I love half marathons. Most of the time, anyways. Sometimes I hate them. But after 62 of them, I’ve determined that it’s the race distance that I most love to run. I became a half fanatic back when I ran my 3rd half marathon (HF#182), but I had no idea back then that I’d ever run so many. But now I can’t seem to stop.
- It’s an attainable distance – A half marathon is a long distance run. There’s no getting around that. But MOST runners can work their way up to one and there are many races out there with generous time periods. (Hint: ones that have a marathon on the same course at close to the same time often have the most generous limits.)
- The training doesn’t take over your life – If you are in reasonable shape, you can train for a half marathon with 2 short runs a week and one long run and run a decent race. And your long run doesn’t have to be over 10 if you’ve got a good solid running base. (Hint: if you want to actually run faster, running more or doing speedwork will make a difference, but you can RUN a half marathon without it.)
- Most races have bling and a finish line festival – Yeah, I went there. I’ve never chosen a half marathon based on the bling, but I do have some amazing bling. And you know I love a good beer after a race.
- Far enough to challenge you, physically and mentally – While the half marathon is absolutely attainable, it’s also a fickle beast. It’s long enough that even an experienced half marathoner with a good training cycle behind them can have an awful race. And, on the flip side, it’s short enough that a runner can have an amazing race despite training setbacks. A fickle beast, I tell you.
- It doesn’t hurt as much as a 5k – No, really. 5k races HURT if you are racing them. All that huffing and puffing and feeling like you are going to puke for 3.1 miles? That’s way worse than a steady tempo pace for 13.1.
Bonus: You can run more than 1 or 2 a year and not injure yourself. (Mind you, I’m assuming you train and run smartly. You can injure yourself training for a 5k if you make poor choices or are injury prone.)
I don’t have any more half marathons this year and that makes me kind of sad. I’ve hit Mercury, but I still have a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states. I don’t know if I’ll make it by 50 (only 4 more years, gah!), but I’ll be picking off states whenever I can.
What’s your favorite race distance? Why?