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How Many Half Marathons Can I Run In A Year?

How Many Half Marathons Can You Run In A Year

When you’re planning out your yearly training schedule, you might get pretty excited about signing up for more races. The Skunk Cabbage Half Marathon is only 2 weeks after your previous race, but you just have to do it, right? Stick to the golden training rule of “one rest day for 1-2 miles raced” and you’ll have your answer for how many half marathons you can run in a year.

How many half marathons can I run in a year?

An average runner with a solid running base could run between 12 to 26 half marathons in 1 year. This would equate to one half marathon every two to four weeks. However, each half marathon race shouldn’t be an all-out race. Alternating your race speed every other race would be a safer regime to follow. The first half marathon race could be an all-out competitive race and two weeks later the next half marathon could be treated as an easy long run so your body can recover completely. 

An example of alternating racing styles between half marathons:

  • Week 1 – Compete in half marathon race (all-out)
  • Week 2 – Recover
  • Week 3 – Complete half marathon race (easy long run)
  • Week 4 – Recover
  • Week 5 – repeat week 1

Let’s get into the specifics of training schedules and recovery time to flesh out what those weeks in between races should look like.

What’s the target?

Consider your goals for each half marathon race. If you plan to smash your PR (personal record) with every new race you run, you might find that your energy levels, and thus race performance, dwindles over time if you’re doing too many races.

Exercise, especially high-intensity, actually causes muscles to breakdown. This isn’t as terrible as it sounds, because this muscle breakdown also stimulates muscle growth (only when you’re not running)! That is, as long as recovery time is adequate. If you don’t allow enough time to recover in between exercise bouts, that breakdown will exceed the growth and you’ll end up with some serious soreness and possible injury.

When you race your half marathons at an all-out race pace, you’ll need to put more time aside to recover properly. However, if you plan on cruising through those races at an average running speed, then go ahead and stack on the half marathons. You’re likely to do just fine with that sustainable pace since you won’t need as much time to recover.

A month’s work

How many half marathons can I run in a month?

Let’s revisit that golden rule: One rest day for every mile raced. So, if you ran a half marathon on November 1st, you can safely run another half marathon on November 14th. You’re looking at an average of 2 half marathons a month.

The best amount of time to keep between two races will be roughly two weeks. You can experiment with more or less here and there, but keep in mind that it costs money to sign up for races and many of them can be quite pricey. let’s look at the math:

  • 26 half marathons X $75 (average half marathon price) = $1,950.

That’s quite a bit of money to spend on racing for one year. Also, you have to realize that you’ll probably be traveling far distances to get to a race every other weekend. This also costs extra money.

Since you’re keeping your distance to half marathons, you won’t need to do any mileage building during these “off” weeks. They should be just that: off weeks! This is the time for easy jogs, cross-training, and mindful rehab. If you throw some hard runs in there, it’s best to extend your recovery time by a few days or longer.

Tackle Your Training

Be wise about your training plan in between half-marathons, as this time can make-or-break your next race. Make your training plan work for you!

For the runner who regularly packs on a ton of miles, those inter-weekly runs might be longer for you. If you prefer to use more cross-training in your plan, then sub that in place of some runs.

A runner’s training plan is highly unique and needs to cater to your ability level, experience, and race schedule.

Weekly Schedule Between Half Marathon Races

Here’s a nice guideline for filling up your buffer days:

week 1

  • Day 1: Half marathon number 1!
  • Day 2: Rest, fuel, and hydrate! Light 30-minute walk to shake out the soreness.
  • Day 3: Rest, fuel, and hydrate! Light 30-minute walk.
  • Day 4: Rest, fuel, and hydrate! Yoga.
  • Day 5: 20-minute easy jog at a low-moderate intensity
  • Day 6: 20-30 minutes easy low-impact cardio: biking or swimming
  • Day 7: 30-45 minute easy jog at a low-moderate intensity

Week 2

  • Day 8: Rest, fuel, and hydrate! Great time for yoga or Pilates.
  • Day 9: 30-45 minutes run at low-moderate intensity
  • Day 10: 30-45 minutes of cross-training
  • Day 11: 45-60 minutes run at low-moderate intensity
  • Day 12: 30-45 minutes of cross-training
  • Day 13: 45-60 minutes run at low-moderate intensity
  • Day 14: Rest, fuel, hydrate!
  • Day 15: Half marathon number 2!

Building in more frequent cross-training can also give your muscles a break from the high-impact of running but still provide you with great exercise. Another great form of non-running activity is strength training.

Some runners don’t want to strength train, believing that it will throw off their run! This is far from the truth. Strength training makes you a more efficient runner, gives you faster recovery times, and lessens your chance of injury. The bottom line: hit those weights! For a great weight lifting Regime for half marathons check out this post:

Half Marathon Training with Weight Lifting Schedule

Remember Your Recovery

Now that you know the basics of your training plan in between half marathons, how does this relate to your recovery plan? They go hand in hand!

Recovery ultimately comes down to how you take care of yourself after a race and even after every run you do. Taking time off from running is important for giving your muscles time to repair and rebuild.

But, recovery doesn’t end with just taking a rest day now and again. The key here is active recovery. Take a glance at this recovery plan that you can overlay with your training schedule:

  • Day 1: Half marathon number 1!
  • Days 2-4: Stretch, foam roller, yoga.
  • Day 5: Deep tissue recovery massage.
  • Day 6-13: Regular stretching, foam roller, and yoga after exercise.
  • Day 14: Quick flow yoga
  • Day 15: Half marathon number 2!

Recovery Starts As Soon As You Cross The Finish Line

Recovery begins the second you hit “stop” on your watch after crossing that finish line (don’t forget to hit ‘stop’…your pace will thank you).

So what can you do during this immediate time? Grab some fuel from the race crew and start hydrating. Be sure to reach for carb-loaded bites like apples, bananas, and granola bars.

Keep walking around for at least 20 minutes to give your body time to down-level after running. This will keep your muscles limber and your blood flowing. If you end up popping a squat right away, you’ll most likely stand up to some serious stiffness, which could lead to pulling a muscle. That’s the last thing your training plan needs!

After you’ve got your shuffle time down, score a light sports massage. Afterward, get those dogs elevated for about 10 minutes. It’s common to have slight swelling in the feet and ankles after a long run, so some good elevation will improve this.

You’re likely starting to feel chill at this point, so pull on some compression socks to keep that blood moving and improve soreness. Shift your snacking from carbs to protein, like nutterbutters, beans, or hummus, and hike it back home.

Don’t let off the recovery button yet! You’ll want to keep walking around every hour for the rest of the day. Just 5 or 10 minutes of movement will do. Get in some good stretching and cook up a high-nutrition dinner, like lentil chili!

For more information on half marathon recoveries checkout:

How to recover from a half marathon race?

The Final Stretch

Consider the answer obtained from your question, “how many half marathons can I run in a year”! You’re fully loaded on training information, recovery tips, and even ideal snack-age. There’s only one thing left to do. Lace-up those kicks and start clocking some miles!

 

Coach Scott is a published author and RRCA certified running coach (Level 2). He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 14th half marathon race. 

 To sign up for a FREE half marathon training schedule, log sheet, and pace predictor CLICK HERE.

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12-Week Half Marathon Training Plan based on your current fitness level!