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Benefits of Racing a Half Marathon Before Your Marathon

By Lauren Evans


Why run a half marathon before your marathon?


At EFAST, we advise our athletes to sign up for a half marathon 4-6 weeks out from their goal marathon. Although 5 weeks out is ideal, we realize work and life can make it difficult to find a half at that perfect time frame. 4-6 weeks gives the athlete enough time to recover from the strenuous run while encountering fitness benefits.


The half marathon is a lactate threshold workout. As the runner adapts to this workout, he or she is able to run faster before hydrogen ions accumulate in the bloodstream, causing the runner to fatigue and slow down. The goal of marathon training is to raise the athlete’s lactate threshold and increase the ability to sustain as high a fraction of his or her lactate threshold as possible.


The half marathon is an extreme version of the lactate threshold workout, so the athlete must be fit going in. Our athletes have undergone continuous runs of up to 10 miles at lactate threshold before the half. By the time the half comes, they are sufficiently prepared to run the half at or near their lactate threshold.


It is also a great predictor of marathon day race pace. We know exactly what the athlete can run on race day barring any unforeseen circumstances (extreme weather, sickness, etc.), thanks, in part, to the half marathon race.

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