Staff race tips – Half Marathon

Staff Race Tips

We asked our staff for some of their top training and race day tips, shoe and kit recommendations, and fuel and hydration advice, specifically for the half marathon distance. Check out their suggestions below.

We are planning a series of blogs covering different distances, so keep a look out for future posts. In each post we will be covering the following topics:

Distance – Half Marathon – 13.1 miles

If you have mastered the 10km distance and are looking for a new goal, then stepping up to a half marathon may be the challenge for you. Completing a half marathon is an amazing achievement and something to be really proud of as it pushes your body and mind a bit more than your average run.

When thinking about taking on a half marathon you might be considering how long it will take to cover the distance and what would be a good pace to aim for.

If you are wanting to break records, you would need to be hitting an incredible 4:23mins per mile or 2:44mins per km in order to match the current standing half marathon world record for men (World Athletics) of 57:31, set by Ugandan runner Jacob Kiplimo at the Lisbon Half Marathon on November 21, 2021.

However, you will be glad to know that a good half marathon time for men is around 1:43:33 and a good half marathon time for women is around 2:00:12, across all ages (Running Level). In terms of pacing this means that if you wanted to hit the men’s time of 1:43 you would need to be running 7:55min miles or 4:55min km, and to hit the women’s time of 2:00 you would need to be running 9:12min miles or 5:43min km. Knowing a good target pace is important when putting together your training plan as it enables you to practise running at race pace during your sessions.

Training tips

Tessa – Chat to your friends and see if anyone else would be keen to join you in running the race, or for your weekly long runs. The time will go faster and the distance will fly by if you are chatting with your mates and having fun. If no one else is up for it, try listening to a podcast to help keep you entertained.

If you have a goal time in mind, make sure you do some of your runs at race pace, it will train your body to go at that speed at increasing distances as you progress through your training plan.

Matt – Make sure you use a good training plan, either from a coach or a recommended source, it will ensure you are not increasing your mileage too quickly helping to reduce the risk of injury or overtraining. Both of which could mean you don’t make it to the start line.


Tessa – For me, as I am not looking to break any speed records, I look for comfort when I am running longer distances. Shoes such as the Brooks Glyercin 21 which has the nitrogen infused foam to provide light cushioning, or the Hoka Bondi 8 with its ultra level of cushioning, are both great options for comfort all the way to the finish line.

Matt – If I was going for a fast, for me, time, I’d definitely go for a carbon shoe. The shoes I currently use for races and the Adidas Adizero Pro 3. For me they are comfy enough for up to marathon distance, and feel great when you want to pick up the pace.


If I was pacing or aiming to get round without a specific time target, I’d go for comfort. The Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 would probably be my choice as they feel comfy but with the nylon plate I could pick up the pace and push it if I wanted to.



Tessa – I personally like to carry a small water bottle, a couple of gels and my phone for my music during a half marathon, so I run with a running belt. The Instinct Reflex Belt is really comfortable and can actually carry a lot of stuff without bouncing about, so I find it good for both everyday running and races.


Matt – I carry very little on a half so I wouldn’t need lots of storage. The Flipbelt is perfect for me. It’s one of the best and most used bits of kit I’ve ever had. Enough space for gels, phone and keys.

And of course I’d have my Coros watch to keep an eye on my pace.


Fuel & Hydration

Tessa – For a half marathon distance I would have 2 gels, either SiS or High5, as I find them both easy to open and eat on the go. I have them about every 40 mins as my average finish time is about 2 hrs.  I also take a small water bottle; so I can have a sip when I want to and don’t have to wait until the water stations.

The day before I tend to have a meal like pasta or pizza to make sure I am filling up my energy stores. In the morning I will have a bowl of porridge about 2 hours before the race starts but I avoid too much protein, such as yoghurt, it takes your body longer to digest and can sit a bit heavy in my stomach.

Matt – For a half marathon I’d hope to be under or around the 1:30 time. I’ve normally only taken one gel at about mile 8. My choice of gels would be Torq, Precision Hydration or Maurten. I’ve tried all 3 and they all sit well on my stomach, which can get easily upset.

I wouldn’t carry water and would only take a sip or just wash my mouth out after a gel or about mile 9.

The day before I’d just eat normally, but maybe not eat anything too heavy on my stomach.

Race day tips

Tessa – Try and find out if there are pacers at the race, as this will help you stay on track without you having to keep looking at your watch all the time. Plus the pacers can be a good person to chat to while you run, and they will help keep you motivated if it starts to feel tough towards the end.

Matt – Go hard or go home!!!

Not really. If you have a time you are going for then don’t set off quicker than that pace. It’d hopefully feel easy to start. I think it’s much better to start easyish and finish strong than push the pace in the first half and struggle towards the end.

If there are pacers they are good to use to make sure you’re not going too fast, especially on the Sheffield half when the first 5 miles are up hill.