How To Train For A Sub-2 Hour Half Marathon

by | Mar 12, 2024 | Technical Articles

Smash your sub-2 hour half marathon goal with our training guide

Finishing a half marathon in under 2 hours is a big goal for lots of runners. It’s achievable but not easy; challenging but not impossible. Here’s how to do it.

What does it take to run a sub-2 hour half marathon?

Hitting 1:59:59 pace for a half marathon means holding 9:10 minute/mile or 5:51 minute/km pace for 13.1 miles.

You need to be able to do 20-30 miles a week in training, and ideally have a recent 10K time of 54 minutes.

Your sub-2 hour training plan will build the conditioning you need to hold that pace for 13.1 miles, and the mental strength to keep pushing without letting the pace drop.

How to design a training plan

Your sub-2 hour half marathon plan needs to include different types of running sessions to build endurance and speed.

Tempo runs  – these sessions should feel challenging but not like sprint work. They train your body to sustain a faster pace over distance, using different fuelling systems and adaptations. Aim for 7-8/10 on a scale of exertion.

Example: 5 miles, with the middle 3 miles at 8:55 minute/mile pace

Mile repeats – these are a useful way to assess improvements in pace over a mile, and train your body to hold that pace over several miles.

Example: warm up, then 4 x 1 mile at 8:15 minute/mile

Race-pace runs – exactly as the name suggests, these runs are done at your goal race pace to train your body to recognise and hold this speed with minimal effort.

Example: 7 miles, with the middle 5 at your half marathon goal pace of 9:10 minute/mile

Long runs – these are the foundation of building endurance, but shouldn’t be the only part of your training plan if you want to get faster.

Example: 10 miles with no specific pace focus but aiming to improve your pace over the duration of the training plan

Easy runs – these recovery runs should be done at 30-60 seconds/ mile slower than your half marathon race pace.

Example: 3 miles at 9:40 minute/mile pace with some stretching and/or strength training afterwards

Nutrition and hydration

You should use your half marathon training plan to get used to eating and hydrating on the go. You will need to take on fluids and calories on race day. Your long runs are the time to practice taking on water, and using any gels that you will use on race day. Some runners like to use fast sugars like jelly sweets, or more solid food like ½ banana. Work out what suits you and get your body used to it in training.

Your 10-week training plan

Monday: rest day, mobility, or gentle recovery cross training

Tuesday: easy run day (build from 4-5 miles then taper to 3 miles from week 7)

Wednesday: rest day, 3 mile easy run on weeks 5, 6, 8, 9

Thursday: rotate between tempo run, mile repeats, or 6-8 miles at half marathon pace

Friday: 3-4 miles easy run

Saturday: rest

Sunday: long run day, building from 7 miles to 13 miles on week 8, with 10 miles on week 9


The Windsor Half Marathon  Sunday September 29th. We’d love to see you there!

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