What is the average marathon time?

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A marathon is an event that finds its way onto the bucket lists of many runners – from total beginners to athletes.

The challenging distance of a marathon means that training is crucial to being able to complete the 26.2 mile course, and even more so for those hoping to do so in what they regard as a good time.

With that in mind, you might be wondering “how long should it take to run a marathon?”.

How can I measure my running time?

Your running time for any distance will depend on your pace, for example, if you run at a speed of 10km (6.2 miles) per hour you will finish a marathon (26.2 miles or 42.2km) in around 4 hours and 13 minutes.

Average speeds will also vary depending on age, fitness level and gender, with male runners tending to have faster finishing times on average than female runners of a similar age.

During your training, you may want to use a fitness tracker or app to help you monitor your progress and keep an accurate record of your speed and running distance.

You can use the data they track to ‘race yourself’ and identify areas for improvement.

If you want to track your calories whilst running, here are five great fitness trackers to choose from;

  1. Polar Grit X Pro watch
  2. Apple smartwatch Series 7
  3. Fitbit Versa 3
  4. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
  5. Garmin Instinct 2 Multi-Sport

Average marathon time for beginners

An average beginner’s marathon time comes in at around 4:30 for men and 4:45 for women. 

For a beginner, it is better to focus not on a finishing time, but instead on crossing the finish line.

For a marathon, it’s recommended that you follow a training plan focused on building up your running distance and overall fitness level – don’t feel pressured to keep up with Mo Farah or Paula Radcliffe just yet!

You can use the table below to help work out what pace you will need to run at to finish the marathon in a good beginner time;

Men’s Beginner PaceWomens Beginner Pace
Marathon Finish Time: 4hr 30minsMarathon Finish Time: 4hr 45mins
10:18mins per mile10:53mins per mile
6:24mins per kilometer6:45mins per kilometer

Average marathon time for intermediate runners

The average time for intermediate runners can range between 3:30 – 4:10 for men and 3:50 – 4:20 for women.

Intermediate level runners, particularly those who have completed a marathon or a half marathon before may have their sights set on a more ambitious finishing time.

A common goal is to complete a marathon in a sub 4-hour time.

You can use the table below to help work out what pace you will need to run at to finish the marathon in a good intermediate time;

Men’s Intermediate PaceWomens Intermediate Pace
Marathon Finish Time: 3hr 30minsMarathon Finish Time: 4 hours
8mins per mile9:09mins per mile
4:58mins per kilometer5:41mins per kilometer

Average marathon time for athletes/elites

Elite men can achieve a marathon race time of 2:05-2:20, for women it’s around 2:15-2:30.

Elite athletes train extremely hard to achieve their impressive pace over the 26.2 mile distance of a marathon.

That means long hours, strict diets and advice from top running coaches to achieve optimal performance on race day.

You can use the table below to help work out what pace athletes need to run at to finish the marathon in a good time;

Men’s Athlete PaceWomens Athlete Pace
Marathon Finish Time: 2hr 20minsMarathon Finish Time: 2hr 30mins
5:21mins per mile4:53mins per mile
3:19mins per kilometer3:33mins per kilometer

What Is A Good Marathon Time?

A good marathon time for men is around 3 hours and 30mins, for women, it’s around 4 hours and 5 mins.

If you still wondering how many hours should a marathon take, the answer will also depend on what fitness level you currently have and how long you have to train for the marathon.

Other factors will include your age, sex and how nutritional your diet is.

What Are The Current Marathon Records? 

Athletes train for marathons all year round, they have special diets and sometimes a team of people working with them on technique and strength workouts specifically for this running event.

The marathon records below mean that Eliud was running at a pace of 4mins 34 seconds per mile for 26.2 miles, Brigid was running at a pace of around 5mins 9 seconds per mile, both are running at an incredibly fast pace!

Women's marathon world record - Brigid Kosgei who ran the Chicago Marathon in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 4 seconds in October 2019
Marathon world record men - Eliud Kipchoge who ran the Berlin Marathon in 2 hours 1 minute and 9 seconds in September 2022

What is the Average London Marathon Time?

The average time to run the London Marathons is 4hr 21mins for men and for women, it was 4hr 57mins.

The London Marathon is run by more than 40,000 people and is the largest marathon in the UK.

For a lot of people this is the first marathon they take part in and runners put on fancy dress or run for a charity to help raise money for a good cause.

How can I improve my average marathon time?

Whilst simply finishing a marathon is plenty to be proud of, once you’ve completed one or two races you may want to start working on your time and getting that new personal best.

Here are a few tips for shaving down your average marathon time:

Recovery: You’d be mistaken for thinking that the first thing we would advise to improve your marathon time would be to run more!

In fact, rest days are just as important when it comes to your marathon training plan. Rest days allow your joints and muscles time to recover from the miles you clock up over the course of a week and help to strengthen your body overall.

Rest and recovery allow your body to adapt to the increasing miles in your training plan, and a stronger body will give you a much better chance of sustaining a good pace when it comes to race day.

Train at your goal pace: This applies to your shorter training runs more so, as you should be pacing yourself a little slower for your long training runs.

But adding in some goal paced tempo runs will help you get acclimatised with what that pace feels like.

Start by aiming to run around 5 miles at this pace, then as you progress with your training, work up to 10 miles, or try adding a few miles at this pace into your longer training runs.

Do you want more information about Marathons?

Are you looking for your next marathon? Take a look at our event listings to find the perfect UK Marathon

We also have lots more marathon blogs for you to read;

  1. Calories burnt running a Marathon
  2. How long is a marathon?
  3. Top Marathon Running Tips
  4. What are the Best UK Marathons?
  5. Marathon Training Plans
  6. What to eat before a marathon
  7. How to run a marathon faster

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