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

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So you’ve finished your most recent race and you’re ready to make the jump from a 10K to half marathon distance. Congratulations!

That takes guts. It takes stamina.

And it requires a special kind of determination. 

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

The Personal and Physical Significance of the Half Marathon

You might be surprised at your winnings at the end of a half marathon. I’m not talking about a trophy or first place (because it’s not about that). I’m talking about the significance it will have on you, on a personal level.

You’re Achieving an Impressive New Goal

Have you heard the question, “What’s something amazing you’ve done in your life?” Well, running a half marathon will give you a powerful answer to that question. 

You’d be surprised how many people give up before ever they ever reach that goal. When you reach it, you’ll be in the elite group that reached the finish line!

That sense of achievement will have an impact beyond the feeling of a job well done. Your body will reap the benefits too. You’ll feel more energetic, you’ll establish a daily workout routine, you’ll lose weight, and you’ll get stronger.

It’s an Important Stepping Stone Toward a Marathon

Once you’ve reached the half marathon, why stop there? Go all the way and then move on to the marathon. 

“Not so easy,” you might say. And you’re right! That’s going to mean even more work and training. But the physical endurance you gain when you run a half marathon will make a full marathon training seem so much more doable. 

Trust me, I’ve been there. But for now, just focus on the step right in front of you: the half marathon.

Common Mistakes People Make During Their Half Marathon Training

There are loads of 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 Fast

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 going. 

But some people feel so excited they try to run too much right away. If you just ran a 10K, don’t get up the next day and do another long run. Give yourself a rest day (or two) and then get back to it. 

The other problem is starting out too fast. If you ran a 10K in 45 minutes, aim to keep that same average pace as you continue your long runs. But don’t worry, you’ll have more freedom to run fast during your short runs.

Short runs are where you gain speed. When you’re running a shorter distance, you don’t need to save yourself for later so you can increase your speed. You can designate a day for sprints, building up even more speed. 

That leads to the next common mistake. 

Mistake #2: Running Without a Plan

Running around willy-nilly won’t carry you to your goals as well as mapping out a strategy. If you leave it to your mood or feelings, you won’t get that crucial long run in every morning. 

It’s too easy to wake up and say you don’t feel like a run that day, or you’ll just do a quick 5k instead of the 12K run you should be doing. When you have a solid 10K to half marathon training program, just follow that plan and you’ll be good to go. 

(jump to the bottom of this post for our free training plans!).

Mistake #3: They Don’t Cross-train

If you just want to finish that race and don’t care about your speed, that’s your choice. But I’m here to help you run faster. Cross-training plays a huge part in making that happen. 

Sprints, running hills, and core and leg workouts are what will really amp up your strength and put you in your best shape to get faster. Those who don’t cross-train miss out on those benefits. 

If you’re going to do this thing, you better give it all you got.

from 10k to half marathon runner

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

With all the 10K to half marathon training plans out there, which one should you sign up for?

If it’s your first half marathon: Estimate 12-16 weeks. 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 get from a 10K to 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 to someone who is brand new.

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

Training Methods to Improve Every Run

Each and every body has its own unique quirks and habits, but there are some universal techniques that will make you run faster and further. 

Make ALL Your Runs Count

All runs are equal and necessary when it comes to moving from a 10K to a half marathon. It might seem easy to skip a short run here or there. You might be tempted to take the easy way out on sprinting day. 

But that will come back to bite you in the end. Each of those short runs is so important to your progress and development. 


Keep your breathing patterns even. It will relieve side cramps and keep your cadence even. You’ll be able to endure the run much longer. 

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. 

Prepare Your Playlist/Audiobook Ahead of Time

Unless you prefer to run in silence, you better prepare your entertainment for the run ahead of time. It’s a tragedy when you have to stop your run in the middle to change the playlist. 

How to Avoid Injury While Training

Nothing ruins a run like shin splints, a sprained ankle, or any other type of injury. In normal cases, just following these tips will keep your body safe and sound. 

Running Form Makes a Difference in Long Distance

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

Be sure to hold your diaphragm straight so your lungs open up and let in all the air they can. 

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. 

Put some extra thought into your foot’s landing position. If you land with your mid-sole instead of your heal, you make that next step faster. It helps you avoid bouncing, making you run faster. 

Stretching Is Your Friend

You already know this, but here is a friendly reminder to say you should always do your warm-ups and cool-downs! Stretch out your hamstrings, quads, and calves above everything else. 

Good Shoes Can NOT Be Over-estimated

A pair of runners 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 it. 

The staff at running stores are trained to look at the shape of your feet and help you find a pair that works with you, not against 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. 

Running on Asphalt Vs. Concrete

You might not have considered how your running surface affects the way you run. But think of it this way: when you run on sand, it’s much harder to run, right? Just so, concrete surfaces are much harder on your body than asphalt. 

The impact of landing on concrete will damage your knees after a long run. So look for paths that support you with asphalt, lowering your pain and your 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. 

Remember your half marathon taper!

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, 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!

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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