The Half Marathon: A Race For All
A half marathon has a kind of attraction about it so it draws in all types of people. After all, it is long and challenging enough for the most experienced runners looking to better their time, yet short enough so those of us that don’t consider ourselves true long-distance runners can still participate and finish. It really is the perfect race.
How Long Is a Half Marathon?
The appeal of a half marathon, as stated up above, is the distance of the race. Registering in at just above 13.1 miles, many people can run it without having to train for weeks on end to get ready.
As a certified personal trainer, I have assisted many in preparing for their goal of running a half marathon. For many, it is a stepping stone for a full marathon. For others, it is a manageable distance for those that have just decided to get into the activity of running in the last few months. Whatever the case may be, completing a half marathon is a great athletic goal that most of us should all try to do someday before our time is up. It is a physical accomplishment that nobody will ever be able to take away from you.
How Do You Prepare for a Half Marathon?
There are numerous ways to get ready for a half marathon. With many of my clients, we would split up time running outside and on the treadmill depending on the weather. Most of the time we wouldn’t even go the full 13.1 miles in the training either. We would stop around the 10-mile mark as a way to save their accomplishment for the actual race. It’s all about finding what works best for that individual.
Then there are others that can just decide to run a half marathon at the spur of the moment and one day later they tackle it without any training at all. On the other hand, without any sort of training, you are risking having to walk the second half of it after your breathing starts to become more like hyperventilating or there could be a greater risk of injury. It is best to go in with at least some conditioning.
Recruit a Friend or Two for the Experience
Training always goes much easier when you bring a friend along. This is true for any athletic feat. For instance, if you would like to get ripped and build muscle for the summer, find a friend that has the same goal.
If you want to undertake running a half marathon and worry that you might not be able to finish, find two friends to do it with you. If you are seriously concerned, one of the friends should be a slightly better runner than you and the other one should be a tad worse. This will alleviate any pressure you put on yourself and the three of you should work pretty well together as you motivate one another to get better.
What Is a Good Finishing Time for a Half Marathon?
If you are one of those competitive people that want to compare your half marathon finishing time with everyone else’s, you are certainly not alone. We all want to see how we stack against the competition whether it is for running a race or figuring out who has more in their bank account. But keep in mind there are certain factors that need to be weighed such as a person’s age, gender, and fitness level when discussing your race time.
For beginners, a good time for men in relatively good shape would be right around the 2-hour 10-minute mark. This would leave the man running the 13.1 miles at an average of about 9 minutes and 10 seconds every mile. For women, you are more likely looking at the 2-hour 25-minute mark. This means that the woman would be averaging a mile every 11 minutes or so. Again, these are average times for beginners that are trying their hand at running their first half marathon.
For more experienced runners, breaking a two hour half marathon is a common goal. If you can keep your time under the two-hour mark, you are running at a pretty good clip and doing really well.
If you would really like your mind blown, there have been world-class runners that are male that can finish a half marathon at just under an hour. Not to be outdone, a few world-class women runners have clocked in at about an hour and ten minutes for a half marathon. Again, these aren’t normal times though. However, if you are coming close to these times, you should definitely start planning on who to contact to get into the next Olympics
The Day of the Race
There are things you should do on the day of the race to make the half marathon go as smoothly as possible. For instance, wear your tried and true running shoes. Now is not the time to break in your new pair as it can leave your feet aching and blistered.
Next, you should dress accordingly for the weather. There are those that will wear a light long sleeve shirt if it is a bit chilly. Others will always choose to go with a tank top or t-shirt as they know a bit into the race, any sort of chill in the air will not be noticed. Most runners seem to usually wear shorts, but in recent years, tights are becoming pretty prevalent as well during a half marathon race.
One of the most asked questions I receive is what a person should eat the day of the race. Two hours before the race, it would be a good idea to eat some fruit or healthy cereal as this will give you some carbs for energy. Peanut butter is always a favorite as well since it will also provide you some needed protein to perform at your best.
In addition, drinking some water or fruit juice about an hour before the race will have you smartly hydrating before you get thirsty. After all, you don’t want to start cramping up from dehydration halfway in and have to tap out.
During the actual race, try waiting until you are about a third of the way through before you start reaching for the water. Some of my clients enjoy a banana once they reach the halfway mark as well. Again, these are things to practice with during training though. Don’t try to just wing it on the day of the race.
Just Do Your Best
There is no need to risk an injury by acting like you are getting ready to go for the gold in Munich. Train smartly, expect to be sore now and then, and plan a nice celebration for after the event. If you make it an enjoyable experience, you will start penciling in a few half marathons every year!