Average Half Marathon Time

The big half: what's a good half marathon time?

Just signed up for a half marathon? You’ve navigated your way here, so chances are you’re at least thinking about it. 

Just signed up for a half marathon? You’ve navigated your way here, so chances are you’re at least thinking about it. 

Maybe you’re on the hunt for some stats before committing 100%? Though we’d argue a ‘good’ marathon time is different for everyone, getting your head around average pacing and overall times can be useful when setting goals and figuring out your training plan. 

So, let's start with the basics…how far is a half marathon?

A half marathon is 13.1 miles, that’s roughly 21km. Your time will depend on a number of variants, including your age, fitness level, and chosen route.  

How long does it take to train for a half marathon?

Most half marathon training plans span 10-12 weeks, though it is possible to condense these down to 8 weeks if you find yourself a little short on time.  

What is the average half marathon time in the UK?

In the UK, the average half marathon time is 2:02:43. Now if you’re a total beginner, this probably seems ambitious…

So, what is a good time for your first half marathon?

For first-timers, getting over the finish line anywhere between 2:20:00 and 3:00:00 is a great goal to aim for and with 10-12 weeks of training, it’s totally achievable. 

What is a good time for intermediate half marathon runners?

For intermediate runners (i.e. regular runners! This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve completed a half marathon before) sub 2 hours is a popular goal. 

What is a good time for elite half marathon runners?

When it comes to elite goals, times vary between male and female times. For men, elite times generally fall between 1:10:00 and 1:30:00. For women, they sit somewhere between 1:20:00 and 1:40:00. 

What is the half marathon world record for men?

The fastest-ever half marathon time was recorded in November 2021 at the Lisbon Half Marathon. Ugandan athlete Jacob Kiplimo set the new world record when he crossed the finish line at 57:31. Yikes!

What is the half marathon world record for women?

The women’s world record is held by Ethiopian athlete Letesenbet Gidey. In October 2021 she completed the Valencia Half Marathon in 1:02:52. 

What is the average time it takes to run a half marathon?

We’ve covered overall times, but what about pacing? 

On average in the UK, male half marathoners keep a pace of 8.96 mins per mile (that’s 5.57 mins per kilometre) while female runners keep a 10.29 mins per mile pace, (that’s 6.40 mins per kilometre). 

Now you’ve got an idea of what your goal should be, the next step is planning to make sure you reach it. 

3 Tips for Improving Your Half Marathon Time

  1. Perfect Your Pacing

The half marathon will test you physically and mentally. While focusing on your anaerobic fitness is a must, a lot of runners spend too much time trying to improve their stamina and not enough time perfecting their splits. 

Pacing is a mental game - it can be tempting, particularly in race conditions, to blitz through your first mile at a pace you’re never going to be able to maintain. But doing so will only leave you gasping for breath and struggling to make it over the finish line. 

The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to run even splits. Decide on a comfortable race pace, and stick to it from start to finish. Doing so will ensure you stay below your lactate threshold, and reduce the risk of early fatigue and heavy legs. 

  1. Hit the Gym

If you’re trying to avoid injury, strength training is non-negotiable. 1-2 days a week in the gym will also help you run faster and more efficiently, by improving your muscular coordination, power, mobility, and stride. 

  1. Follow a Training Plan

Consistency is key when it comes to achieving your running goals and the best way to stay consistent is by following a training plan. They provide structure and ensure your workouts are tailored towards reaching your goal. 

There are hundreds of coach-approved plans available for free online.

Which half marathon should I choose?

The UK has so many amazing half-marathon events to choose from, it just depends on what you’re looking for…

For the nervous newbie

Hackney Half
Not just a race, this iconic event is a full-on festival. A guaranteed good time with a fast, flat route and on-course entertainment, this run is the perfect entry-level race.  

Hackney Half Marathon

Great Manchester Run

One of the world’s biggest half marathon events, this unforgettable experience is a true gem in the racing calendar. The city shuts down to accommodate the massive crowds, meaning the route is always lined with cheering spectators, music zones and ample aid stations. 

Great Manchester Run

For the escape artist

Run Tatton Half Marathon

If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, but still beautifully scenic, Run Tatton is the perfect choice. Set in rural Cheshire, participants are invited to run the flat, wildlife-studded course as fast or as easy as they like. 

Run Tatton Half Marathon

Brett Lyd Half Marathon

Explore the beautiful flat marsh landscape surrounding Lydd in Kent on this rural, out-and-back course. Popular for its supportive, social atmosphere, this half marathon is an excellent choice for first-timers. 

Brett Lydd Half Marathon

For the hill lover

The Maverick Adidas Terrex Original Oxfordshire

Swap the roads for trails in the gorgeous Oxfordshire countryside. Set in the picturesque Chiltern Hills, this 21k course definitely isn’t flat, but what it lacks in ease it makes up for in views.

Maverick Oxfordshire Half Marathon

How should beginners train for a marathon?

In our experience, the post London Marathon ballot day leaves us either feeling totally amped to get training or seriously disappointed about missing out. If you’re in the disappointed camp, time to set your sights on something else.

In our experience, the post London Marathon ballot day leaves us either feeling totally amped to get training or seriously disappointed about missing out. If you’re in the disappointed camp, time to set your sights on something else.

Find your marathon

For those raring to go ahead of marathon day, this post will give you the lowdown on everything you need to get through your marathon-whether it’s your first or you’re prepping for a PB.

So, how long does it take to train for a marathon?

Generally speaking it can take anywhere between 12 to 24 weeks to train for a marathon–depending on your fitness level and how regularly you already run. 

There are plenty of marathon training plans out there, but to begin with it can all seem very overwhelming. 

Your first step is to decide on your goals and work out whether they are attainable. Do you currently run 3 days a week? Then don’t choose a training plan that wants you to be running 6 days a week–your body will be overwhelmed with all the extra mileage and you’ll most likely get injured. 

While you’ll be excited to start running further distances, try to trust the process and listen to your body. The risks of not increasing your mileage sensibly could end in a trip to the physio and your marathon plans in the balance. 

To avoid this, make sure to book your marathon well in advance and set aside a good few weeks of light, easy running to begin to increase your mileage before starting your training plan. 

TOP TIP:  When building up your mileage you should be increasing it by 10% each week at the very most. This is so your body can acclimate to the extra strain of the added distance.  If you’re a complete beginner, try to book your marathon 6 months to a year in advance to ensure you have plenty of time to prepare. 

Do I need to run the marathon distance before I run a marathon? 

This one’s completely up to you, but most coaches and training plans strongly advise against it. If you’re aiming for a specific time (especially if it’s not your first marathon), the most you may want to run in training is around 22-24 miles.

How to pace for a marathon 

One thing you definitely should be doing is running at your marathon goal pace.

For example, if you want to run the marathon in 4 hours, you should be adding marathon pace mileage into your runs in accordance to that time. 

A good way of doing this is to add pacing into your longer runs. For example you could run 1 hour at an easy pace with the last 30 minutes at your goal marathon pace. This type of run is a great way to prepare your body and acclimatise to the pace that you’ll be aiming for during the race. 

Do I need to be running races in the lead up to a marathon?

It’s a great idea to get a feel for racing before you tackle a marathon race.

If you’re following a 16 week training plan, it’s worth racing once a month as you slowly increase your distance. The week of your races you should be aiming to run less distance to ensure you’re ready for the higher intensity of the race..

For example after the first 4 weeks, you could try your local park run or a 5k race. Experiencing multiple race days will help get your legs prepared for running longer distances at your goal marathon pace (or faster if you’re having a good day!) and your mind prepped for dealing with the excitement of the day. 

After your 5k race you can then begin to increase your mileage further for 3 weeks and then tackle a 10k race

You can treat these races as a rehearsal for your marathon in more ways than just aiming for a higher intensity workout. You’ll get used to running in a crowd, pick up tricks for establishing your toilet routine, work out how your body functions on long and exciting runs, and learn what pre-race fuel works well for you.

Half marathon training runs

A perfect way to test out your fueling is by doing a half marathon. A half marathon is the perfect distance and duration for testing out how to fuel well during a race, as most guidance suggests that you should be eating on any run above 12k.

What fuel do I need to use during a marathon?

During a marathon, nutrition is key. You should be practicing fuelling correctly on training runs as well as in your races leading up to the marathon

A general rule of thumb in a marathon is to start fueling 1 hour into your race, and then every half an hour after the first hour. Remember everyone is different and it is up to you to decide how much fuel you need.

What to eat during a half marathon

Many runners use electrolyte gels. Gels contain a high concentration of carbohydrates and sugars to keep you going. There are plenty of brands out there to try, and best of all you can fit two or three in a running bum bag or a zipped pocket in your running shorts. 

If you don’t like gels there are plenty of alternatives, such as sweets as well as nutritional snacks like nuts that work in the same way. Ultimately, everyone is different, so it’s essential to make sure you test out your fuel to see what works. 

Ultimately, whether you’re taking on your first or fiftieth marathon, it’s an incredible achievement and a truly memorable experience. By preparing and thinking about your mileage, training plans, nutrition and race technique, you’ll help to make sure you can get the most out of your marathon experience.

Happy training!

person preparing to start a run

How to Start Running: Training for Beginners

If you’re thinking about how to get into running, there’s no better time to start. Running offers incredible health benefits, including lower blood pressure, higher lung capacity and improved mental health.

If you’re thinking about how to get into running, there’s no better time to start. Running offers incredible health benefits, including lower blood pressure, higher lung capacity and improved mental health.

It’s also totally flexible: no gym memberships, expensive sports equipment or pressure to find teammates. All you need is the open road and a good pair of shoes.

How to train as a runner

You can start training no matter what your experience or fitness levels. For example, you might be worried about how to start running when overweight. Go slow, building yourself up, even if it’s just for five minutes.

A great place to start is to choose a running goal.

Choose your running goal

One of the most important tips on how to start running is to find your motivation. A running goal – be it time, distance or a particular race – will keep you driven. 

Be patient. It’s great to think about how to start training for a marathon, but you’ll need to nail 5K first. Once you’ve hit your first goal, start moving the goalposts. Set yourself a routine such as three runs per week.

How to get started running

Like any sport, running requires practice. You might choose the run-walk method, for example. As you progress, you’ll learn more about the ins and out of your personal fitness and running form.

Whether you use the couch-to-5k method or slowly increase your distance each time, you’ll also discover when running works best for you. The key is to keep it consistent – but you can also make it easier and more enjoyable with these running tips.

Find your ideal running form

Everybody has a different “running form”. Some people lead with the ball of their feet or toes – known as “forefoot strike”. Some land midfoot or neutrally, while others “heel strike”.

Whatever your style, if you’re not experiencing injuries, well done – you’re doing it right!

Try running barefoot on a soft surface and study how your foot lands. You can also try a gait analysis at your local sports shop. 

Pick your running gear

If there is one piece of advice for how to start running, it’s never to race with anything new. Champion Eliud Kipchoge learned this the hard way at the 2015 Berlin Marathon. He took to the race in new shoes. He still won but missed the record due to his soles slipping out.

Have your feet analysed when buying running shoes. This will tell you if your arches are high, low or neutral. Some shoes may be designed for ‘overpronation’ or ‘supination’ (bending inwards or outwards) but always ask a professional.

You may have to cycle through a few pairs. Stick to no more than 500 miles per pair to prevent injury.

You should also trial shorts, sleeves versus bare arms, and running aids like compression socks. 

Do you like to carry water, or can you go with a running belt? Practice makes perfect. 

Choose your running playlist

Music has been proven to elevate mood and endurance – so pick songs you like! 

Generally, tracks between 120 and 140BPM are ideal (think Lady Gaga, J-Lo, Metallica). But if you’re looking for a mood enhancer, you may also enjoy pounding the pavement to your favourite podcasts.

Timing devices

Fitness watches are great for tracking your progress. They vary enormously depending on what you want to track – is it just distance, or are you looking for bodily metrics like heart rate and lung capacity? The Garmin Forerunner 55 is perfect for beginners.

Hydration and nutrition

You are what you eat, so make sure you fuel correctly. Staying hydrated is key, particularly with long distances. As a guide, you should aim for 300-800ml of fluids per hour of exercise. Add isotonic sports drinks to replenish key salts during long races.

The best foods for runners take some trial and error, but generally, complex carbohydrates are ideal. Give yourself at least two hours to digest before a long run, and test foods such as:

  • Bananas
  • Overnight oats
  • Peanut butter

Carbohydrates are essential but you cannot overlook protein. If you’re doing long distances, you may also want to cycle different energy gels.

How to prevent running injuries

The majority of running injuries come from doing too much, too fast. Common complaints for beginners include:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Shin splints
  • Stress fractures.


A strong warmup and cooldown are essential to prevent running injury. Try dynamic stretches while warming up, such as lunges and leg swings. When cooling down, try hamstring, quadricep and calf stretches. 

You can also add yoga to your routine to improve strength and posture. Remember – if you’re feeling pain, don’t try to run through it!

Go at your own pace

Whether you’re a couch-to-5Ker or a marathoner, every journey starts with a single step. Start slow and listen to your body. 

Before you know it, you’ll be craving that infamous “runner’s high” – and you’ll get it!

person running 5k

Couch to 5K: Kickstart Your Running Routine

If you’re looking to lace-up and get running but not sure where to begin, then download a Couch to 5K app and consider yourself officially at the start line. Stick with it and in just nine weeks, you’ll be racing past the finish line as you graduate as a 5K runner. 

If you’re looking to lace-up and get running but not sure where to begin, then download a Couch to 5K app and consider yourself officially at the start line. Stick with it and in just nine weeks, you’ll be racing past the finish line as you graduate as a 5K runner. 

The Couch to 5K plan — often abbreviated to C25K – will have even the slothiest sofa lovers up and running in no time. Plus, with a whole army of apps to choose from, often narrated by some of the world’s best-loved celebs, you’ll feel like you’re being cheered along by your coolest best friend. 

Book a 5k race

What is Couch to 5k?

Couch to 5K is a running program for complete beginners. It was developed by a guy called Josh Clark who was himself, a running newbie. He invented the Couch to 5K plan to get himself running. 

After publishing the C25K program to his website, couch potatoes across the world began to adopt the plan and it went viral. Today, there’s an estimated 50 million runners who have completed the popular running program. With its ability to seriously kick-start a running routine for even the most slovenly of couch potatoes, it’s no surprise the 0 to 5K method has become so popular. 

How does Couch to 5k work?

The Couch to 5K plan works by offering a gentle introduction to getting the body moving. The classic Couch to 5K schedule consists of three runs each week for nine weeks, with a rest day in between. The runs are really easy to begin with and gradually increase in intensity, as you’re s-l-o-w-l-y  eased from sofa to 5K running superstar. 

You’ll start in week one with eight, 60-second runs; each one broken up with 90 seconds of walking in between. From there, the app (if you choose to use one), will guide you through as you gradually build the walks into runs. By the end of week five, you’ll have your first, uninterrupted 20-minute run and by week nine, you’ll be completing 30-minute runs. 

Promising to keep you engaged from first step to final cool-down, there’s a different schedule for each of the nine weeks; gathering in intensity as you build your way up to becoming a fully-fledged 5K runner. Each Couch to 5K session gets you moving with a brisk, five-minute warm up. 

Stretching is always recommended before and after each time you train for Couch to 5K.

Who is Couch to 5k for?

The Couch to 5K program is for anyone who wants to learn how to run 5K - that’s 5000 metres, or 3.1 miles. Maybe you’re a complete beginner and need the motivation to get started? Couch to 5K is for you. 

Perhaps you used to run all the time, but now feel out of practice? Download a Couch to 5K app and get back into running. Using an effective mix of walks and gentle runs, a C25K plan is accessible for every level of runner. 

What are the benefits of the couch to 5k plan?

The Couch to 5K program comes with a host of benefits. As you build up to completing 5K runs, you’ll mix running and walking. These spurts of interval training are great for boosting your heart and lung health as well as your overall physical health. 

Once you’re a confident 5K runner, your runs will boost your cardiovascular health, strengthen your muscles and burn calories. Plus, if stress relief and happy hormones are on your agenda, the Couch to 5K program ticks all these boxes, too. We never met a post-run endorphin we didn’t like!

Note: Once you’ve caught the 5K running bug, it can be addictive. You’re likely to want to carry on to 10K runs and beyond. 

How long does it take to complete a Couch to 5k?

Each Couch to 5K training session lasts between 20 to 30 minutes (don’t forget to factor in time for stretching). You’ll be training for three days a week, over nine weeks. After that, you can consider yourself 5K-ready. 

Why is the Couch to 5k plan so popular?

There’s so many factors that have led to the popularity of the Couch to 5K plan. First off, it’s accessible. All you need is a decent pair of trainers and you’re ready to go. Beginning with bite-sized running intervals, anyone can attempt it and it can actually get pretty addictive.

Secondly, thanks to its unstructured approach to training, the C25K method offers an easy way to achieve the 5K running goal; you’re literally guided along the route, every step of the way. It’s foolproof. 

Thirdly, it doesn’t take much time. There’s no excuses. With each session lasting around 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week, a Couch to 5K training plan can slide pretty easily into even the busiest schedules. 

And finally, there’s a solid goal at the end of it. Who doesn’t want to smash a goal? There’s a great sense of achievement that comes with completing the Couch to 5K running program, as can be noted from the popularity of this viral training method.  

What should I do after the Couch to 5k program?

Got the bug? If all that running has got you craving more, we’ve rounded up three ideas on what to do once you’ve celebrated your 5K runner status. 

3 running ideas for after you've completed the Couch to 5k:

  1. Sign up to a 5K race. Put your training into practice in a more competitive setting by signing up to a 5K race. 
  2. Increase your number of runs. One of the most common ways to take your training to the next level after completing the Couch to 5K, is to simply add more  runs each week. Why not try training for four or five days? 
  3. Bridge to 10K.  if you love the structure of the Couch to 5K program, then the Bridge to 10K method is the perfect way to pick up where you left off. It’s designed to guide you from 5K to 10K in six weeks. 

Ready to run 5k? Make it official with a 5k race near you.

Find your first 5k

people running to achieve a good marathon time

6 Tips To Improve Your Marathon Time

Whether you’re crossing the line for the very first time or going for a PB, follow these tips to optimise your marathon time.

Whether you’re crossing the line for the very first time or going for a PB, follow these tips to optimise your marathon time.

Running a marathon may seem like a nearly impossible task, but it’s entirely doable for most runners with the proper training. 

When it comes to cutting down your marathon time, it’s actually easier to knock off minutes than most races – thanks to the long distance!

In this post, find out how long it takes to run a marathon for the average runner, see what factors can affect your marathon time, and see six tips that will help you improve your marathon time. 

How long does it take to run a marathon? 

The first thing to remember is that however long it takes you to run a marathon, you’ve still run a marathon! 

Many people can run a marathon in anywhere from four to five hours with proper training. Some aim to run a marathon in under four hours, some expect seven or more. Plan your training around your ability and goals.

What’s a good marathon time?

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as a good marathon time – only different times depending on your goals. 

Elite runners run just above a 2 hour marathon - but Eluid Kipchoge has previously run a sub 2 hour marathon with a time of 1:59:40 - the world record marathon pace. 

But for most of us, aiming for a time under four and a half hours is challenging enough. 

More experienced runners often look for a marathon time around the four hour mark. A common goal time to aim for is under four hours for men and under four and a half hours for women. 

5 factors that affect your marathon time 

No two marathons are the same. But equally, it’s all about marathon preparation. 

The following factors will directly impact your marathon time: 

  1. Training: the more time you dedicate to training, the better your marathon performance will be.
  1. Nutrition and hydration: focus on proper nutrition and hydration leading up to your race (and during) for optimum performance.
  1. Weather: you can’t control it, but you do need to be aware of it. If it’s hot or humid, expect to run slower than expected.
  1. Course conditions: is the course flat, hilly, will there be a headwind? Research the course and race day conditions to best prepare. 
  1. Pace: a marathon is a race, but you don’t need to sprint off from the beginning. Pace yourself properly to finish the race around your predicted time. 

6 tips to improve your marathon time 

Whether it’s your first marathon and you’re looking to beat your friends, or you’re just looking to run a little quicker than last year, there’s various things you can do to increase your marathon pace:

  1. Include interval training in your running program
  2. Practice your race pace
  3. Nail down your nutrition and hydration
  4. Include strength training in your program
  5. Respect your rest days
  6. Follow a training plan

Include interval training in your running program

Interval training is when you mix fast and hard efforts with slow jog recoveries. 

Running short intense efforts will increase your lactate threshold, teaching your body to run faster with less effort.

Practice your race pace

Your marathon race pace is likely to be slower than some of your training. Besides, you’ve got 26.2 miles to cover - it’s a little further than your standard sixty-minute loop around your local area.

Practice running your race pace to get a feel for the sustained effort. 

A great way to do this is by running your easy days at your target marathon race pace.

Nail down your nutrition and hydration 

26.2 miles is a long way, but don’t let that put you off!

It just means you get to eat more snacks on the way, right?!

Practice your marathon nutrition and hydration strategy during your weekly long runs and see what works best for you - this could be gels, sports drinks, or water bottles containing sugars and electrolytes. 

Include strength training in your program

Training in the gym is intimidating for many runners. But as little as one or two gym sessions a week will help reduce your risk of injury and will make you a faster runner.

Include exercises such as squats, walking lunges, core exercises, and wall sits to become a better runner.

Find strength exercises for runners and strength training plans.

Respect your rest days 

If you’re preparing for your first marathon, it can be tempting to run excessively to squeeze in more training.

While we’re glad you’re feeling motivated and excited, you need to respect your rest days.

Include at least one, but maybe two or more rest days a week - this is when your body recovers, ultimately making you a better runner.

Follow a training plan 

Finally, follow a training plan.

While unstructured training may work for a while, if you’re not following a training plan with structured workouts (interval training, long runs, easy runs, and tempo efforts), then it’s easy to lose motivation.

You might also fall out of routine, not running as quickly as you’d like come marathon day. 

If you’re more experienced, you can create your own training plan. But we’d recommend following one prescribed by a coach or found online. 

To summarise 

Achieving your best marathon time all comes down to training and preparation. 

If you stick to a routine and follow the advice listed in this article, then you can absolutely achieve your fastest marathon time yet.

person training for a spartan race

How to Train & Prepare for a Spartan Race

Spartan races promise mystery obstacles, mud, a truly physical challenge and a whole lot of fun. With obstacle races all over the world and a passionate community of mighty Spartans at every race, what exactly do they entail, and what's the best way to train for one?

Spartan races promise mystery obstacles, mud, a truly physical challenge and a whole lot of fun. With obstacle races all over the world and a passionate community of mighty Spartans at every race, what exactly do they entail, and what's the best way to train for one?


What are Spartan races?

Spartan races are a cross between a traditional trail race (aka off-road running race) and an obstacle course. 

There are multiple distances on offer, from 1k kids obstacle races to 50k mystery obstacle challenges. How far you go is up to you but, whatever happens, you’ll be faced with military style obstacles designed to test your full-body strength.

What to expect from Spartan obstacles

Obstacles vary depending on location and the distance you’re racing. While the run requires cardio and leg strength, the obstacles are mainly there to test your upper body. You can expect rope climbing, monkey bars, tyre flipping, log carrying, mud crawling, spear throwing, wall climbing and more!

The obstacles are designed to be completed alone but many choose to work together to help others tackle each obstacle. If you can’t manage an obstacle, you can do 30 burpees instead – though the idea is that everyone at least gives every obstacle a good go.

What are the different Spartan race distances?

Every Spartan race has a different name. The name defines the distance and number of obstacles you’ll face. Generally, the longer the distance, the tougher the trail (think higher elevation, more technical tracks) and the tougher the obstacles (think trickier climbs, more fire!).

Below are the four main Spartan race distances you’ll find around the world:

  • Spartan Sprint - 5k: 20 obstacles over a 5k medium elevation trail.
  • Spartan Super - 10k: 25 obstacles across a 10k route, generally with some areas of high elevation.
  • Spartan Beast - 21k: 30 obstacles, each one designed to test and challenge you physically and mentally. The route will generally be steep with hard ascents and tricky descents.
  • Spartan Ultra - 50k: 60 obstacles across challenging terrain. Expect to tackle all of Spartan’s toughest obstacles, as well as face extreme elevation gain.

Every Spartan race has its signature Spartan obstacles that you can rely on. But part of the challenge (and fun!) is that Spartan like to shroud the obstacles and race route of each event in mystery. You can never be quite sure what’s going to come your way on race-day – so you better be prepared for everything! 

How to choose the right Spartan for you

While Spartan races are certainly not for the faint hearted, you shouldn't let that put you off giving them a go.

The great thing about Spartan Races is that you can ease yourself in with a shorter 5k distance and build your way up.

Naturally, the Sprint is the obvious place to start – you’ll face less obstacles and won’t have as far to go. However, you may already have strong cardiovascular stamina, so it may make more sense to go with the 10k Super. You’ll only face five more obstacles than on the 5k Sprint but can play to your strengths over a longer distance trail.

It’s also worth remembering that this isn’t a course where you’re expected to achieve anything close to your normal running PB. Sure, some people choose to sprint their way through the sprint 5k, but most are hanging on for dear life and engaging their mental resilience as much as their physical strength. 

Keen to try a Spartan this year? Your last opportunity to take part in a Spartan obstacle race in the UK in 2022 is the London South East Spartan Trifecta Weekend and European Championships.

In the US, there are plenty of great Spartan obstacle races, as well as some great trail options such as the Spartan Golden Gate Trail Classic Weekend.

How long should you train for a Spartan?

Ideally, you should be following a spartan race training plan for at least 8-12 weeks before your Spartan challenge.

This is to give you enough time to build stamina as well as upper body strength. If you’re already doing regular weight and running training or have a good baseline of fitness, one month of training is okay. 

Spartan training for beginners

Training for a Spartan race (or any obstacle race!) is harder to replicate than your typical distance running event. While you can train for the distance, the 20+ obstacles in your way will make the reality of your experience very different.

But remember – every Spartan started as a newbie. Though it seems daunting, Spartan race training can actually be very similar to workouts you’re probably already doing in the gym. 

A solid beginners Spartan training program should involve a healthy mix of endurance, sprints, hills, and full body strength and HIIT training.

1. Endurance training

Spartan races are designed to push you to your limits, so some endurance training is vital. Make sure you’re adding a long run to your weekly training schedule, and gradually extending the distance you cover in training sessions.

Even if you’re taking on the Sprint race, being able to comfortably run at least double the distance will stand you in great stead to handle tough terrain and tired legs.

2. Sprints and Hill training

To state the obvious: Spartan races are designed to be intense. The more comfortable you are with short bursts of intense training, the better. 

Add a weekly hill sprint session to the end of your runs to prepare for any hilly terrain. As for sprints, throw them in the mix once weekly to boost your anaerobic threshold (aka the max amount of effort you can sustain for a long duration). Increasing your anaerobic endurance isn’t comfortable, but it will improve your perceived feelings of effort as well as your recovery time. 

3. HIIT and full-body strength training

At a Spartan race, there’s certainly no shortage of obstacles requiring upper body strength. As part of your Spartan race training, you should be aiming for at least two upper body strength sessions a week. 

Though you don’t need to practice with logs and sandbags, weight training as well as bodyweight training will prep your body for the challenge. 

No access to a gym or weights? Building up your reps of push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges, and burpees will do the job just fine!

Spartan training nutrition

Whilst Spartan training in Ancient Greece saw young Spartans be underfed due to a (severely misguided) belief that if athletes were skinnier they would grow taller – we know nutrition is key to fueling healthy Spartan workouts.

All of the training you’ll be doing should be at quite a hard level – this means your body will need extra fuel to repair itself and prevent injury. Whilst you’re undertaking Spartan race training, you should be upping your protein (for muscle repair) and ensuring you have a balanced intake of vegetables and carbohydrates. 

carbohydrate example of nutrition for spartan training

When it comes to nutrition on race-day, be sure to have a hearty breakfast and drink and eat plenty the day before. 

The nutrition you bring with you will vary depending on your distance. 

A simple way to calculate what you need is to add calories every hour you’re on the course. Be sure to practice eating on the go in your training – everyone’s body reacts differently and you can find what you like. Gels work well for some, while others prefer nuts or protein bars.

Even if you’re running the 5k and don’t feel like you’ll need nutrition on course, be sure to bring snacks for afterwards – as well as plenty of water. 


Spartan races are both physically and mentally rewarding. As well as feeling full of endorphins from your physical effort, your mind will feel strong too. You’ll finish knowing the capabilities of your mental resilience, and confident that you can–and did–accomplish hard things.

Plus, obstacle course races are basically giant adult playgrounds! If you fancy a wild day out in the mud with friends, start your Spartan training program and book the next Spartan event near you

With runs from 5k to 50k, why not try Spartan’s final UK weekender of 2022?

Book Spartan London South East

person training to become a stronger runner

Strength Training for Runners

If you want to run stronger, faster and maintain healthy joints all the way to the finish line and beyond, it’s time to start lifting.

If you want to run stronger, faster and maintain healthy joints all the way to the finish line and beyond, it’s time to start lifting.

When we focus on building lean muscle and strong foundations, we improve running efficiency, stamina, posture and prevent injuries.

Whether you’re a big fan of training at home or you’d prefer to hit up the gym, the good news is strength for runners can be done anywhere.

What’s not to love?

What Is Strength Training for Runners?

Strength training, also known as resistance training or weight lifting, increases load to the joints and muscles which builds muscular strength. To build muscular endurance we would perform higher repetitions with lighter weights. We’re greedy (in a good way) so we want to do both.

Resistance training strengthens the muscles and connective tissues which improves both the mobility and stability of the joints. Strong joints equal happy runners (think healthy knees and hips).

An effective strength training for runners programme will be simple and repetitive. Once you get started, you’ll notice how quickly your body adapts to exercises (thank you neuroplasticity). So when exercises start to feel ‘easy’ we add extra resistance or single leg work into the mix to keep things challenging (and fun). Running and lifting weights is a recipe for success.

Benefits Of Strength Training for Runners

Weight training for runners can improve both running performance as well as longevity. You get two for the price of one!

Benefits of a consistent strength training routine:

  • Prevent injuries and improve posture
  • Sustain healthy joints and increase bone density
  • Build mental resistance
  • Boost power and speed
  • Work your coordination
  • Enhance neuroplasticity and neuromuscular adaptation

Running uses more joints than you might think to get you from A to B. So training compound exercises can be beneficial for working multiple joints at the same time which develops numerous muscle groups. Think squats, deadlifts, push ups, pullups.

And if you really want to go for gold, add unilateral compound exercises into your weekly routine to iron out any imbalances and work on your stability and coordination. Think single leg romanian deadlifts, hip thrusts, step ups, lunges. These can be a little bit tricky at times, but remember this is as much a mind game as it is a physical challenge. You can do this.

How much strength training do runners need to do?

Tell a runner to lift weights every day and they’ll probably run a mile (or five), but fear not strength training for runners only needs to take up about 2-3 sessions per week. The main piece of the puzzle is consistency.

Depending on your lifestyle and running schedule you can do 2-3 full body strength sessions per week (up to 30-40 mins) or 3-4 little and often strength sessions (up to 20 mins) focusing on load rather than volume.

Consistency is the most important aspect before anything else. Find a buddy to train with and you can laugh, cry and sweat together (maybe not in that order).

When Should Runners Do Strength Training Workouts?

Whether you come alive in the morning or at night, the time of day you train is up to you, but always aim to run first and complete your strength session after. Keep the strength sessions separate from those long run days or days when you might wear a running weight vest so that your body can fully recover.

Rest is key. Park your trainers and give them the night off. You’ll see them again in the morning.

Basic Equipment for Strength Training Workouts

Strength exercises for runners is all about mastering the basics. You need your bodyweight and a few pieces of equipment to get started. It’s a good idea to take it step by step, especially if it’s your first time lifting weights.

Before you add resistance to an exercise, practise it bodyweight first. Do everything with intention (this is a game changer!). Once you’re confident with the exercise, you can increase the load.

Basic Equipment: free weights dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, long and looped resistance bands, ab wheel roller and sliders.

In the beginning you can start with 3 sets x 10 reps for each exercise. As you get stronger, you can increase the load and drop the rep range. Maybe add an extra set if you’re feeling fancy.

Strength Training Plans for Runners

We like our programmes the way we like our bodies, balanced. A good training plan will have a healthy mix of anterior and posterior-chain exercises with room for progression.These exercises can be done with free weights or resistance bands. Ideally one or the other, or both for a super spicy session (proceed with caution).

Lower Body Compound exercises

  • Squats
  • Good Mornings
  • Single Leg Deadlift
  • Lateral Lunges
  • Step Ups

Upper Body Compound Exercises

  • Pull ups
  • Push ups
  • Bent Over Row
  • Incline Back Extensions


Bands, sliders and ab wheel rollers provide a great core workout for runners. Your core is a network of muscles that loop around the spine, pelvis and hips all the way up to your chest. It
is an energy transfer system that stabilises you as you run.

Core workout for runners:

  • Straight arm plank (isometric)
  • Bear Crawls (dynamic)
  • Reverse table tap resistance band
  • Mountain Climbers with Slider
  • Ab Wheel Roll out (intermediate)

Power and Speed:

Extra cool exercises for the over-achiever:

Single leg band hip flexion - Increases strength of the hip flexors and builds speed and power which translates to your fastest run ever
Slant board squat for bulletproof knees - Train your knees through their full range of motion for joints that can handle impact
Sled Drags (forwards and backwards) - Incredible leg workout for running and building strong hips and power

Remember, this isn’t all about the gains, your core is a 360 degree power house and strengthening your trunk is a vital piece of the puzzle to become a bullet-proof runner. A balanced diet coupled with a simple resistance training routine can see improvement in speed, power, balance and endurance in a matter of weeks.

Now you know your body will be in tip-top racing condition, you're right on time to book in some races for the 2022-23 season.

FInd your next race

People doing Fartlek training

What is Fartlek Training and How Can it Take My Running to the Next Level?

As much as we love revelling in the endorphins that stem from the ‘runner’s high’, every athlete knows the importance of mixing things up when it comes to training. Whether it’s a fresh route, a recent podcast discovery or new gear, nothing keeps us on our toes like hitting refresh on the way we run. The fartlek training method is great for this.

As much as we love revelling in the endorphins that stem from the ‘runner’s high’, every athlete knows the importance of mixing things up when it comes to training. Whether it’s a fresh route, a recent podcast discovery or new gear, nothing keeps us on our toes like hitting refresh on the way we run. The fartlek training method is great for this.

For anyone not familiar, fartlek training — or “speed play”, in Swedish — is a type of interval training that encourages you to "play" with surges of speed. Whether you’re a fartlek beginner or a pro, read on for all the benefits, the classic fartlek training methods (including the Mona fartlek), and how this exciting type of training can turn up the dial on your running game, as well as those dreamy, dreamy endorphins.


The fartlek method is simply defined by a continuous run, which encourages you to vary your pace and distances. Unlike typical interval training, recovery time in fartlek exercise consists of a slower pace, rather than stopping completely. The objective is to push yourself, physically and mentally, through short bursts of fast running, to harness your full running potential. That’s what personal bests are made of. 

Now for the science bit. A fartlek routine will work your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, helping you to run faster. As you run at a steady pace, your body supplies the oxygen it needs to feed your muscles. In this zone, you’re working on your aerobic and cardiovascular health. Meanwhile, during the high-intensity bursts of running, you’re starving your muscles of oxygen, therefore working your anaerobic energy system. This is your fat-burning, muscle-building happy place, which results in faster runs. 


Fartlek training is different from other speed workouts because it offers more flexibility and tends to be less demanding. Take tempo running, for example. Like fartlek, tempo runs focus on enhancing your speed; but with tempo, this is achieved by running continuously and steadily around your anaerobic level. Tempo runs tend to be a lot longer and more sustained, too.

Fartlek running, on the other hand, offers way more in terms of flexibility. There’s no set route or pre-measured distance. From hills to parks, you can complete a fartlek workout on any terrain and you don’t need to train for a long time to feel it packing a punch. A Mona fartlek training session, for example, usually lasts around 20 minutes, yet you really feel it afterwards. More on the Mona method later. 


So, we’ve established that a fartlek routine results in faster runs, but what are some other benefits of fartlek training?


  1. Fartlek training keeps your runs interesting. From treadmill to track, the wider variety of terrains you run on, the better. Think rocky paths, uphill climbs and park jogs. These will all help to boost your endurance. Let’s get exploring!
  1. A fartlek workout boosts your lactate threshold. By pushing yourself to keep running without rest, you'll train your body to reuse lactate, meaning you sustain your energy for longer. 
  1. Fartlek training improves performance in other sports. The benefits of fartlek training extend far beyond running. Fartlek exercise can help boost endurance for all kinds of sports that require a blend of anaerobic sprinting and aerobic recovery periods – think football, basketball and tennis.  
  1. The fartlek method boosts your mental resilience. As every runner knows, smashing a personal best sometimes means a strong dose of mind over matter. As fartlek training encourages you to push your limits, you’ll find yourself breaking through mental boundaries more often. 
  1. Fartlek training is suitable for all levels. Thanks to the adaptable, flexible nature of fartlek running, the method can be used by beginners and professional runners alike. 


There are no boundaries when it comes to fartlek running. You can play around with varying speeds and distances as much as you like. Try picking a landmark in the distance – this could be a tree, a lamppost, a car or a park – and run to it at a faster pace. Once you’ve reached your chosen landmark, slow down to a more comfortable running pace to recover. Once recovered, pick your next landmark and run to that at a faster pace, and so on.

Fartlek training beginner? Try walking the slower parts, building up to running at a slower pace once you’ve got the hang of it.


Perhaps one of the most popular examples of the fartlek training method is the Mona fartlek. It gets its name from Australian long distance runner, Steve Monaghetti, who used this technique throughout his illustrious running career. Taking around just 20 minutes to complete, it’s a good one for when you’re short on time. So, how does the Mona fartlek method work? 


  • 10 minute warm-up jog
  • 2x 90 seconds fast-paced run
  • Recovery run
  • 4 x 60 seconds fast-paced run
  • Recovery run
  • 4 x 30 seconds fast-paced run
  • Recovery run
  • 4 x 15 seconds fast-paced run
  • Recovery run 
  • Cool down

Try repeating this run every 4-6 weeks so you can keep an eye on how far you’ve come with your speed and endurance.

Ready to hit the trail? Get exploring new places, boost your speed and endurance and you'll no doubt discover your new personal best along the route.

person training to run faster

How to run faster: 10 tips to increase your average running speed

Wondering how to run faster without getting tired? Follow these ten tips to get started. Have you reached a plateau in your running? Maybe you haven’t broken your weekly parkrun best in a while, or maybe you’re just not seeing results despite how hard you’re training? Don’t worry! It’s completely normal. Whether you’re new to running or you’ve been running for years, there’s many things you can do to inject a little bit of speed into your training - helping you run faster. This blog post will highlight ten tips on how to run faster, from weight training to enjoying a lazy day on the sofa. And yes, the odd bit of Netflix will help you run faster.

Wondering how to run faster without getting tired? Follow these ten tips to get started. Have you reached a plateau in your running? Maybe you haven’t broken your weekly parkrun best in a while, or maybe you’re just not seeing results despite how hard you’re training? Don’t worry! It’s completely normal. Whether you’re new to running or you’ve been running for years, there’s many things you can do to inject a little bit of speed into your training - helping you run faster. This blog post will highlight ten tips on how to run faster, from weight training to enjoying a lazy day on the sofa. And yes, the odd bit of Netflix will help you run faster.

How to run faster

Many people think the key to running faster is running more often. And while this is a good starting point, you should combine running more often with structured training for the best results. Keep reading to find out more about each tip, helping you increase your pace and break through that plateau you may or may not be experiencing.

Here’s our ten tips for how to run faster:

1. Many runners avoid lifting weights for fear of becoming “big and bulky.”

We hear it time and time again, but unless you’re following a proper “gym bro” training split and eating a diet excessively high in calories, weight training will only make you a stronger and faster runner.

2. Introduce interval training

Interval training mixes periods of high-intensity running with rest periods, whether walking or gasping for air. Interval training teaches your body to run faster, becoming more efficient and improving your

aerobic and cardiovascular fitness. Want to try a basic interval session? Run 4x 800m repeats with a 400m jog recovery between intervals. Aim to run these intervals above your current 5k pace, but ensure to sustain your effort to the end.

3. Add tempo runs and practice fartleks

Your tempo pace is a moderate to hard intensity that you can sustain for up to 40-minutes. If you’ve ever raced a 5km race, it’s a few seconds slower per mile than your current time. Tempo runs teach the body to run more efficiently, filling the body full of lactic acid and improving your lactic threshold (allowing you to run faster for longer without getting as tired). Fartlek sessions (Swedish for “speed play”) are much less structured sessions. Get creative with it - run to the next car as fast as you can, jog to a lamp post, run a hard effort to the next tree, and so forth. There’s a lot of “play” in these sessions but that’s what makes them so great.

4. Run hills

Ah, hills, who doesn’t have a love-hate relationship with these beautiful yet gruelling beasts? If you’re looking to run faster, we’re sorry to say it, but you should be running more hills. Hills strengthen the legs, the aerobic and cardiovascular system, and we’re about to state the obvious: make running on flats seem a lot easier!

5. Improve your eating habits

Wondering what to eat to run faster? If you currently recover after a run with a bowl of coco pops and a cup of tea, then improving your eating habits may help you run faster. Likewise, it’s not just recovery that’s important - you need to fuel adequately before a run, especially before heading out the door before a Sunday long run or those harder interval Sessions. If possible, limit processed foods (sorry coco pops), sweets, cakes, biscuits, and ready-made meals. Eat whole foods where possible, but remember to treat yourself occasionally.

6. Stretch regularly

Runners are known not to be the most flexible bunch. But even so, we know the importance of stretching. Adding as little as ten minutes of stretching daily helps prevent injury, allowing you to train harder to become a faster runner. You should also perform dynamic stretches before running and static stretches after running to improve performance and reduce your risk of injury.

7. Prioritise sleep

Ah yes, you may be upset over the coco pops, but you’ll like this piece of advice: prioritise Sleep. The Sleep Foundation recommends healthy adults get between seven and nine hours of shut- eye each night. Sleep is when your body recovers, repairing muscle tissue and regenerating cells. And in other words, good quality sleep is needed to increase adaptation - making you a stronger and faster runner.

8. Run with a group

Running with a group isn’t for everyone; some people prefer to go all Forrest Gump and run solo. And that’s absolutely fine. But running with a group is a great way to run faster with less effort. When running in a group, you can tackle an interval session for the added motivation or let the miles fly in by joining a group for a Sunday long run.

9. Stay consistent

Results don’t happen overnight. If you’re searching for how to run faster in a matter of days, we’re sorry to break it to you, but it’s not very realistic. Instead, you need to remain consistent with your training - incorporate a mix of training sessions into your routine to become a faster runner. Expect results in four to six weeks - you’ll only get faster from there.

10. Don’t forget to take rest days

Seen as sleep is so important, why not set a later alarm on your rest day? And if you’re thinking, “wait, rest days?” Then you’re in for a shocker. Rest days are important for recovery - paired with quality sleep, it’s how the body recovers. You should include at least one rest day a week, but if you’re just starting out, we’d suggest two to three, maybe running every other day, to begin with? Failure to take rest days increases your risk of picking up an overuse injury, prevents your body from recovering (and becoming faster), and may drain your motivation for training. So, do yourself a favour and kick back once in a while! Your body will thank you for it with a little added pace on your next run.

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