Half Marathon Training - What Time to Expect?

by Johnathan
(Evans, Ga)

half marathon training what time to expect
I am a beginner attempting to run my first half marathon. On average, I can run a 10k with a 9 minute mile pace. I run every other day with distances from 3-7 miles depending on the day and time allotted, with cross training on the alternates, and I want to know what an average time for me at 49 and my son who is following my same schedule at thirteen. Thanks in advance.

Answer by Dominique:
Hey there,
I'm glad you've reached out about preparing for your first half marathon - what an exciting prospect for you and your son! You're entering a great adventure, and I'm here to help guide you through it. Let’s break down your question into manageable chunks:

1. Realistic time for your half marathon
2. Right base of training for this prediction
3. Half marathons for young people
4. Some useful links for further development

Realistic Time for Your Half Marathon

half marathon training what time to expect
Firstly, what's a realistic half marathon time for you, given your current 10k timings? A general rule of thumb when going from a 10k to a half marathon is to double your 10k time, then tack on about 10-20 additional minutes. The faster runners tend to add about 10 minutes, but you can add a little more if your pace isn't quite as quick yet.

So if you're running a 10k at a 9-minute mile pace, you're crossing the finish line in roughly 56 minutes. Doubling your time gets you to 112 minutes. Add on another 20 minutes, and you'll be looking at approximately 132 minutes or just over two hours for the half marathon. You can also give the Race Conversion Calculator a try - it can get pretty close to the projected finish time!

Right Base of Training for This Prediction

But here's an important thing to consider: these guidelines assume that you’re doing the right kind of training. For half marathons, you'd generally want to get your long run up to at least 10 miles. Generally writing half marathon schedules for beginners looking to finish, I like to put in an 11 mile run as the longest distance. It just makes that gap to 13.1 a lot more manageable. That's also based on my own experience. My first half marathon I did on half-baked training and my longest run was 10 miles. The final 5k (3.1 miles) were very tough.

So, as you continue to train, try to slowly increase your mileage so you're better prepared. If you find there's not enough time to increase your runs' distances safely, then targeting a two-hour finish time might be a bit too ambitious for this race. Remember that it's okay to take your time and adopt a more conservative pace if needed. It’s much better to finish strong and steady rather than feeling completely drained halfway through the race.

Half Marathons for Young People

half marathon training what time to expect
Now, let's talk about younger runners, like your son. The enthusiasm of young runners is inspiring, but we also have to remember that their bodies are still growing and developing, and that comes with its special considerations. A half marathon is a substantial physical undertaking, even for a well-seasoned adult.

A good distance for young, up-and-coming runners, would be a 5k or 10k race, as these are both realistic and manageable distances. Encourage your son to focus on pace, form, and endurance in these shorter races before progressing to longer distances.

As an accredited running coach, a lot of my focus is on "rather safe than sorry". A lot of the coaching training is about keeping people safe, young and old. There is a personal accountability and duty of care that comes with coaching that means you sometimes need to say "it is better if you don't". This is one of those occassions.

I'd much rather see your son running shorter distances at this stage of life. This will cultivate good habits, safe practices, and a healthy love for the sport. He will still have plenty of time to progress to longer races in the future, and there's no need to rush!

Some Useful Links for Further Development

half marathon training what time to expect
Lastly, here are a few resources to guide your journey:

Increasing Mileage Safely - It's all about safely upping your mileage to prevent injuries and allow your body to adapt.

Half Marathon Running Program - This is a useful running program for beginners preparing for a half marathon. Try some of the running training ideas from the schedule.

I hope all this helps, and remember to enjoy your training sessions as you prepare for your big race. Good luck!

Kind regards,

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