You are not exactly a newbie, but you’re no veteran either in the sport of running; but lately you have been thinking about registering for a race that is longer than the distance you usually run. That’s great! Way to challenge yourself.

But before you jump online and sign up for this race, here are some things I would recommend you being able to do before ramping up to a longer distance, which will lessen the chance of injury or fatigue out there on the course. Also note that I’m speaking to people here whose plan is to run the entire distance (or at least the vast majority of it) with the goal of running a pace in the longer distance that equates to their shorter distance best time; For example, if you are a 25-minute 5K runner, your goal would to be run a 10K just under 52-minutes, based on running prediction calculators.

5K

  • How many days should you be running? At least 3.
  • How many miles should you run per week? Between 12-25, minimum.
  • How far should your longest run be? At least 4-6 miles.
  • Should you be doing speed work? Yes, short and long hill repeats, along with repeats ranging from 200 meters to 1 mile at least 1x per week, starting 4-6 weeks out from the race.
  • Should you be doing tempo, steady state, fartlek, progression runs, etc? Yes, these should be incorporated at least 1x per week. These runs should be anywhere from 20-60 minutes in duration. Tempo runs done at 10-20 seconds slower than goal pace. Steady State runs should be done at 30-50 seconds slower than goal pace. Fartleks runs – the faster sections – faster or at race pace. Progression runs should end with the last 10-15 minutes at least at tempo pace and can be as fast as race pace.
  • How many weeks should you train before a 5K? 6-8, minimum.

10K

  • How many days should you be running? At least 4.
  • How many miles should you run per week? Between 20-30, minimum.
  • How far should your longest run be? At least 8-10 miles.
  • Should you be doing speed work? Yes, short and long hill repeats, along with repeats ranging from 200 meters to 3200 meters at least 1x per week, starting 4-6 weeks out from the race.
  • Should you be doing tempo, steady state, fartlek, progression runs, etc? Yes, these should be incorporated at least 1x per week. These runs should be anywhere from 30-80 minutes in duration. Tempo runs done at 0-15 seconds slower than goal pace. Steady State runs should be done at 20-40 seconds slower than goal pace. Fartleks runs – the faster sections – faster or at race pace. Progression runs should end with the last 15-20 minutes at least at tempo pace and can be as fast as 5K race pace.
  • How many weeks should you train before a 10K? 8-10, minimum.

Half Marathon

  • How many days should you be running? At least 4-5.
  • How many miles should you run per week? Between 30-40, minimum.
  • How far should your longest run be? At least 10-12 miles.
  • Should you be doing speed work? Yes, short and long hill repeats, along with repeats ranging from 200 meters to 3200 meters at least 1x per week, starting 6-8 weeks out from the race.
  • Should you be doing tempo, steady state, fartlek, progression runs, etc? Yes, these should be incorporated at least 1x per week. These runs should be anywhere from 40-90 minutes in duration. Tempo runs done at 15-30 seconds faster than goal pace. Steady State runs should be done at 10 seconds faster to 15 seconds slower than goal pace. Fartleks runs – the faster sections – 5K to 10K pace. Progression runs should end with the last 20-25 minutes at least at tempo pace and can be as fast as 5K race pace.
  • How many weeks should you train before a half? 10-12, minimum.

Marathon

  • How many days should you be running? At least 5.
  • How many miles should you run per week? Between 40-50, minimum.
  • How far should your longest run be? 18-22 miles.
  • Should you be doing speed work? Yes, short and long hill repeats, along with repeats ranging from 200 meters to 3200 meters at least 1x per week, starting 6-8 weeks out from the race.
  • Should you be doing tempo, steady state, fartlek, progression runs, etc? Yes, these should be incorporated at least 1x per week. These runs should be anywhere from 40-120 minutes in duration. Tempo runs done at or just slower than goal 10K pace. Steady State runs should be done at 10-seconds faster than half marathon goal pace to 10-seconds faster than goal marathon pace. Fartleks runs – the faster sections – 5K to 10K pace. Progression runs should end with the last 20-25 minutes at least at tempo pace and can be as fast as 5K race pace.
  • How many weeks should you train before a marathon? 16-20, minimum.

So, while this isn’t a step-by-step training plan, this is a good blue print on what you should be doing before you take the next step up in distance. While you can finish any of these races with less mileage, no speed work and no tempo-type training runs that I have suggested, the point here is if you are looking to improve on your current time then these are the types of areas you should be focusing on to reach your goal. Remember to ramp up your mileage slowly, and while it’s a little work to move up in distance, make sure you are always enjoying the process.

Happy Running!

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