Marathon times?


Can anyone tell me what a good marathon time is for a total beginner. I have only just managed to run an half marathon distance and was difficult. I would love to do the full marathon but need an idea about times.

Thanks Julie


  • I would say four hours or so would be a good time - others may disagree. If you take your half time and add 20 mins or so - you should be able to do that for the full marathon. Ish.

  • How long is a piece of string?  I was very pleased to go under 4 hours for my first marathon.  Other people would be delighted with 5 hours.  I suggest you don't worry too much about the time for your first one.
  • cougie - I am still trying to get a good time then lol.

    Julie -  Have you got a marathon in mind? It is not easy to get into London marathon unless you can raise lots of money for charity or get a good for age place. There are lots of lovely marathons out there to do and remember your first marathon will be a PB image 

  • I personally think the benchmark is 4 hours, anything under that is good, solid running. 
  • I think I read that four hours is round about the most popular finishing time - my definition of good may not tie in with anyone elses though.

    I'd just enjoy the race though - its a looong way and just finishing is really good !
  • Julie, you have my admiration for even thinking about doing it. Take it easy and don't kill yourself. Make sure you train enough to get you round, and remember that it's supposed to be fun!
  • Julie

    i really don't know the answer to that, i guess it would be what ever you deem a respectable time

    but try and understand HM and FM - two different things

    personally i think all these posts are right

    and YES , it's all meant to be fun ""

    good luck  

  • cougie wrote (see)
    I would say four hours or so would be a good time - others may disagree. If you take your half time and add 20 mins or so - you should be able to do that for the full marathon. Ish.

    If I took my half time and added 20 mins to get my full marathon time I'd set a new world record.  You might need to double the half before adding the 20 mins image

     Personally for your first marathon I would say it's more about finishing than about time.  MicknPhil's right about the difference between HM and FM because the FM is psychologically draining as well as physically so.  I'd say a full marathon is way more than twice as hard as a half.

    Having said that, my first marathon is still my fastest. 

  • Personally, with my first marathon, I'd be happy at doing the whole distance, and if I could do it without walking, then that'd be a bonus.

    I guess everyone has different goals, and its up to the individual to figure out what their goal wants to be.

  • Julie, I've just finished my first half Marathon too (having started from complete scratch - 1 min run 2 min walk for 20 mins) back in late Feb.

    I agree with the last few posters - a respectable time for a runner is a really personal thing. My first 10k (in May) was finished in 1 hr 6 mins and small change and by most people who raced that day it was slow - (I finished in the bottom 10%), but it was such a thrill to complete and not finish last, the feeling was something like winning the whole race for me, anyway!

    My next time aim is to do the 10k in less than an hour (in Sept was agonisingly close at 1 hr 6 secs) but again, when I finished the race was so chuffed that I had smashed my pb by 200 seconds.

    I knew from my 10k times that a sub 2 hour half marathon (in Oct) was pretty much impossible, but  when I completed in 2 hr 14.40 it was another complete thrill - again it was like winning the race for me.

    Running my first marathon next year it will be so cool to complete the race. For me, aiming for sub 4 hours is pretty unlikely sitting here typing in November, but who knows - as a beginner I (just like you I guess) I am still finding out what my limits are. Sub 4 hrs 30 mins would feel amazing, though I need to train hard to get anywhere near that ...but just to complete my first marathon will be such a buzz!!! I'm 43, am "soft in the middle" - by about 2 stone and am not built like a distance runner! My realistic target is quite different to my skinny, younger friend!

    So, Julie, I'd have to say - don't just aim at a random time that others classify as "the norm". Your first goal is to complete (and what a buzz that will be) - your target time should bear some relation to your previous achievements. I've found this calculator to be fairly (though not totally!) accurate if you want an idea what that time should be And please judge your performance in the context of your previous running and goals you set for yourself, rather than what others say you should be doing.

  • Doh - yes double your half time and add 20 mins or so - silly me !
  • Eek - I think sub 4 is brilliant not just good......

    I'm hoping to get a club place for London & having done a 2hr half I would love to do 4.30 but  5hrs would still be good! 

    I would just agree with the others & be happy with a good run & finishing regardless of the time image

  • I'm doing my first full Marathon next year and looking to do it in about 4 hrs to 4hrs30 min which is about double my half time but to be honest i'll be happy just to get round and finish as this will be an achievement in it's self
  • I don't think you can answer this with a definitive time though I love cougie's optimism! Good thing no one told me that earlier in the year...

    By way of a bench mark, I did my first Marathon in September this year. I had never run more than 5km charity fun runand a 20mile walking charity fast walk. I did the Penguin's walk-run training plan, did my last 20 mile training run to finish a marathon at 4.40 - then got to the Berlin and in the heat, finished in 5.24. My initial goal was to finish with a smile on my face under 6 hours - I think meerting the goal is more important than any time  and what I learned on the way (in the training) was just as important. 

     If time is really bothering you, maybe you can tell us more about your running history... 

     Good luck

  • Thanks alot folks. I dont think I have got any chance of completing a marathon near 4 hours! As alot of you have said my main aim initially is to just complete my first one without any walking. As I said in my earlier post I have only just started on the half marathon distance and do sometimes wonder how on earth I would double it! Watch this space though I am a very determined person and it may take me a while but with positive thinking I will hopefully do this in the future.

    Thanks again


  • Looks like you have your own answer Julie! Fantastic - and best of luck in your journey.
  • Why no walking?

    Walking has a place in a runners toolkit. Course Management. If running up hills kills you then walk them and run the flat bits faster. I do hilly runs. In a recent race I walked an uphill or two (actually three), on one I lost 4 yards on a nice young lady who ran the hill. At the top by heart rate had dropped, my legs felt better, I left her behind as hers clearly didn't.

    It was a half marathon, I ran 1:56. I think that counts me as a runner rather than a person who took part, but I walked, am I runner. Yes, one who uses resources carefully.

    Take your HM time, double it, add on 20minutes and that is a likely time if you put the training time in. Good Luck.


  • I would say that 4 hours for a total beginner is probably a bit optimistic. As said above you won't really know until you start training. But don't get het up with times, just enjoy the day. It will be a PB. Best of luck.
  • I'm a beginner too, and i'm doing my first 10K next week. I had to estimate a time and I put 66 minutes - I don't know if I'll make that or not. I hope so.

    I'm running a half marathon in February and  marathon in May. At the moment, I think under five hours is something to hope for. But finishing is my real aim. And I'm hoping that I'll enjoy it so much i'll go on and do lots more.

    Good luck with the training.

  • Thanks again everyone. Thanks Dave for the post on some walking not being a problem on hilly moments. That is a much more sensible attitude than aiming to run all the way and then not being able to do it! I am very nervous about the full marathon being totally different to the half marathon and would hate it if I entered and didnt achieve! I would never do this lightly without thinking I may not be able to do it . My first ever event is next  April the Sheffield half marathon. I will then consider a full marathon and post in several years time to tell you I managed it ! image


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