How to Improve Your Half Marathon Time

In a sport that can be measured in milliseconds, improving your half marathon time by 1 minute is a lot… and 10 minutes is an eternity.

Most runners only see such huge time improvements when they first begin running and racing.

At that point the body has plenty of room for big leaps and the brain does too.

But it doesn’t have to stop there.

My friend Allie is proof. At 39 years old, and after more then a decade of running and racing, she cut her half marathon PR (personal record) from 1:38 to 1:28. It can be done at any age and at any time during your running life.

Run a Faster Half Marathon Time

Whether you are trying to break the Sub Two Hour half marathon or crank it down to 1:28, here is everything you need to know to run a faster half marathon.

And before we go any farther, just know that a good half marathon time is personal!

It’s about your training, your body, your life and what progress looks like in your running.


1. Understand it will be hard.

Setting a goal as big as subtracting 10 minutes off your overall half marathon time will at first, make you feel like a badass and likely scare you.

By the middle of training, those “good” scary feelings may be replaced with just plain scared, tired, doubtful and can have you on the verge of quitting.

You’ll be doing more speed work and more mileage than in the past, and every fiber of your being will feel it. You’ll also be adding in more:

If this still sounds like something you want to tackle, you are my kind of people, so read on.

Be sure of how badly you want to achieve this goal and then remind yourself every single day.Stop foam rolling your IT Band, here's why

2. Get Outside Help

If you dare to dream this big, you may want to consider hiring a coach.

When Allie was trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon way back in 2006, and had to take a whopping 20 minutes off, she hired a coach for the first time. The result? A 3:30 marathon PR and 10 minutes to spare for a BQ.

Of course there are countless ways to get information and training plans without paying for a one on one coach, just be careful of why you choose a certain plan, and also that it fits into your lifestyle as well as aligns with your ultimate goal.

Once you’ve picked a plan, stick to it!

Hoping around from idea to idea, won’t get you results.

With a goal this big, consider hiring a coach to keep you on track and injury free. Or checkout our Virtual Run Club for training plans and access to 9 running coaches.

Can you really take 10 minutes off your half marathon time? YES!! Checkout these tips from @runtothefinish Click To Tweet

3. Be Smart Enough to Slow Down

This may be the hardest lesson we all must learn.

Think that harder, faster, longer would equals better training?

It’s astonishingly wrong. Elite runners often talk about having the confidence to run slowly on your easy days, and that is truly what it comes down to.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense.

  • Your body needs to run both at top speed and very slowly to achieve your desired pace for race day.
  • If you don’t run your easy days as easy as possible, your body will not be able to recover as it should, and that can lead to the most dreaded of all outcomes: common running injuries.
  • Slowing down on easy days allows you to run more mileage, which builds endurance.

If you want to know how to run faster and longer, a big part of it is slowing down. Counter intuitive initially, but not long term.

Run your easy days easy. My half-marathon pace is 6:43 and I run my easy days between 8:30 and 9:00.

4. Listen to Your Body Signals

There is a fine line between discomfort and injury and you need to know the difference.

Just like having the confidence to run slower on your easy days, have the assurance in your training to take some unscheduled rest days or even time off if you feel an injury coming on.

At times Allie learned to trade road miles for elliptical drills and treadmill or track work for spinning.

At first scared that the miles on the elliptical and in the pool would not translate to real running miles. But, she trusted her coach; worked hard, let the body heal and then, ran a 3:28 marathon PR and winning her age group.

Sometimes rest is the best training you can give your body.

Learn how to maximize your training without running yourself in to the ground.

You don’t always have to run on the road or treadmill to reap the same benefits of running. If you have a manageable injury, rehab it on the elliptical and/or in the water for as long as it takes.How to take 10 minutes off your half marathon time

5. Surround Yourself with Support

While half marathon training may not be as time intensive as marathon training, when you’re working hard to hit all your long runs, speed workouts and all those recovery sessions it can mentally add up.

There will be days when your entire body is just saying “no.”

There will be days when your mind is saying “I can’t”.

It’s key to surround yourself with people who understand why this goal is so important to you and who will help you achieve it, no matter what.

  • That could be a coach who helps you work on mindset
  • Could be a friend you text during hard moments of a long run
  • Could be a spouse or significant other that brings you water on a long run and gives you a little pep talk to keep going

Know who you can turn to for motivation and support when the going gets a sub 1:30 half


6. Be Prepared to Change

Running has this fantastically magical way of changing your entire life for the better.

Somewhere in all those miles and in all of that sweat comes a change. It may start slowly at first but everything from your friends to your wardrobe will morph into something better and different from when you started out.

If you could see the intangibles like spirit, determination, confidence and resolve, running “before” and “after” pictures would be more mind blowing then any body transformation.

Get ready for big changes in every aspect of your life. That’s what achieving a big racing goal can do for you.

7. Fix Your Mental Blocks

When Allie first set her sights on breaking the 1:30 mark in the half marathon, she had plenty of people ready to see her fail. A so-called friend, when told the 6:45ish pace, laughed.

That was fuel for the fire.

As hard as it can be, if you put in the work, you have to block out what everyone else around you has to say about your goal. Especially if you spend much time on Instgram you can fall into the comparison trap.

Stay focused on your goal and your training.

Forget the rest and get past your own internal negative thoughts!

On race day you need to have nothing but confidence. Remind yourself of all the hard work you put in to make it to the start line and then let nothing stop you from achieving your goal.
run faster tips

The great thing about achieving a big bad scary goal is the confidence you gain to do it again and again, and in every aspect of your life, not just running.Dream big. Achieve. Repeat.

Thanks toAllie for so many personal insights, to help you see that training is about so much more than what is on the plan.

Additional faster half marathon tips:

What’s your current race goal?

What do you need to learn about yourself/your body to get faster?

Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish

Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

Get more running tips: Pinterest


How to Improve Your Half Marathon Time is written by amanda for

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