The half marathon is the perfect test of endurance and speed.
Unlike a marathon, which causes most runners to use up all of their fuel well before the finish line, a half marathon is short enough that runners don't have to be as concerned with hitting the wall or "bonking" late in the race.
But it's still pretty darn long. At 13.1 miles, you can't breeze through a half marathon like you can a 5K.
The distance requires you to prepare and train sensibly so you're able to finish the race. If you train smart and use specific workouts, you can run a successful half marathon.
There's a reason why most experienced runners do a long run every week (even if they're training for a shorter race like a 5k)—they're incredibly effective for building endurance.
If you're a new runner, long runs may seem daunting, but they can really benefit your training. Long runs help you become more efficient and allow you to cover the race distance comfortably without worrying about stopping before you reach the finish line.
It's a good idea to add about a mile to your long run every 1 to 2 weeks during training. Beginners can take a "step-back week" every 3 to 4 weeks, and reduce the total distance by a few miles. Once you can cover 11 miles, you know you're ready to tackle 13.1 on race day.
More advanced runners will want to cover more than 13.1 miles during their peak long runs. Some may want to run up to 20 miles, although that's not entirely necessary. A 16- to 18-mile long run is sufficient for most serious runners to finish strong at their race.