How hard is a half marathon?

I know, I know... Think of it less as a stupid question and more a topic to stimulate debate :)

I'm taken up this year with a sprint triathlon, but always one to look ahead, I was thinking about a half marathon next year.

I can 10k no problem, and as that is about half way, I'm thinking that I could probably do it with what will be 12 months of preparation (Leicester half/marathon is around October each year).

But I'm interested to know what the main differences are for the step from 10k to just over 20k. Is it just more running, or are there some different types of challenges?




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24 Replies

  • Nope. Its just more running. You should be abelt to get from 10k to HM in 3 months quite comfortably.

  • Agreed. But I would also add to that cross training/strength exercises as insurance against injuries. In my case I trotted along breezily until I got to doing 10 milers, then my various biomechanical insufficiencies crawled out of the woodwork, so to speak.

  • This is an excellent point Emma, I agree. Not that Ive done loadsa 10k's or an HM by the way , but strength exercises/cross training are really important , as I found out to my cost when I started increasing my distances . :-) xxx

  • OK thanks everyone - so basically it's more of the same (which I think I can deal with) and make sure my body is up to it :)

  • Oh yes, of course, but we should all be doing strength exercises and cross training anyway, regardless of whether we are training for a race of any distance or not. Even if you are just jogging 5k twice a week you should be doing your squats and lunges and core work every day. Even if you are just walking to the park once a week. That bit is a given.

  • You're a machine!!!! That said, inspired by not feeling strong enough for a Wolf Run (and the faint glimmer of a six pack) I am doing a "30 day Core challenge". Given 30 seconds of each exercise about killed me yesterday I am trying to withhold my massive doubt that I'll get to over 3 minutes in 30 days :)

  • LOL - I might get that put on a t-shirt :)

  • It is and it isn't "just more of the same". The running is exactly the same as 10k, just twice as long, and it's entirely doable to get up to the distance in a few months. But there's a bit of a mental challenge involved as well. My experience was that it required more self discipline, and it introduced the "duty runs" where I went out not because I wanted to, but because I knew I had to get the training in.

    I'm not a big fan of running becoming any kind of obligation or duty, I want it to be fun and enjoyable and pleasant. Once it becomes too much like hard work it can be harder to keep the motivation. Having said that, with your tri training you have probably already encountered that conundrum :)

  • I have, although that is partly the reason I chose the easiest option on the triathlon - I'm basically fair weather and lazy! :)

  • Biggest difference for me between the 10k and the HM was the issue of fuel and hydration. I'd never bothered to carry water beforehand but once my distances started to go up then I had to think about it. Then I would notice that once I'd get beyond a certain time that I would have zero energy left in my legs - then I had to think about fuel. A few trial and errors in terms of what fuel worked and what didn't, factored in with how to carry it all, and then it was onwards to a 'simple' case of miles on legs!

  • Yeah I was wondering about this as well. At the moment my maximum run has been 10k, so I've just drunk before and then run without further nutrition.

    With the bike training part of the triathlon, I've actively tried to make sure I'm practising the drinking, which again would mean I wouldn't need to hydrate or fuel during the run (too little time left to make a difference).

    So I'm wondering about running with a bottle and how uncomfortable is that?

  • I'd agree that the real difference is energy and water. Because mine was a fell race (don't like roads. And have a passionate and possibly faintly masochistic soft spot for hills), I had to carry kit anyway so got a small hydration pack and ran with that - no annoying bottle and plenty of water. But I guess the extra weight might slow you down and annoy you that way if you didn't have to carry gear anyway. Also, even with fancy vents and stuff, you do get a sweaty back.

  • I didn't even think about a pack TTF, and I get a sweaty back anyway :) so that might be a good way to go.

    I did run 3km with a rucksack on my back once, but that was just so I didn't have to run down the street carrying a knife(!)

    I'll finish that story off if you want, but I've made it sound much more interesting than it was!

  • I agree fuel was my biggest problem and because I am such a plodder finding actual time for the longer runs. I was pleased to get back to smaller runs afterwards but saying all that I am so glad I went for it and loved the training. It all gave me such a buzz.

  • I agree on the fuel, but why would anyone run without water? It's refreshing, cooling, energising, delicious, healthy, and good for you. I recommend a running belt, and then simply carry water on each and every run.

  • When I started the C25K - and from a bit of further reading - the consensus has been that under 30 minutes you don't need to re-hydrate during the run, so I just got used to not carrying anything.

    Right at the beginning - before I had "proper" running gear - I used to run carrying my phone in one hand and car keys in the other (used to drive somewhere no one knew me to avoid embarrassment), and compared to running "hands free", it is much more uncomfortable with something in hand, so the belt sounds a good idea - thanks :)

  • I think there is a psychological element involved.

    When I was half way through C25K last year, I signed up for a 14K "race" - a BIG one with 80,000 runners. I could not really imagine even walking that kind of distance, but after I graduated C25K, I started a 15 week run/walk training programme which took me out to 15K. When I did the race, I found it to be quite easy really - I am sure the excitement of the day had a lot to do with that.

    Early this year, I signed up for a 10K race - and decided to do that in a run/walk as well. I trained for it over about 10 weeks , but on the day of the race ( actually at the start line) it rained in bucket loads - so I had to abandon my run/walk plan ( because my phone would have died in the rain ) and just ran non-stop. I don't know how or why but I amazed myself with the time I did the 10K in and the fact that I was able to run the 10K non-stop at a fast ( for me ) race pace. I have since ran many 10K non-stop training runs - but always a lot slower than that race.

    Now I have signed up for a HM - I am once again intending to do this using run/walk - but it too seems like a LONG way to me. I remember that I was quite OK at the end of the 14K last year and even walked 6K home after the race -- but I am still nervous about this HM.

  • You'll be great Bazza :-) Im trying not to think how far it will be and hope that like you said - the atmosphere of the day will carry me along

    Good Luck and enjoy

  • Good question, I was actually wondering the same. I'm happy with a 10k but how much extra is the HM. Not a silly question at all.......

  • I have just done a half marathon was had work long way but I didn't train much only once a week if that 4 miles and too 10 miles but u seem stronger go for it by the way I signing up for a triathlon next year can beginner do it :)

  • I've entered the Chester HM for next May. At the moment I can do 10km and I've entered my first 10km race in September and I plan to do another one in January. I'm OK with the 10km distance and I got there by adding 0.5km to my weekly longer run and I plan to do the same to get up to 20km. I've had all the same thoughts about hydration, food and physical and mental well being. I intend to experiment with everything so that when the day dawns for the HM I'll be as prepared as possible. As you can see this is a long term plan. I started running a year ago and I've enjoyed it so far. I don't want to ruin it by feeling too pressured. Not only that I reach half a century next year and I reckon that doing a HM is a great way to mark such a milestone!

  • Yeah I think its a good way to celebrate too Sharon - does that mean you will be doing a full marathon at 100? :)

    I agree about the testing things out - I know that what I've read says you should never do anything new on a race day, and I'm sure that practise leads to confidence and a more enjoyable experience as well

  • hi I know this is an older post but spotted you were triathlon training, I am just finished wk 7 and have entered a sprint tri in August , just wondered if your triathlon is done and how you got on, and also if you have any tips for a total novice!

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