If you are new to the running world, you might be a bit confused about how many miles, or kilometers races like 5k/10k/half marathon or marathon are. The confusion is normal since some countries use the metric system, and some use the imperial system.
In this article, we will convert these traditional racing distances and make sure to cover some of the basics you need to know about them.
A 5K is equal to 3.1 miles
The 5k is the most popular racing distance in the U.S. and one of the favorites around the world. It does make sense because everyone can run a 5k, even someone who has never run before. The 5k or 3.1 miles usually takes close to 30 minutes for most runners, but this depends on age, gender, and running experience. However, the 5k is short enough to be completed even by walking, and this is a reason why many beginners start with it. Also, it is a staple distance in the running universe, and if you are running for quite some time, you definitely want to have a 5k time in your pocket when other runners are curious about your level.
You may wonder how long you have to train for a 5k? Well, technically, you can run+walk a 5k even without preparation. However, ideally, you want to spend close to 2 months in order to have a good racing experience and time.
A 10K is 6.2 miles
Once you feel like you mastered the 5k, or if the 3.1 miles feels way too speedy for you, you can give a try to the 10k. 10k is double the 5k, which means you will need a bit more preparation in order to do well. You can still get through a 10k with a combination of running and walking without previous running experience but definitely, it will be hard to enjoy it. For this reason, you better dedicate a good 2 to 3 months of running, if you want to feel comfortable running 6.2 miles. If you are not a beginner, you will likely need less time to adapt to the distance.
Keep in mind that most runners finish the 10k in a bit more than an hour, thus, it’s good to give your body time to adjust to good long efforts.
A Half-marathon is 13.1 miles or 21.1km (21.0975km to be exact)
As you can imagine, the half marathon is not a short distance. Most runners move to the half marathon after they have been running for a while. The half-marathon requires more time spent running. It’s not a good idea to start with a half marathon race your running journey. You will likely put too much stress on your body and you can get easily injured. For this reason, I will suggest you spend at least 3 -4 months running consistently until you try “the half”.
You may need less time if you are a high mileage runner who has good previous experience with the 5k and the 10k. Ideally, before running a half-marathon you want to be able to run at least 10miles (=16km) during your workouts/ easy days. This will ensure that your body will be able to handle the stress of couple more miles. This race often is completed for more than 2 hours and this puts your body under a lot. The half-marathon also requires a bit more knowledge about running in terms of hydration and nutrition during the race. Thus, I suggest you do the half after you feel more confident in your running abilities.
A marathon is 26.2miles or 42km 195m
The marathon is a special distance. It takes a lot from you but also it gives you a lot. If you are able to complete a marathon, you will feel like you can overcome every hurdle in your life. The marathon is not just a test of endurance for runners, but a test of mental and physical strength as a person.
In order to handle well what is about to come, if you decide to race the marathon, you better spend at least 6 months if you are a beginner and at least 4 months if you have been running for a while. It often takes more than 4 hours to complete a marathon, especially if you are a beginner. This means that your body will be under huge stress and it needs a good adaptation. Your mileage and the duration of your long runs will make the difference. Try to increase both gradually so your body gets a sense of what is to run far. Here it’s very important to listen to your body and take very good care of hydration and nutrition both during and before/after the race.
To set yourself for success, you better try each of these distances by starting from little (the 5k) and build up slowly to the longer distances. This will ensure that your progress is smooth and your mind and body are ready to handle the challenge.
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