Are you getting ready for a half marathon? If so, it’s recommended that you calculate your average pace (either per mile or per kilometer) to meet your target finishing time. It sounds more complicated than it is — we promise there’s no math involved. But knowing how quickly you need to run will help you pace the race to the finish line. Below you’ll find a half marathon pace chart and instructions on how to use it. We’ve also put together some pacing strategy tips, and other half marathon advice for your next (or first) event.
Half marathon pace chart
So, you’ve set your goal time but now you need a way to achieve it. The best way to accomplish your half marathon finish time goal is to follow a pacing strategy. Use our half marathon pace chart below to find your goal time and required average running mile and kilometer pace.
How to use the half marathon pace chart
Using the pace chart is easy — pick your goal half marathon time, and then find the average target pace needed to achieve it. We’ve also included estimated times for each milestone to help you stay on track.
Be realistic when choosing your goal time. Pick a time based on previous race results or training personal bests. You should know what each pace feels like from your recent training — use this to help you choose.
If you don’t have a past race to use as a baseline, there are popular workouts like the Yasso 800 that may provide helpful benchmarks on a sustainable full marathon or half marathon race goal.
Should I use a pace calculator?
Using a pace calculator, or a half marathon pace chart, allows you to find the average target pace to achieve your goal half marathon finish time. It’s much more accurate than “running and hoping for the best.”
We also suggest when attempting your half marathon race to implement a pacing strategy — more on that below.
How to pace your fastest half marathon
Having a good pacing strategy — and knowing how to pace yourself successfully — is essential to hitting a target race time. Before we dive into the how, let’s discuss goals, and setting realistic half marathon finishing times. Choosing too ambitious a half marathon goal will cause disappointment and may lead to injury during the race due to exceeding a lactate threshold and hitting “the wall” or over-extending your body’s physical capacity.
It’s better to be conservative and realistic, and then if you feel good in the last few miles (or even just the last mile), you can pick up the pace!
For example, if you want to run a sub-2-hour half marathon but your current 10k personal best is over 1 hour (9:45 per mile), this would not be a realistic goal. The more realistic target you set, the easier it will be to stick to a pacing strategy. This is crucial for success!
Use a running watch to pace your event
You have two main ways to track your average pace: you can use an app like Strava on your smartphone, or you can use a GPS running watch. Running watches are considered more accurate and provides more metrics. It’s also easier to continuously monitor your pace from your wrist than to have to carry it in your hand or on your arm, like you would a phone..
You don’t need an expensive or fancy running watch, either. As it has GPS and an easy-to-read screen, you’re good to run.
You’ve got your average required running pace, and it’s time to run. Right? Wrong! You also need a proper pacing strategy — this will help you break up the event into bite-size chunks.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive introduction for how to determine what paces you should be running for what distance of run, check out our deep dive here.
For additional terminology, you’ll hear some people refer to a running pace as a “mile split.” A split is just another term for the time it takes to cover a specific distance. So your “mile split” is the time it takes to run a mile.
We like to split the race up into 5 key sections:
- Before the race
- Race start (The first mile to mile 3)
- Miles 3-9
- Miles 10-12
- Race finish
Before the race
Before your race, you should warm up. Any runner, whether a beginner or experienced runner should start with a short 5-15 minute jog of very easy running. After your jog, add a few dynamic stretches and strides to elevate your core temperature, get the blood flowing, and muscles ready for activity.
This can be difficult to do at some events (when it’s so crowded), so do what you can, even if that’s just a few dynamic stretches before the starting gun goes off.
A lot of runners (especially new runners) tend to start the race wrong. They start the first mile with a sprint from the beginning, only to slow down later in the race. A proper race pace instructs runners to keep a consistent and steady pace.
Aim between 10 and 15 seconds slower than your average goal pace. So if you’d like to run a half marathon in 2 hours (9 minutes and 10 seconds per mile), start your first mile with 9 minutes and 20 seconds per mile.
Weaving around other runners will slow you down further. expending unnecessary energy and causing you to run further than the half marathon distance. Not fun!
This is what’s called running a negative split. This is where you finish the second half of the race faster than the first.
Settle into your pace, trust the process, and don’t worry about your finishing time just yet.
Between these six miles is where the attention to your running needs to start to pick. This part of your running race should be feeling your physical best. You should be in your groove and maintaining your average pace. It doesn’t need to be perfect, and try not to obsess over your watch.
The pace should feel moderate but sustainable. You’ve still got a few miles left to run! Also, during this point of the race, you should take on some simple calories. Energy gels (our favorite is Gu and Honeystinger) and chews are great options!
The second half is when maintaining the pace may get more difficult. Focus in increasing your perceived exertion. Increase your pace slightly, and don’t get too carried away with it. If you’ve paced your run correctly, you’ll be taking over other runners who went out too hard.
And let’s face it, who doesn’t like picking off runners one by one? Overtaking other distance runners will also help keep you motivated!
The final mile is the most difficult. But, this is what all that training was for. It’s time to put the hammer down. Increase your pace, but don’t sprint for the sake of sprinting.
You have two sprints left in you — one about a half mile from the finish and another in the last couple of hundred meters. Use them wisely!
Hydration and fueling while pacing
Before we get into half marathon fueling during the event, it’s essential to remember the importance of pre-race nutrition and hydration. Eat enough carbohydrates and proteins, and drink plenty of water in the week(s) leading up to your race.
Okay, back to race day…
Your hydration and fueling strategy will depend on your estimated finish time. For example, if you’re aiming for a 1:30 time, then you’ll need to consume less calories than someone who is running for 2 + hours like a marathon runner.
As a general rule of thumb, aim to take on carbohydrates every 45 to 60 minutes. If you’re running a 1:30 half marathon, consume a gel or chews at 45 minutes, and then a second one at 75 minutes.
Always practice your hydration and nutrition in training runs before an event (long runs are great for this). Try different gels, dry fruit, and other snacks to see what works best for you and your stomach. And whatever you do, don’t try something new on race day!
Race day tips for your half marathon
It’s normal to feel nervous on race day — you’ve spent months training, and you want to leave it all on the finishing line. But don’t worry; you’ve done the hard part already: the training.
But to ease the nerves and help you get the most out of your race, here are a few tips:
- Get plenty of sleep the night before the event
- Arrive at the venue an hour or more before start time
- Never wear a brand pair of new running shoes
- Warm up before the starting gun
- Maintain focus on your pacing strategy (it’s normal to feel slow in the beginning; don’t get carried away)
What factors affect your half marathon time?
Several factors can impact your half marathon time. These include:
- Course profile (mainly elevation, is it hilly or flat)
- Weather conditions
- Pacing strategy
- Fitness level
- Nutrition and hydration (on race day and the week leading up to the event)
Advice: Before signing up for your next event, check the course profile and time of year you’ll be running, e.g., is it likely to be hilly and cold, or flat and hot? If you’re looking for a personal best, find a flat course in moderate conditions, not too hot nor too cold (if possible).
Follow a half marathon training plan and set a new personal best
You can have the best half marathon pacing strategy in the world, but without the correct training, you’ll struggle to break your personal best. And if it’s your first half marathon, the extra training guidance will guarantee you reach the finish line in one piece!
We know how overwhelming and challenging it can be to decide what training sessions to do (tempo runs, long runs, intervals, etc.) and when to do them. But don’t worry — we have a mix of half marathon training plans starting at 8 weeks (and up to 20 weeks) you can choose from to help you best prepare for the starting line.
Don’t forget to use our half marathon pace chart to calculate your race pace!
Find a half marathon training plan for you or you can opt for a running coach.
What is the pacing strategy for a 1:45 half marathon?
You will need to run an average pace of 8:01 per/mile to finish in 1:45. Start the race slightly slower and increase the pace as the race goes on.
How do you pace a 1:55 half marathon?
You will need to run an average pace of 8:46 per/mile to finish in 1:55. Start the race slightly slower and then increase the pace as the race goes on.
What is the difference between a marathon and a half marathon?
A marathon is 26.2 miles, whereas a half marathon is 13.1 miles.
What is a reasonable half marathon pace?
This depends on your goal, but to break the 2-hour half marathon time (a common goal for many runners), you need to run an average pace of 9:09 per mile.