CONSIDER RUNNING A HALF MARATHON BEFORE TACKLING A MARATHON Jonathan Beverly, past editor-in-chief of Running Times writes a great piece, “How the Half Marathon Has Become the Go-To-Goal Race Among American Runners” for motivrunning.com. If you are new to running or contemplating taking up running as a New Year Resolution for 2018, this piece may save you injury and discouragement. It is also for casual runners who want to find motivation to train seriously for their first a long-distance goal race.
Yes, running a marathon is impressive. But, as the article explains, the number of participants in that event have not risen over the decade like the numbers for the half. RunningUSA.org reports that the number of marathon events has remained flat, while half marathon events have increased by about 4% from 2015-2016.
“In 2016, the 5K maintained the #1 position of all race distances with 8.2 million finishers, claiming 49% of all finishers in the U.S., while the half-marathon again held the #2 position with approximately 11% of the finishers, followed by the 10K (7%).”
Beverly explains why he thinks this situation has evolved. The marathon may not be the best first endurance race he indicates, because the beginner may not reach a state of preparedness in training that allows enjoyment of the experience, or at the very least, avoids injury. Training for a half marathon is more manageable, he indicates, seeming to permit runners to train and attempt this distance while healthy and strong. It allows workouts that build strength, speed, and mobility. New runners training for a marathon might struggle to get in the weekly mileage, forcing them to forego other kinds of essential workouts.
“While the marathon inspires many to run more and to build endurance, it also often hinders runner’s development in at least two ways. First, the mandate of getting in more miles crowds out any other training like improving strength and mobility or even speed work. When you’re stretched to the limit just to keep up with the required volume, you don’t have the time or energy to do strides or squats after your run, and you’re afraid to put in an interval workout because you’re so beat up all the time.”
The marathon can be a longer range, larger goal race, he says, if runners wait for a bit to undertake training.
Before you decide on a first goal endurance race, consider reading this article in full. It makes a great deal of sense. If you do settle on running a marathon before a half marathon at least you will be informed of the training and racing challenges that might be encountered.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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