Running; Are you ready to go the distance?

Here are some guidelines for selecting a new training distance. If you can answer “yes” to most of these guidelines and have no other reason why you shouldn’t exercise, you can safely assume that you’re ready for the next training distance. The Nova video below further explores what it takes for novice runners to make it through a classic test of endurance running.

Short-Distance Events:  Are considered to be one mile, 5K (3.1 mi), or 10K (6.2 mi).

A beginner with no previous experience can safely train for a short-distance event. One mile is equal to 1.61 kilometers. Training usually requires 8-12 weeks, or more. A beginner may benefit from a walk / run interval in order to get used to continuous and prolonged running. New race goals should focus on finishing the event without a time goal. Later events can focus on setting new personal records (PR’s).  Short distance events make a great entryway to longer race goals.

Mid-Distance Events:  12K (7.4 mi) or Half-marathon (13.1 mi) distance, Safe training guidelines include;

  • Have been training cardio regularly at least 3 days a week minimum for the past 2 months
  • Currently average 8-10 miles per week, training on the feet, with activities such as; walking, running, hiking, aerobics, dance, soccer, tennis, basketball, etc. Every 10-minutes of moderate intensity exercise is roughly 1-mile of running.
  • Currently able to run 2-3 continuous miles without stopping to walk
  • Past participation in a short-distance event (suggested)
  • Time to dedicate at least 1.5 – 3 hours a week to training

Long-Distance Events:  Recommendations for a safe Marathon (26.2 mi) include;

  • Have been training cardio regularly at least 3-5 days a week for the past 4 months
  • Average 15-25 miles a week, training on the feet, with activities such as; running, hiking, aerobics, soccer, tennis, basketball, etc. Every 10-minutes of moderate intensity exercise is roughly 1-mile of running.
  • Currently able to run 4-6 continuous miles without stopping to walk
  • Past participated in a short or mid-distance event (suggested)
  • Time to dedicate at least 3-5 hours a week to training
  • Body weight in a healthy range. Excess body fat may be very stressful on the joints and feet.

NOVA Provides an in-depth look at the physiological and psychological tests of running a marathon.

Watch Marathon Challenge on PBS. See more from NOVA.