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Running a Half Marathon

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Running a half marathon is a great way to begin preparation for full marathon training, or continue training after a 5K or 10K run, while still challenging the mind and body. The advantages of starting with a half marathon is the shorter training time, distance, and recovery time.

It is often said that distance running is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. Thus, half marathon runners need to prepare for their races both mentally and physically. A typical half marathon runner can already run 7-9 miles each week, or at least thirty minutes without stopping, and has a few shorter runs under his/her belt. It typically takes 3 months to prepare for a half marathon run, compared to the 5-6 months required to prepare for a full marathon. It is optimal to run at least three days per week, though four is recommended, while providing an alternate day of rest between run days. An important point to note is that there are two schools of thought when it comes to training. First, the average half marathon runner trains to complete just 10 miles and not the entire 13.1 miles, or 21.1 kilometers required to complete the full half marathon. Second, that training for the total marathon distance is the only way to prepare, and anything less can result in injury.

The goal of the half marathon trainee, is to increase both distance and stamina gradually over the three month training period. Though, each training schedule typically involves a “long run” or a day when the runner stretches beyond his/her comfort zone by a few additional miles, or kilometers. By about week nine, the runner should be able to easily run the ten to twelve miles. However, like the full marathon, when training for the half marathon the last few weeks of workouts before the marathon should be scaled down versions. If a twelve mile run had been the norm, four days per week, cut back to 10 miles three days per week with some walking time on the fourth day. This allows the body time to recover, reduces the risk of pre-race injury, and offers time for mental preparation.

After the race, runners should be prepared to rest. The run takes a tremendous toll on the body. It is strongly suggested that runners rest the equivalent of one day for every mile ran, after each race. During the first couple of days no exercise should be performed at all. After this initial recovery period, one should refrain from serious distance running only. Instead it is recommended to do shorter runs, use other forms of exercise like swimming, or aerobics and ease back into the heavier stuff gradually over the remainder of the nearly two week period.

Running a half marathon is a truly rewarding experience. Runners considering this undertaking should be very proud of themselves. It is not a sport that everyone can train for and complete.

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