A Guide to Running a Half-Marathon in Under Two Hours

An achievable training plan for runners of all levels

Running under two hours in the half-marathon is an achievable goal for many runners. In this gentle half build you will be guided through a 12-week training plan where the goal is to run four days per week with the remainder of the week for cross training, strength, and flexibility exercises. Before beginning this plan, you should be comfortable running two to three times per week at a pace faster than 7:00/km. Listen to your body and modify your training to avoid injuries.

The plan consists of a workout (Wednesday), long run (Sunday), two easy runs (Tuesday/Thursday), and an optional cross training day. Running by effort at the beginning is key to determine the running pace that feels best for you. The long run should be done at a comfortable pace that you could maintain for an hour or more, this is called Long Slow Distance (LSD). Think about controlled breathing, relaxed arm swing, low knee lift, and feet touching the ground lightly with each stride. Some long runs are just a run whereas others have half-marathon pace sections embedded. Easy runs are shorter runs during the week where you are running 15-30 seconds faster than your long run. The workouts are a chance to practice race paces and good running form. They consist of a warm-up, strides, intervals, and warm down.


Be patient – follow the plan and use the off days to rest

Believe in yourself – use positive self-talk to get you through tough training

Flexibility – adjust the plan to fit your work/life schedule

Running shoes – wear shoes that are supportive and feel good on your feet

Maintain flexibility and strength – short sessions throughout the week will help you avoid injuries

Switch up running routes and surfaces – flat, hilly, paved, and trail


STRIDES – Accelerations to practice faster leg turnover and good running form (good posture, knees driving forward, arms bent). On an 80-100 metre flat stretch of pathway or grass, think about starting at an easier pace and finishing fast.

HMP – Half-Marathon Pace (5:42/km or under if your goal is to run under two hours)

NEGATIVE SPLIT – Run at your long-run pace for the first half of the run and then increase to half-marathon pace for the second half.

Download a PDF of the Guide to Running a Half-Marathon in Under Two Hours.

Photography by Pam Doyle

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