How Long Before a Marathon Should I Run a Half Marathon

How Long Before a Marathon Should I Run a Half Marathon.

As a marathon runner, you spend months preparing for the big race. During that period, you may feel the need to put your skills to the test.

The easiest way to do that is to run a half marathon. However, you don’t want it to affect your performance during the full marathon.

So, you find yourself asking, “How long before a marathon should I run a half marathon?”

Well, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s take a look at whether or not running a half marathon before a full one is a good idea.

Should You Run a Half Marathon Before a Marathon?

You put your body through many changes during marathon training. This transformation can take a long time and effort.

All of this training is to prepare you for the physical and mental demands of running a marathon.

You have to remember that during a marathon, you’re running for hours under the sun. The same goes for a half marathon.

Even though you’re running for a shorter period and distance, it’s a strenuous activity.

For this reason, it’s not a good idea to run a half marathon right before a marathon. You want your body to be able to perform at its best during both.

So, if you run one right after the other, you may be too exhausted to perform well.

Can You Run a Half Marathon Before a Marathon?

If you are asking yourself if you can and how long before a marathon should I run a half marathon, it’s possible. The trick is to space the races as far away as possible.

Generally, you can run a half marathon about a month before a full one. This time frame should give your body enough time to rest and regenerate.

Anything less than a month could lead to serious injury.

Still, the further the races are from each other, the better. As long as you train well for both, you should have no problem with either race.

How Long Before a Marathon Should I Run a Half Marathon: Factors That Affect Wait Time

Even though a month should give you enough time to recover, this isn’t the case for everyone. How long you should wait after a half marathon depends on how fast your body recovers.

Your body’s recovery depends on many factors. Some of these factors include:

Your Age

Unfortunately, as you get older, your body’s ability to recover decreases. It takes a while longer for adults to spring back than children. After you turn 30, your rate of recovery starts to decline.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t participate in a marathon. It only means you need to rest for a while between a half marathon and a full one.

If you plan on running both races after the age of 30, it may be best to wait about 2 months between each race.

You may not need the full rest period, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Waiting a couple more weeks can make a huge difference in your performance.

Your Gender

The relationship between gender and recovery is a little complicated. It all has to do with your hormone levels.

How Long Before a Marathon Should I Run a Half Marathon:A couple running in nature


Men and women have different hormones that have unique functions. The main hormone in a male body is testosterone.

Testosterone can boost your energy levels and help you build muscle mass.

This hormone is why men tend to have bigger muscles than women. Another bonus of testosterone is that it can reduce inflammation.

For this reason, men are more likely to recover faster.

Still, keep in mind that as men age, their testosterone levels drop. So, their regeneration will also decrease.


While women may have a slightly slower recovery rate, they’re not at a disadvantage. Estrogen is the primary hormone in women.

Even though estrogen is mostly responsible for reproduction, it has many other benefits.

One of these benefits is faster wound healing. This means that women heal much faster from wounds like cuts and scrapes.

Unlike men, many women maintain their estrogen levels as they age. So, they don’t lose their regeneration abilities.

Your Marathon Training

Another factor that can affect your regeneration abilities is your training. Depending on when you start your marathon training, the intensity will differ.

If you start training a year in advance, you’ll have plenty of time to build up your stamina slowly.

However, if you train about four months before the big race, your training program will have to be more intense.

The intensity of the program has a huge impact on your recovery. With an intense workout, your body doesn’t have enough time to fully recover before you put it under more stress.

This means that you need a much longer regeneration period after a long race. So, if you’re training hard for a marathon, it may not be a good idea to run a half marathon.

Instead, you should focus on different exercises and more training.

Pre-Marathon Nutrition

One of the most crucial aspects of any marathon training is nutrition. You have to make sure your body is getting all the minerals and nutrients it needs.

Many runners focus on carbohydrate-loading before a big race. Still, it’s also important to eat all the other food groups.

A balanced diet with plenty of vitamins will give your body a lot more resilience. It allows your body to handle much more stress and recover much faster afterward.

To ensure you have all the resources you need to recover, you can try a runner’s supplement. This should provide you with all the necessary components for a speedy recovery.


Your lifestyle can also be a major deciding factor in your healing. Other than training for a marathon, you also need a healthy lifestyle to perform in a marathon.

Many of us have unhealthy habits that could be holding us back from performing at our best. Some of the habits can include:

  • Eating foods that are high in sugar
  • Not getting enough rest at night
  • Smoking
  • Eating too much salt

All of these habits can negatively impact your body’s ability to recover. So, as a runner, you should try to avoid these habits as much as you can.

Even if you can’t avoid these habits, it’s crucial that you stop doing them at least two weeks before any long run.

Doing this will ensure you don’t have any health issues on race day.

Why Do People Run Half Marathons Before a Marathon?

How Long Before a Marathon Should I Run a Half Marathon And Why. There are a few different reasons why you might want to participate in a half marathon before a marathon.

The main reason is to test out your running skills. Most people want to know if they have the ability to run a full marathon before committing to it.

So, running a half marathon can give you a clear indication of where your abilities stand.

Another reason people run a half marathon before a full one is to train. Instead of the usual training, you would do for a marathon, some people choose to train with a half marathon.

This may be an easy way to get used to the idea of running for a longer period. However, if you’re using a half marathon as training, you need to be sure to rest well before and after the event.

Finally, half marathons can also be a great way to deal with race anxiety.

What Is Race Anxiety and How to Deal With It

Running a marathon is a unique experience. After months of hard work, you get to go out there and join the race. There are massive crowds all around you, and you’re on your feet for most of the day.

So, it’s completely normal for you to feel a little anxiety before the marathon. However, for many people, this anxiety can get overwhelming.

For this reason, they decide to run a half-marathon to prepare themselves.

Still, there are many other ways to deal with race anxiety.

Establish a Morning Routine

Most people training for a marathon run about 4-6 miles a day three times a week. This allows for a lot of flexibility.

While this plan may be a great way to get you into shape, it doesn’t do much for anxiety.

Since the plan is flexible, it doesn’t simulate the environment of a marathon.

Setting a fixed morning workout routine can help you get in the mindset of the race, which should alleviate any anxiety.

Change Your Running Environment

Speaking of the environment, where you run has a huge impact on anxiety. Marathons happen throughout the city. So, training on a paved running track isn’t going to be the same.

If you want to prepare yourself for a marathon, try running in a similar environment. While this can be tricky for some people, it can do wonders for your race anxiety.

Gearing Up

Part of your marathon training involves using different types of running gear, such as running glasses, attire, and sneakers.

You should try out different gear to see what works best for you. If you’re comfortable during a race, you’ll do much better.

The first step to making sure you’re comfortable is getting your clothes ready.

It’s not a good idea to run a marathon in a brand new outfit. You run the risk of the clothes being too tight, which could cause chafing.

Instead, practice running in the outfit you intend to wear to the marathon. It’ll loosen them up and give you a chance to adjust to them.

Another important part of your outfit is your runner’s number. It may be awkward to run with the number on your chest.

So, while you’re training, try attaching the number in many positions to see which one you like best.

How Long Before a Marathon Should I Run a Half Marathon: Benefits

Two female runners finishing race together


Now that you know you can run a half marathon a month before a full one, let’s talk about why you should do it.

Other than bragging rights, a half marathon has many benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • Establishing a long-distance race pace
  • A better sense of what your body is capable of
  • Eliminating race anxiety

A half marathon can help you figure out what pace you want to have during the race. You can find out how long you can keep going before taking a break and how fast you want to run.

If you want to boost your marathon time, this may be the way to do it.

Reason to Avoid Running a Half Marathon

Even though you can safely run a half marathon before a marathon, it may not be ideal.

There are a few drawbacks to running a half marathon before a full one. Some of these drawbacks may include:

  • Running fatigue
  • The possibility of injury

The major risk of running a half marathon before a marathon is misjudging your limits.

If you don’t leave enough time for you to recover before a marathon, you may find yourself unable to run.

Moreover, you risk hurting yourself while running the half marathon. You may pull a muscle or sprain an ankle.

What You Should Do Between a Half Marathon and a Marathon

If you decide to run a half marathon before a marathon, you should have a plan for what you want to do in between.

The plan should include rest. This, however, doesn’t mean you should stop working out. It only means that you need to decrease your workout volume.

We call this tapering. During this period, you start to decrease your workout volume gradually before a race.

It’s crucial that you taper before a marathon, especially if you run a half marathon beforehand.

When you don’t taper before a long race, you run the risk of major injury.

Wrapping Up

There are a few factors to consider if you’re wondering, “How long before a marathon should I run a half marathon?”

Depending on your age, gender, and lifestyle, the period will be a little different. So, be sure to assess your physical and mental condition before you sign up to run a half marathon.