What is a Half-Marathon Distance?

In order to understand a half-marathon distance, you need to understand the words constituting a half marathon.

The name half marathon is derived from two words:

  • half: one of two equal parts of a whole
  • marathon: long distance road race of 26.2 miles

A half marathon is therefore a road race to run a distance of 13.1 miles (half of 26.2 miles). In other words, the half-marathon distance is the half the distance of a marathon.

Also, refer to more information on marathon distance and 5k distance .

Half marathon distance

  • Miles: 13.1
  • Kilometers: 21.1

A half marathon is a very good starting point for long distance running. The distance is long enough to pose a moderate amount of challenge to runners, yet short enough that it does not require as extensive training as that of a marathon.

The distance of a half-marathon remains the same for all courses. However, the length of the half-marathon depends on the energy required by the runner and varies for different conditions as explained below.

Half marathon length

Though the distance covered by the half marathon remains the same, the length of the half-marathon depends on different factors:
  1. Weather conditions
  2. Type of the course
  3. Body of the runner

Weather conditions

A runner's body generates a considerable amount of heat. This heat is dissipated in the form of sweat to keep the body cool.

  • Wind
    • Energy required to run is measured depending on the change in the intake of oxygen. If you are running against the wind, the oxygen intake required by the body is much more than if you are running with the wind.
  • Sun
    • Heat gained due to direct sunlight is called Solar heat gain. All other conditions remaining the same, a runner requires more energy to run on a sunny day than on an overcast day.
  • Humidity
    • Sweat rate is the rate at which the sweat is produced by the body. Consider two different types of environment
      1. With no or low humidity
      2. With high humidity
      In the latter case, the runner's body has to increase the sweat rate to keep the body cool. Increasing the sweat rate on a humid day requires more energy.

Nature of the course

  • All runners expend much more energy on hilly courses as opposed to flat courses. The energy required to run uphill is much more than the energy required to run a flat course.

Body of the runner

  • A runner with a heavy body will require a different amount of energy than a runner with a light body.

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