Choosing a Half Marathon as a Starter Race

By Laura Cummings

Is 13.1 miles a good race distance for a new runner? I would argue yes.

Picking your first competitive race can be difficult – I was very uncertain about signing up for my first half marathon as I was brand new to running. However, when there is a goal you have to reach, perhaps this is more motivating – it certainly was for me. It may have made more sense to start at a 10K, but as my initial motivation was finding something to do for my favourite charity, the half marathon was their suggestion and so I just went along with it. It turns out that 13.1 miles, in my opinion, is a great target. Not only is it still a VERY challenging distance for a new runner, it isn’t impossible and I know many people who have gone from newbie to half marathon finisher in a relatively small amount of time.

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A half marathon requires a lot of training and discipline; it is tough not only physically but also mentally, and a lot of personal drive is needed. But when it comes to race day, the whole event of a half marathon is wonderful. The support, live music, food, stalls… I love it, and after all finishing a half marathon is an amazing achievement and is recognised as being one. Not only are the supporters out in force, but to run the same event as thousands of other runners is an incredible feeling and being a part of something like that makes all the pain and tears worth it! With smaller distance events, I have found they don’t feel they are made into such a big deal, maybe because I started with the longer distance first, but the hype of a half marathon is enough to spur me on!

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Take supportive people with you – I was lucky enough that one of my housemates ran the same first half marathon as me – both newbies, and it was great to share the training tips and pain with another. On race day we got to spur each other on and I had my family there to support me. My sister has since been to all of my half marathon events – not only is she my photographer, bag holder and main supporter – she also really enjoys the event of it all and we always have a great day followed by a lot of pizza. It can really help knowing your friends or family are waiting for you at the end – Helen always has a pint of coke waiting for me and this is what gets me through my last 3 miles!

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Essentially, the organised event can make all the difference – and no matter which distance you choose to go for, just remember that you are not the only newbie in their first race. There are always others in the same boat, and runners really come together and cheer each other on, and most importantly, it’s difficult to not run your best when people are cheering you on and taking photos of you – it's surprisingly motivating!

Originally published 30/10/17

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