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Q&A: After a 10K, How Can I Step Up to Longer Distances?

I loved the 10K distance. How soon is too soon to run my first half-marathon?

This is a bit of a loaded question, so before we dig in, a disclaimer: The best answer is…it depends. That said, let’s have a look.

The 10K is good intro to longer distances for new runners, and it’s a great race for more experienced runners to push and test their pace. If you’ve just finished a 10K and are tempted to sign up for a half-marathon, that’s great! Before you do, consider the list below when deciding what the appropriate time frame is for you.

How long have you been running?
Years? Months? Weeks? Running is a stress on the body. This doesn’t mean it’s bad, it simply means your body needs time to adapt to the demands of running. If you’ve just started running and pumped out a 10K, it would be worth completing some 5Ks and other 10Ks, so that you’re allowing your body time to adapt and to work on pace.

Are your splits consistent?
Is your first mile the same speed as your last? The ability to maintain even splits can be a good indicator of recovery, fitness level, and readiness for progression (i.e. more total weekly miles).

How did your body feel after the 10K?
How long did it take you to recover and get back to your normal running pace? The presence of pain or tightness doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not ready for the half. However, you shouldn’t brush it aside. Your body is telling you something—listen to it.

What is your half-marathon goal?
To finish? To win? To PR? Your goal dictates the amount of time and type of miles you need to log before lining up to race, so map it out. Plan your training routine up through the date of the half you wish to run. This will give you an idea of whether you have enough time to complete the training you need to ensure success and minimize injury.

Still not sure? Don’t be a victim of the law of too’s: Too much, too soon, too fast!

Remember that running is something you can enjoy through every stage of life, so pace yourself and have fun!

Good luck!


Tiffany Chag

Tiffany Chag is a Performance Coach at Hospital for Special Surgery’s James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center and Tisch Sports Performance Center. She is also a registered dietitian/nutritionist and holds a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition from Teachers College, Columbia University. A lifelong athlete who played Division 1 soccer, Tiffany loves putting her body to the test and has completed several marathons and triathlons.

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