Recently, there has been an increase in interest in half marathons, particularly from recreational runners. Back in 2000, a little less than 500,000 Americans participated in half-marathon races. By 2014, that number had risen by more than four times as over two million Americans ran the 13.1-mile endurance race.
Choosing a half marathon over a full can actually benefit a runner in various ways; examples are the following:
Less stress on the body: A 2017 study by Spanish researchers compared pairs of half-marathoners and full-marathoners who were of similar age and anthropometric data. After their respective races, the researchers were able to determine that the subjects who did half were less dehydrated and had less muscle damage.
More free time: Because there is less distance to cover in half marathons, the training schedule is also shorter. Most marathon training programs last at least 18 or 20 weeks, but for the half version, complete training can be achieved in 10 or 12 weeks. Runners will not have to sacrifice as much time to be in good condition for the marathon. Also, this means that there is less likelihood of injuries or illnesses impeding the training.
The full-marathon becomes a longer, larger goal: Those who have just started or at the beginning phases of their marathon journey can opt for a 13.1-mile race first, with the full marathon serving as a long-term goal.