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From 10K to Half Marathon: All You Need to Take the Leap

Plus, our very own expert half marathon training plans.

So, you’ve finished your most recent 10K race and are now ready to transition from a 10K to a half marathon. Congratulations!

That takes guts. It takes stamina. And it requires a special kind of determination. 

Taking this next step up will be a big challenge, but you’ll get incredible rewards when you cross the finish line. So keep your eye on that prize.

In this guide, we will discuss how long it takes to train for a half marathon depending on your current fitness level, common training mistakes, how to avoid injury, and how to stay motivated during your 10K to half marathon journey. Let’s get you there!

How Long Should It Take To Go From a 10K to a Half Marathon?

If it’s your first half marathon, estimate 12-16 weeks of training. You’ll increase your distance gradually while making room for that essential cross-training. 

If you’re getting back to running after a break, you can definitely go from a 10K to a half marathon in 8 weeks.

Even if you haven’t run in years, you’ll be astounded at your muscle memory. It’ll come back to you much faster than someone who’s running a half for the first time.

If you’re an experienced runner with years of 5Ks and 10Ks under your belt, you can check out our 6 week half marathon plan.

Training Tips for Your Half Marathon Training Program

Each one of us has our own unique quirks and habits, but there are some universal training techniques that will help everyone run faster and further. 

#1: Make All Your Sessions Count

All training sessions are equally important when it comes to transitioning from a 10K to a half marathon from your speedwork and long distance runs, to your easy runs, cross training and strength training workouts.

Your rest days in your training schedule are also just as important as your runs as during your recovery is when you actually get better and improve your performance.

#2: Remember To Breathe

Keep your breathing patterns even when running. This will help relieve side cramps and keep your cadence even.

Here’s the best breathing pattern: match your inhales to your exhales. So, if you inhale for 4 seconds, do the same when you exhale. It’s a simple trick, but it’s a good one. 

Instead of thinking in seconds, you can think of steps, breath in for four steps, out for four steps, or whichever pattern feels best for you.

#3: Practice Your Nutrition and Hydration Strategy

In your previous 10K races, you most likely didn’t need to hydrate or consume a great number of calories during your runs, because the finish time is often much less than two hours.

However, with a longer half marathon time, you will need to work on your hydration and nutrition throughout your runs to be able to perfom at your best on race day.

It’s best to practice this strategy on your long runs.

Common Mistakes People Make During Their Half Marathon Training

There are many reasons people give up on their dream of getting past the 10K and moving on to the half marathon. If you’re aware of them, you can learn from the mistakes of others and focus on doing it the right way. 

Mistake #1: Taking on Too Much Too Soon

Any time you start a new running plan, you’re fueled by your excitement at the prospect of this new journey in your life. And that’s great. You’ll need to hold onto that dream all the way through to keep you motivated. 

But some people feel so excited that they try to run too much too soon. Try to stick to a gradually increase in running volume, no more than a 10% increase each week.

Another common mistake early on is running too fast.

Remember your race pace is going to need to be sustainable for a whole 21 kilometers, over double what you are used to running, so take it easy on the longer runs and enjoy your build up of miles by running at a nice, easy conversation pace.

For a first time half marathon, or full marathon for that matter, it’s all about getting to the finish line. Don’t stress yourself out with a goal pace right away unless you are an experienced runner.

Save your speed for speedwork sessions like tempo runs or intervals.

Mistake #2: Running Without a Plan

Making your running plan up as you go along is a dangerous way to train, especially if you are a beginner and are not experienced in a progressions like 10K to half marathon.

The half marathon distance is tough, and you want a well-thought-out expert training plan to help get you there.

Check out our free half marathon training plans here, or work with our expert one-on-one run coach.

Mistake #3: Only Running

To be a well-rounded athlete and a strong runner, there are many pieces to the puzzle that involve things other than just running.

Of course yur running sessions are crucial, but so are your cross training days, strength training days, and rest days.

Strength training twice a week to build up your muscular endurance and strength, and cross training one day a week instead of an easy run. That way, you continue to build up your aeroic base without all of the impact forces or running.

from 10k to half marathon runner

How to Avoid Injury While Training

Nothing ruins a run like shin splints, a sprained ankle, or any other type of overuse injury. In most cases, the following these tips should help keep you injury free during your 10K to half marathon journey.

Work On Your Running Form

Breathing isn’t the only process that helps you maintain your body’s agility – good running form is crucial too.

Be sure your body is in a straight line from head to toe and you lean slightly forward so you land directly under your center of mass with each for strike. This will minimize the impact on your joints and improve your running economy.

Keep your arms in check. Don’t let them swing out horizontally past your sides, but just swing them close to your body, in a steady, back-and-forth motion. 

For a complete rundown of proper running form, click here.

Stretch

You already know this, but here is a friendly reminder to say you should always do your warm-ups and cool-downs!

Before your runs perform dynamic stretches, and afterward in your cool down, static stretches. Stretch out your hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves above everything else.

Warming up your muscles before your workouts instead of jumping right in cold can help reduce the risk of injury when training for any race distance. 

Buy A Good Pair Of Running Shoes

A pair of running shoes with a strong cushion and proper arch support will take you a long way. If you haven’t gotten a professional fitting yet, now is the time to do so.  

The staff at your local running store is trained to look at the shape of your feet and help you find a pair that works for you.

When you run a 10K, you can get by with a misfitting pair of shoes. But a half marathon is practically double that distance, and high-quality shoes are non-negotiable. 

Pay Attention To Your Running Surface

You might not have considered how running surface1Slowtwitch.com. (n.d.). Concrete or Asphalt? Slowtwitch.com. https://www.slowtwitch.com/Training/Running/Concrete_or_Asphalt__4793.html affects the way you run. But think of it this way: when you run on sand, it’s much harder to run, right? Just the same, concrete surfaces are much harder on your body than asphalt. 

The impact of landing on concrete could pound your knees during a long run. Look for paths that support you with asphalt, lowering your pain and risk of knee injuries. 

Keep Your Motivation Strong

As you get closer to race day, this is one of the most critical steps to take. Motivation is the strongest tool to keep you persevering. 

Look to the Finish Line

When training days are hard, the weather is hot, or you’re tired from a long day of work, try to lift your perspective to a bird’s eye view of your process. Step away from the close-up, daily distractions and take a look at how close you are to the finish line. 

Keep Track of Your Progress 

The best way to hold that finish line in view is to look back at how far you’ve come. First, you ran a 10K. A 10K! Then look at every kilometer you’ve run since that moment. Every step of distance you gain is a step toward your goal. 

When you look at it that way, you won’t feel tired or discouraged. You’ll feel proud. And that’s the right moment to continue. 

Start by Downloading a Training Plan 

After reading this article, don’t close your laptop or phone without downloading a training plan. Today’s the day to map out your running plan. 

You can download our 10K to half marathon training plans, for free. And they’re completely customizable. You’ll get a spreadsheet that you can edit with your own schedule to make sure you can follow the plan without a glitch. 

Not a fan of Google Sheets? No problem. You can also download a PDF. You shouldn’t have to struggle just to get your training plan. Save all that hard work for the running.

Related: Half Marathon Long Run: How Long Should Your Longest Training Run Be?

Some of our most popular training plans for making the leap from 10k to half marathon:

Beginner Half Marathon Training Plan - 16 Weeks
Beginner Half Marathon Training Plan 12 Weeks
10 Week Half Marathon Training Plan
Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon Training Plan

. . . or check out our full half marathon training plan library!

References

Photo of author
Mia Kercher is a hiker, cyclist, and runner. After finishing her first marathon in 2013, she continued the sport but found a new passion in trail running. She now explores the glorious mountains in Portland, Oregon.

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