How Running A Half Marathon Can Help You Race Your Next One
As runners, it’s hard to not give in to our urge to sign up for races upon races. And for those who love half marathons, we tend to have a few lined up over the course of a year. This often means having two 13.1 events close to being back-to-back. While it might sound like a large workload for the body, running a half marathon casually can actually really help you race your next one.
Finishing The First Time Means Racing The Second Time
This also applies to those who are running a half marathon for the first time. A first timer should not focus on a speedy finish, but rather just on finishing. While a fast finish is great, it’s better to put the focus on the mileage rather than a time goal. This helps keep the runner focused on getting through all 13.1 miles, while not leaving them disappointed when they don’t hit their desired time their first go at it. The good news is that since it is the first half marathon, it already is a PR.
With the belief in themselves that the runner can run this distance while having that fitness base, they can then go chase a faster time.
You Know You Can
Finishing that first half marathon is a huge mental boost—no matter if it’s the first ever, first of the year or of the season. The runner knows they can do it when lined up at the start at their next half because they did do it before. The doubt and uncertainty aren’t there and instead, they can now challenge themselves and push the pace for their next one. Just this belief in oneself is powerful enough to help fuel the body to really crank the pace into high gear.
When you know you can it’s one less obstacle to face on race day. Instead of getting over those mental roadblocks, the runner can focus on the physical. This means paying attention to staying on pace and not on if they are able to make it to the finish line.
The Endurance Is There
It’s not a great idea to run too many half marathons back-to-back because the body needs time to recover. However, if the runner has two events a few weeks apart the best strategy is to run one for fun and the other one take more seriously when it comes to time goals.
It makes better sense to use the first half as the casual one. Just enjoy the race and settle into a steady pace. Take a few days to a full week off from running after. Give the muscles time to rest and recover. Cross train, do yoga or take a walk if you are anxious to get back to it. Then hop back into that week of training for the next half. For example, this might already be week 8 or 9 out of a 12-week program.
The endurance is there because the runner just completed a half marathon. But abandoning training for the next one will set the runner back. This means when it comes to racing, they might be able to perform as well. Go back into the weekly cycle of training and then trust that the foundation is there to fly on race day.
You Know What Race Day Pace Should Be
After running a half, the runner knows what a particular pace feels like. They know they felt comfortable at 10 min/mi throughout the miles so the runner can now go for that 9:30 pace without fear of burning out.
Not racing both means the body can give more of an effort the second go around. The mind and muscles know they can handle the steadier pace and can now be a tad more aggressive.
There are pace calculators online. And the runner should have a pretty good idea of their estimated finish time based on their training runs. However, using that first half marathon time gives even further insights into what they are capable of as far as speed. If finishing in close to 2 hours felt comfortable, go for that sub-2.
It Serves As A Warm Up
Some people absolutely love large-scale half marathons. This is because there are lots of cheering from crowds, great race bling, course perks like plenty of water and bathrooms, and more. This makes it a great option for a PR. But many people also enjoy the smaller scale half marathons with their hometown feel. Without all the bells and whistles, runners can just that that race as a warm-up for the bigger race day. It then goes to be a great training run while still getting all the benefits of participating in a race.
The Lingering Excitement
There is nothing like the excitement experienced when racing. In fact, many people sign up for their next race after finishing one. The same applies to half marathons. So when getting ready for the one to really race, the runner already is charged up and still living that finisher’s high from the previous half marathon. It allows for continued positive vibes coming into the race because of the sense of accomplishment. That excitement helps push the runner to want to have a good race. And that race day energy is intoxicating, so all that’s left to do is use it to power through the next 13.1 miles.
To prevent injury we need to decide which one we run for fun and which one we race in hopes of setting a new personal record. Racing both with all our effort when the races are close together can result in injuries related to overuse.
If there are a few weeks in between them, just take a few days off then get right back to it. If the race is two weeks apart or less, don’t go for another long run. Instead, walk, cross training and get in low mileage. Running back-to-back days is a good way to teach the body what it’s like to run on tired legs. Run 8-10 miles one day, then 3-5 the next day or vice versa. Don’t do this as race day approaching, but rather in the peak of training.
After the second half marathon makes sure to spend time recovering and let set sights on the next goal or race.
- 5 Tips for Training Between Your Last & Your Next Half Marathon, Running Website, Jan 15, 2016 ,