Next month, I set off on my next marathon adventure to run the Marine Corp Marathon in our nation’s capital. I’ve been looking forward to this race for almost a year and the time is quickly approaching. The long weekend runs in the summer months of the south have been brutal to say the least. As a father of a 20 month old, my prime daddy/daughter time is a couple of hours after work which has forced me to wake up at 4am during the week to train. The tough training regime has made me ask myself, “Is running a marathon worth it? Why don’t I just stick to half marathons?” The answer is a simple, “HELL YES! It’s worth it!” The marathon is one of the most rewarding accomplishments any finisher ever experiences. So why are half marathons the ideal race but not the best?
A half marathon has all the components of a truly great running experience. Here are the main differences between the half and the full:
1. A reasonable time commitment
The commitment to run a full vs a half is a night and day comparison. Weekend long runs take up for a full marathon take up half the day just for preparation, running, then cleaning up after. This doesn’t even count the recovery after the long run. Foam rolling and just sitting on the couch should be written in on a runner’s training plan.
2. A sense of accomplishment
After running a half, you feel that sense of accomplishment as you cross the finish line. If you run a race that has both the half and full components, the majority of the runners are running the half. You get a chance to cross the finish line with more people to share in your celebration.
3. The crowd support is usually better
Crowd support is a big deal. Runners love it when they hear people cheering, stick out their hands for high-fives, or have crazy/funny signs. After the 13.1, the crowd dies down. In some races, you almost feel like you are alone with the dwindling runners in the field and fewer people on the sidewalks.
4. Your body doesn’t feel like it’s about to break down after.
Immediately after the marathon, your body feels weak, you’re hungry, and possibly have a head-ache. These symptoms are just in the aftermath walking to get your medal. Trying to sleep that night is worse. Every time you change positions in bed, you wake yourself up because the soreness has kicked in. A half marathon is just enough running to where your body doesn’t feel like total crap afterwards.
5. There is no Wall
26.2 miles is grueling. Runners hit walls. My wall has always been between mile 17 and 22. Something hurts. Something hurts bad. Your mind is in a bad place. Your emotional breakdown feels like it could happen at any minute. The wall doesn’t exist with a half.
So why would anyone choose to run a full vs a half?
Because you faced adversity, pushed yourself beyond why most think is not possible, and RAN A FREAKIN’ MARATHON!