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5K to Marathon Training Plan

To prepare for the 2012 Olympics, Kara Goucher raced a 10K in March and a half marathon in June before toeing the line for the full 26.2-mile race in London. And she wasn’t alone in her tactic: Elite marathon runners commonly race at ascending distances over the course of a season.

Even if you’re not prepping to medal at an international event, it’s easy to see why this technique makes sense: A good way to get in shape for a 10K is to train to complete a 5K. The routine you develop in the process will be your springboard to the next level. Your 10K training then creates a nice base for half-marathon training, which in turn is the perfect platform to tackle a marathon.

Pick Your Poison

In this build-up plan, you can choose how far you wish to go. The 16-week schedule includes a 5K at week 4, a 10K at week 8, a half marathon at week 12 and a marathon at week 16. Feel free to stop when you reach the 5K, follow the journey all the way until the end—or run your final race anywhere in between!

If you’re currently doing a few short runs per week, then four months will be just enough time to “climb the ladder” from 5K to the marathon. Keep in mind, you may have to make some adjustments based on what’s available race-wise in your area.

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