If you’re looking for a new challenge in your running journey, you might be considering signing up for a half marathon. 

A half marathon is a great way to test your endurance, improve your fitness, and have fun along the way. But how long does it take to train for a half marathon? And what is a good time to aim for?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll answer these questions and more. We’ll cover what a half marathon is, how long it typically takes to train for one, what factors affect your training and timing, and what are some average and world record times for half marathons. 

What’s a Half Marathon? 

A half marathon is a running event that covers a distance of 13.1 miles or 21.1 kilometers. It’s exactly half the distance of a full marathon, which is 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers. 

Half marathons are popular among runners of all levels because they offer a balance between challenge and accessibility. They’re long enough to require serious training and dedication, but short enough to be manageable for most people.

Half marathons are also widely available in different locations and seasons. You can find half marathons in urban or rural settings, in flat or hilly courses, in cold or warm climates, and in spring or fall seasons. There’s a half marathon for everyone, no matter your preference or experience.

How Long Does it Typically Take to Train for a Half Marathon?

The answer to this question depends on several factors, such as your:

However, as a general rule of thumb, most runners need at least 12 weeks to train for a half marathon.

Why 12 weeks? Because that’s enough time to gradually build up your mileage, endurance, speed, and strength without risking injury or burnout. 

A typical 12-week training plan for a half marathon will include three to four runs per week, with one long run that increases in distance every week until you reach 10 to 12 miles. The other runs will vary in intensity and duration, depending on your goal and plan.

Of course, some runners may need more or less time to train for a half marathon. If you’re already running regularly and comfortably at least 15 miles per week, you may be able to shorten your training time to 8 to 10 weeks. 

On the other hand, if you’re new to running or have been inactive for a while, you may need more than 12 weeks to build up your base and avoid injury.

The best way to determine how long it takes to train for a half marathon is to consult with a coach or use a marathon training plan that suits your level and goal. 

What is a ‘Good’ Half Marathon Time?

What is a ‘good’ half marathon time?

Another common question that runners ask is what is a ‘good’ time for a half marathon? The answer to this question is also subjective and depends on many factors, such as your age, gender, experience, course difficulty, weather conditions, and personal expectations.

However, if you want to get an idea of how your time compares to other runners, you can look at some statistics and averages from various sources. For example, according to the RunRepeat which analyzed more than 21 million results from over 28 thousand races between 1986 and 2018:

These numbers can give you a rough idea of where you stand among other runners globally. However, they don’t account for the variations in individual races and runners. For example:

Some Races are More Competitive than Others

For instance, the average finish time for the New York City Half Marathon in 2019 was 1:50:35, while the average finish time for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in 2019 was 2:44:02.

Some Races are More Difficult than Others

For example, the average finish time for the Big Sur Half Marathon in 2019 was 2:15:35, while the average finish time for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon in 2019 was 2:03:16. The difference is partly due to the elevation and terrain of the courses.

Some Runners are More Experienced than Others

For example, the average finish time for first-time half marathoners in 2018 was 2:31:49, while the average finish time for repeat half marathoners in 2018 was 1:58:19.

Some Runners Have Different Goals than Others

For example, some runners may aim to finish the race without stopping, while others may aim to break a personal record or qualify for another race.

Therefore, a ‘good’ time for a half marathon is ultimately a personal matter. The best way to set a realistic and achievable goal is to base it on your current fitness level, your previous race results, your training progress, and your motivation. 

You can also use online calculators or pace charts to estimate your potential time based on your age, gender, and pace.

Final Thoughts 

We’ve dug deep into the question, “how long does it take to train for a half marathon?” We’ve seen that it’s not just about time, but also about your fitness, experience, and goals.

Running a half marathon is a big deal. It’s a personal journey that tests your limits and shows you what you’re made of.

What’s a good time for a half marathon? It depends on you. Your age, your gender, your experience, and even the weather on race day can make a difference. The important thing is to set a goal that feels right for you.

In the end, training for a half marathon is about more than just a race. It’s about setting a goal and working hard to achieve it. It’s about pushing yourself and seeing what you’re capable of. And no matter how long it takes or what your time is, that’s something to be proud of.