How To Go From 5K To Half-Marathon

If you can run 3 miles, you can run 123 – yes, really!

What do you think when someone says “half marathon”? Too long? A bit scary? Out of your league?

We don’t think so – here’s why we think the half marathon is the perfect distance, even for relative newbies to running!

Completing a half marathon is an incredible achievement which will make you feel proud, strong, and accomplished. But it’s actually short enough to train for even with a busy schedule. With the right training and mindset, anyone can do it. If you’ve been on the fence about entering a half marathon, have a read of this (then get on it!)

Are You Ready?

You need 8-12 weeks minimum to train properly for a half marathon. Obviously you’ll need more if you are starting from scratch, and less if you’ve just done a long race. The ideal training plan is 12-16 weeks long. This gives you time to build a base, get familiar with strategies like speed and pace work, and have a buffer for illness or a crazy work schedule. But if you are already running 30+ minutes 3 x a week, and you don’t have any recurring injuries then – yes – you are ready!

Get A Training Plan

There are tons of half marathon training plans out there, and lots of support on our forums and Facebook page. Choose a plan that is progressive (i.e. it builds you up slowly and includes deload periods and a taper). It should also include stretching, rest days, and cross training. You will need a long run of 10+ miles, and a pre-race taper. There’s no need to run 13 miles before race day.

Commit & Stick To It

Don’t switch between training plans – choose a good one, and stick with it. Avoid the temptation to read up on what your favourite Insta-runner is doing. By all means take inspiration from them, but be consistent with your own plans. The only exception to this is injury. If you get injured, you’ll need to adapt your plans. If you’re running well, stick to your plan (even if you don’t think it’s the best one out there!) and get it done. The truth is, there’s no such thing as the very best training plan in the world! The best plan is the one you can do and will stick to.

Find Your Ideal Race Kit

We love running because there are so few barriers to entry. All you need is running shoes and a sports bra, and you can get out there! But when you step up to half marathon, kit gets more important. Go to a specialist running shop, or choose an online store that gives personalised advice. You’ll need shoes that suit your gait, weight, and running style. You should also match your shoes to the type of terrain you’ll be training and racing on. Make sure you also test your bra, leggings/shorts, top, socks, and even your headphones/cap/sunnies before race day. Don’t leave anything to chance.

Half Marathon Fuel

You don’t really need to eat or drink anything during a 5K, but that all changes for the half marathon. You will be taking on sports drink and possibly gels or solid fuel during the race – and that means during training, too. Start testing and trialling early, so you find something that suits your body early on in training. If you plan on using whatever the race supplies, find out the brand and products so you can get hold of them during training.

Get Comfortable With Long Runs

You’ll need to do a long run once a week for your half marathon training. It’s a key part of stepping up to the distance. Get the long run in your diary first, and build everything else around it. Your long run should be on similar terrain to your race (hilly or flat, road or trails). The day after your long run should either be complete rest, cross training, or a very short easy recovery run. Pay attention to everything else you do on long run days, too – rest, recovery, food, hydration, sleep.

Taper – It’s Important!

The taper is a crucial part of your half marathon prep. Don’t push through and ignore it! The final week or two of your training plan should see you dialling down the mileage and volume, and increasing rest and recovery. The hard work should be done by now, and you can’t add any more fitness. But you could overdo it. That’s why we taper: to let our bodies adapt to the peak of training, and rest up for race day.