Signing up for a race is an intimidating task — regardless of whether it’s a half or full marathon. It took me a full two weeks to rack up the courage to sign up for the San Francisco Half Marathon, and it’s not even my first race! But that doesn’t mean you should pass up the opportunity to run a half marathon. Here are 13.1 reasons why you should sign up:
1. It gives you a reason to run.
Not that any of us need a reason to run — after all, we do it because we love it. But signing up for a race gives you a goal to work towards, whether it’s finishing the race or setting a new PR. There’s nothing more encouraging and motivating than knowing every run you go on from that point until race day is counting towards you achieving your goal.
2. You’ve already raced a number of 5 and 10k’s.
If you’re feeling pretty comfortable with taking on 5 and 10k races, it might be time you challenge yourself to a half marathon. It might feel like a jump to go from a 10km distance to 13.1 miles (20.96 km), but with proper training and prep, you’ve got this.
3. Build confidence to sign up for a Full Marathon.
This is a common tactic, and a smart one too: run a half marathon before tackling a full. Setting smaller, achievable goals like a half marathon before tackling a race distance twice as long is a great way to build confidence and help you get motivated for running a full marathon.
4. 13.1 miles is a great distance.
Regardless of it being your first or 20th, there’s something magical about the half marathon distance. It’s half as less damaging to your body compared to a full marathon (which can take weeks to recover from!) but still remains a challenging and rewarding distance. Not to mention, injury risks tend to go up as the distance increases.
5. Turn it into a mini-vacation.
Many of these races are on Sundays at very early in the morning. This makes same-day travel very hard unless you’re local. The solution? Turn it into a vacation! Organize travel plans with friends and family to the race destination on the Friday or Saturday before and enjoy yourself some site-seeing and lounging. Just be sure to stay off your feet the day before.
6. You’ll still be ready to party.
Unlike a full marathon, the recovery time for a half is much shorter. It doesn’t mean that you should be running around right after your race, but it’s likely you’ll still have energy (and plenty of time) to do activities with friends and family without being in searing pain.
7. It’s basically a tour of the city.
When else are you going to travel 13.1 miles on foot through an exotic new destination? Many of the race courses take you through historical and monumental parts of the city, so you’re basically getting a free tour. And trust us, you’ll remember so much more from these 13 miles than from you uber rides and night out bar-hopping.
8. An excuse to carb-load.
The night before the race (and if you’re me, post-race too), you get a one-time excuse to carb-load on all of your favorite, delicious carb foods. Just be careful not to over do it, as you’ll be desperately looking for bathrooms along the course. Pro Tip: A lot of these races organize pasta dinners the night before where you get to socialize with other runners and enjoy a nice catered meal.
9. It’ll be the most pampered long-run you’ve ever been on.
During your solo training, long-run planning can be a pain. You need to bring food, find or carry water, and scout out bathroom locations, and make sure you’ve got your id and medical cards just in case. Come race-day, they’ve got you covered: the race course is filled with enthusiastic and helpful volunteers that hand you water, gatorade, fruit, and bars; there are porta-potties at every few miles; and medical staff available the whole way incase something happens.
10. Get your 13.1 miles of fame.
The course is filled with cheerful, excited spectators that cheer you along every mile, making you feel like a total rockstar. They hold up witty and encouraging signs, clap, blow whistles, high-five you, and remind you to keep going.
11. Jump on the band-wagon.
Half marathon popularity is on the rise in the US. A survey conducted by Running USA that was conducted last year showed that over 2 million people signed up, ran and finished half marathons in the US alone. See the full survey results here.
12. The Expo
The expo is one of my favorite parts about races in general. As you pick up your bib the day or two before, you get to walk around an entire venue filled with running and sport industry vendors that are excited to tell you about their latest products, often combined with exclusive deals and free samples. Pick up your favorite pack of energy bars or new shoes at a huge discount, or plop yourself down on one of those massage chairs for a quick 15 minute rest.
13. Fashion yourself some Finisher Bling
Finishing a half marathon feels awesome. There’s nothing like the feeling of crossing the finish-line and knowing you’ve made it. What better way than to wear your accomplishment around your neck? Almost any distance race will provide a finisher medal and a race shirt to celebrate and remember all of the hard work you put in.
.1 It’s so much fun.
Last but not least, races are fun! Whether it’s a half marathon, a full, or 5-10k, get out there and challenge yourself to a new level of fitness.
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