It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

man running outside in orange workout shirtWhether you’ve just completed your first 5K or you’re ready for long-distance running—good for you! Now that you’ve mastered the shorter race, you may be ready to move on to something more challenging. Not sure how to go about making the transition? Keep reading for some tips to help you go the distance.

5K to 10K training

While the same training that got you to a 5K probably makes you fit enough to run a 10K, most experts recommend taking at least eight weeks to work up to the longer distance. It does involve running twice as far, after all.

The 10 percent rule

You can find dozens of methods online, but the simplest thing to do is to keep your current training program and just add 10 percent every week. That means adding 10 percent to the distance of your training runs, both the long and short runs, each week. By week eight, your long run will be just over the 10K mark. If you need more time to work up to it, that’s fine. Try adding 5 percent every week, or any amount that you find doable, until you reach your goal.

Tips for reaching the finish line

  • Don’t let double the distance be daunting. Remember how far 3.1 miles sounded when you first started running?
  • Make sure you incorporate walking, cross-training and rest days to let your body recover.
  • Give yourself a deadline by signing up for a 10K several weeks in advance, and then align your training program with the race date.
  • Be conservative when it comes to speed, especially at the beginning of your run, to make sure you’re able to finish strong.

10K to half marathon training

The half marathon is a totally different beast from shorter runs like a 5K or 10K. To make the jump, you’ll need to start thinking like a marathoner. Here are some changes to consider:

  • Instead of a weekly long run, go with one long run every other week, adding another mile or two each time.
  • Remember to keep an even pace on your progressively long runs—about 25 seconds per mile slower than your 10K pace is a pretty good reference point.
  • Take your cross training seriously. To reduce your risk of injury and stave off fatigue, pay extra attention to strength training in your legs and abs.
  • Don’t skip meals. In fact, you may find that a second breakfast is in order on your longer run days to keep your body fueled and in top condition.

No matter how experienced you are as a runner, perhaps the best tip we can offer is to listen to your body. Of course, you want to push yourself further to reach your goals, but if something hurts, rest it. You don’t want a little injury to turn into something bigger that could derail all your hard work and planning.