No matter what distance you’re running, whether it’s your first race or your 100th, it’s important to pace yourself according to your ability. Sticking to a plan over time will help keep you consistent and prepared for the rising challenge.

If you’re running your first-ever 5K, chances are you’re fairly new to running. The biggest thing I emphasize to beginners is this: no one can just wake up one day and run a mile without stopping. Every milestone takes practice and gradual improvement. 

One popular approach for beginners is aptly named “My First 5K” and starts with more walking than running to help you ramp up without getting hurt. Over the course of nine weeks, it will help you build up your running ability gradually.

Once you’ve completed your 5K, maybe you want to double your distance and try a 10K. A safe way to do that is to gradually build up your distance over the span of another month or so. If you were able to run the entire 5K without walk breaks without getting hurt, it should be safe to continue training this way. 

Once you’ve set your sights on running a half marathon, it’s even more important to stay consistent and gradual. Work your way up to 13.1 miles with intention and care. You’ll start doing weekly long runs of 7 to 11 miles, and if you miss too many, it could lead to injury if you shoot for 13 all at once. 

Remember, you’re going to be on your feet for more than double the time it takes you to run your 10K. For this reason, I recommend taking up to six months between running your first 5K and running your first half marathon. This will give you plenty of time to cover milestone long-run distances. You’ll also have time to drop down for a week or two when necessary if aches and pains crop up.

Every runner is different, so make sure to always listen to your body first. Make a plan, take your time, and meet your race day with confidence!