Runners have countless oddities, obsessive-compulsive rituals, and extreme tendencies. To our non-running friends, we ARE the definition of crazy. I mean, c'mon, in what other company can you say fartlek and not have someone giggle? Among runners though, it is understood that there are different branches of our family tree that each have their own skewed view of the world. For instance, sprinters are on one side; the high octane, proud peacocks of the running world. The marathoners sit on a completely different branch of the running tree. They log insane mileages as they train their body for an event they must endure. Marathon training is probably where the term "crazy runner" first entered our lexicon. Well if marathoners are crazy, then half marathoners are only half crazy...right???
Half marathoning is the fastest growing segment of the running family. At 13.1 miles, the half marathon is long enough that it can serve as a life-affirming event, worthy of training time and travel funds, but not so long that our significant other will feel like a widow(er) during the training period. And even though half marathoners are only half crazy, that doesn't exclude them from having their own idiosyncrasies that skew from the norm. Let's see if these sound like you. If so, you may have found a home on the half marathon branch of the runners family tree.
Amateur Meteorologist | The amount of time we spend outside training causes us to become amateur meteorologists. We become quite adept at reading beyond the temps and whether or not it's sunny. When half marathoners read the dew point will be 74 for this weekend's long run, they don't think - as most people do - "74? That sounds nice and cool. What's a dew point?" Half marathoners know that means they'll should bring some scissors to the workout because they'll be able to cut a humidity sweater out of the air.
Gift for Oversharing | Social media has completely changed the way we interact with the world. Runners closely trail new parents in terms of the volume of info they share on the interwebs. The bits/megabits/gigabits/ton-a-bits of data we stream about every run we accomplish, every toenail we lose, every meal we obliterate after a long run could crash a small country's server capabilities.
Far Is A Relative Term | Half marathoners start reaching mileage levels that skew from the general population. Even other runners will say to them, "Wow, that's a long way." Most fitness enthusiasts will say they run "a lot" when they reach 10 miles per week. A half marathoner is more likely to say, "I only ran 10 today."
Healthy... To A Point | As people train more, they tend to start looking for healthier choices in all areas of their life. Half marathoners read all sorts of articles on the proper way to fuel, hit the gym to get stronger and stay healthy, and take up stretching and foam rolling. That healthy lifestyle does tend to go into hiding post-run, however, when we will happily eat and drink everything in sight.
Best Company | The best thing about having your own branch on the running family tree is finding a group that understands where you are coming from. Half marathon training buddies are the funniest people around. Our training partners are hilarious. It's that, or it's the fact that we're sleep deprived and running low on glycogen, and therefore have lowered our acceptability of what's funny. If you've read this far and have smiled or chuckled at any reference, then you fall into this boat. Find a group to hit the roads and trails with to run the crazy off.
Don't let Mother Nature scare you away from finding your spot on the runners family tree. The spring half marathons are just around the corner. Now's the time to find some friends who get you. Remember, you're not crazy, you're half crazy!
Tim Cary is Head Track & Field and Cross Country for Lindenwood University at Belleville and the former Fleet Feet Assistant Training Manager. Over his more than two decades of coaching, Tim has coached athletes to three national team championships, five national individual championships, two national records, and numerous All-American and All-State honors. Click here to receive Tim's weekly article via email.