Last Updated: January 8th, 2021
It is said that running long distances is bad for you. Then why do runners keep running marathons and half marathons? Let’s tackle the half marathon today…we will deal with marathons later…
Is Running Half-marathons Bad For You?
No, running half marathons are not bad for you. However, it also depends on the runner, the frequency at which he is running the half marathons, and the overall preparation that he did for it. So, running a half marathon on your first running day probably is a bad idea and you will be so sore that your day-to-day activities will be affected for several days. Also, you risk your chances of getting injured and give up running completely.
Now that you know half-marathons are not bad, let’s see why they are the best running distance ever…
Why can running a half marathon could be the best distance ever?
Here are some of the reasons why half marathons are the best:
- It requires lesser time commitment than marathon training. For marathon training, you have to fully commit for 4 months, which means no late Friday nights, if you plan to run in early on Saturday morning.
- You will not have to deal with marathon anxiety. This is the performance pressure you start to feel when you start training for a marathon. By the end of the training, you are pretty heavy with it.
- You can go back to your usual running routine almost immediately. If you have trained for a marathon, by the time it is over, you are advised to run only 1 mile every day for 21 days, before you can resume your running routine.
- There is no extra benefit of running a marathon except that of added endurance. There is virtually no added cardiovascular benefits.
- Half marathons are more doable than a full marathon just because of their size and you will be able to reap almost all benefits of running a marathon.
Off-topic…but if you are planning for a half-marathon, here are some deals that you may want to check.
Benefits to run a half marathon
If you are still not convinced that half marathons are good for you, here are some of the benefits to provide you with some more half marathon motivation:
- Your motivation to run will be high
- You will burn a lot of calories
- You will have a strong cardiovascular system
- You can show off to your friends and family
- You will find out a lot of new routes
- You will have a more structured training
- You will have a better blood circulation
- You will be less stressed
- If you plan to run for a marathon afterward, your chances of getting injured will be less.
- You will support many worthwhile causes
- You will make new friends
- You will have new achievements
- You can start creating your own hall of fame with the medals you earn from your hard work.
- No stress on your social life due to practice commitment
- You can travel to a lot of new destinations.
Related: Is running 10 miles a day too much?
Things to know if you are thinking about your first half-marathon
Here are some of the things that you should keep in mind when you are following any half marathon training for beginners:
- Slow Down – Be a tortoise at the beginning rather than a hare
- Carry your running nutrition
- Compare your racing gears with the checklist you have prepared beforehand
- Duck the headphones as you should not be oblivious to the energy of the event that is going around.
- Practice your drinking while running (during your training)
- Don’t try a new running shoe on your race day
- Keep pushing and don’t quit
- Use a generous amount of body glide to avoid chaffing
- Be prepared for rain or other bad weather conditions
- Make sure to run long runs over the weekend
- Follow a proper training plan
- Do strength training exercises as well
- Do some hill training
- Give yourself the required amount of rest
- Focus on quality shoes that will give you maximum comfort and support
- Use shoes a tad bigger than you need as your feet will swell at one point in time.
- Invest in a running belt.
- Include your energy gels in your training.
- Chill out in the week leading to the race to give your body the much-needed rest
- Eat a big dinner the night before the race.
- Avoid alcohol with your meal the day before you run to prevent dehydration.
- Answer your nature’s call before you start the race.
- Don’t focus on runners around you
- Use rhythmic breathing with your running
- Run slowly if you are tired and don’t stop
- Ask a buddy or a family member to drive you home
- Take a nice bath after returning home from the race
- Enjoy yourself.
Effects of running a half marathon on your body
So you have run a half marathon following the perfect half marathon training plan. Now is the time for you to recover.
And this recovery is not only from the half marathon itself, but it is also from the training before that.
Here is how a half marathon affects your body.
Muscle Inflammation – I’m sure you have experienced this. Tightness, aches, and pain especially in your lower limbs.
This will be less if you have increased your mileage gradually.
Injuries – You may have to deal with shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and other problems.
Make sure that you use a proper cushioned running shoe to give you a higher level of protection from all the pounding.
Also, if the problems persist for more than a week, see a physio.
Black Toenails – This is one of the side effects of running a half marathon that you may have to deal with.
If you don’t like them, visit your physician to clean them up safely. Don’t do it yourself. You may aggravate it.
Also, if you are OK, leave it as it. The nail will fall off in some time and a new one will appear.
Blisters – You cannot be too careful when it comes to blisters. They are at times inevitable.
Most commonly they will appear at the back of your feet, somewhere near the toes, and under your bra strap.
And if you have bunions like me, they may appear on your bunion as well. Once they appear there is very little that you can do.
Leave them as-is and open. Don’t cover it up, else it will take a lot of time to heal.
Weakened immunity – And how do you know that?
You will be down with a cough and cold after the race. The best way to recover is to focus on your nutrition and hydration.
Providing your body with the amount of fluid will do wonders for you.
It may take some time, but if you keep at it, you will recover sooner than later.
Diarrhea – This is an adverse effect potentially because of your running gels.
Running gels by themselves are not bad. However, they need to be digested properly.
The problem is when you run, your body directs the blood to more active parts, and is taken away from your digestive system.
So, your stomach becomes less efficient with digestion.
You may end up having stomach upset.
One effective way to avoid it is to take lots of water with your gel.
However, don’t take it with your sports drinks else you will have to deal with a worse situation.
One more tip: Use the gels in your training and you will find out which one causes a minimal problem.
Williams, Paul T., et al. “The effects of running mileage and duration on plasma lipoprotein levels.” Jama 247.19 (1982): 2674-2679.
Bernat-Adell, María Desamparados, Eladio Collado-Boira, María Pilar Molés Julio, Nayara Panizo, Ignacio Martínez-Navarro, Bárbara Hernando Fuster, and Carlos Hernando Domingo. “Recovery of inflammation, cardiac, and muscle damage biomarkers after running a Marathon.” (2019).
Noakes, T., 2003. Fluid replacement during marathon running. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 13(5), pp.309-318.
Deiseroth, Arne, Monique Nussbaumer, Verena Drexel, Gernot Hertel, Arno Schmidt‐Trucksäss, Charalambos Vlachopoulos, Martin Halle, and Henner Hanssen. “Influence of body composition and physical fitness on arterial stiffness after marathon running.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 28, no. 12 (2018): 2651-2658.
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