How Long Is a Half-Marathon?

Man stretching next to a woman before a half marathon

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A half-marathon is 13.1 miles or 21 kilometers. This is exactly half the distance of a full marathon (26.2 miles). It's a good goal for runners who have already completed a 5K (3.1 miles) race or a 10K (6.2) race and are looking for a new challenge. If you can complete 3 miles, you can start to train for a half-marathon.

When running your first half-marathon, you may complete it in two to three hours. If you use the run/walk method or you are a brisk walker you may take a bit longer. The cut-off time for finishing a half-marathon is usually set at 3.5 to four hours, depending on the race.

Choosing a Half-Marathon as Your Running Goal

The half-marathon is a popular race distance among runners because many see it as a worthwhile challenge that's not as time-consuming or physically exhausting as training for a full marathon. Half-marathon races are also fairly easy to find, as more and more keep popping up across the country. Some runners also see running a half-marathon as a good excuse to travel to a new city or train for a race with family or friends.

Some half marathons benefit specific charities, so some runners participate in a half marathon as a way to give back and support a good cause. If you are a slow runner or a walker, half-marathons often have more achievable cut-off times than marathons.

Half Marathon Training Plans

Another factor in choosing a half-marathon is that you will only need to train for 12 weeks and your long training days are significantly shorter than when training for a marathon. You can find a variety of half-marathon training schedules geared to different experience levels.

  • Run/Walk Half-Marathon Schedule: This 12-week training program is designed to help you use the run/walk method to reach the finish line of your half-marathon. To start this plan, you should have been run/walking for at least two months and should have a base mileage of about 8 to 10 miles per week.
  • Half-Marathon Training Schedule for Beginners: This 12-week training schedule is designed for beginner runners who want to get to the finish line of a half-marathon race. It assumes that you already run at least 8 miles per week. 
  • Half-Marathon Training Schedule for Advanced Beginners: This 12-week schedule is geared toward runners who can run 4 miles and can run four to five days per week. You may have never run a half-marathon before, but you're looking for a schedule that's a little more challenging than the half-marathon beginner schedule.
  • Half-Marathon Training Schedule for Intermediate Runners: If you've run at least one half-marathon race and you're hoping to improve your time, you'll definitely need to add speed training to your training regimen, if you haven't already. This 12-week training schedule will help you run your fastest half-marathon. To start this plan, you should already be running about 30 to 60 minutes a day, five days a week.
  • Half-Marathon Training Schedule for Advanced Runners: This training schedule is geared toward runners with long-distance running experience. Before you start this 12-week training schedule, you need to be able to run 8 miles comfortably and be able to run five days a week.

A Word From Verywell

If you are brand new to running, you can look ahead to a half-marathon as a good challenge. But don't skimp on the basics. Steadily build up your running time and distance by no more than 10 percent per week. Work on your running form.

Once you are able to run 3 miles at least three days per week you can begin thinking about training for different race distances. Look for 5K races so you become familiar with running in a race. Then you can start planning your training for a half-marathon.

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