How do I determine my race pace for a half marathon?

I am into my second year of running and I have decided to enter a half marathon. The only runs I have done before now are 5k fun runs.

Throughout the winter, I carried out maintenence training using a schedule supplied by Runners World. I am now using a training schedule for a half marathon that consists of tempo runs, speedwork, long and short runs. I stick to the mins/mile pace as advised in the training schedule.

I have not run the entire 13.1 miles for the half marathon, but something quite close i.e. 12 miles as part of the training schedule. I completed this 12 miles in 2hrs 15mins as a result of the recommended min/mile pace.

My question is; Is my tempo run pace (in training) my race pace or something entirely different?

Also, I'm not sure if I have the confidence to run at race pace for fear of 'running out of gas' before I reach the finish line.

Any advice would be extremely helpful.




  • Feel your body. I ran my first Half Marathon weekend just gone (Great Scottish Run). At 57yrs old I did it in 2hr 19min. 

    My training runs (longest was 16.5 miles) leading up to the race indicated I was looking at 11-12 min/mile. My average was around 10min 30sec min/mile. My heart rate was above what I wanted, but I felt great and the 'event' atmosphere helped a lot.

    Last 2 miles was hard, but overall my pace felt comfortable. Lesson I learnt was that I need to train with others to get any faster - otherwise, I will be happy plodding along at 11min miles.

  • Put your fastest 5k time into mcmillan race calculator (google it)and it will give you an appoximate time to aim for image thens its up to you to decide if its possible or not .

  • Thanks guys for the advice which I will take on board. The tempo run I did consisted of 6 miles at 10.02 min/mile plus a 1 mile warm and 1 mile cool down. I did it but wasn't sure if I could keep this pace going for 13 miles, hence my question.

    i will try the Macmillan race calculator then see how I feel about the result based on my training as to whether it is achievable. Like Clive said, it may be down to how I feel on the day as to whether I attempt it or not.

    thanks for the pointers, They have given me a good idea on how to approach it.

  • Peter, sage advice above (and well done Clive!). If you have been following a plan with paces how did you arrive at the plan/paces? 

    As a 54 yr old I did my first HM in August and did almost all my training at 11:40mm's then ran the HM averaging 10:10mm's. Adrenalin on race day should help your speed but be careful you don't go out too fast to start.

  • Hi Andy,

    I used an online plan based on a 5k run time I had done in a Park Run. The pace times seemed reasonable so I went for it. 

    After struggling with the faster times for the weekly tempo run (alternating with speedwork) at the beginning of the schedule, I eventually found that I could cope and managed to stick to the designated pace, which slowly increased as the weeks rolled on.

    Initially, I had to slow down in both the tempo and speedwork but I felt it was better to do this and complete the training session rather than stopping before the end through exhaustion.

    Anyway, I am doing the Oxford Half Marathon this Sunday. I admit to being quite excited about doing this race, although I have some reservations about getting my pace right.

    I'll take on board all your advice and I'll post how I got on.

    Thanks everyone. I appreciate the advice from people who have already done it.


  • If you are not sure of a pace be cautious and take it steady the first few miles and see how you go .Its easy to get carried away but you will pay for it later in the race so I wouldnt try speeding up till about mile 10 and see if you still think you have a bit of extra pace  left .

  • Thanks Leslie. Good advice. I think I can 'feel' the comfortable pace that will get me round. Just got to kerb my impulse to keep up with the youngsters!

  • Having asked the question, I was surprised to find that the organisers of The Oxford Half Marathon (13th Oct 2013) provided pacemakers to cover various times to finish the course. The pacemakers wore black T Shirts and carried a small placard on a stick (tour guide style). Both the T shirt and placard showed what time that particular pacemaker would cover the course.

    I latched onto the guy with 2:15 on his T shirt (I learned he had come from Cornwall as a volunteer pacemaker). He did a good job. At 10 miles out, I felt quite comfortable and decided to up my pace and therefore finished in a slightly quicker time. 

    I thought the pacemaker idea was very helpful to me in that I had a group to run with; confidence to run at that pace; chance to chit chat with strangers who had the same goal. Worked for me.

  • Welldone on having a good raceimage and time to think about the next target image

  • Welldone Peter !!! I wish to you the next race will be a Marathon image

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