5 Reasons why You Should do a Half Marathon
Half-marathons are gaining a whole new level of respect. Once thought of as a distance for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t attempt a full marathon, the half is carving out its own community of endurance athletes who prefer 21 kilometres over 42.
Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver all offer marathons that include a 21-kilometre distance. And many stand-alone half-marathons are held across the country, primarily in the spring as a lead-in to marathon season, which runs from late-summer through the fall.
Who can train for a half-marathon? Anyone who can run 5-10K has enough of a base to start training.
As for how long it takes to train, plan on 12 weeks’ lead time, budgeting for a minimum of three and a maximum of five workouts per week. One of those runs will go long, progressing to 18-21 kilometres, depending on the training program. The rest of the runs will be shorter — most under 10K.
But those are the details. What you really need to know is why you should consider tackling this often-overlooked distance. So here are five good reasons to give 21K a try.
IT’S NOT A FULL MARATHON
Let’s face it: 42 kilometres is a daunting distance. And it’s not for everyone. The trouble is you won’t know if it’s for you until you’re so far into the training that you’re bound and determined to finish what you started.
So even though 21 kilometres is no walk in the park, it’s better to test your mettle against a distance that isn’t the all-consuming, all-in type of commitment that the marathon demands.
And the best part? Half the training distance means half the tedium of running for hours on end, which scores big points in the choice between running a half or full marathon.
IT STILL HAS STREET CRED
Sure, the marathon is still considered the race of all races, but finishing a half-marathon is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, within the running community, the half is rarely talked about as the lesser of the two races, but rather an attractive option for competitive runners of all ages and abilities.
And for some runners, the half is their race of choice — even over the mighty marathon. It’s a distance they not only prefer, but one they excel at. And frankly, that’s what racing is all about. If you find a distance where you’re comfortable and successful, it’s perfectly okay to stick with it.
Besides, compared with the rest of the population, you’re a fitness god — even if you never attempt a full marathon. Most people dream of completing as little as five kilometres, so crossing the finish line after 21 kilometres is puff-out-your-chest awesome.
YOU WON’T HURT AS MUCH
Anyone who has trained and run a marathon knows that the body takes a beating. And it’s a rare marathoner who doesn’t acquire at least one chronic ache or pain during the course of the training. And during the race? Well, most of us like to forget about what those last 10 kilometres feel like.
The half-marathon, on the other hand, is much gentler on your body. After all, you’re subjecting it to half the pounding. So your knees will thank you. As will your hips. No to mention your feet.
That said, 21 kilometres still demands some respect, so don’t go thinking you can get in half-marathon shape in half the time it takes you to prepare for 42 kilometres.
IT’S A GREAT LEAD-UP TO A FULL
Half-marathons aren’t for half-lovers only. They’re also a popular race for marathoners who like using it as a tune-up for the full distance. So whether the goal is to work on maintaining speed over longer distances or adding a little pep into a training regime that otherwise calls for weeks of logging long hours on neighbourhood streets, marathoners are big fans of the half.
But that’s not the only reason to be faithful to the 21-kilometre distance. According to Reed Ferber, director of the Running Injury Clinic in Calgary, one of the ways to reduce the risk of getting injured during a marathon is to complete two half-marathons before attempting the full distance for the first time.
YOU CAN LIVE THE LIFE AND TRAIN
Training for a marathon takes over your weekends and some will argue your life. Not only do you spend long hours logging the necessary training miles, you need to monitor your diet, sleep and consumption of alcohol so you can stay strong and focused through at least three months of hard-core training.
You don’t need quite the same level of commitment when training for a half-marathon.
Half the distance means you can have your life and bragging rights as an endurance athlete of considerable merit. Or, as some say, 21 kilometres is half the distance and twice the fun.
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