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How To Run A Half Marathon In 2 Hours Or Less

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Running a marathon is all about your training, your endurance and how well you can pace yourself in the real situation.

How To Run A Half Marathon In 2 Hours Or Less

You have to make sure you’re prepared for any circumstances in any type of marathon because different factors such as the weather or toilet breaks could be the difference in your time. 

Achieving your goals in marathons is also down to the amount of practise and preparation you do beforehand.

There are many different ways that you can train for a half marathon and in this guide we will be presenting the different ways you are able to achieve your goals in competing. 

Your Fitness Level

To be able to run a half marathon in two hours or under, your fitness levels need to be at a certain level during your weekly training. You need to be hitting certain targets in your weekly training sessions when covering 5-10k runs.

For example, you’d be expected to be hitting under the 55 minute mark for a 10K run. Even if you are a new runner who has been training, this is a doable run if you are committed and put the time and effort into your endurance training.

Focusing on your physical ability, you need to be conditioning your body with intensity and long distance running. You need to be ready for the train past the 5K mark to be able to hold onto your pace throughout the run. 

It is not just your physical fitness you need to master, it is also the mental side.

Your mental ability also needs to be strong because you need to push through those demons you might feel when your legs start to feel wobbly and you don’t feel like you can finish.

This is a very important part of the determination you must have – especially as a first time runner.  

Start Off With The Basic Training 

Every runner needs to start with a basic plan for their training that they are able to build on. Every runner’s plan will be different for what suits them specifically, for example, your fitness level, the experience you have in marathon running.

All of these factors will contribute to how you train and determine whether you will be able to complete the half marathon in 2hours or under. 

When you start your training, most people tend to do around 25-45 miles per week with a mixture of intense training and long runs with recovery days.

The amount you start off with will depend on your experience and fitness level. You do not want to be pushing yourself too hard to start with because your body needs to be conditioned to the training and progress.

The idea of progression is the most important part of your training because it will have the biggest impact. Nothing changes in a day and it takes time and consistency. 

It will take you around 14 weeks to train for a half marathon, if you are a more experienced runner then it will be at the lower end of this scale but if you are less advanced you will be taking more time to prepare.

In this time, it is going to be all speed ahead where most people will be training 4-5 days per week with different training sessions to build on your endurance.

You want to be having a high intensity, speed day where you are focusing on building your muscles and condition them.

You will also want a day which could be described as a more comfortable session which you find it easy to complete that will loosen your muscles that are doable but still pose a challenge.

You also will want to include a long distance run to train your endurance levels. If you can, runners also love to add in a different type of training such as cycling. 

Speed day – you want to make sure that you are pushing yourself to the max in these sessions. This will ensure that you are reaching well beyond the mile targets. This will allow your body and muscles to remember that pace. 

Long runs – getting used to the movement over a long period of time and setting your pace for the race. It also helps you get to know how your body feels after a certain distance and improve certain areas of your training. 

Tips For Race Day 

There are some things you need to keep in mind before the race itself. Even though it might sound obvious, it is always the most obvious things that people miss.

To start, you need to make sure you are not burning yourself out right at the start. It is so common for new runners especially to want to get a head start and lead but this is not what will get you a decent time.

You need to be pacing yourself throughout the whole of the race so you feel more comfortable in your body. When some people set off too early and don’t find their pace, some people don’t even end up finishing the race!

Another tip is looking where you should be matching your pace and where you need time for more challenging areas. When the ground is flat, you should be looking to increase your speed and pace.

However, when you start running up hills, this is where you need to push through, slow the tempo slightly and find the right pace. 

Another great tip is about how you are going to be starting. There is always quite a big crowd at the start and you don’t want to get caught up in the middle of it.

Therefore, it is recommended to start with a slow place and move out as the crowd starts to break up. It is usually after the first mile that people really get into the pace they want!

What Types Of Training You Do Need

There are different types of training sessions you will need to be doing throughout the weeks before you start the race. These sessions will be a mix of different training styles to properly prepare you for the race.

Interval training is one of the best sessions you are able to follow because it tests your ability and agility. Tempo training is another great way to improve your stamina and speed which will also increase your strength levels. 

Looking At Your Progress

Looking At Your Progress

Looking at what you’re doing well and what to improve is always a very effective way to improve your time. When reviewing your race times you are reflecting on whether the training is helping you reach your goal or whether you must make changes. 

You always need to be practicing your pace during the training sessions to make sure you are able to control it.

You need to look at the half marathon race differently because you will not be maintaining the same pace you would for a 5 or 10k because this race is 13.1m.

Therefore, your will will need to condition itself for running the miles differently with a different pace (Find out Will Running Two Miles A Day Get Me In Shape? ). 

Nutrition And Hydration 

When training for a half marathon you also need to make sure you are fuelling your body correctly. If you don’t fuel your body correctly, it won’t function the way you need it to.

If you avoid eating or drinking enough on a schedule after training, you are more likely to feel fatigued and will find it difficult to train again and again. You also need to be having a fast recovery with this type of training. 

The food you eat is also important because it all depends on when you are eating and what. The timing of certain meals is essential for metabolism and what is good for your digestion and energy before and after training. 

Running in the morning – The type of meal you need to have before training in the morning is: porridge, granola, bagal, fruit, fruit juice and eggs.

These are all of the perfect choices to eat in the morning that will give you the perfect amount of fuel for your training session.

You do not want anything too filling because you will feel too heavy to train which is why a smaller snack is ideal. You need to make sure that you have let the food settle and digest before you train as well.  

Your hydration is something that needs to be kept up throughout the day. It is not just about drinking water when training but throughout the whole day. You feel healthier and more awake and ready to train and also recover. 


Overall, if you are looking to start training for a half marathon, these are some of the contributing factors you need to take into account before you run the race.

You need to be thinking about your fitness, nutrition, training sessions, and recovery. If you do not focus on all of these different factors and make yourself a good schedule to follow weekly, you are not likely to reach your goals.

Committing to marathons and half marathons means you are going to be putting a lot of work and effort into your training and schedule which you must keep to. 

Hopefully this guide has given you a good idea of what it will take to be able to run a half marathon in 2 hours or less.

You can also find extra information about training sessions at your local run shop or could ask online professionals to help with a training schedule that will suit you and what you need to achieve too. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Hard To Run A Half Marathon In Under 2 Hours?

The half marathon is a great distance event – it’s a challenging but achievable distance run for new runners, and still long enough to make seasoned runners push themselves.

Given that it’s accessible to many different ability levels, the ‘two-hour’ benchmark has become an invisible marker that many try to beat.

How Good Is A 2 hour Half Marathon?

What is a good time for intermediate half marathon runners? For experienced runners, completing the course within two hours is a popular goal, which equals an average pace of 9 minutes 9 seconds per mile .

What Is A Good Half Marathon Time For A Beginner?

If you are a beginner between the age of 20-50, you may expect to finish your first half-marathon likely between 3:05 and 2:45, which is the average time for these age groups and running level.

If you become more advanced, expect to be close to sub 2 hours.

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