Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jeff Galloway: Why is the Half Marathon So Popular?

2011 Disneyland Half Marathon Expo

Jeff Galloway and me at the 2011 Disneyland Half Marathon Expo

Because it is a shorter race than the marathon?
• Even after a difficult 13.1 mile (21K) race, runners can usually celebrate that evening

• Beginners who yearn to run a marathon see this distance as the first big step

• Marathoners find that the "half" keeps them in shape for their next "full"

• The distance is enough of a challenge to keep runners focused and energized

• Increasing long runs towards a half marathon race results in faster times at 5K, 10K, etc
All of these are good reasons, but I just like the distance better than the marathon, although I have raced twice as many marathons as half marathons. The planning for food, water and potty breaks are less. Lifestyle changes a week before the race are minimal with the half marathon.

There is more care and diligence in your training for the marathon and it seems I am always worried about injury which will ruin my race. Plus, the pomp and circumstance of the race is the same whether at 13.1 or 26.2.
There are quite a few lessons to be learned as one extends one’s endurance limit beyond 13 miles or 21K: conservation of resources, pacing, fluid intake, blood sugar maintenance, etc. But making a mistake during "half" training does not incur the injury risk or the down time experienced after marathon errors. If you find a way to enjoy a part of every run, your half marathon training can bring joy, satisfaction, achievement, and a positive sense of focus. For many, the challenge teaches individuals that they have unused hidden resources that can be used to deal with other challenges in life. Much of the success and joy comes from a unique endurance blending of body, mind and spirit.
So, I will run/walk/run 3 half marathons a year and only one marathon.

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