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Sports / Orthopedic

Training for a 5K to Full Marathon: Which Race Should I Sign Up For?

Mar 19 2021
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After a very different 2020 and an unpredictable Ohio winter, warmer weather is finally on the horizon. It’s that time of year when new runners start training for their first 5K and more experienced runners consider longer, more challenging races to test skills and endurance. Some runners may also be questioning which distance is right for them.

Below are some guidelines to help you decide if you’re ready to lace up for a 5K, half marathon or full marathon.

Training for a 5K race

5K (3.1miles) is a great distance for a runner that is new to the sport. This is a manageable distance for people of all fitness levels. This type of race allows you to begin training using a run/walk program if you are just starting your fitness journey. In six weeks of three days per week of training, you can be ready for your run.

Of course, 5K races aren’t just for beginners. Many experienced runners enjoy racing the 5K distance as well because who doesn’t think that going fast is fun? This distance is a great challenge of speed and endurance without a heavy load of high mileage training.

When are you ready to run a half marathon?

After catching the running bug racing the 5K distance, runners feel the push to challenge themselves with longer distance races.

A half marathon is a natural progression in distance running. 13.1 miles is of course a larger time commitment that will not allow you to get away with running alone for training. This distance demands training runs of up to 10 miles which will require both muscular strength and endurance to stay healthy over the 12 to 16 weeks that you prepare for your race.

Prior to starting the training program, you should already be running three days per week to have a base of fitness before ramping up to 20 to 30 miles per week that a training plan will call for.

Running your first full marathon

If your base mileage is at 20 to 30 miles per week and you can run eight to 10 miles comfortably, you may be ready to take on the challenge of a full marathon.

The 26.2-mile course is dominated by experienced runners who complete the race in an average of four to five hours. Runners who are ready to take that next step and train for a full marathon typically spend 16 to 20 weeks preparing for race day. Full marathon training is a substantial time commitment, as runners will log anywhere from 40 to 50 miles per week.

Making your decision

When choosing the distance that is ideal for you, consider your current fitness level as well as how much time you have to commit to training over the next four months. Ensuring that you allow adequate time to train and prepare your body for the race is essential to avoiding potentially serious injuries. Running is a sport that requires consistency to improve.

Start with a 5K race and work your way up. With time and effort, you could be crossing the finish line of a full marathon in due time.

The Mercy Health Glass City Marathon is the perfect opportunity to sign up for your first race of the season. Scheduled for Sunday, April 25 in Toledo, OH, the race weekend will kick off with the marathon expo on Friday. Saturday the expo will continue as well as the first race of the weekend, the Savage 5K. The weekend will culminate on Sunday with the half and full marathon races.

Learn more about the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon.

Learn more about the sports medicine services we offer at Mercy Health. 


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