2nd half - what realistic time to aim for?

Hi. After a lifetime of hating & avoiding running, I recently ran my first half (Cardiff) @ the age of 50 in a (to me) respectable time of 1:57. Depending on where you look this is either good for a 1st, or average, but I digress..
I'm planning on doing another half in 14 weeks. There are obviously various plans out there for timed halfs, but just after thoughts on what would constitute as a reasonable target. I still very much think of myself as a beginner, so would sub 1:50 seem reasonable?
I'm not a member of a club to ask, so apologies if this seems a daft Q.
Many thanks :)


  • It's not daft at all. And yes, that's a great time for a first half. It took me 13 halves before I managed to get under two hours.
    1:50 is a bit jump in terms of pace - about 30 seconds per mile (from 8:55 to 8:24). I'd try for sub-1:55 first (around 8:40).
  • TTTT ✭✭✭
    Well done, sub two is a really good time. As Cal says sub 150 is a big leap. I would go for under 155 and then plan for another HM next spring to go under 150.
  • chamolkchamolk ✭✭✭
    Great time for your first half.

    14 weeks is a decent amount of time to see an improvement, by it depends on a lot of other factors. If you're new to running, you're more likely to see significant improvements fairly quickly just by running regularly and getting fitter. The longer you've been at it, the more work it takes to get improvements.
    It also depends how much time and effort you are able to /want to put in to the training (ie the more training someone does, the more improvements they're likely to see), though if you're new to running, don't push things too soon - your heart /lungs /muscles can adapt quicker than your joints can, which is a fairly common cause of injuries in new/newish runners.

    What sort of level of training had you been doing for your recent half? And do you have a rough idea how much training you'll be doing per week before the next half? 
  • Many thanks for the comments - really helpful! I can see how people push themselves too far and get injuries, as from a novice standpoint (i.e. mine!) trying to beat 1:50 sounded possible. I've had the reality check I needed :blush:
    I'd been running on and off for a year, but had followed a standard non-time "do a half" plan in 10 weeks that had 2 slower paced short runs (I'd been doing 5k's) midweek with a longer weekend run that got longer week by week and peaked 2 weeks prior at 12m. Previously I'd been doing a fair bit of mountain biking and walk the dogs 10k twice at weekends.
    I don't have a specific plan in mind yet but can do something similar with an added gym session a week and also have the option of running to & from work 2 days a week. The rest of the time is taken up by "life" such as taxiing kids about and walking the dog..
  • TTTT ✭✭✭
    Strength training will really help. If one of the gym staff is a runner ask them to help you out a programme together to target the muscles needed (lots of one leg work). Rather than adding more running how about cycling to work? 
  • chamolkchamolk ✭✭✭
    Although it's nice to have a target time, sometimes it can encourage unhelpful attitudes, especially if unrealistic. I think 1:50 would be achievable for you, but it might be best for your second race to focus on having training target, rather than a race time target. See if you can get 3 runs a week, or 4 runs a week, or see if you can average a certain number of miles per week. If you do that, you'll almost certainly see an improvement in your time, then you could see what was a realistic target for number 3.

    As mentioned, it's always a good idea to do some strength work too. And mobility work. And cross training. And then somehow find an extra few hours in the week to fit it all in..... 
  • I had been cycling to work a couple of days a week but alas we moved offices 6 weeks back and now that's not an option (nowhere to leave my bike). Sigh...
    Maybe just building up the miles is the answer. If that's the answer finding time to fit everything in is the question (same as everybody)!
  • chamolkchamolk ✭✭✭
    Recently, I've found it easier to squeeze in a bit of core /strength/mobility stuff in the evenings, after my wife and boys have gone to bed. Just 15-20 minutes is enough for a useful session - instead of sitting off the sofa watching TV, I get up and do something while watching TV.

    The runs are a bit more difficult to get time for sometimes
  • Well done on the sub 2 for a first half, but don’t underestimate how much extra effort is involved in knocking a minute off that, never mind 7 minutes. You have to be realistic, and first of all come up with a way to calculate what that realistic time is. I once found a couple of websites that predicted finishing times based on your other distance PB’s, which for both me and my 13 year old son was remarkably accurate, even for wildly varying distances from 200m to half marathon. In my case, I can do 5k in 22:20, 10k in 47:00 and half in 1:49:48 - working backwards it even predicted 100m in 14 seconds which is pretty much bang on. In my lads case, it was accurate from 100m, 200m, 800m, 1500m and 5k. I appreciate that it’s not going to be an exact science, but I doubt that a1:50 half will be in the cards unless you’re regularly under 23 minutes parkrun. Whatever training you do, I would say that you regularly need to be running for 90 minutes without stopping, regardless of pace. Time on your feet is just as important as speed training.
  • Firstly - well done  - it took me 13 HMs before I got under 2 hours (and a whole lot more to get to where I am now, which is just under 1:53).
    I agree with what Wheelyneil says - there is a huge difference in pace between doing 1:57 and 1:50 - more than 30 seconds per mile. I would aim for 1:55 initially but any PB is going to be good.
    If you've done sub-2 in your first marathon then a sub-1:50 is attainable but you'll  need longer and more miles. (For the record, I am 52 now and started doing half marathons in my late 40s. I am still improving so you have plenty of time).
  • It's the learning part that I think is the key. Training plans are great and should give one an idea of how one is going to perform, but nothing wholly prepares you for the event itself. 

    Improvements can definitely be made through structured training. But it also depends on the day itself, how you feel, the course and the conditions. If I've learnt anything over the last year through doing a lot of halfs it's that every race presents it's own unique challenge. 

    As others have said 1:55 is a good target to aim for, but if your training goes well there's no reason why you shouldn't adjust that.
  • > @Cal Jones said:
    > Firstly - well done  - it took me 13 HMs before I got under 2 hours (and a whole lot more to get to where I am now, which is just under 1:53).
    > I agree with what Wheelyneil says - there is a huge difference in pace between doing 1:57 and 1:50 - more than 30 seconds per mile. I would aim for 1:55 initially but any PB is going to be good.

    Thanks. Cal. I was really pleased with the 1:57. After doing zero training (other than a local trail run - also my first) and being generally gluttonous over xmas did the Victoria Park half in London in 2:01, which serves me right tbh!
    Still, got a place in my first marathon - Snowdonia in October, so training for that starts.. now. I'll be sensible and aim for a 1:55 in this years Cardiff half which is a month or so before the marathon so we'll see how I get on.
    Appreciate all the valued comments above - and apologies for my innate ramblings :)
Sign In or Register to comment.