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Transition from running for fun to running in a competition - risky?

Posted by Katherine B.

I have run for fun for quite a few years now as I have lived and worked around the world. I have done a number of 10K runs, but never with any kind of official/specific training schedule that I followed in advance. How much of a shift in mindset is it to switch to training for a half marathon or full marathon? I am a bit fearful of putting too much structure around my running and losing touch with the fun of it. Has anyone ever experienced this? If so, what did you do to address it?
Answers (4)
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If you already have the kind of endurance base/experience that has enabled you to knock out a number of 10Ks, jumping to a half marathon shouldn't necessarily be a quantum leap. BUT, it's a significant enough of a jump to warrant more of a structured training program if you want to have a positive experience, ultimately. I think having some kind of structure around your training when it comes to a marathon is absolutely IMPERATIVE b/c realistically, you will likely need to train consistently for 16-20 weeks (minimum) to get into reasonable shape for 26.2. In some respects putting some amount of structure can make things more fun. You can better evaluate your progress, measure improvement, etc. (assuming this kind of thing holds any meaning for you).

Hi Katherine,

I like to run for fun, but the competitive nature in me always pops out. I don't like getting stuck in a completely structured plan because life is so unpredictable with toddlers. I'm currently training for a half-marathon and I really like Hal Higdon's Training Schedules. You can google his name for his site.

He has novice and more advanced training schedules available for you to pick for any size of race. I liked his above all the other schedules I found because he mixes up cross training and strength training into the routines.

He has a nice downloadable page, so that you can put the schedule on the refrigerator. I just pencil in when I complete a routine and I don't feel stuck on completing the daily workouts as listed. So I can do Tuesdays workout on Monday. Sometimes I combine two workouts into one day. It is very flexible and I'm having fun trying to fill in the whole calendar.

It depends on what you mean by competitive? Do you want to complete the race in a certain time or do you just want to complete the race? For my first half-marathon I set a time that I wanted to shoot for and found a training plan that would have me finish roughly in that timeframe. As Cindy mentioned the best is to find a training plan that fits your lifestyle and start going after it. If your like me and have a busy work and family life you will have to juggle some of the workouts. For a half-marathon you want to be running between 20-35 miles a week and you will do fine. Back to the competitive point. Just because its a big race doesn't mean its a competitive race. There will be people there who will run unbelievable times, there will be people who will walk. What matters is running your race, don't worry about the other people. Just worry about running your race. Its just like your other races, just a little farther and more people. Enjoy it! If you have more questions feel free to ask away

I've never been fast enough to be in the top 3 of a race, so I've never considered myself a competitive runner. When I do a race, my only competition is with myself to set a new PB. I care less what other runners do in the race.

I don't think it takes any change in mindset to go from running for fun to running half and full marathons. Just follow the 10% and heavy/light rules to increase your distance to 15 miles, and then run that distance for a few weeks to get used to it. A half marathon will then be a piece of cake for you. Continue with the 10% and heavy/light rules to increase your distance up to 20 - 22 miles. Then drop back to 14 - 16 for a month to recover and then work back up to 20 - 22 miles. Then take a 3 week taper to your marathon in which you decrease your mileage by 30% or so so you'll be well rested for the marathon.

 A lot of runners want someone to hold their hand and tell them how many miles to run each day. That's fine if that is what they really need. We all, however, have the worlds greatest trainer to help us -- our body! If we listen to our body during each run, it will tell us if we're over doing it or not.

Be aware, however, that being able to complete the half or full marathon distance doesn't mean you're body is well adjusted to that distance. We're all different, of course, but typically it takes a runner a year or so to get used to the half marathon distance, and a couple of years or more to get used to the marthon distance. So, patience is a great virtue for runners.

NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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