13 Reasons to Run a Half-Marathon

The half-marathon (13.1 miles) is one of the fastest-growing race distances, with new race events popping up all over the world. If you've been on the fence about whether you should run a half-marathon, here are 13 reasons—one for every mile—to give the distance a try.


You'll Stay Motivated

Young woman runner training for a half-marathon
lzf / Getty Images

While some runners can race a short distance like a 5K with little or no training, most would have a tough time trying to get through a half-marathon with no preparation. Having a half-marathon on your calendar will keep you motivated to stick to your training schedule.

On days when your motivation is suffering, thinking about your race goal or about how you'll feel if you have to back out of the race can help keep you going.


You'll Burn Mega Calories

Training for a half-marathon requires logging a lot of miles, which will turn you into a calorie-burning machine. Of course, you need to make sure that you're not overcompensating for those lost calories by going overboard at post-run meals, especially if you're hoping to lose weight by running.


You'll Gain Health Benefits

Beyond helping you to lose or maintain weight, there are lots of other health benefits of half-marathon training. Running strengthens your heart and ensures the efficient flow of blood and oxygen throughout your body, which helps decrease your risk of a heart attack.

Exercise is one of the best ways to naturally reduce your blood pressure if it's above normal, and it can help keep high cholesterol in check. Running also improves your immune system function, so your body is more effective and efficient at fighting off germs.


You Get Bragging Rights

While the half-marathon distance is growing in popularity, the number of people who've completed a half-marathon is still very small. Once you cross that half-marathon finish line, you'll be joining an elite group of runners who can call themselves a half-marathon finisher.


You Find New Running Routes

If you typically stick to shorter distances for running and racing, training for a half marathon will force you to find new places to run, since you'll be doing a long run every week. Check out MapMyRun.com or ask local runners for suggestions on where to run.


You Structure Your Training

If you're the type of person who likes to follow a schedule, you'll love training for a half-marathon. Once you've chosen a training schedule, you'll know exactly what you need to do every day, whether it's running (and how far), cross-training, or taking a rest day.

Each week, you'll add a little more distance. Following a schedule will really help you feel like you're making progress toward your half-marathon goal.


You're Less Likely to Get Injured

Runners training for a marathon log a lot of miles, putting them at greater risk for overtraining and overuse injuries than those training for a half-marathon.

Because the mileage demands are not as high as they are with full marathon training, you're more likely to give yourself a rest day when you're starting to feel a little pain, which can often prevent a full-blown running injury.

Research also shows that on the day of the race, you'll have less muscle fatigue and less muscle fiber damage, and lose less water and electrolytes than people who run the full marathon (even if you run at a similar speed).


You'll Save Time

Running fewer miles in training also means that you won't feel like your training is a part-time job, which is how some runners feel about marathon training. Many runners find that half-marathon training still allows them to have a nice balance between their training and their work and personal lives.

And if you do have aspirations to run a full marathon, it's a good way to test the waters and see if you want to take on that challenge.


You Meet Other Runners

Some running groups or clubs offer half-marathon training, so you can train with a group. At the race, you'll have plenty of opportunities to meet other runners, whether it's waiting ​in line at the port-a-potties, standing at the starting line, running in the race, or celebrating post-race.


You Can Support a Cause

Many half-marathons benefit charities, from funding disaster relief to cancer research. Running on behalf of a cause that matters to you is a great way to stay motivated to keep training, meet other runners to train with, and make your race even more meaningful.


You'll Get Swag

Maybe the idea of getting a finisher's medal doesn't get you too excited, but whether it's a medal, a shirt, or a great finish-line photo, you'll get a little reward for your efforts. Having a reminder of your accomplishment is always great for a motivation boost.

Many half-marathons offer decent swag, like a technical running shirt, and have race expos where you can pick up some running gear freebies and samples. (And you'll get all this for a registration fee that's typically lower than the cost for a full marathon.)


You Can Travel

Runners racing in marathon
Cultura/Frank and Helena / Getty Images

If you love to travel, running a half-marathon is a great excuse to visit a new city or country. You'll get to see a lot of the local area, and you won't be too sore and tired to take in some attractions post-race. Many race participants get discounted rates on hotel rooms and other travel expenses.


You Can Spend Time With Family and Friends

Many runners have discovered their love of the half-marathon distance after being convinced by a friend or family member to sign up for their first one. Whether you train or travel to the race together, you'll get to spend time with one another and bond in your pursuit of a common goal.​

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Nieman DC, Wentz LM. The compelling link between physical activity and the body's defense system. J Sport Health Sci. 2019;8(3):201-217. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009

  3. Del Coso J, Salinero JJ, Lara B, Abián-Vicén J, Gallo-Salazar C, Areces F. A comparison of the physiological demands imposed by competing in a half-marathon vs. a marathon. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2017;57(11):1399-1406. doi:10.23736/S0022-4707.17.07056-6

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.