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13 Reasons to Run a Half Marathon

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    The Training is Rewarding—But Not Totally Soul-Sucking

    "Your long training runs will keep you out long enough to burn a lot of calories, so you can do some indulging afterward," says Ashley Fizzarotti, better known as Running Bun, from New Providence, NJ. But the distances are still short enough that you won't be knocked on your butt for the rest of the entire day."

  • Instagram/@abbelew

    You Can Actually Survive Going to Brunch After a Long Run

    "Training for a half isn't nearly as daunting as training for a full marathon," says Abbe Baker from New York City. "Plus, it isn't as time- and life-sucking." In other words, you can actually run-then-brunch, as opposed to run-then-sleep-all-day-and-everything-hurts.

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    It's the Perfect Distance for a Run-Cation

    "I've crossed the Atlantic three times to run a marathon, and I can say pretty definitively that if you're an ordinary mortal, that travel is really going to beat you up," says Daphne Matalene from Columbia, SC. "You may not end up running very well, and then you'll be all banged up and won't have as much fun on vacation. But a half is a perfect run-cation. You won't be so exhausted and sore the next day that you can't enjoy your trip." (Half marathon bachelorette party, anyone? Here's why you should buddy up for your next run or race.)

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    You Can Justify Carb-Loading and Celebratory Drinks—and Still Manage to Walk Up and Down the Stairs Like a Relatively Normal Person

    Sure, marathoners get to enjoy plenty of pre-race pasta. But walking to get those post-race beers is a lot easier after running 13.1 miles than 26.2!

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    You Earn Major Bragging Rights

    It doesn't matter if you've never run a race or if you complete a marathon every year: A half marathon is a totally noteworthy, impressive distance. "Plus, you get the bragging rights without sacrificing our entire social lives," says Amanda LaVergne from New York City. (We'll cheers to that. Here are 18 more running moments worth celebrating.)

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    There's Lots of Room for Improvement

    "Nothing compares to seeing the improvement you make during training for a half," says LaVergne. "When the vocabulary goes from, 'Oh my god, I have a 7-mile run tomorrow' to 'I only have to run seven miles tomorrow,' you realize just how strong you are and how far you've come."

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    On Race Day, You Get to Head Toward the Finish When the Marathoners are Only Halfway Done

    "Whenever I'm running a marathon that also has a half-marathon component, I find myself wishing I had signed up for the half," says Baker. You're headed straight to the finish line while the marathoners are merely halfway through.

  • Instagram/@dmatalene

    It's a Great Way to Push Yourself if You've Been Comfortably Running 5Ks and 10Ks

    Repeat after us: Not every runner has to someday run a marathon! The marathon does not define you as a runner—even if it seems like everyone on your Instagram feed is running them every weekend. If you enjoy racing 5Ks and 10Ks, why not give the half a go?

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    There Are Loads of Races to Choose From

    Half marathons have become about as popular as Starbucks. There are races to choose from every weekend of the year, from small-town trail races to big-city, heavily-spectated courses.

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    It's a Specific Kind of Hurt

    A 5K hurts because you're basically sprinting for 3.1 miles. A marathon hurts because that's a looong time to be on your feet. A half is somewhere in between, and it's a special kind of pain. It usually hits around mile 10, when you still have a casual 5K to go.

  • Instagram/@mandalearunsnyc

    It's Possible to Make Major Gains and Shave Serious Minutes Off Your Finish Time

    There's a lot of ground to cover throughout a half-marathon—13.1 miles, to be exact—which means lots of time for trial and error and to really push yourself. You can go out easy in hopes of a fast finish, or try to pace yourself evenly. It's not uncommon for runners to complete their first half-marathons in two hours and then to gradually creep closer to 1:55, 1:50, 1:45, and so on. (Want to get faster? Here are 22 ways to make it happen.)

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    If You Don't Have an Awesome Race, You Don't Have to Wait Months to Try Again

    A half marathon won't beat you up the same way a full will, so once you're recovered, you can pick another race and put your training to good use again.

  • Instagram/@dmatalene

    You Think You Might Kinda Maybe Someday Possibly Want to Run a Marathon

    Training for a half can be a great indicator of whether you'd enjoy training for and racing a full marathon. (Not totally convinced? Check out 26.2 reasons a marathon just might change your life.)