental factors can play a role, too, such as the weather.

That being said, below, we’re going to take a look at some data to see how you stack up against the average runner.

How long is a half marathon?

A half marathon is 21.1km or 13.1 miles. It’s exactly half the distance of a full marathon (42.2km/26.2miles).

The half marathon is a good goal for runners who have already completed a 5km or 10km race and are looking for a new challenge.

It’s also the distance that triathletes will have to run if they’re taking part in a middle-distance triathlon such as an Ironman 70.3 race. The run will typically follow 1.9km of swimming and 90km of cycling.

How would you train for a half marathon?

First of all, committing to a half marathon will help you stay motivated while training.

Having a goal-based outcome of completing a race or going for a certain time will help you stay on track for race day. You can stay focused on progress and results as you work towards your goal.

I would encourage joining a club or using an app (such as Runna, where I’m one of the coaches) with a tailored training plan for you with aerobic, threshold and VO2 sessions, as well as personalised coaching feedback to help you reach your goals.

You would usually sign up to an 8–16-week plan to train for a half marathon.

Depending on your fitness, you may take a little longer to train for a half marathon as part of a triathlon. See 220’s Ironman 70.3 training plans for more.

What are the men’s and women’s world records for the half marathon? 

People running a half marathon

World Athletics currently recognises 00:57:31 as the fastest half marathon time for men.

This was set by Ugandan runner Jacob Kiplimo at the Lisbon Half Marathon on 21 November 2021. It works out as an incredible 4mins 23secs per mile for the whole 13.1 miles.

The current women’s record is 1:02:52 and was set by Letesenbet Gidey on 24 Oct 2021 at the Valencia (Spain) Half Marathon. That means the average pace across the 13.1 miles works out at 4mins 47secs per mile.

What are the average times for male and women in the UK?

In the UK, 2:02:43 is the average finish time for half marathons. However, men have a faster average at 1:55:26 compared to women completing the event in 2:11:57.

What would be a good time for your first half marathon?

If you’re new to running or a beginner, a good time to aim for would be somewhere between 2:20:00 and 3:00:00.

If you’re an intermediate level runner, aim for anywhere in the range of 2:00:00.

And if you’re an elite level runner, somewhere in between 1:10:00 and 1:40:00 is a good target, depending on whether you’re male or female.

How do half marathon times compare when it’s part of a middle-distance triathlon?

The current world record for the fastest men’s 70.3 was a time of 3:26:06 from Marten Van Riel, with a run time of 1:07:56 (5:11 min/mi or 3:13 min/km). That’s 10mins slower than the run world record.

Meanwhile, the current world record for the fastest female 70.3 was Laura Philipp’s 3:53:03 in Dubai in 2022, with a run time of 1:19:31 (6:04 mins/mi or 3:46 mins/km). That works out as 17mins slower than the run world record.

At Runna, we’d expect an everyday athlete doing a 70.3 to run 20-40secs slower per kilometre than if you were running a standalone half marathon.

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Looking for some help with your run training? Sign up to Runna and you can access personalised training plans from the likes of Steph Davis and pro triathlete Beth Potter. Plus, sign up via this link or use code 220T and you can get a two-week free trial.