Running a half marathon is one of the best ways you can prepare yourself for running a full marathon. It allows you to prepare yourself, not only for the physical toll the event may take on you, but also for the mental effort you'll need.
A Half Marathon Prepares You Physically
Running a half marathon might seem easy when compared to a full marathon, but it is still very difficult and most people will need to train in order to achieve it. Preparing first for a half marathon, rather than a full marathon, allows you to start your training more slowly, which makes it much more likely you will avoid injury. Starting slowly will build up reserves of strength and flexibility and help reduce the wear and tear that training for a marathon might have on your joints.
A half marathon will also help you to assess your training efforts. It's often difficult to tell where you need to increase your efforts until after you have competed. It might be that you need to strengthen your back, or your core muscles, or you need to work more on endurance. Everyone is unique and it is almost impossible to completely assess a training program until the event has been run, and weaknesses can be identified.
A Half Marathon Is a Learning Experience
One of the common anxieties of people new to competitive running events surrounds the mechanics of the event itself. You might worry that you will go the wrong way, not bring some essential equipment, or misunderstand directions and be disqualified. You might be anxious about running among a lot of other people, or what the atmosphere of the event will be like.
Running a half marathon, where there is much less pressure, is a good starting point. Full marathons usually attract professional runners and can be much more competitive. Starting with a half marathon will help to take the edge off your anxiety, and introduce you to all the conventions of event running with less pressure. Half marathon runners may be more friendly and willing to help, as many of them compete for the social aspect of running.
A Half Marathon Prepares Your Mind
Your ability to complete long distance events is influenced by your state of mind and your willpower. While you can simulate the conditions of a marathon by running long distances on your own, very little can prepare you for the full experience. Running a half marathon, you'll see how you are affected by the crowds of both runners and spectators. You will also see how well you can cope with other obstacles, like "hitting the wall." This is when you run out of glycogen, or energy stores, and suddenly become exhausted. Most marathon and half marathon racers experience this at some point, and need to learn how to cope with it, both mentally and physically.
Running a half marathon is a serious endeavor, but it can also be a step toward competing in a full marathon. Long distance running events are extremely satisfying and can be a healthy motivation for getting fit and losing weight.