Memo to Newbies: Half Marathons Offer So Many Advantages, Why Run a Full One?
If you’re wondering why so many sports authorities, publications and even sports medicine experts recommend Half Marathons to new runners, wonder no more. We’ll tell you why!
If you’ve been watching friends, relatives and work colleagues wax poetic about how much they love to run - but you can’t relate because the sum of your daily activity consists of commuting to your office, taking the dog for a walk and perhaps the occasional shopping excursion - your nation wants you to get up, out and moving!
By discovering the wonderful world of running, you receive myriad benefits, not the least of which is the chance to live longer, proactively fight illness and enjoy a healthy state-of-mind with a simple start-up effort.
Once you’ve got wings under your feet, you might consider running a Full Marathon, but we urge you to ditch that plan. There are multiple reasons to pick Half over Full Marathons. You may even come up with more.
By The Numbers
Purists want to know how running numbers stack up when comparing the two distances and we’re happy to oblige. The official Half Marathon distance measures 21.0975km, exactly one-half of the ground a Full Marathon requires you to cover at 42km.
Running USA’s research into the Half in 2008 proved that the 21km is the fastest type of run when compared to other distances and who are we to refute their research?
Is reputation everything? It was when Half Marathons were treated like poor cousins, and there’s no denying that the longer run has Greek tradition and contemporary glory going for it, but the Half is sanctioned by the same authority - the International Association of Athletics Federations - and it even has its own heroes: The official IAAF world record for the men’s belongs to Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese: In 2010, he powered his way to an impressive 58:23 finish. Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat set the women’s in 2015 by finishing at 1:05:09.
Finally, in case you want to drop a few attendance numbers next time you’re out to impress fellow runners, you can tell friends that the Scandinavians are known for holding the largest Half Marathons in the world.
In 2000, 79,719 competitors completed the Broloppet between Denmark and Sweden; in 2014, Sweden hosted 64,288 competitors at the start line of a popular Half. Impressed? You should be!
9 Reasons New Runners Love Half Marathons
- Medical studies, researchers and organisations dedicated to running have repeatedly claimed that the Half Marathon is the ideal distance for all runners because it matches human limitations. Full Marathons showcase endurance, but they also drain physical resources more dramatically, no matter how efficiently a competitor trains. With exhaustion can come loss of motivation that regularly forces the best of the best to quit Full Marathons early.
- It’s easier to set personal goals when a distance isn’t daunting. Half Marathons are the acknowledged standard-bearers on the competitive running scene today because more people prove they can go the distance at the finish line of a Half Marathon than goal setters finishing the 42km. For those just beginning to build a runner’s body and mentality, goal setting is especially important and the shorter distance boosts chances that finishing goals are met.
- Half Marathons require everything a full marathon does: you must train properly, eat healthily and gear up correctly to earn your finisher’s medal and credential. Your diet should allocate 65-percent of your total calories to carbs — particularly complex carbohydrates. Because you subject your body and mind to a serious distance, you must allow for recovery time — but recovery from a Half isn’t usually as fraught with physical trauma as is a Full event, so even green runners stand a better than average chance of success.
- Because you run only half the distance, runners signing on for Half Marathons can look forward to all of the perks while cutting their risk of injury in half, too. Of course, you must take standard precautions to avoid dehydration, foot and leg injuries - and other debilitating medical emergencies - but it’s been proven that during a Half Marathon, the body isn’t as vulnerable as it becomes on the second leg of a 42km.
- According to a fact-filled “New York Times” article, sometimes half is better than full because training is not as hard as it must be to tackle a Full Marathon. Further, make the Half your event and you don’t have to say goodbye to family and friends and turn into a cloistered monk! Full Marathons can be all-consuming, requiring twice the focus and stamina to endure torturous assaults on the brain and body. Half Marathons allow you to live a perfectly normal life that's obsession free.
- The number of Half Marathons on the Singapore running scene has increased exponentially, so there's no shortage of colourful, exciting events from which to pick. Typical of popular homeland events is the Newton Challenge, Marina Run and 2XU Compression Run. Compare entitlements and you’ll find no difference in goodies given to Full and Half competitors, but it’s a little cheaper to register for the Half. Cash prizes are also the same for both categories and everyone is created equal at post-event parties.
- By running Half Marathons, you hang out at the big kid’s table, because the amount of prestige associated with the shorter event has also increased exponentially. Words like “hot,” “trendy,” “preferred” and “popular” are used by media and runners alike to describe preferences for the shorter distance over the longer one. And if you compare the number of Half Marathons added to Singapore race menus each cycle, you might conclude that public pressure has pushed organisers to make Half Marathons priorities.
- Runners undertaking both Full and Half Marathons notice a dramatic difference in the amount of energy they have conserved after finishing a 21km event, despite the fact that they may have trained less than they do for the 42km. The amount of satisfaction one feels when crossing a Half Marathon finish line is exactly the same as the thrill, satisfaction and joy experienced at a Full Marathon finish line. As a matter of fact, Half Marathon runners are the folks you spot jumping, shouting and enjoying the moment, because they possess enough reserves to enjoy a properly-celebrated victory!
- Gone is the stigma once associated with Half Marathons, as are the naysayers who once referred to the Half as the first choice of wimps and runners who can’t cut the mustard. On the contrary. These days, Half Marathon runners celebrate rich, full lives that enhance their ability to compete and they wear their shorter-distance preference like a badge of honour. Toward that end, runner Robert Poso came up with the perfect slogan for Half Marathoners: “13.1 Miles: It isn’t half of anything.” Our sentiments completely.
Does the fact that there are so many compelling reasons to run Half Marathons make you more or less inclined to try one, now that you’ve learned so much about why this event is the perfect choice for new runners?