Let's be real: The word "marathon" can be intimidating. It is, after all, named for a Greek messenger who ran more than 20 miles from Marathon to Athens—only to collapse at the end of his arduous journey. But with proper training, planning and resources, you too can add the coveted 13.1 sticker to your rear car window (and earn bragging rights for life).
For anyone contemplating their first half marathon, here are six signs that signal you're ready to earn your finisher's shirt:
This Ain't Your First Rodeo.
You've done the 5K fun runs. You've toed the line at a 10K or two, and you're ready for a new challenge. But if the last time you laced up a pair of running shoes was for junior high Phys. Ed., you may want to take a step back and start with a lesser distance. A good rule of thumb for first-timers is to make sure you can run three continuous miles, working up from there.
You're Ready to Work.
Training for a half marathon should not be taken lightly. And while prepping to run 13.1 miles consecutively doesn't require a ton of time, you're going to need (and should want) to put in the proper training. Your body will thank you come race day.
The necessary number of training hours per week will vary according to your fitness level and running background. On average, you should allow a minimum of 10 to 12 weeks to get ready, with a total of three to four runs per week and weekly mileage of up to 15 to 20 miles. To help prevent injury and mix things up, weekly training should also include core, stretching and weight work. Don't forget about rest days, too—they're just as important as the long runs.
Running is not for everyone. It can be hard on the body—inflamed muscle tissues, tight tendons, and knee, foot and back pain can all be among routine aches and pains. If you're battling an injury or are prone to bad knees, for example, consider shelving a half marathon for a shorter distance race or a sport that's less impactful. And if you're relatively new to running, it's not a bad idea to get checked out by your general physician before you begin training.