How Running a Half Marathon Will Change You (For the Better)

Mulling over the idea of running a half marathon? The decision should be a no brainer…a resounding “YES!” is what should follow in this mental dialogue.

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Training for and running a half marathon has proven to be the best decision of many people’s lives. The culmination of dedicated training and significant effort, resulting in 13.1 magic packed miles, cannot be paralleled by many other experiences in life.  There’s more to simply clicking over the miles from 1 to 13.1. The journey begins, many months prior, with the spark of inspiration to plan to toe that starting line.

Half Marathon Training Takes Discipline

Now, training for a half marathon takes dedication and time. Fitting runs into the everyday minutia of work, family, school, home management, and maybe a little social interaction or civic contribution is no easy task, even for master multi-taskers and honed time managers. Waking up pre-dawn on weekdays to squeeze in those miles or on weekends to trek out for long runs, while the rest of the world sleeps snugly in their beds, can be an all-out mental battle at times.

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The discipline required to sustain training and to make it to the ultimate and tremendous step across the finish line will undoubtedly redefine a person. Where the impossible feat used to live and doubts on ability could creep in, the finisher of a half marathon has run past all of that (quite literally).  Where procrastination and lazy habits used to flourish, the half marathoner has re-prioritized energy, schedules, responsibilities, and relationships in order to make half marathon training the filler of any spare minutes and hours within the day.

Finally, the laser focused planning of a half marathoner’s days, weeks, and months enables a runner to see where their time is actually being allocated and to make adjustments for more family, healthy friendships, and self-improvement.

Mental Fortitude of Runners

Self-discipline will grow as will mental toughness. The hurt at mile nine in the race will somehow be subdued by the strength of mind and will. Applications of this “mind over matter” scenario are entrenched in running, but runners begin to experience the power across all areas of life.

Not only does the occasional internal anguish of training and racing help in priming the skill of overcoming difficult trials and adversity, but the accomplishment of fighting through a half marathon and it’s training becomes a source of inspiration and pride for every runner. Any time a mentally challenging situation presents itself, remembering the perseverance and exertion of pushing through and reaching the goal.

Half Marathon Finishers Are All Elite

In 2014, of the 245 million Americans age 18+, only 2 million ran a half marathon.  That means that any American completing a half marathon can claim to be part of the 0.8% to do so.  Less than one percent. That constitutes an elite group of individuals in any statistical review.  And while on the numbers, in 2014, 61% of half marathon finishers were female in US races.

Half Marathons to Look and Feel Better

The runner’s physique can be the impetus for some who take up the sport of running. Toned calves, slim body, and strong arms epitomize an ideal of beauty for both men and women. While many factors affect an individual’s appearance, the frequency and extended duration of training for a half marathon often does result in more muscle and tone.

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There is more to half marathon training than merely changing body shape. Fitness is now a lifestyle. Everything relates to being fit and healthy. Whether it is eating healthy, drinking more water, keeping your heart healthy, or getting more sleep, the best (and really, only) way to a successful half marathon is to wholly commit to betterment of self. While the compliments on impressive runs and dedication or improved fitness and appearance may be nice perks that go along with training, the things that matter most are the gratified feeling of committed success and the new healthy lifestyle.

Distance Training Runs Result in New Friends

Waking up early to meet a running group or friend can be some of the best moments of life. Sharing stories, lessons, laughs, and pain with another person or group of people on a regular basis often results in close friendships. The intrinsic nature of attempting a task so difficult as training for and then racing a half marathon pits the group of individuals in training against all the factors working against a runner’s success.

In effect, the training partners you keep will take on shifting roles of cheerleader, comedian, therapist, and sometimes, surrogate family. Friends met along the path of half marathon training could easily last a lifetime.

So, Why Run A Half Marathon?

The race is only a gift for all of your training, a gift earned. Just to toe the start line demonstrates training, mental power, and gumption. Half marathon runners have already accomplished so much more than most ever will when they leave the starting corrals. Life has changed for the better.

All half marathoners should be extremely proud, no matter the outcome of the race.  Crossing that finish line will be one of the most overwhelming and spiritual feelings any human can experience.  Ironically, it is often at this point that the pain of it all is forgotten and plans begin being made for the next one! This bucket list idea of running a half marathon will turn into a lifetime of running.

Whether running half marathons, 5Ks, or just for fun with friends, all runners enjoy a healthy lifestyle, an ability to dedicate to and complete challenges, and mental toughness that spans much farther than running. So, for all you one-percenters out there, know no bounds and make your next half marathon AMAZING.

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