Realistic targets for a 40 something

For a few years I have gone to the gym, done half an hour on the x-trainer, and up to 5km on the treadmill and a few weights.

Recently some friends entered the Brighton half marathon and I had the urge to do likewise. A house move and other life events meant I didn't start training until 4th Jan, my training was started, knew I was hooked for life on running. My final long run 12th Feb was 19km.

Completed in 2:18:55 (Sun 19th) and feel great today, it hurt during the final 3 miles on the day.

Entered Chester half marathon 13th May and intend to do a proper training schedule as some training rules were broken to get to Brighton on Sunday.

I gave up beer/ wine for my training and am happy to continue this path, have two hours (more if required) available each day for training (more on Sunday), and am totally in love with running. Probably half a stone overweight (6'0" / 13st 10lbs)


How quickly/ long (months / years) would it take to get sub 2:00 for a half marathon?

Am I being crazy to think 1:30 for a half is achievable?

This year want to concentrate on half marathons, with the aim of my first full marathon next year, hopefully Brighton, loved the course image

ps. hello and tia!



  • May might be pushing it to get under 2 hours, but 6 months definitely if you put the effort in. 1:30 is a different ball game... I wouldn't even think about it unless you can run a mile in under 6 minutes.

    But it doesn't matter, you have a sensible very achievable goal of 9 minute miles, go and do it!

  • Thanks for the input.

    Should have qualified my original post more and left May out of the equation for getting < 2:00. I want to still enjoy the training and avoid injury, possibly lucky to do so with so little build up to my first run @ Brighton.

    Getting sub 2:00 within this year would be totally acceptable for me, and will be made my goal image

    Ok, so I am being crazy with the 1:30 delusion for the moment!!

    Need to convert my training and timings to miles, I have used km up until now and everyone on Sunday was talking miles and minutes!
  • The first three posts here are worth a read, and say what I would say in a lot more detail!

  • Thanks for the link, food for thought. I have spent an age perusing the forums to the detriment of my work for the past couple of days... image

    My reasons for wanting to do the distance / times is purely personal, I simply love the feeling of pushing the boundaries of ones abilities. The feeling during a Sunday morning long run (I have only done a handful!!) is better than that of any sport I have participated in during my lifetime.

    During my school days, Lassie Viren, Brendan Foster and co were my heroes. How I am now wishing I had carried on running beyond junior school, feels like I have wasted half a lifetime playing football and golf etc!!

  • JakeUK wrote (see)
    How I am now wishing I had carried on running beyond junior school, feels like I have wasted half a lifetime playing football and golf etc!!
    Better than wasting half a life drinking and smoking!
  • Unfortunately I have done my share of 'drinking with the boys' over the years!!

    Another great by product of taking up running has been virtual abstinence from beer and vino image A few celebratory drinks on Sunday my first tipple of 2012.
  • I would think if you know there are laces to improve on your training then sub 2 will be achievable in May if your training goes well.....

    try and watch that the new enthusiam doesn't mean you do too much too soon and get injured.....

    sub 1:30 is another ballgame........but age isn't againgst you on its own......plenty of fast older guys out there....

    good luck and enjoy
  • Hi Jake

    I am 44 female

    I can relate to so much you have said image I started seriously running around 8 months ago, before that was treadmill in the gym then at home.  Once I ventured out on the road I was truly addicted and really love it.  I have joined 2 running clubs, completed a fair few 5 and 10K races, road and trail, and am doing my first HM at Silverstone on 11th March

    I too think back to my school days when I was pretty good at cross country and wonder why I never carried on with running image I guess thats just part of life though.  I can honestly say that its changed my life, I have virtually given up drinking (and I seriously liked my wine) lost weight for the first time without dieting and take more care about what I eat and drink image

    The way I look at it is, all the years I didn't run my body has not suffered so I should be able to run now until I am very old image

    Enjoy your running and good luck for future races and goals image

  • Thanks for the replies image

    seren nos, I didn't follow any training plan from Jan up to my race on Sunday and am really interested to see the progress using a proper training plan for my next race. The one I am favouring is the Ryan Hall from here, the ten week plan. Previously my training was gradually building the mileage through the week with a long run on Sunday. Hopefully my foolish exuberance has been done now and training will be gradual and steady image

    The 1:30 figure seems like a magical number and would be one of my greatest achievements (other than fatherhood!).

    Booey, can relate totally to your experience, it would be interesting to compare progress as we are at the same stage in life! Likewise with the vino, have had my share over the past few years since the children arrived! Barely miss it now although it was lovely to have a few drinks on Sunday with friends after the race image

    Likewise, the very best of luck with your goals and times, it would be no surprise if we were running in the same race at some point!

    Really helpful posters on here, hopefully I will be able to offer advice to newcomer older runners in a year or so image
  • I joined the forum as soon as I started road running and I can honestly say everyone on here has been so helpful, encouraging, informative and lovely to me image I really coundn't have done without them and their advice on many occasions image

    I will let you know how I get on with the HM image

  • Hi Jake,

    You come across as a hugely motivated person and that resonates with me.  I think you've got every chance of achieving all your goals, given a reasonable amount of time.

    I'm 48, I got to a sub 2 hour half mara in 6 months from nothing last year, and I didn't have your background in aerobic conditioning or running 5k on a treadmill. 

    It's definitely achievable from your recent HM result, but nobody can reliably say if you'd do it by May.  There are so many factors - how will your body stand up to the increased training mileage, are you able to do enough but stay wide of injury, will you meet your weight-loss goal, how will you pace yourself on the day, blah blah.

     The 1: 30 thing, that's something else.  It'sprobably helfpul to think of each 5 minutes off your HM time as being a significant could well achieve this, but it may be wise to have several sensible intermediate goals and keep it as a long-term plan for the time being?

    Best of luck, keep us all posted!

  • Thanks questforspeed,

    The 1:30 is definitely a longer term goal, one that I would love to achieve before the body tells me it is not possible!

    It's amazing how much one's perception of the sport changes as we get more involved. When downloading endomondo for my phone I never realised there would ever be a need for anything more complex than this for training! My first watch purchase will be this week, and I can't wait to bash out a few miles with my HR being monitored image

    Again thanks for the feeback.

  • questforspeed,

    also meant to add... What a blinding time for your first HM!!! You must have been over the moon, there must have been a good few young whippersnappers behind you image
  • JakeUK,  yes, I was pleased with the time.  Unfortunately, I developed an achilles tendon injury the very next weekend in a hmble 5K parkrun and that put me out of action for 5 months.

     But that's all behind me now and very much a useful part of the learning experience.  I now train when I feel recovered from the previous session, not just because my schedule says it's a traning day!

    Go at it with a level-headed attitude, constantly scan your body for signs of overtraining, always take a day, two or three days off if you've overcooked it, and you'll steadily improve and meet your goals and enjoy yourself in the process.

     Keep us posted, right?

  • Will deffo keep the world posted of my times image Likewise, would love to know how you progress, can't imagine the frustration at being sidelined for five months. It must have been torture.

    Just been out for my first run since Sunday, wanted to keep the distance down and just keep loose, 5km 24:39. Very pleased, felt nothing at all from the weekend run. One of my problems might be over enthusiasm and thinking I am still 25, need to keep this in check image
  • Hmmm, realised a couple of days after my < 25 min 5k that Endomondo was not being truthful! Have since acquired a 305 and am getting accurate times for training and beginning to realise the enormity of shaving five and 10 minutes off pb's!!

    Averaging a touch over 10 minute miles for 10k training runs, nine minute miles are going to take some serious work in the short term over the full hm trip.
  • Hi Jake, it's great that you've got these baseline paces now in you now. 

    Even if it doesn't feel like it, there's a benefit in building a nice base of  miles at your 10k pace and also somewhat slower.

     Have you got a tempo run/ lactate threshold run in your schedule once a week?  That will help the speed side of things - that was my experience, anyway.   It can be quite short to begin with.  I did around 6 miles once a week for mine when I was training for the HM.  Remember, even that shouldn't be too fast - just fast enough that you'd quite like to slow down if you could - stick either term in the search bar and loads of stuff will come up from the experts on here.

    Hope you're still having fun  and staying motivated - these things are really important! image

  • JeremyGJeremyG ✭✭✭
    This first year of running is the most important. Build up slowly with a gradual increase in length/ no of runs. Don't worry too much about speed ie intervals - introducing these too quickly without a good solid base increases risk of injury. Or join a club - they could help with gradual intro of tempo/speed work.
    It will come as long as you keep training and stay motivated.
    I've been running 2 years now and this weekend did 1:29:48 for a half (I'm 44!) so anything is possible!
  • Thanks for the replies guys, it is genuinely helpful and useful reading specific replies.

    As for motivation, I have never been so addicted to any sport / hobby / whatever before. As soon as I am back from a run my thoughts turn to the next run wishing I was still out running (this seems like a common theme for newbies image ).

    The running club option really appeals, there were several around me that are easily accessible but having to commit to certain nights / times does not gel with my work / children, sadly.
  • Whooaa. Meant to give a huuge thumbs up for the 1:29:49. That's a blinding effort after only two years, I will use you as my role model image
  • Well im aiming to get my 5k time down to 18 minutes before im 44.

    At the moment its 18:51 

    Im 43. I've got 4 months

    My HM time is 1:31 abit slow but it was my first at 43.

    Running is a sport of conditioning

    Injuries occur when the route to that conditioning lacks the proper routine and method.

    Few injuries are the result of age. 

    While as you get older your ability to increase and maintain muscle mass decreases ( I dont know why and care even less) and so times decrease, with the correct training you still have the potentional to reach the best that is possible.

    The facts are that not only could you run a 1:30 half marathon you simply will if you train enough.

    Oh and if you have what it takes mentally.

    Thats why as soon as you have a good base you have to start on mixing in stamina and speed training in to the mix.

    40 year olds are good at running slow and long, but running well enough to do 1:30, is being able to run for a long time over distance at speed. A few 10k's and expecially 5k's will get you over the idea that speed is a young runners thing.

    One last thing 6 foot and 13 stone?

    You have to work on the tricky matter of loosing weight and maintaining strength. 

    It really helps, though I can give no other advice except  eat well. Running is best used as a way to get better at running. Change your diet to loose weight. Running to loose weight is rathere brutal and a bit of a non-starter

  • Stephen EF,  you're obviously a highly experienced and able runner - I hope you get to that magic 18:00 in time!

    All the points you make seem very relevant to less experienced runners (myself included.)  But I just wanted to pick you up on the point about 6 foot and 13 stone.

    There is such a thing as an ideal build for an endurance runner - I'm talking genetics as well as what happens if you make good nutritional and training choices.  

      BUT I am not that build - 6 foot 1 and nearly 14 stone, and I look quite lean at that weight.  I'm a mesomorph with a deep chest, very broad shoulders and big old femurs that pack on muscle very easily, even without looking at weights.  Okay, so if I made the right tweaks to my diet, I might shed 7 lbs to attain a performance weight, but no way am I going to end up at 12 stone something.  How do I know? because I wasn't even when I was a super-lean student and could easily run 5:40 miles  ( I gave up running in my mid-twenties before starting again over 20 years later)

     We don't know what build Jake is - Jake would you care to comment?  He could be tall but reasonably powerful at his current weight.  Or he could be an ectomorph who should ideally be even lighter.  All I'm saying is that not everybody can end up with the ideal build of an endurance runner.  

  • Some really impressive numbers popping up on this thread, good luck with the 18 minute 5k, that's impressive!

    With regards to my build, I am probably somewhere in the middle. I have tried to upload an image from the Brighton HM but it needs to be checked by site team! The only place I feel I have excess body fat is around my middle.

    Is it worth getting checked for % body fat? Since starting running, I have changed my diet, lots of beans and pulses feature through the week. Fish nearly every night, my one weakness is still having chips more often than I should with the fish!!
  • Hi Jake, you say you're in the middle, but I'm saying that I am, too. So obviously you're significantly lighter for your height already...

    I'd say skip the body fat/ composition test for now  as it's only sensible if you can repeat it quite regularly (expensive).  If you can see there's extra fat round the middle, you don't need a test.  Men also carry  abdominal fat internally so that's less obvious.  Probably keeping the small changes you've already made will get you gradually leaner... long-term is always better than drastic.  And hey, eating chips if one of life's joys. Just schedule it in deliberately from time to time and really savour them! 

    Good luck, keep us posted.


  • Hi ,
    I had a similar question for myself a couple of months ago. All I had done till this year was walking. I'm 42, pretty skinny, male. I was reasonably handy at cross country at school.

    I've entered a HM 1st april and started a 12 week plan. I found it difficult to know what pace to run at for training runs (easy, tempo etc). I entered a low key HM for experience, not caring how I finished. I set off at 1:50 pace, and came in strongly at 1:41. (my pace was all over the place - but it was a learning experience!)
    A ran a second low key HM race last weekend, ran a constant pace, and finished in just over 1:37.

    I've set my sites on 1:35 for 1st April. 1:30 time seems like its way off for me at the moment - maybe a target for next year.

    Biggest concern is that I have pushed things along too hard since starting in January, so I am having a very light training week this week - i've barely done any running, mainly been on a cross trainer.
  • JeremyGJeremyG ✭✭✭
    Andrew my previous HM was 1:37. Don't know what my next target will be 1:25??
    As background I did a double ultra in Feb and am training for an ultra in June so doing 60+ miles a week. So am regularly running over HM distance. Doing the HM was kind of speed work for me as I haven't been doing much so was quite pleased even if I did drop off a bit - first 10k was a pb time too image
  • Some good running info & times in here. It really does take time to build up and helps to master a distance first. Going from 2:18 to 1:30 is a long term thing.

    Jake, I did 2hrs 11 for my first half... many moons ago now, 7 years... Lost some weight, trained well on own and next year did 1hr 44, then 1:39 and so on. Up & down a bit, injuries then did a half again last year first time in 3 years, surprised myself fitness wise again 1:39.

    Trained for a marathon last year, went sub 4 first time and then did 1:36 half soon after.

    Have joined a running club December and helping (not sure I couldve done this 5-6 years ago). Doing another half in 8 days..looking good for 1:35 -1:32 or less. 1:30 is a still a distance off, but not far.

    My blog with info on some of the things I did last year running & gym wise is here....
    Building up is important, you can't just run, gym and other things required for safe base.
  • Interesting to read this thread. I am heading for a half in June and confident I can complete the trip ok - probably a bit over 2 hours.

    Check out the Mcmillanrunning pacing tables - you can play around with them to see that a 5k time of around 20mins would indicate at 1:30 half marathon. 4min ks is damn quick in my book.

     I'd say join a club and get a good focused training plan.

  • Thanks for the additional replies. Having discussed with the wifey, we are going to change things about so I can get to a running club, really excited about this. The concern with the club is my pace, which at the moment is not very fast!!

    Would be interested to see how you get on in 6 days with the HM, best of luck image

  • How did it go, Fit_running_cat?;
    Doing another half in 8 days..looking good for 1:35 -1:32 or less. 1:30 is a still a distance off, but not far.

    Just did my first ever < 60 minute 10km run (only training but it counts for me!), the feeling of elation is hard to articulate. Wifey is not home but just wanted to tell someone/ anyone image

    One burning question I have for the experienced runners;

    Since getting my 305, I have become totally wrapped up in times. Today was meant to be a nice steady 10km ahead of some horrible hills tomorrow (at the in laws and have no choice, also thought it would be a change). Today, as my first couple of km's were faster than I thought I was going I then got caught up in aiming for my first < 60 minute 10km. This seems to be happening on most non long runs atm.

    Am I more likely to get injured doing this, or is it healthy as I am going no further than 10km on the majority of my non long runs?
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