What is a Good Half Marathon Time for Beginners?

As a beginner runner, one of the most common questions you might have when training for a half marathon is what is considered a good time to aim for.

The answer to this question can vary depending on age, gender, and fitness level.

Focus on enjoying yourself on the day rather than thinking about ‘What is a Good Half Marathon Time for Beginners.’

What is a Half Marathon?

As a runner, I know that a half marathon is a 13.1 mile race that challenges the mind and body.

It’s a popular distance for runners of all levels, from beginners to experienced athletes. However, the half marathon requires proper training, dedication, and mental toughness to complete successfully.

Typically, half marathons are held on roads and follow a marked course. Runners are usually provided water and sports drinks at designated stations throughout the course.

Many races also offer snacks or energy gels to help runners maintain their energy levels during the race.

It’s important to note that a half marathon is not a sprint. Runners must pace themselves and conserve energy throughout the race to avoid hitting the proverbial “wall” towards the end.

Training properly and building endurance over time are essential for a successful race.

Factors to Consider

As a beginner, it’s essential to understand that there are several factors to consider when determining an excellent half marathon time for you.

These factors include your age, gender, fitness level, and the course difficulty you’ll be running on. Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors:

Age and Gender

Age and gender can significantly determine an excellent half marathon time for you. For example, men’s average half marathon time is 1:43:33, while the average time for women is 2:02:00.

However, these times can vary greatly depending on age. Research has shown that most runners reach their peak aerobic performance between the ages of 25-35, so your ideal half marathon time may be different if you’re younger or older than that.

It’s also worth noting that women tend to have slower half-marathon times than men, on average. But, again, this is due to physiological differences, such as a lower VO2 max and less muscle mass.

Fitness Level

Your fitness level is another crucial factor when determining an excellent half marathon time.

If you start running, your ideal time will likely be slower than someone running for years.

However, your perfect time will likely decrease as you train and improve your fitness level.

Setting realistic goals for yourself based on your current fitness level is essential. For example, trying to run a half marathon in under two hours when you’ve never run more than a few miles before is not a realistic goal.

Instead, aim to improve your time over several months of training gradually.

Course Difficulty

The difficulty of the course you’ll be running on can also impact what an excellent half marathon time is for you.

For example, if you’re running on a flat, paved course with few hills, your time will likely be faster than running on a hilly, off-road course.

It’s essential to consider the course when setting your goals.

For example, if you’re running on a challenging course, you may need to adjust your expectations and aim for a slower time than running on an easy course.

Average Half Marathon Time for Beginners


As a beginner male runner, setting realistic expectations for your first half marathon is essential. The rough average time for a beginner male runner to finish a half marathon is between 2:05 and 2:15.

However, this time can vary based on age, fitness level, experience, and the course’s terrain.

If you aim to finish your first half marathon in under 2 hours, you’ll need consistent training and focus on improving your pace. A good starting point is to aim for a pace of 9-10 minutes per mile.


For beginner female runners, the average time to finish a half marathon is slightly longer than for men, ranging from 2:20 to 2:30. However, this time can also vary based on age, fitness level, experience, and the course’s terrain.

As a beginner female runner, building your endurance and gradually increasing your pace over time is essential. A good starting point is to aim for a pace of 10-11 minutes per mile.

Remember that these are just rough averages, and every runner is different. Setting realistic goals and improving your performance over time is the most important thing.

With consistent training and dedication, you’ll be able to achieve your goals and cross the finish line with pride.

How to Improve Your Half Marathon Time

Training Techniques

Incorporating interval training into my routine has helped me improve my half marathon time. Interval training involves alternating between high-intensity running periods and rest or low-intensity running.

This training helps improve cardiovascular endurance and can increase your overall speed.

Another technique that has worked for me is gradually increasing the distance of my long runs. Increasing the distance by 1-2 miles each week can improve your endurance and overall time.


Proper nutrition is vital to improving your half marathon time. I have found that eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats helps me perform better during my training runs.

Additionally, staying hydrated is crucial for optimal performance. Therefore, I drink plenty of water before, during, and after my runs.

Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery are as important as training to improve your half marathon time.

I have found that taking rest days and incorporating active recovery activities such as yoga or stretching into my routine helps prevent injury and allows my body to recover properly.

Additionally, getting enough sleep is crucial for optimal performance.

Therefore, I get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to ensure my body is well-rested and ready for my next training session.

Final Thoughts

As a beginner runner, setting realistic goals and expectations when running a half marathon is essential.

While comparing yourself to more experienced runners is tempting, remember that everyone’s journey is different, and progress takes time.

Based on the information gathered, a good half marathon time for beginners is between 2:05 and 2:30 for women and between 2:00 and 2:15 for men.

However, it’s important to note that these times can vary depending on factors such as age, fitness level, and the difficulty of the course.

Remember that the most important thing is to focus on your progress and improvement rather than comparing yourself to others.

Set achievable goals, follow a training plan, and don’t hesitate to ask for help or advice.

Running a half marathon is a challenging and rewarding experience; with dedication and hard work, anyone can achieve their goals. So lace up your shoes, hit the pavement, and enjoy the journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

1.    What is a half marathon?

A half marathon is a race that covers 13.1 miles or 21 kilometers.

2.    What is considered an excellent half marathon time for beginners?

The average half marathon time for beginners is around 2 hours and 15 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes.

3.    How long does it take to train for a half marathon?

A beginner half marathon training plan can last anywhere between 12 to 16 weeks.

4.    What should a beginner half marathon training plan include?

A beginner half marathon training plan should include one long run, 1-3 easy runs, 1-speed training session, one strength training session, one cross-training session, and two rest days.

5.    What is the average time for a half marathon?

According to Running Level, the average time for the half marathon across all ages and sexes is 1:50:15.

6.    What is a good goal time for a half marathon?

A good goal time for a half marathon for beginners is typically around 2 hours or less.

7.    What factors affect a beginner’s half marathon time?

Factors affecting a beginner’s half marathon time include age, fitness level, training plan, and race course.

8.    Is it okay to walk during a half marathon?

Yes, it is perfectly okay to walk during a half marathon. Many beginners choose to walk during parts of the race to conserve energy.

9.    What should I do if I fail to meet my goal time during a half marathon?

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Finishing a half marathon is a great accomplishment, regardless of your time. Use the experience to learn and improve for your next race.

10. How can I improve my half marathon time?

To improve your half marathon time, focus on increasing your endurance, speed, and strength through a consistent training plan. Also, fuel your body correctly and get enough rest and recovery time.



Slightly obsessed middle aged runner.