Health Advice



Ready to Run: Mayo Clinic Health System gives tips on planning for a long race

Mayo Clinic Staff, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

MANKATO, Minn. — You've thought about it for years. You've dreamed of crossing the finish line. It's on your bucket list, or maybe it's become a tradition. You've registered for a long-distance race like a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon. So now's the time to plan and prepare for your big day.

This critical process will be shaped by your experience and fitness level. First, get real and be honest with yourself. It can take eight to 12 months to go from the couch to a full marathon. For some people, it may be a better choice and more realistic goal to plan for a shorter race, like a 5K or half-marathon.

For first-time runners or those looking to restart after taking time off, keep these tips in mind from Troy Hoehn, a licensed athletic trainer in Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, and Peter Johnson, a physical therapist, Mayo Clinic Health System, as you plan and prepare for your first big run:

Assess your fitness level

If you're just starting a running program, you should meet with your primary care clinician and other health care professionals, such as a physical therapist or athletic trainer. They'll assess your heart and lung capacity and if your body can handle the rigors of long-distance running.

Pick a training program


If you've run long-distance races before, you might want to try a different plan this time around. Variety can help maintain motivation. If you encountered issues during your previous training or race, it's time to shop around and find a plan that works best for you.

For new runners, your plan should include:

Adequate time to train

You can complete 5K or 10K training in a few months. For first-time marathon runners, training can take up to a year to build up your tolerance and endurance.


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