If you are wondering whether or not you are ready to train for a half marathon, then you’ve made it to the right place. Considering whether or not you are ready to train for and tackle the half marathon distance is no easy decision.
The half marathon is a special distance. It is long enough to be a significant challenge for most people, and a very significant challenge for anyone who has not already been running on a regular basis.
If you are considering the half marathon, it is important to think about several factors that will play into your success—or failure—in this endeavor.
Risk Factors: NOT Ready to Train for a Half Marathon
First, I’m going to cover some of the risk factors that will impede your ability to successfully train for and complete a half marathon. It’s nothing against you. Most of these factors are temporary.
Focus on removing these risk factors first, and then you may be ready to train for a half marathon.
1. You’re Injured
Stop. Right. Here.
If you’re already injured, then training for a half marathon will—at best—keep you from healing and—at worst—exacerbate your injury or result in a new injury. Not worth it. Take time to focus on healing and getting stronger before you hit the roads hard again.
Revisit strength training and why it is so important for runners to establish a solid core and supporting muscles before increasing their mileage.
Related: Why Runners Need Strength Training
2. You Are NOT Already Running 10-15 Miles Per Week
Most half marathon training plans have you running anywhere between 15-30 miles per week.
You need to develop a solid running base of 10-15 miles per week BEFORE you start your half marathon training plan. By doing so, you will be set up for success because your body has already started to accustom itself to the damage and recovery cycle of road running.
If you don’t build a solid base before you start a training plan, you risk getting injured because the mileage will increase quickly over the weeks. Getting your body built up to withstand a small amount of mileage before hand will prevent the likelihood of injury.
Start with a 5k training plan to get you in the habit of getting out the door on a regular basis. 3-4 times per week is ideal.
3. You Have NEVER Run a Road Race Before
If you have never run a road race before, how do you know if you’ll like it?
A 5k is a significantly smaller time commitment (not to mention lower race entry fees!), and you get the same race atmosphere as a longer distance race. A half marathon is a big commitment to make if you don’t know that you’ll enjoy yourself.
Start small, then scale up.
I suggest running several 5k’s and maybe even a 10k before signing up for your first half marathon. I never actually considered running a half marathon until the moment I crossed the finish line of my first 10k.
Then I thought, “I just completed a 10k, which is twice as long as a 5k. If I can do that, I can probably work my way up to a half, which is just over twice as long as a 10k.” <– Runner logic at it’s finest!
4. You Are Too Busy to Put the Training Time In
If you are too busy to put 6-8 hours per week into your half marathon training (including 2+ hours for your long run on the weekends), then you are NOT ready to train for a half marathon. Getting used to spending time on your feet and getting your body used to running long miles is part of the process of preparing yourself to run a half marathon.
Be honest with yourself.
If you have too many commitments in your life right now, maybe it’s better to stick with shorter distances that don’t require as much of a time commitment. If training for a half marathon is truly important to you right now, then look at which commitments you can clear off your plate for now to free up your time and energy to focus on running.
Related: The Long Run: Why You Can’t Afford to Skip It
Success Factors: You’re Ready to Train for a Half Marathon!
While some factors might hinder progress towards your half marathon dream, other factors will lift you up and help you push forward.
If you have minimized your risk factors and you can maximize your success factors, you will be very likely to accomplish your goal of crossing the half marathon finish line.
1. You Have a Deep “WHY” Reason for Wanting to Finish a Half Marathon
Do you have a really good reason for wanting to do this?
It’s okay if that reason is as small as proving to yourself that you can do it, but that reason has to get you fired up to do the work. If you want it bad enough, you will get out there and put the training time in.
But I’m here to tell you: training for a half marathon is no easy task. It WILL be hard. There WILL be moments when you question your sanity because who in their right mind would do this??
If you have a good “WHY” reason for yourself, then you will keep pushing toward success.
Related: How to Find Your “WHY” in Running
2. You Are Committed to Your Training and Recovery
Training for your first half marathon will stretch your body’s known physical limits and require it to adapt to complete longer distances. It’s expected. With that, you really need to be committed to the time it takes for proper training and recovery.
Clear out some of your extra commitments so you can focus on your running, nutrition, and recovery.
In the middle of training, your energy might feel drained. You are going to need extra sleep to recover properly, and you might need to cook more meals at home to fuel your body better. You will need to find a 1.5-2 hour block of time to do your weekly long runs and prepare yourself to go the distance.
If your training and recovery near the top of your priorities list for the 12 weeks that it takes to prepare for a half marathon, you will find yourself smiling when you cross the finish line.
Related: How to Appreciate the Training Process [Even When It Sucks]
3. You Have Already Tackled a 5k and 10k
If you’re not sure about tackling the half marathon distance, try a couple shorter distances first. They require less total miles and time commitment, yet you still get a real challenge. Also, completing those shorter distances can help build up your confidence for the half marathon. After all, if you can finish a 10k, then with some longer training, you can totally do a half marathon!
Tackling a 5k and 10k before you look to the half marathon is a great way to get familiar with the race day atmosphere and build your confidence that you can complete a race. That way, you can chunk your half marathon down into smaller pieces.
4. You Want to Accomplish Something Hard
You’re a challenge seeker, and you want to find out what your limits are. Or perhaps, what your limits aren’t?
When you push yourself to accomplish something hard, you see life through a new lens. It changes your perspective. It makes the rest of life seem easy. Or maybe, it helps you tackle the rest of your life because you know that you can do hard things, like tackle the half marathon and conquer it!
If you are looking for your next challenge, it’s the half marathon.
Are YOU Ready to Train for a Half Marathon?
If you said HELL YES, then let’s get started! It’s time to pick a race (at least 12 weeks away) and start training.
Here are 2 methods to get you started on your half marathon quest:
- Join my FREE 6-Day Half Marathon Training Kickstart Course. This course will set you up to get your training started including a workout tracker, training plan recommendations, and mindset training.
- Enroll in the “12 Weeks to Your First Half Marathon” course. This is the FULL course where I walk you through your training plan week by week with advice, helpful things I wish I knew while training for my first half marathon, and what to focus on during that phase of your training. This course is a great way to save you from scouring the internet for information and making painful mistakes!
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About Me: I’m Alexis, Founder of RunningMyBestLife! I am an avid recreational runner, half marathoner, wife, dog mom, busy professional, downhill skier in Northern Utah. My mission is to help new enthusiasts fall in love with the sport of running. I believe that running is a catalyst to taking control of your life and living your best life by design. Learn More –>