Updated: Dec 21, 2021
To properly train for a marathon, it's important to understand the distance you'll be running. This can be difficult if you find yourself getting mixed up in kilometers and miles, marathons vs half marathons, etc. That's why we're here to give you the straight answers you need to prepare yourself physically and mentally for the challenge ahead!
How Long is a Marathon?
So, how long is a marathon? The length of a full marathon is 26.2 miles or roughly 42.2 kilometers. This length was formally standardized in 1921 and hasn't changed since. While it only takes world-class marathoners about 2 hours to run this distance, most people finish a marathon around the 4 to 5-hour mark.
How Long is a Half Marathon?
A half marathon is 13 miles or 21.09 km. According to RunRepeat, for runners from the United States the average marathon completion time is 2 hours and 3 minutes. The men world record in Half Marathon distance is 57:32, run by Kibiwott Kandie at Half Marathons that were part of the 2020 Valencia Marathon. The female world record at 1:04:31 was established by Ababel Yeshaneh in 2020 Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon. The average female runner will get over the course line in 2:06 minutes and the average male runner finishes in 2 hours.
A half marathon is a great goal to shoot for after completing both a 5k and 10k run. Going straight from a 5k or even a 10k into a full marathon could be overwhelming, especially if you don't have a proper training regimen.
How Long is a 10k Race?
A standard 10k race will run you roughly 6.2 miles or 10,850 meters. The average pace for a runner completing this distance is around 35 minutes per mile which translates to 3:30 hours for the course as a whole. 10k races are also sometimes called a 10K run or 10 kilometer race.
The 10k distance is the most popular race distance. Many people will use this race to prepare for their first marathon or half marathon while others run 10k races as a stepping-stone toward even longer distances.
How Long is a 5k Race?
A standard 5k race will be 3.1 miles or 4,970 meters. This course takes most beginning runners approximately 30 to 40 minutes to complete.
If you're just starting your journey toward running your first marathon or half marathon, the 5k distance is a great place to start. In fact, many people have been encouraged to run their first distance race after taking part in a 5k walk or run.
Beginners Guide to Training for Each Race
How to Train for a 5k
In order to train for a 5k, you'll want to start off slowly by running at least 1 mile every other day. After a week or two of this slow build-up, add in one more run per week so that you're running at least 1 mile every day. Once you've reached this point, start increasing the length of your runs by adding in additional time or distance. If you do this, you'll be ready to run your 5k in no time!
How to Train for a 10k
Once you've mastered the 5k distance, it's time to move up into the 10K training category. At this point, most runners will need to add at least one more run to their schedule every week. Again, the most important thing is making sure you listen to your body and don't push yourself too hard for this distance. You'll want to make sure you're able to recover in between runs so that your body has time to adapt and get stronger.
As you approach your 10k race, make sure to decrease the length of your runs, but increase their frequency. By this point, you should be running six days a week and biking or swimming on one day for cross-training. You'll also want to switch from a straight run to a fartlek workout where you pick up the pace for a quick burst and then slow down to recover. For example, you might run a mile at a 7:00 pace and then jog for a few minutes before running it again. This helps you to pick up your speed without wearing yourself out too much.
How to Train for a Half Marathon
Once you've mastered the 10k, you're ready to take on a Half Marathon. The best way to prepare for this race distance is by adding two additional runs into your weekly training schedule. For example, if you were running 3 times a week before, now you'll want to make sure you're running 5 days a week and biking or swimming on one of those days for cross-training.
While it's important to continue your focus on recovering between runs, you'll also want to make sure each run is getting progressively longer. You might start off by running 3 miles with a 2 mile long slow run and a 1-mile fast run mixed in every week. As the weeks go on, you'll want to keep increasing the length of your long run while decreasing the length of your speed workout. Once you're able to run a mile at a 7:00 pace for a 5k or 10k and then do a slow 3-mile run after that, chances are good that you've reached your half marathon goal!
How to Train for a Marathon
Once you've decided to run your first marathon and start becoming a marathon runner, it's time to get serious and start marathon training. The best way to train for this race is by consistently running 6 days a week (or more) with cross-training on 2 of those days. You'll want to begin doing fartlek runs like the ones you did when training for your half marathon, but you'll want to bump up the intensity a bit.
Make sure that you're listening to your body and taking rest days as needed. At this point, you might even consider seeing a professional trainer who can help guide your training and make sure you don't push yourself too hard. Eventually, you should be able to run a 10 mile run in under 2 hours, which is the goal most marathon runners hope to reach. By this point, you'll be on your way to crossing that finish line!
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Popular Marathon Races in the United States
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is one of the most popular marathons in the United States and has been running annually since 1977. This race attracts over 500,000 spectators and more than 40,000 athletes from all around the world looking to run a personal best time. This marathon course itself runs through 29 neighborhoods on relatively flat terrain, making it a perfect course for runners of all experience levels.
The Boston Marathon is one of the most historic marathons in the country . It has been running annually since 1897 and is considered one of the most difficult racing events in the world. When you run this race, you'll be running down pedestrian-only streets that are lined with hundreds of cheering spectators and athletes.
The New York City Marathon is another extremely popular marathon event and attracts top runners from around the world. You'll want to train long and hard for this New York race if you hope to keep up with the professionals! This marathon course itself consists of four different laps that go through all five boroughs of New York City.
The Los Angeles Marathon is considered one of the fastest marathons in the world, with many runners finishing under 3 hours. This race has been running since 1986 and takes you down palm tree-lined streets that are very flat and straight.
The Marine Corps Marathon is perfect if you're looking for a marathon event that provides a little extra inspiration. The course starts off at the Iwo Jima Memorial and continues along the famous Arlington National Cemetery before finally ending in front of the Pentagon. If you want to run this race, you'll want to be sure to sign up early as it tends to fill up quickly. In
Popular Half Marathon Running Races
The Disney World Half Marathon is one of the most popular half marathons in the world and features thousands of athletes who dream of completing their very first race one day. This race is held in Orlando, Florida and takes you through the parks of Disney World. This course tends to be flatter than many other half marathon courses, making it a great training event for new runners or those looking to run their first race.
The Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon is one of the most popular half marathons in the United States. This race takes you through countless hotels, casinos, and other attractions along the Las Vegas Strip. If you're looking for a fast course with challenging turns, this is an excellent choice!
The Philadelphia Love Run Half Marathon is a great race to run if you're looking for a fast course in a well-known city. This half marathon has been running since 2003 and takes you through the streets of downtown Philly. If you want to be surrounded by fun spectators along the way, this is the perfect option for you!
Popular Questions about Marathons and Training
Q - How long does it take an average person to run a marathon?
A - On average, it takes most people about 4 hours and 50 minutes to finish a marathon. Professional Marathon runners, of course, might be able to run a marathon in as little as 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Q - Is a 3 hour marathon fast?
A - A 3 hour marathon is certainly fast, but it all depends on what you consider fast. Compared to the average person running a marathon (4:50), yes, a 3 hour time is extremely good! Compared to professional marathons runners (2:15 - 2:30), a 3 hour time is below a professional running time.
Q - How long does a full marathon last?
A - Most marathons can last anywhere from 2 hours to 4 hours, depending on the individual runner. This time might seem short for many runners who are familiar with half marathons, but don't worry! There's plenty of time to catch your breath once you finish the full marathon.
Q - What is a good time for a marathon?
A - A good marathon time can vary from runner to runner, but a time of 3 hours is generally considered to be a good marathon time. Professional marathon runners can finish in as little as 2 hours and 15 minutes.
What is the average time for a half marathon? An average person might take anywhere from 1 hour and 45 minutes to 3 hours to complete a half marathon. Professional runners, of course, are capable of running this distance in just under 1 hour.
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