When someone first decides they want to run a half marathon, their first goal is usually just to finish. After they reach that goal, it is common to want to achieve some sort of time goal. A very popular one is the goal of running a 2 hour half marathon pace.
Running a 2 hour half marathon pace can be challenging, especially if you are a beginner. But is definitely possible. It took me 4 half marathons before I ran a half marathon in under 2 hours. It felt like a monumental feat.
Running a 2 hour half marathon pace means that you need to maintain a pace of 9:09 throughout the entire half marathon.
Hitting the sub-2 hour half marathon time really is attainable for most people if you take the steps to put in the right training.
When I first started out as a runner, I didn’t have much educational background in running and I didn’t work with a coach. This didn’t exactly set me up for success.
Don’t make the same mistakes I made! Follow these tips to help you achieve your goal of running a sub-2 hour half marathon! And I definitely recommend giving coaching a try so that you don’t have to go it alone. You will save so much time and headache if you have someone experienced on your side to get you to your goal.
10 Tips To Run A Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon Pace
Keep your easy runs easy
This tip is probably the hardest rule to follow and also the most important. Keep your easy runs easy. When you’re trying to achieve a pace goal, it is so tempting to speed up your runs thinking that it will help you to run a faster half marathon.
This is actually not true. 80% of your runs should be at an easy, aerobic pace. You should be able to hold a conversation and not be totally winded. This will help you to build up your aerobic capacity and prepare you to run long distances much better running all-out for every run.
Incorporate speed training into your plan appropriately
Another element of a good training plan is to have speed training (quality sessions) incorporated into the plan appropriately. As I mentioned before, you should try to stick to 80/20 when it comes to easy/hard running.
20% of your runs can be more challenging and will help you to become a faster runner. Just remember to keep your hard days hard and your easy days easy.
Practice your half marathon pace
As I mentioned above, to achieve a 2 hour half marathon pace, you need to maintain a pace of 9:09 (on average) throughout the entire 13.1 miles. In order to do this, your training plan should include at least some practice runs at that goal pace.
This will be added in sparingly and you will not be doing all your training runs at this pace. But doing some training at this pace will get your body and mind used to holding this pace and preparing for the race.
Use a training plan designed to get you to your goal
You should be using a training plan that is specifically designed to get you to your goal of running the half marathon in 2 hours. Your training plan should include pacing strategies that specifically support this goal.
As I mentioned above, this should include easy runs, hard runs, half marathon pace runs, as well as a weekly long run to prepare you for the distance.
Strength training is a great way to train your muscles to become stronger so that a speed goal is more easily attainable for your body.
Doing strength training for runners will help you to build stronger glute, hip, and leg muscles. Also, doing strength training for your upper body will help improve your posture and your running form.
It can also help to reduce your risk of injury.
Strength training can be a helpful part of a well-balanced training plan.
Dynamic warmups and stretching
Dynamic warmups and stretching are super important for runners and are often overlooked. I recommend doing a few minutes of dynamic warmups before you start your runs. High knees, leg swings, butt kicks, etc. gets your muscles warmed up and ready to run.
Stretching your muscles for a few minutes directly after finishing your runs can also help to stretch out your muscles and decrease your risk of injury. It also helps to alleviate muscles being sore the next day.
If you aren’t already incorporating dynamic warmups and stretching into your running routine, I highly recommend it!
Work with a coach
I may be biased, but I really do believe that working with a coach is one of the best ways your improve your odds of reaching your goal. Not only do you get their guidance and expertise, but you also get accountability and support.
We all have moments of doubt and frustration when we train for a goal, and the coach’s job is to be there to support you and help you to get back on track when you fall off.
As humans, we all benefit from having someone there to help us get back on track.
Trust me when I say that working with a running coach can make all the difference.
Fuel & hydrate well
Your body is the instrument that you will be using to get you to your race goal. It only makes sense that you need to fuel and hydrate it well if you want it to perform at its peak capability.
Just like you wouldn’t race a car unless it was filled with gas and had its oil changed when needed, you shouldn’t race using your body without properly fueling and hydrating it either.
Get enough sleep
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s such an important tip that a lot of people miss. A well-rested body will perform better when put to the test. Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep so that your body has the rest and energy it needs to run your best.
Adjust your mindset to build mental strength
Remember that training is a process. You’ll have good runs and bad runs and it’s all part of the process.
Use the training as an opportunity to build mental strength. Push yourself to persevere through the hard times.
Practice positive affirmations and mantras. Dig deep for your inner strength.
The training will teach you how to keep going when things get tough. You can take those lessons with you into the race. You’ll learn that you are capable of pushing through challenges. You’re stronger than you think.