How Many Miles is a Half Marathon? + Free Training Plan

running a half marathon requires practice, dedication, training

Are you curious about the half marathon distance and up for the challenge? I get it—I've been there. Whether you're an experienced runner craving a new feat or a newcomer curious about running, understanding the distance is where it all begins. So, let's lace up and dive in!

Race Category Distance (KM) Distance (Miles) Difficulty Duration
5K Run 5 Km 3.1 Miles Beginner 20 - 30 minutes
10K Run 10 Km 6.2 Miles Intermediate 40 - 60 minutes
15K Run 15 Km 9.3 Miles Intermediate 1.5 - 2 hours
Half-Marathon 21.1 Km 13.1 Miles Intermediate 1.5 - 2.5 hours
Full-Marathon 42.2 Km 26.2 Miles Advanced 3.5 - 5 hours
Ultra-Marathon 50 Km + 31 Miles + Expert 5+ hours
Category Distance Duration
5K 5 Km
3.1 Mi
10K 10 Km
6.2 Mi
15K 15 Km
9.3 Mi
Half Marathon 21.1 Km
13.1 Mi
Full Marathon 42.2 Km
26.2 Mi
Ultra Marathon Various Varies

How Many Miles Is a Half Marathon?

A half marathon covers 13.1 miles, striking a balance between a 10K and a full marathon. It's a popular and challenging race distance.

Whether you're an experienced runner seeking a new record or a newcomer eyeing your first long-distance race, the half marathon offers an achievable and rewarding goal. Your journey through training, preparation, and determination will pave the way for a successful 13.1-mile accomplishment.

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.” — Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

What are the Current Half Marathon World Records?

Men's Half Marathon World Record:

The current IAAF-recognized world record for the men's half marathon stands at an impressive 57 minutes and 31 seconds, achieved by Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda. He set this remarkable record in a half marathon in Lisbon, Portugal, in November 2021.

Women's Half Marathon World Record:

The world record for women's half marathon is 1 hour, 2 minutes, and 52 seconds. Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia in Valencia, Spain, on October 24, 2021, accomplished this exceptional feat.

Category Name Country Time Year
Men's Half Marathon Jacob Kiplimo Uganda 57 min 31 sec 2021
Women's Half Marathon Letesenbet Gidey Ethiopia 1 hr, 2 min, 52 sec 2021
Category Name Country Time
Men's Jacob Kiplimo Uganda 00:57:31
Women's Letesenbet Gidey Ethiopia 1:02:52

group of people participating in half marathon

3 Tips for Improving Your Half Marathon Time

As someone who has completed multiple half marathons, I have three helpful tips to share with you to enhance your speed and achieve a personal best:

Structured Training Plan:

Create a well-structured training plan that gradually increases mileage and intensity. To build endurance and speed, incorporate various types of runs, including speed work, tempo runs, and long runs.

Cross-Training and Strength:

Include cross-training activities like cycling or swimming to prevent overuse injuries. Incorporate strength training to build muscle strength, enhancing running efficiency and overall performance.

Nutrition and Recovery:

Prioritize a balanced diet to fuel your training and aid recovery. Stay hydrated and consume carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Focus on post-run recovery with proper stretching and rest.

Remember, progress takes time. Consistency, patience, and listening to your body are essential for improving your half marathon time.

"Every marathon I ran, I knew I had a faster one in me." — Dick Beardsley

Tips For Improving Your Half Marathon Time

Get your nutrition in check.

Based on my experience, I suggest focusing on your nutrition to improve your half marathon performance. This can have a significant impact on your results. Here's how I've integrated these elements into my experience:

  1. Fuel for Energy: Prioritize complex carbohydrates for sustained energy. Include lean proteins and healthy fats to support muscle repair and overall well-being.
  2. Pre-Race Preparation: Eat a balanced meal rich in carbs a few hours before long runs or races. Include easily digestible snacks closer to the start time.
  3. Hydration Is Key: Stay hydrated throughout your training and on race day. Consistent water intake is essential for peak performance.
  4. During-Race Nutrition: Consider energy gels or electrolyte-rich drinks to maintain energy levels depending on the race duration.
  5. Recovery Nutrition: Refuel with protein and carbs within an hour after long runs or races. This aids muscle recovery and glycogen replenishment.
  6. Personalize Your Approach: Experiment with different foods during training to find what works best for your body.
  7. Mindful Eating: Listen to hunger cues and eat balanced meals to support your training efforts.

Remember, nutrition directly impacts your training and race performance. Tailoring your diet to your needs enhances your chances of a successful half-marathon experience.

"Running is a lot like life. Only 10 percent of it is exciting. 90 percent of it is slog and drudge." — Dave Bedford

half-marathon Training Schedule For Intermediate Runners

Half-marathon Training Schedule for intermediate runners

Here's a good half-marathon training schedule tailored for intermediate runners based on my experience:

Week 1-4: Building Base

  • Day 1: Easy 4-mile run.
  • Day 2: Interval training - 6x400m at 5K pace with 200m recovery jogs.
  • Day 3: Cross-training (cycling, swimming, or yoga) for active recovery.
  • Day 4: Tempo run - 3 miles at a comfortably hard pace.
  • Day 5: Rest day.
  • Day 6: Long run - 6 miles at an easy pace.
  • Day 7: Rest day.

Week 5-8: Increasing Intensity

  • Day 1: Easy 5-mile run.
  • Day 2: Hill repeats - Find a moderate hill and do 6-8 repeats, focusing on form.
  • Day 3: Cross-training.
  • Day 4: Tempo run - 4 miles at a comfortably hard pace.
  • Day 5: Rest day.
  • Day 6: Long run - 8 miles with a negative split (second half faster than the first).
  • Day 7: Rest day.

Week 9-12: Fine-Tuning

  • Day 1: Easy 5-mile run.
  • Day 2: Fartlek workout - 1 min hard, 1 min easy, repeat for 6-8 cycles.
  • Day 3: Cross-training.
  • Day 4: Tempo run - 5 miles at a comfortably hard pace.
  • Day 5: Rest day.
  • Day 6: Long run - 10 miles with a steady pace.
  • Day 7: Rest day.

Week 13-16: Tapering and Prep

  • Day 1: Easy 4-mile run.
  • Day 2: Short intervals - 8x200m faster than race pace with 200m recovery jogs.
  • Day 3: Cross-training.
  • Day 4: Easy 3-mile run.
  • Day 5: Rest day.
  • Day 6: Long run - 8 miles at a relaxed pace.
  • Day 7: Rest day.

Remember, this schedule is a guideline and can be adjusted based on your goals, fitness level, and availability. Prioritize adequate rest, listen to your body, and don't be afraid to modify the plan.

“I’m all about breaking mental boundaries, and training for a marathon falls right into the Jedi mind-training I need." — Alicia Keys

Half-marathon Training Schedule For Advanced Runners

Half Marathon Training plans for advanced runners.

Here's a more advanced half-marathon training plan based on my knowledge and experience:

Week 1-4: Building Base

  • Day 1: Easy 5-mile run.
  • Day 2: Interval training - 8x800m at 10K pace with 400m recovery jogs.
  • Day 3: Cross-training (high-intensity interval training, swimming, or cycling) for active recovery.
  • Day 4: Tempo run - 4 miles at threshold pace.
  • Day 5: Easy 5-mile run.
  • Day 6: Long run - 10 miles at an easy pace.
  • Day 7: Rest day.

Week 5-8: Increasing Intensity

  • Day 1: Easy 6-mile run.
  • Day 2: Hill repeats - 8-10 repeats on a challenging hill, focusing on maintaining speed.
  • Day 3: Cross-training.
  • Day 4: Tempo run - 6 miles with alternating miles at the threshold and easy paces.
  • Day 5: Easy 6-mile run.
  • Day 6: Long run - 12 miles with progression in the last 3 miles.
  • Day 7: Rest day.

Week 9-12: Fine-Tuning

  • Day 1: Easy 6-mile run.
  • Day 2: Fartlek workout - 2-3-4-3-2 minutes hard with equal recovery jogs in between.
  • Day 3: Cross-training.
  • Day 4: Tempo run - 7 miles at threshold pace.
  • Day 5: Easy 6-mile run.
  • Day 6: Long run - 14 miles with sections at race pace.
  • Day 7: Rest day.

Week 13-16: Tapering and Prep

  • Day 1: Easy 5-mile run.
  • Day 2: Short intervals - 10x400m faster than race pace with 200m recovery jogs.
  • Day 3: Cross-training.
  • Day 4: Easy 4-mile run.
  • Day 5: Rest day.
  • Day 6: Long run - 10 miles at a relaxed pace.
  • Day 7: Rest day.

This advanced plan assumes a solid mileage base and experience with speed workouts. Remember, individual factors such as recovery, injuries, and overall fatigue play a significant role in training. Always listen to your body and adapt the plan accordingly.

“Running a marathon is not a question of whether it will be painful, but when it will be painful. It does help to have a sense of humor, but I’m also respectful of the race.”  Will Ferrell

How Long Do You Need To Train For The half-marathon Distance

How long do you need to train for the half-marathon distance?

Based on my experience, the ideal training period for a half marathon distance varies depending on your fitness level and running background. Here's a general outline based on different levels of experience:

Beginner Runners: 12-16 Weeks

If you're new to running or have limited experience with longer distances, a 12 to 16-week training gradually builds mileage and helps prevent overuse injuries. This timeframe allows you to establish a solid base, work on endurance, and progressively adapt your body to the demands of the half marathon.

Intermediate Runners: 10-12 Weeks

If you have some running experience and can comfortably run 3-6 miles, a training period of 10 to 12 weeks might be suitable. During this time, you can focus on adding longer runs, incorporating speed workouts, and refining your pacing strategy.

Experienced Runners: 8-10 Weeks

For many runners who are already comfortable with distances around 7-8 miles and have a solid running foundation, a training period of 8 to 10 weeks might suffice. This duration allows you to fine-tune your fitness, concentrate on speed and tempo workouts, and emphasize race-specific training.

Throughout your training, it's crucial to include a mix of easy runs, long runs, speed sessions, and rest days to ensure a balanced approach. Additionally, be attentive to your body's signals, address any minor discomfort promptly, and prioritize recovery to prevent injuries.

"How do you know if someone ran a marathon? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you." — Jimmy Fallon

Is 10 Miles A Long Enough Run Before Running A Half Marathon

Is 10 Miles a Long Enough Run Before Running a Half Marathon?

Running 10 miles as your longest training run before a half marathon can be sufficient for some runners, especially those with a solid running foundation and targeting a completion rather than a specific time goal. However, it's essential to consider a few factors:

  1. Fitness Level: If you're an experienced runner who regularly covers longer distances, a 10-mile training run can serve as a good confidence boost and help you gauge your readiness for the half marathon.
  2. Goals: If your goal is to complete the half marathon and you're not aiming for a specific time, a 10-mile run can adequately prepare your body for long-distance running.
  3. Previous Experience: If you've completed several half marathon races or marathons before or have a history of running longer distances, a 10-mile training run might be enough to maintain your endurance.
  4. Balanced Training: It's essential to have a well-rounded training plan that includes other types of runs (such as speed workouts, tempo runs, and easy runs) to enhance your overall fitness and race performance.
  5. Mindset and Confidence: Running a 10-mile training run can boost your mental confidence, knowing that you can cover a significant portion of the race distance in training.

However, if you're aiming for a personal best time or want to build a stronger foundation of endurance, including a couple of longer runs, such as 11-12 miles, in your training plan could provide additional benefits. These longer runs help you become more familiar with the physical and mental challenges of running for an extended period.

"Step one to running a marathon: You run. There is no step two." — Barney Stinson

Top Gear Runners Need For A Half Marathon

Top Gear Runners Need for a Half Marathon

Drawing from my experience, here's a list of top gear that runners should consider for a successful half marathon:

  1. Running Shoes: Choose a pair of well-fitted running shoes that match your running style and offer adequate cushioning and support. Ensure you've worn them during training to avoid discomfort on race day.
  2. Moisture-Wicking Clothing: Opt for moisture-wicking, breathable clothing to keep you dry and comfortable during the race. This includes a moisture-wicking shirt, comfortable shorts or leggings, and moisture-wicking socks.
  3. GPS Watch or Running App: Tracking your running pace, distance, and heart rate can help you maintain a consistent pace and monitor your progress. A reliable GPS watch or running app on your smartphone can be invaluable.
  4. Body Glide or Anti-Chafing Products: Prevent chafing by applying body glide or anti-chafing products to areas prone to friction, such as thighs, underarms, and nipples.
  5. Hat or Visor: A hat or visor can shield your face from the sun and help keep sweat out of your eyes, enhancing visibility and comfort.
  6. Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from the sun's glare and debris with lightweight, UV-blocking sunglasses.
  7. Hydration System: Depending on race support and personal preference, carry a handheld water bottle hydration belt or use a hydration vest to stay adequately hydrated during the race.
  8. Nutrition: Pack energy gels, chews, or snacks to fuel your body during the race. Make sure to practice using these products during your training runs.
  9. Race Belt or Bib Holder: Attach your race bib securely with a race belt to avoid pinning it to your clothing and reduce the risk of irritation.
  10. Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the sun's rays by applying sweat-resistant sunscreen before the race, especially if it's an outdoor event.
  11. Compression Gear (Optional): Some runners find compression socks or sleeves helpful for muscle support and recovery during and after the race.
  12. Blister Prevention: Pack blister prevention products like blister pads or tape to address any discomfort during the race.
  13. Post-Race Clothes: Have a change of clothes, including a dry shirt and warm layers, to stay comfortable during the cool-down phase after the race.
  14. Personal Identification: In case, carry an ID or emergency contact information.
“Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.” — Steve Prefontaine

How Long Does it Take the Average Person to Run a Half Marathon

How Long Does it Take the Average Person to Run a Half Marathon?

Here's a table illustrating estimated finish times for a half marathon based on different average paces:

Please note that these are estimated finish times based on pace alone and don't account for terrain, weather, individual fitness level, or race-day conditions. It's also common for runners to have variations in pace throughout the race so that actual finish times can differ. This table provides a general overview to give you an idea of potential finish times at the different race distances and paces.

Category Gender Average Time
Beginner Runners Male 2:30 - 3:00 hours
Female 2:45 - 3:15 hours
Intermediate Runners Male 2:00 - 2:30 hours
Female 2:15 - 2:45 hours
Advanced Runners Male 1:30 - 2:00 hours
Female 1:45 - 2:15 hours

Summary - How Many Miles is a Half Marathon?

A half marathon is 13.1 miles (21.1 kilometers) in distance, making it a challenging yet achievable goal for many runners. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced runner, following a well-structured training plan is essential for success. It helps you build the necessary endurance and strength to conquer this distance. With dedication and consistent training, you can cross that half marathon finish line feeling accomplished. Remember to customize your training plan to your fitness level and consult a healthcare professional if needed. So lace up your running shoes, follow a plan, and enjoy the journey towards completing your half marathon!

basabendra chattopadhyay


Basabendra Chattopadhyay

Meet Basabendra, a distinguished health and fitness luminary whose expertise spans the realms of fitness, technology, and marathon running. With a solid foundation in science through his graduation, Basabendra has harnessed his knowledge to become a prolific author, contributing numerous articles to a wide array of prestigious publications. Beyond his scholarly pursuits, he is also an avid marathon runner, successfully completing multiple marathons and using his personal experiences to inspire others in their pursuit of a healthy and active lifestyle.

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