Saturday, April 13, 2013

To Half or Not To Half?

I am currently STRUGGLING with the decision to run a half-marathon following the 10-miler or not. I am truly torn. So let’s outline the pros/cons, shall we?

Pros to running a half-marathon this spring:
I can build on my 10-miler training. This is the major reason I’m considering it. I’ve already put in a lot of the legwork for recommended half-marathon training--some plans even have people stopping at 10 miles for the long runs. I’d plan to go a bit farther (I’d like to hit 13), but it would only take a few more weeks of building on my existing base.

I’d check off an item on my fitness "bucket list." I know I will never do a full marathon, but I really want to do a half someday. It would be cool to do it sooner rather than later! Plus, with starting grad school this fall, I worry that I’d be short on time for training for a fall half-marathon. Might be nice to do it now while I have the time!

I like the accountability provided by longer distance training. If I don’t do a half this spring, I won’t really get another opportunity to do one until the fall (DC = too hot for summer races). So I’d pretty much be done with “real” training until fall--and thus would lack the accountability that training for a longer race provides. I could train for a 5k, sure, but it doesn’t provide the same level of “I need to do these runs otherwise I will embarrass myself on race day” that a long race provides--I could (now!) do a 5k with minimal training/ramp up.

I really don’t want to lose my endurance/run base. This is kind of stupid, but it feels so important to me. I’ve started to mentally identify as this 20+ mile a week runner, and I hate the idea of losing that and going back to struggling through a 5 miler. I worry if I don’t have a longer race on the horizon that my weekly 10 milers will become 4 milers and I’ll be right back to where I started.

Cons to doing the half-marathon this spring:
I’m worried I’d be “tainting” my 10-miler results. Kind of a weird way to put it, but I just feel like I worked so hard during the 10 miler training cycle and was so pleased with the way it ultimately went--it feels like it can only go downhill from here. I did three 10-mile runs in preparation for this race, and several other 8 mile+ runs. Based on the scheduling, I’d only get in a few 11 mile+ runs before a half-marathon, and I just worry it wouldn’t be as thorough of training as I did for the 10-miler. Which maybe would be fine...but I wouldn’t want it to overshadow my 10-miler accomplishment, or somehow water it down if the half-marathon wasn’t nearly as fast. I kind of just want to bask in the glory of a job well done and finishing the 10-miler faster than I ever expected--not set myself up to be disappointed if I don’t do as well at a half.

I could explore other exercise options. I’ve mentioned that I’ve been struggling to fit in all of the cross-training activities I want to do on top of my runs. Well, running less would certainly help that issue. And who knows--maybe some added strength training and cross-training would make me a stronger runner come fall!

I might get burnt out on running. I already started to feel this at the end of the 10-miler training--feeling like I needed to get out there on certain days of every week became mentally fatiguing after a while. Every run became an exercise (pun!) in motivation and mental strength. It wasn’t that I didn’t love being out there once I got going--but I just didn’t want to feel like I had to be out there all the time, you know?

Life has the potential to get crazy. There is this giant, looming work project on the horizon that keeps getting pushed back (6 months and counting!). When it hits, it is going to hit hard, and I will have minimal non-work time for several weeks. I hate the idea of putting my life on pause for a work event--ESPECIALLY one that keeps getting delayed--but it seems a little foolish to be committing to train for a race when this could hit any week! Oh and plus, I already signed up for a preparing-for-grad-school econ class going from April-June. Not a huge deal (I’m taking it for general knowledge background, not an actual grade/requirement for entry), but certainly another time commitment to consider.

THE WEATHER. DC was a god-awful mid-80s this week. If this is what I’m in for with half training, I’m ready to throw in the towel already. Not something I want to be dealing with on 10+ mile runs!

So--what say you? Anyone have any opinions or suggestions? I’m starting to lean one way, but really would appreciate any perspectives/similar experiences!


  1. Do you have a specific half in mind? (I'm doing Marine Corp Historic Half May 19th). I'd say that if it's more than 6-weeks out, I would pass. If you can train up in the next 4-6 weeks, I think you'll avoid the burn out and then be ready to go again come fall.

    1. Excellent advice as usual, Anne Taite! I was toying with two different ones at the end of May/early June--maybe that's why it was seeming so daunting in my head--it was too far out!

      Right now I'm leaning towards no...we learned that my "big work thing" is actually happening (FINALLY), so I worry that my weekday time for workouts is going to be limited. Plus like you said--just want to avoid burn out and keep running fun.

      Good luck at the Marine Corp Half!! You should write an update on your training soon; I'm curious. :)