It's the beginning of the year, and you are feeling good about your running form and performance of the last year. A thought crosses your mind, how many half-marathons can I run in a year?
You can find your answer by using the 1:1 ratio. For every mile you race, you have one day of rest. On average, an avid runner can theoretically run between 10-26 half marathons within a calendar year.
But this means not all races will be competitive, and you will use some of the events as long runs to aid you in recovery.
If you want to delve deep into the statistics, consider the following race aspects and see how you can make time for recovery between races.
What’s Your Target
Each half-marathon race should have its own target. It's absurd to contemplate smashing your best time each time you enter an event. The best that can happen is that your energy reduces with each race, and the worst is suffering an injury taking you off your schedule.
Having many half-marathons spaced closely isn't the best strategy. High-intensive training (half-marathons are fast-paced) without adequate recovery time leads to muscle breakdown.
But muscle breakdown is a positive thing as it allows muscle growth, with it comes renewed energy. But this can only happen when you aren't running.
If the race bouts are close to one another, it leaves little or no time to recover; the muscle breakdown will eclipse the muscle growth, leading to soreness, pain, or injuries.
There are two options:
● Run the half marathon races at your potential best and set aside more time to recover.
● Or, Cruise through some races stacking up the miles going from one marathon to another, building your running legs efficiently.
How Many Half Marathons in a Month
It's easy to run all the half marathons you can manage within a month and multiply the number by 12. Take the 2:1 rule; it means you will run two half marathons per month.
For example, if you run your first half marathon on February 1, the next race event should be on February 14.
But marathon races aren't free, and some are quite costly. Besides your potential to compete twice a month, you should be able to raise the entry fee for the events.
Let's do the math;
Half marathons can cost somewhere between $30 for community and $225 for big-city events like the Boston Marathon 2023.
Let's take an average of $100 x 24 = $2400 per year.
Consider that the race events might require travel and accommodation fees which also add to the total costs of the marathon. The math doesn't support your participation in many half-marathon races per month.
But since you are strictly running half marathon races, there's no need to train for mileage building. Your off weeks can be used for active recovery, where you can engage in cross-training, easy runs, and mindful rehabilitation.
Your training schedule should reflect your running experience and ability. This is unique for every runner, and before settling for a training plan, you should know that it determines the outcome of the next race.
Some runners prefer long runs; in a week, they may pack many miles. Others prefer subbing long runs with cross-training choosing low-impact aerobic exercises like cycling and swimming.
Are you among the runners who think strength training will disrupt your running dynamism? It's a wrong perception, and strength training is a non-running activity that keeps you fit while you take a break from running.
Efficient runners know strength training reduces the recovery time and risk of injuries. Hit the gym and lift weights, bench presses, and other exercises that don't involve running. Your leg muscles will soon recover, and you will be on your feet and back on the road packing the miles.
When Does Recovery Start
After finishing one race, you probably think about what you must change in the next event. Your training plan may have to change, or you can stick to it and make a few tweaks.
But recovery should start immediately after you cross the finish line. Start taking care of your body by engaging in active recovery activities.
After the race, remain active by staying on your feet for at least 20 minutes as you let your body cool down. Try to keep the blood flowing and the muscles limber. Squatting after the race may lead to stiffness, and you can pull a muscle when trying to get back up, setting you back weeks from your training schedule.
Walk around and grab a hydrating fluid or fuel from the race support crew. Hydrating and rich carb bites like bananas, apples, and granola bars will help your body recover some of the lost energy.
After a long run, you may experience soreness, pain, or swellings on your ankles and feet. Some elevation exercises might rid you of the discomfort. You may also wear compression socks after the race to help with the soreness and blood flow.
The answer to how many half-marathons you can run in a year depends on many factors, as you have seen. Besides trying to keep between the races, you should have a training plan that allows you to recover in time for the next race.
Assuming you have the money to join all the races you can in a year, your focus should be on keeping healthy and avoiding overtraining.
Consider a nutritionist to help you with your diet, and look for a training buddy that will push you through challenging times.