Going for half marathon gold

During my most recent long run on Sunday, I spent quite a lot of time thinking about my goals for the Great Birmingham Run. What time should I be aiming for? Should I just aim to enjoy the experience? Why hadn’t I set myself goals before I started training?

After about an hour of pavement pounding, my brain got tired, and my thoughts turned to a slightly less mentally challenging subject – food.

dscf1283In a reflective mood after a rubbish run earlier this summer. 

I spend far, far too much time on social media, and from what I’ve been reading, for a lot of first time half marathoners the goal is usually to finish, rather than achieving a specific finishing time. My reading also informed me that the average times for half marathons in the USA in 2015 were 2:04:00 for male and 2:22:21 for female runners. For some reason I had assumed the average times would have been faster.

Although the Great Birmingham Run will be the first half marathon I’ve trained properly for in over a decade, I completed the London Marathon in April this year and reached the half-way point in 2:39:30.

This leaves me with a dilemma. My most recent long runs have suggested that I’m more than capable of completing the distance in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes. So do I think of myself as a first timer and simply aim to get around and enjoy my half marathon experience, or do I set myself a slightly more challenging goal? I’ve been training for this event for over 13 weeks now, and feel it would be slightly feeble of me to make my only goal to finish.

So I’ve decided to set myself three goals – gold, silver and bronze. If I achieve my gold goal on race day I’ll be absolutely over the moon. I’ll still be happy if I end up with either a silver or a bronze time.


  • Gold – Anything under 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Silver – Anything under 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Bronze – Anything under 2 hours 25 minutes

I’m aware that anything could happen on the day, and that my right knee could finally decide that enough is enough. I’m also aware that the Great Birmingham Run course is challenging and not particularly fast…


What I do know is that unless I really do fall apart on the day, I’ll award myself a wooden spoon if it takes me longer than 2:39:30 to complete the half marathon.

I’ll also hang up my running shoes!


8 thoughts on “Going for half marathon gold

  1. Maria @ runningcupcake says:

    I love having 3 goals like that- doing a half marathon is an achievement no matter the time, so having some realistic goals (and goals in case things don’t go so well) should mean it is more of a success. I remember reading once, that 2 hours was a “respectable time” for a half, and it took me years and years to get a sub 2 time, and not sure I want to try and do another one that fast! Good luck!


    • Emma says:

      Thanks! My gut feeling is that I’ll end up with a silver medal… My biggest concern is getting carried away on the morning of the race, setting off at a ridiculous pace and then struggling to the finish. I know that I need to save something for the hilly section near the finish but don’t want to hold back too much. I’d love to get a sub 2 one day. I struggled so much to get a sub 60 10k I know I’d find a sub 2 a real challenge.


  2. wanderwolf says:

    Good goals… and given your running and racing experience (you’ve done a marathon, for goodness sakes), you’re beyond the “let me just finish” phase, unless of course, something happens that upsets your race plans. But here’s to the best of luck, a d go for gold!


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