Stepping UP // by Coach Pat Carroll August 28, 2017 – Posted in: Expert Advice

My best initial advice to anyone considering stepping up in distance is to feel like you’re excited about the challenge. Locking in a Marathon simply because it’s on your bucket list may result in your running becoming a chore. Ideally you’ll prepare for a Marathon because you have a genuine passion for running long distance. If you find 3hr/4hr training runs daunting/boring – it’s best you stay with Half Marathons and below.

I have always been of the belief that if you want to run a great Marathon you have to be in terrific 5k shape. The inference being that if the volume of your training has been healthy along with firing over 5k/10k that you will bring both aspects of your physiology together and run a great Marathon. The great news for 5k runners is that you don’t have to run a great Marathon to run a great 5k.

The most crucial aspect of your training when stepping up in race distance is the duration of your longest training run. An elite 5k/10k runner will involve blocks of training consisting of regular 2hr runs. Once you reduce this you’re moving away from what is ideal. Having said this I’m well aware that the majority of regular Park Runners rarely go past the 5k distance in training however if stepping up to 10k you will need to gradually increasing your weekly long run to 1hr and beyond.

Half Marathoners over venture past 21.1k in training (slower than race pace) and Marathoners cover up to 35k on a regular basis. A 3hr Marathoner will involve a 35k training run slower than race pace however a 5hr Marathoner will cover 35k closer to race pace.

Through my involvement with coaching runners for over 10 years I have found that 4 training runs/week is a healthy mix. This can involve 2 uptempo and/or hill sessions along with 2 aerobic runs. This is applicable for runners preparing for 5k through to the Marathon. Keep in mind that what an individual can handle comes down to one’s ability to recover. I do find that once training runs are closer to 3hrs that the majority of runners need to cut back to one tough session/week. Replacing a speed session (post long run) with a light 40-50min run.

Regular racing is possible for 5k and 10k runners given you can back up for another hit out a week or two later. Half Marathons (every 2-3 months) and Marathons (every 4+ months) require far greater recovery periods.

Moving up in distance provides you with the skill to still involve shorter races. Improving your pb’s over shorter races will have a flow on effect into improving your 10k/Half Marathon and Marathons performances.

Embrace the challenge should racing longer excite you and I guarantee you’ll run a pb on debut!

by Pat Carroll

Pat Carroll is a proud Mizuno Ambassador and was one of Australia’s top distance runners during the 80’s and 90’s. Pat holds the record for the fastest Half Marathon ever run in Australia 61:11 1994. You can enlist Pat as your personal online running coach.