Whether you’ve completed a few 5Ks and want to tackle a 10K, or are an experienced runner looking to go a full 26.2 miles, moving up into a longer race distance can be intimidating. It’s natural to have questions, and it’s responsible to ask them! Doubling your distance before you’re ready could lead to injury or turn you off from the distance entirely if you have a poor racing experience. But how do you know if you’re ready? Here are 6 signs that you might be ready to go the distance.
You’re Running (Almost) Every Day
If the day’s not complete without a run, you might be ready to move to the next distance. Consistency is key when it comes to training and you need to be prepared not only physically, but mentally. If you haven’t been wracking up regular weekly mileage for the past few months, you’re not going to cut it, no matter how fit you are.
That being said, make sure your weekly mileage is on par with your desired distance: 10-15 miles is typically the minimum for a 5K; 25-30+ for marathons – though all of this is dependent upon your mix of workouts and whether your goal is to compete or complete.
Are your runs starting to feel stale? Do you find yourself wanting to go that extra mile at the end of your workout to make it feel complete? Chances are, you’re no longer being challenged by your current distance and it may be time to switch things up! If you’re continuing to recover quickly from longer runs and don’t have any persistent injuries, you should be ready to start training for the next distance.
You’re Doing it for the Right Reasons
Think about why you want to move up to the next race distance. Is it because you feel like you have to? Because you feel like you need to prove that you’re a “real” runner? Neither of these is a good reason to push yourself. If you’re comfortable with your current distance and enjoying it, there’s nothing wrong with that! But if you want to feel challenged; prove to yourself that you can do it; or if it just feels natural to go that next distance, great! Running should be (mostly) enjoyable, and will only be truly rewarding if your motivation comes from within.
The Timing is Right
Doubling your race distance is going to require more time – more time running, more time recovering, more time prepping. It may cost more, too, between increased registration fees and the need to buy higher-quality gear for longer runs. So before you dive in, make sure you have both the resources and the willingness to make the necessary sacrifices.
You Know What You’re Getting Into
Any runner will tell you that mental preparedness is 50%, if not more, of the challenge as you increase your race distance. Have you seriously thought about what it will be like to run for an hour, two hours, five hours? In addition to preparing yourself for that reality, you also need to have experience – and be comfortable with – the race environment.
No matter how much you’ve trained, nothing will prepare you for the craziness of packet pickup, cheering crowds, and being surrounded by dozens of other runners. So even if you regularly run long distances at home, start small with races and work your way up! Diving into race day for the first time with a long distance can easily throw you off your game.
You’re Reading this Article
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already asked yourself if you’re ready. You want to be ready. You feel ready, you just need a little extra assurance and motivation. Well, if you’ve been able to make the five marks above, go for it, you running machine!
Remember that this blog should not be taken as medical counsel. Always consult with a coach or your doctor before increasing training volume or embarking on a new athletic endeavor!
For more advice on moving up to the marathon, click here! And to find a race in your new-and-improved distance, join Athlinks! We’ll keep track of all your race results in one place so you can easily monitor your progress and, when you’re ready to move up again, we’ll help you find your next race – again.