Training for a marathon? You may have already been considering your possible marathon finishing time. So how long does it take to run a marathon, and whats the best way to estimate a marathon time?
Finishing times for marathons ( miles) range from a little over two hours for world-class, elite marathoners to 8+ hours for walkers. In the United States, the average marathon finishing time in for men in U.S. marathons was (/mile pace), according to RunRepeat. The median finishing time for women was (/mile pace).
How to Predict Your Marathon Time
Before running your marathon, its definitely helpful to have a rough estimate of your marathon finishing time, so you know how to pace yourself properly. But predicting race times, especially for marathons, can be tough because there are so many variables, such as weather and course conditions.
A quick formula that a lot of runners like to use is to take a recent half marathon time, double it, and then add 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the difficulty of the course.
Using a Marathon Time Prediction Calculator
You can also use race time prediction calculators to determine your marathon time, based on a recent race. Youll most likely get a more realistic prediction if the race distance is close to miles. For example, a recent half marathon time is a better indicator than a 5K time of how youll fare in a marathon.
For the most accurate prediction, you should use a race time from a race youve done about 4 to 6 weeks before your marathon. If it’s not that recent, your fitness level may have changed (for better or worse) and the times won’t be as accurate.
Also, if you’re running a local marathon, running a race within a few weeks before your marathon increases your chances of having similar weather conditions for both races, which will also make your time prediction more realistic. An added bonus is that you can test out your marathon outfit and determine if it’s suitable for the weather.
Here are a couple of good marathon time prediction calculators to try:
Chicago Endurance Sports Race Time Predictor: Just plug in the distance and your time from a recent race. The calculator then shows you how you might perform in your target race.
MarathonGuide.com Race Results Prediction: Choose a distance and a time to calculate theoretical race results at different distances and check out your marathon prediction.
Once you have an estimated time, use a Pace Calculator to figure out the average pace for that time.
Can I Really Run that Predicted Marathon Time?
Keep in mind that a predicted marathon time is not a guarantee. You have to do the appropriate endurance training for a marathon, especially regular long runs. There are lots of other factors course difficulty, weather conditions, nutrition and hydration, how youre feeling that come into play. In most cases, only experienced marathoners achieve their predicted time or very close to it.
If youre running your first marathon, focus on completing the race and finishing strong. Regardless of your time, finishing a marathon is an incredible achievement. If youre looking for a ballpark finishing time prediction for your first marathon, add % to the calculator prediction.
More About Marathon Finishing Times
If youre curious where you might end up finishing (top 25%, age group winner, etc.) in a particular marathon, look at the online results from last years race. The range of finishing times and the number of participants will probably be similar this year.
Some marathons do have time limits, such as six or seven hours (although others have no limit). So, if youre a slower runner or walker, find out if theres a cut-off time when picking a marathon.
More Marathon Running Advice
The Runner’s World race time predictor does exactly what it’s title suggests – this calculator lets you input a recent race time, to see what you should be capable of at another distance.
How does the race time calculator work?
It’s based on a formula originally devised by Pete Riegel, a research engineer and marathoner, and has been widely used for over 20 years. The formula is T2 = T1 x (D2/D1) where T1 is the given time, D1 is the given distance, D2 is the distance to predict a time for, and T2 is the calculated time for D2.
It is adjusted for distance, so your 10K time prediction isn’t just double your 5K time, but there are things to note before using the calculator:
1. It assumes you’ve done appropriate training for the distance. Just because you’ve done a minute 5K today doesn’t mean you can do a sub-4 marathon tomorrow. Obvious, really.
2. It assumes you don’t have a natural significant bias towards either speed or endurance. Some people, no matter how much training they do, will always over-achieve at one end of the scale.
3. The calculations become less accurate for times under three and a half minutes, and over four hours.
I want to run faster, what should I do?
When it comes to running faster, we’ve got the training plans to help. Find the plan for you here:
Related: 5 reasons you can't run faster
5K training plans
10K training plans
Half-marathon training plans
Marathon training plans
How should I prepare for race day?
1. Nutrition: It goes without saying, fuelling your body properly will help improve your performance. Covering diet, hydration, recipes and supplements, take a look through our nutrition guide here.
2. Tapering: Tapering is important when it comes to getting your body ready for race day, but it is anything but easy. Race-day nerves will increase, as the miles decrease, and it’s easy to feel jittery. Read up on how to taper, and avoid tapering mistakes here:
3. Training: From motivational stories to keep your legs moving, to specific advice for every distance, have a browse through our training articles to find the answers to the most commonly asked questions, or the inspiration to head out on a particularly difficult run.
How should I recover post-run, or post-race?
1. Stretching: Post-race, you’ll need to make sure you’ve stretched your muscles to avoid injury. Have a look at our complete guide for stretching for runners to keep you flexible in all your main running muscles.
2. Recovery: Post race, or post run, you’ll need to make sure you’re getting enough rest to help your body recover and avoid injuries.
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How to Estimate Your Half Marathon Finishing Time
If you will be running your first half marathon, you are probably wondering how long it will take you to run out miles. How can you estimate your finishing time? Predicting a finishing time for a long-distance race is pretty tough, since there are a lot of variables you should take into account. Among others, you need to consider your mental and physical preparation, your current fitness level, elevation on the course, altitude, and weather conditions.
Of course, estimating race times isnt an exact science, and you can never predict it exactly, especially when it comes to the newbies. However, you can use the specific race calculators and charts in order to approximately determine a ballpark finishing time. These are mainly based on your recent race, no matter what distance it was.
One of the most used race predictors is Running for Fitness. You should enter the particular data in this race calculator, such as your gender, age, as well as the distance and finishing time from your recent race. Since we are talking about the half marathons, you need to select that distance. The race distances range from m to km, meaning you can utilize this predictor not only for half marathons but also for other races. As for the time, you need to enter your finish time of a race you participated in the past few weeks. This way, you will know your current fitness level. Based on different formulas, this online calculator shows a few different predictions for various distances from meters to kilometers. In addition, you can choose the option other distances and type in the exact value of a race distance.You can see the predictions based on age grading, VO2 max, Riegel, and Cameron formulas, as well as the average prediction times.
Besides the race calculators, you can also use a race chart like this one below to estimate your finishing time. If you know your most recent finishing time for a 1-mile, 5-K, or K race, you will be able to predict your half-marathon and marathon finish times. Keep in mind that the race charts show the average time you might achieve under the assumption that you do the appropriate workout for that race.
Only experienced marathoners will be able to accomplish their predicted time with great accuracy. If you are going to run your first half marathon, add minutes to the chart/calculator prediction.
What is a good finishing time for the half marathons?
If you just run your first half marathon, you surely want to compare your finish time with other runners times. In most cases, the finishing time ranges from slightly more than 60 minutes for elite marathoners to over 3 hours for first-timers and slower runners. What is considered a good time when it comes to the half marathons?
It is hard to compare finishing times for half marathons because there is a great variation among runners. This time mainly depends on gender, age, and previous running experience. The male professional runners are capable of running a half marathon in slightly less than an hour; the female experienced runners can win in about 1 hour and 10 min. Keep in mind that these are finish times for professionals, while the vast majority of runners are not able to run a half marathon close to these times. According to Annual USAs Half Marathon Report, the average finishing times for the half marathons in the United States last year were for females and for males.
For runners with some previous experience, breaking 2 hours is a common goal. To achieve such a time, your running pace should be per mile. That finish time is considered a decent time among half marathoners. More competitive marathoners aim for even shorter times such as (about per mile pace) or which requires the running pace of per mile. On the other hand, most of the first-timers aim to finish a half marathon rather than achieve a specific finish time.
What else should you consider?
When estimating the finishing time, you should take into consideration race course. Its not the same if you run on a flat or hilly course. That will considerably affect your time. Also, you need to take into account the average altitude of the particular course. It is more difficult to run at a higher altitude.
Check out the race results listed on the official half marathons website for the race you are planning to run or you have done. There, you can find the wide range of typical finish times, including the times of the age groups, times of those who finished the race in the back or in the middle of the pack, and top finish times.
Keep in mind that some half marathons have the specific time limits. This means all participants have to finish the race under a given time.
If youre going to participate a half marathon for the very first time, you should focus on completing the half marathon rather than your finishing time, which is a big achievement. Your finishing time is going to be better as you gain more race experience and train more.
Predict Running Race Finish Times
When you register for a half-marathon or marathon, you are likely to be asked what your likely finish time and pace will be. If you haven't finished one of these races before, you probably wonder how to estimate these numbers.
Predicting a race time, especially for a long-distance race like a marathon, is tough because there are so many variables that can affect your performance. Of course, weather conditions can be unpredictable. But other factors that may not seem significant—like pre-race sleep, race-day jitters, and even crowd-turnout—can play a role in your finish time as well.
So how do you set realistic goals for your race outcome? There are a few different ways to establish a reasonable goal for your finish time.
Use a Calculator
To get a more exact prediction of your race finish time, you can also use a calculator.
Keep in mind that the race time predictions are estimates of the time you might achieve if you do the appropriate training for that distance. So it doesn't mean that if you train for a 5K and achieve a good time, then you'll automatically run the corresponding marathon time.
In addition, as previously mentioned there are many variables that can affect your time. No two courses are exactly the same. For example, running a hilly course is likely to be slower than running a flat course. And running in high altitude is going to be slower than running at sea level.
Use a Table
If you've recently run any other race, one way to give yourself a rough estimate of what you're capable of running is to use a chart. The chart below predicts race times based on performance at other events of varying distances.
Look for your most recent race time in one of the columns on the left, then follow it across to your predicted marathon finish time.
1-mile 5-K K Half-marathon Marathon
When using the table, keep in mind that it is best to use an actual time from a hosted event (rather than a training run), as that is when you are performing at your peak. You might even schedule a 5K or 10K race before you register for a half or full marathon to see your pace at those distances.
How to Get a More Accurate Prediction
You're more likely to get an accurate prediction for a marathon based on a half-marathon time, rather than a 5K. So, if you can input a similar distance when using a table or calculator, you're likely to get a better result.
It's also good to use a time from a recent race, ideally no more than six weeks before signing up for your race. If it's more time than that, your fitness level may have changed (for better or worse) and the times won't be as accurate.
Also, if you're running local races, running a race within a few weeks of your target race increases your chances of having similar weather conditions for both races, which will also make your time prediction more realistic.
Predicting a Walk/Run Time
While experienced runners may know their race pace at various distances, it may be much more difficult for walkers and those who use the walk/run method to know their pace.
Average Times Using Different Methods
There are different ways that experts suggest you can use to predict your time. Of course, you can use a calculator. You might even average your predicted calculator time with times estimated using other methods.
Marathon coach Hal Higdon suggests finding your marathon finish time by multiplying your 10K time by five if you are a first-timer, or if you are an experienced marathoner.
Dr. John Robinson suggests a different approach. He says that you can add 20 seconds to your mile each time you double your distance. If you have done a half marathon, take your average minutes per mile, add 20 seconds and multiply by
Compare Predicted Time to Posted Cutoff Times
As a walker or a walk/runner, compare your predicted time to the cutoff time posted for the event you plan to participate in. Do not enter an event if you might not make the cutoff time.
There are many half marathons and marathons available that are walker-friendly with either a generous cutoff time or no cutoff time at all. Consider one of those events for your first marathon. The experience is likely to be more enjoyable for you if you don't have to worry about a late finish.
In a worst-case scenario, take the sag wagon if you don't expect to make the cutoff time. You'll have to take a DNF (did not finish) but the miles that you completed still count as an accomplishment. And you can turn the experience into a win. Use it to focus on fully training for your next race.
A Word From Verywell
Remember that if you sign up for a marathon or longer race, you will be assigned to a corral based on finish time. Race organizers start each corral a minute or two apart to keep the course from being congested. So it is helpful to know this number.
There's obviously a large margin of error when using race predictor calculators, but it's helpful to have a rough estimate before a race, rather than going into it blindly. It can definitely keep you from setting race goals and prevent pacing mistakes, such as going out too fast.
How to Improve Running Speed and Endurance
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- “Oxygen Power: Performance Tables for Distance Runners,” by Jack Daniels and J.R. Gilbert.
Finish time marathon estimate
In two of my recent articles, I have discussed the importance of pacing. I started with a look at the importance of getting the pace right and subsequently went on to review some of the evidence from an elite runners perspective. I concluded that article by suggesting that if even or negative pacing was good enough for Mo Farah then it should be good enough for all of us.
So, the question then for the first time marathon runner is often how do I calculate my pace?
How to Predict Your Marathon Finish Time
The answer is often to use one of the freely available pace calculators so I wanted to look at some of those and see what differences there were in any of them. One of my runners recently completed a 10km race in so I used her time to try and ascertain her predicted marathon time finish. With this known time we could, therefore, better gauge how to pace the marathon.
This becomes even more important when training for your first marathon, as you have no experience to draw upon.
You can find a number of online predictors and it is a good place to start with those. Just put marathon pace predictor in your search engine of choice and you will have a number that you can browse through. Using my runners 10k time you will find that most give you times the to mark.
The final two metrics I looked at are two that I am very familiar with. The first was oft quoted by the late great Frank Horwill who stated that if you take you 10km time, multiply it by 5 and then subtract 10 minutes you will get your predicted marathon time. Looking at our time of this would give a marathon prediction of
The final metric is known as Daniels Running Formula as worked out by Professor Jack Daniels, Phd. Using his formula our gives us a prediction of albeit the exact read across is for a time of
If you look at Elite runners that we in the UK will know well and start with Paula Radcliffe then you will see that Paula has a track PB of set in August and a road PB of set in Feb ; so one of these times is set on a track in the Summer and one on the road in the Winter.
Were they set at altitude, was there a head wind, were they uphill/downhill we dont know I would hope the track was flat though! But you can see all of these factors will affect finish time and if we are then using that finish time to predict a performance over a marathon then we are introducing errors potentially.
Using her 10km road time she went on to run the worlds best marathon time of two months later in April Daniels Running Formula predicts Paula would have actually run a
Daniels does admit himself in his book that the times he predicts are ones that with adequate training an athlete “could” achieve so you would expect and actually you normally see non-elite athletes not achieving their potential over the marathon distance. Most athletes I suspect are not adequately prepared to run to that potential. The marathon is a long way!
Professor Tim Noakes’ Central Governor Theory may give an answer to that but we’ll leave that for another post. My explanation for Paula’s result compared to her Daniels prediction is that like the underprepared athlete the predictors accuracy is less at the elite athletes level and probably an accuracy versus result graph would form an S-shaped curve with good correlation for the majority of athletes in the flatter portion of the S.
I checked this theory against Mo Farahs 10km win in the Europeans, yes I appreciate that is a track race but I wanted a recent result; Daniels would predict would give a marathon time and Mo ran a in the London Marathon.
I am sure the algorithms behind these predictors were never designed to give pinpoint accuracy a bit like dating websites (This is not from experience!) but as you can see they do put you very much in the right area in terms of time.
Our athlete with a is never going to run a marathon (unless she gets significantly faster) but equally she is never going to run a ….or is she? If she gets her pacing wrong and goes out to quickly then Id suggest anything is possible in a marathon!
So what was the result of this look at predictors?
Well, I think the science behind them, particularly Daniels, is pretty well founded and I have always considered Frank Horwills predictor to be a truly accurate picture for the majority of runners. So for our runner you could predict a finish time between say to
You could then set the runner off at a pace to hit the bottom of the band so in this case per mile to give a finish. Remember as always even pacing means increased effort. If the runner has something left in the tank at 21 miles then she can pick up the pace, but in her first race why not set a time then go out and knock some time off it in your second.
Good luck with your upcoming marathon! Heres a link you might want to check out if youre looking for a free marathon training plan.
Train Smart!Last updated on March 2nd,
Marathon TrainingSours: https://www.kinetic-revolution.com/how-to-predict-my-marathon-pace/
Introducing Slate’s Marathon Time Predictor—a Better Way to Calculate How Fast You’ll Run
A better way to calculate how fast you’ll run.
By Christie Aschwanden
Interactive by Chris Kirk. Ruler by Joe Harrison from The Noun Project. Stopwatch by Scott Lewis from The Noun Project. Running by Leandro R. from The Noun Project.
If you’ve ever used a running calculator to pace yourself for a marathon, there’s a good chance you set yourself up for failure. As I explained in a piece earlier this year, most finish-time calculators—like this one from Runner’s World—rely on an algorithm developed by engineer and runner Peter Riegel in the s. The Riegel formula is based on the idea that you slow down by a certain amount as a race gets longer, what he called the “fatigue factor.” According to Riegel, you can’t predict how fast you’ll run a marathon by doubling your time over miles. Rather, you can get a better estimate by multiplying your half-marathon time by
Andrew Vickers, a competitive runner and statistician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, was convinced that we could come up with a better formula. Back in April, we asked for your help to find out if he was right.
Nearly 2, Slate readers answered the call, providing real-world race data to help Vickers and his colleagues build a better calculator. We ended up with results from marathons, 1, half-marathons, 10K races, and 1, 5Ks. The average woman who submitted data to the survey (39 percent of our respondents were female) was around years old and ran about 29 miles a week. The average man was about years old and ran around 35 miles a week. Runners completing the survey ranged from year-olds to those in their mids.
To devise the calculator, Vickers randomly divided the data into three groups. He developed a new marathon prediction formula using the first of those groups and tested it using data from another. He is reserving the final group to present when we publish the study in a scientific journal.
When Vickers’ group crunched the numbers, they found that the Riegel formula works well when you’re using one short race to predict your time for another short race. Your 10K time is pretty close to your 5K time multiplied by
But the Riegel formula falls apart when you move up to the marathon. A typical runner in our study with a half-marathon time (8 minutes per mile) had a marathon time of (that’s per mile). Yet the Runner's World calculator predicts that this runner will finish in —15 minutes faster than the actual result. That’s an “absolutely massive” error, says Vickers. If this runner paced himself according to the Riegel prediction, he would start the race at a pace that was more than 30 seconds per mile too fast. “No wonder so many runners blow up and limp to the finish,” Vickers says.
According to the numbers in our study, a more accurate formula for predicting a marathon time is your half-marathon time multiplied by With that formula as a starting point, Vickers and his colleagues made tweaks to reflect the other lessons they pulled from the study. As you’d expect, training volume—miles run per week in preparation of a race—had a measurable influence on marathon times. “You might run a quick 5K, but if you don’t put in the miles, your marathon is going to be on the slow side,” Vickers says. Adjusting the formula to reflect training miles improved its accuracy. Our study also found that the extent to which you slow down between two shorter races, such as a 10K and a half-marathon, also reveals how much you’re likely to slow down between a short race and a marathon. Contrary to Vickers’ expectation, though, we found that age and gender had no influence on how a runner’s pace slowed from a short to a long race.
The Slate marathon calculator uses a formula adjusted to reflect your training miles. The tool performs best when you can give us your times for two previous races of different distances, though it can also be used if you input only one previous race time.
Our formula predicts that a half-marathoner who trains 30 to 40 miles per week will finish a marathon in That’s still a little bit off from the real-world results we saw in our survey—a minute and 40 seconds slower than the actual time. But if you’re using a calculator to pace yourself, Vickers says, you’re better off leaving a little in the tank for the end, when you can make up some time, rather than going out too fast and setting yourself up for a miserable finish.
Before you try the calculator, a few words of caution. Though we found that a runner’s age didn’t affect her predicted marathon time, we also didn't have many older runners in our sample, so it’s possible our predictor doesn't work as well for runners over age Predictions will also be less accurate in absolute terms for slower runners, Vickers says. That makes sense, because while few runners expecting to run a marathon end up finishing in , it’s not uncommon for a 5-hour marathoner to run 15 minutes faster or slower than expected. “In percentage terms we do just fine with slower runners; in terms of absolute time, we do slightly worse,” Vickers says.
Finally, a race that is either very difficult (because of an especially tough course or terrible weather) or very fast (because of special conditions such as a tailwind or downhill slope) makes a bad basis for predicting your marathon time, unless that marathon will be similarly hard or fast.
So, with those caveats out of the way, scroll back to the top of the page and give our new calculator a try.
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Marathon Time Predictor
How does it work?
To predict marathon times, this tool uses the formula published in by Andrew J. Vickers and Emily A. Vertosick. Their formula requires more data input and returns slower times, but as they showed in their research article, those other predictions are “well-calibrated for races up to a half marathon, but dramatically underestimated marathon time, giving times at least 10 minutes too fast for half of runners.”
In cases where you don’t provide enough data for us to use the Vickers-Vertosick formula, we use the logic from our age-graded calculator to get an age-graded score relating your recent run to the world record at that distance, multiplied by a factor to adjust for your age. We then take that score and figure out how fast you’d have to run the marathon to earn it again.
These approaches are different from what you’ll find on other race time predictor tools, most of which use an equation published by Peter Riegel in T2 = T1 x (D2/D1) where T1 and D1 are your finish time and distance in a recent race, and T2 and D2 are your predicted time and distance in an upcoming race. The equation is simple and easy to use (which is why so many are still using it), but it fails to accurately predict marathon times for most recreational runners. Still, we include it in the calculator results so you can use it as a reference.
No matter which method you’re using, you’ll get the most accurate results by choosing recent races that were as similar as possible in race distance, weather, and course difficulty. A flat mile track race on a cool day isn’t going to tell you much about how a hilly marathon in heat is going to go.
Also, keep in mind that training for different longer race distances looks very different from training for shorter ones, and vice versa. Just because the calculator spits out a fast time doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically be able to run it — you still have to put in the work.
Finally, remember that this is just a prediction, not an absolute truth. If you start running and the pace feels too quick, back off. (If it feels too slow, that’s probably your taper talking. Be patient. If it still feels too slow 15 miles into the marathon, then you can start speeding up.)