Many people seem to think so! For the past 10 years it has been the fastest growing race distance in the U.S, with more than 3 times the entrants of the marathon.
Here is the top 10 list of why 13.1 miles is such a great race to strive for:
- It is an amazing accomplishment! Just because it is the fastest growing race distance doesn’t mean everyone has done one. At the finish line you will feel an enormous sense of pride and you will join a small percentage of individuals that can say they have completed a half-marathon. Yes, you gain access to bragging rights. Wear your finisher’s shirt proudly. The shirt better say “half-marathon” right on there.
- Training for a half marathon is a challenge, but does not need to take over your life. Many beginning training plans suggest you run 3-4 times weekly and keep most of those sessions under an hour. It is a perfectly reasonable amount of time spent exercising. Spending 2.5-5 hours a week being physically active is the recommendation from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for a healthy adult between the ages of 18-64.
- Even if your training plan gets sidetracked by life (injury, illness, family, work) you can still get out there and give it a try. Stuff happens in life, and in a perfect world you have followed your training plan to the letter and had a great time doing it. But if for some reason you haven’t, you can still get out there and run the distance you feel comfortable completing (6, 8, or 10 miles) and walk the remainder. Walking 13.1 miles won’t take all day, and run/walkers are very large part of the half marathon experience.
- What about that huge gap between the shorter distance runners (5K and 10K) and marathoners? Of course the half marathon is used as a stepping stone for runners to complete their ultimate goal of a marathon, but for many, the half marathonis the ultimate goal.
- It is an endurance race and not meant to be run at a sprint. In a half marathon you must find your comfortable pace and stick with it for a while, and many runners prefer this to the strain of a sprint. Some runners don’t really get into their groove of running until mile 3 or 4. A race of 13 miles maximizes that comfortable pace and lets the endorphins flow.
- Despite training smart and being careful, overuse injuries can and do happen. In marathon training they are so common they almost seem inevitable. But injuries can be minimized in the less intense training for a half marathon. The shorter training cycle may contribute to this fact, also. Many marathon training plans are 18-20 weeks, while half marathon plans are typically 12-16 weeks in length. Major bonus: It is a lot less likely to lose a toenail during half marathon training!
- So much more reasonably priced. With full marathon prices averaging $140 and rarely dipping below $100, racing can get very expensive. Many people don’t have the budget to do more than 1 race a year. But half marathons can go as low as $60, making several races a year much more affordable.
- You can support a cause. Even if the half marathon you choose to race in does not donate to charity, there are still many organizations you can sign up with and collect donations for (like Team in Training). The website Crowdrise even allows you to create a specific fundraising campaign for your event where you set the goal and the beneficiary. And people will be so impressed with your half-marathon goal they will certainly contribute!
- Less nerves. Of course running a half marathon is a big deal. But at the start line of a half marathon you’ll usually find less anxiety and a lot of camaraderie. At a marathon, the racers lining up have put in so much time and effort for that specific race, building up to peak in that week, and if anything goes wrong, recovery and a new training cycle can take at least 6 weeks to 3 months to try again. A half marathon required less specificity and less recovery, making it a race you can take on as often as once month if you want!
- You’ll be done with your race and showered up in time for lunch. Half marathons obviously take half the time (actually less than half the time) but they also won’t wipe you out as much as a full marathon. Yes, you’ll need to recover from your half marathon with some yummy fuel and maybe a nice nap, but hopefully you will be able to enjoy the rest of your day, while proudly wearing your finisher’s shirt and letting everyone know within earshot that you just completed a HALF MARATHON!