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Use This Running Pace Chart To Work Out How To Hit Your Next PB

Boy and girl running-pace-calculator
(Image credit: Unknown)

The chances are that the first few PBs you set in running events will be unplanned. You’ll run as fast as feels right and see what the result is. You’ll probably also notice during those runs that if you’re close to a big number, like two hours in a half marathon or 45 minutes in a 10K, you’ll run a little harder near the end to try to finish under that mark.

If you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense. There’s only one second’s difference between running a two-hour half marathon or a 1:59:59. But stop thinking about it right now. It really does matter and don’t let anyone ever tell you different.

In order to hit these marks you generally need to know the pace to run at, because a well-paced race is crucial to success. Below you’ll find the per kilometre and per mile pace required to hit all the most popular target times for 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and marathons. You don’t have to nail this mark in each and every kilometre. In fact, it’s often a good idea to start slightly slower and finish faster. But these are the average paces you’ll need to stick to.

If you have a very specific goal time in mind that isn’t covered below then we heartily recommend the simple Running Pace app (Apple App Store (opens in new tab) only, 99p), which will give you the per-kilometre and per-mile pace required for any target time and distance.

What Should My Target Time Be?

That’s a key question for both beginner and experienced runners alike, and a tough one to answer. There are some very general calculations out there that can help, such as taking a recent half marathon time, doubling it and adding seven to ten minutes.

You can get more exact advice from pace calculators where you enter a few recent race results across various distances, and then ask for a target time for another distance based on that. One of these is the McRun app (Apple App Store (opens in new tab) only, £9.99), which can suggest a marathon goal based on a 10K and half marathon time.

If you have no other race results to go on, the best thing to do is be conservative with your target. In fact, if it’s your first event, don’t worry about target times at all. Get halfway through your race at a pace you’re comfortable with, and then step it up in the second half of the event and see what time you can do.

How To Train For A Target Time

If you’re relatively new to running you may be surprised to learn that when you follow a training plan, most of your training runs will be either slower or quicker than your target time. You certainly don’t need to do loads of runs at race pace to make sure you’ll hit it on the day, and your long runs in particular should mostly be done at a pace that’s around a minute per kilometre slower than your target pace, though you might want to throw in some race pace kilometres towards the end of these runs.

In general, the basics of a training plan are one speed session a week, where you do short intervals considerably faster than your target pace; a tempo run, where you’ll be running a little quicker than your target pace; a long run, as detailed above; and some easy runs, done far slower than your target pace. That’ll all add up to success on the day, trust us. If you need such a plan, we have free plans for 5K races10K raceshalf marathons and marathons.

5K Pace Chart

Finish timeMin per-km paceMin per-mile pace
35min7:0011:16
30min6:009:39
25min5:008:03
20min4:006:26
18min3:365:48
15min3:004:50

10K Pace Chart

Finish timeMin per-km paceMin per-mile pace
1hr 10min7:0011:16
60min6:009:39
55min5:308:51
50min5:008:03
45min4:307:15
40min4:006:26
38min3:486:07
35min3:305:38

Half Marathon Pace Chart

Finish timeMin per-km paceMin per-mile pace
2hr 30min7:0711:27
2hr 15min6:2410:18
2hr5:419:09
1hr 55min5:278:46
1hr 50min5:138:23
1hr 45min4:598:01
1hr 40min4:457:38
1hr 35min4:307:15
1hr 30min4:156:52
1hr 25min4:026:29
1hr 20min3:476:06
1hr 15min3:335:43
1hr 10min3:195:20

Marathon Pace Chart

Finish timeMin per-km paceMin per-mile pace
7hr9:5716:01
6hr 30min9:1414:52
6hr8:3213:44
5hr 30min7:4912:35
5hr 15min7:2812:01
5hr7:0711:27
4hr 45min6:4510:52
4hr 30min6:2410:18
4hr 15min6:039:44
4hr5:419:09
3hr 45min5:208:35
3hr 30min4:598:01
3hr 15min4:377:26
3hr4:156:52
2hr 45min3:556:18
2hr 30min3:335:43

How To Pace Your Race Perfectly

Setting a realistic target time is half the battle when it comes to enjoying your event, but once you’ve done that it’s still possible for everything to go wrong on the day if you don’t pace your race right. For some tips on that front, here’s Daisy Hughes, ultramarathon runner and Lululemon (opens in new tab) ambassador.

1. Run your own race

It’s an incredible feeling to run a race with others and it can help you to run a faster time, but you’ve got to run your own race. This will be easier to do at the moment with virtual races like lululemon’s SeaWheeze Half Marathon and 10K (opens in new tab). Whatever your goal, it’s yours alone – don’t be tempted to keep up with others.

2. Consider the conditions

Remember that race calculators don’t account for things like heat, wind and difficult terrain, so in difficult conditions it would be a good idea to add 5% on to your target time.

3. Aim for negative splits

The best way I’ve found to pace races is to aim for negative splits, which means running the first half of the race slightly slower than the second half. It’ll take all of your self-discipline to resist setting off quickly, but a negative split is the most effective way to ensure you’ve got enough in the tank to keep a good pace throughout the race.

I recommend running ten to 15 seconds slower per kilometre than your target pace for the first three kilometres in a 10K. You’ll only lose 30-45 seconds and have plenty of time over the final few kilometres to make the time up if you’re feeling strong. If you’re running a half marathon, run ten to 25 seconds slower for the first seven kilometres, then close the gap for the second seven kilometres and finish the last seven kilometres with everything you have left.

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.