Plus Other Race Distances…
Whether you’re brand new to running, or are a more experienced runner looking for a new challenge, you may wonder about the various race distances’ length. If you don’t know the distance of a marathon, how would you know how far a half-marathon is? Plus, many races are in metric distance, and that may be unfamiliar, too. For example, a very popular internet search is how many miles is a 5K? (At least for those that live in the U.S!).
Therefore, let’s break down these different race distances. I’ll provide two easy formulas to make the conversions as well. I use these formulas as my coach mostly provides run interval distances in metrics, and my Garmin is based on miles.
How Many Miles is a Marathon?
ALL marathons are 26.2 miles! And in kilometers, a marathon is 42.2 kilometers.
Some folks are under the impression that the marathon distances differ, but they don’t. A marathon is ALWAYS 26.2 miles, or 42.2 kilometers. (Note, ultramarathons are different; more below.)
Interestingly enough, the marathon gained the extra .2 miles during the 1908 London Olympics when the royal family requested that the runners finish in front of their viewing box. That was an additional 385 yards – or .2 miles. In 1921, the 26.2 became official. Today, those struggling in the last .2 miles can blame the royal family, if needed!
Psst – there’s no need to say “full marathon,” as the term marathon implies it is the “full” distance of 26.2 miles. This phrase (“full marathon”) became more common as the half marathon became more popular. Folks attempting to differentiate between the half and marathon often say “full marathon.” But, no need!
Bonus: did you know at modern day Olympics, the marathon is the only distance that is not a metric based event?
How Many Miles is a Half Marathon?
Well, since we know that a marathon is 26.2 miles, a half marathon is 13.1 miles (21.1 kilometers).
This is also the second most popular race, in terms of participation rate, at 11% in the U.S. Some feel they’ve become a “serious runner” when they are able to race this distance. It’s also a great blend of stamina with some speed.
Most runners tackle a half marathon before graduating to the marathon. I think it’s wise to run at least a couple half marathons before attempting a marathon. Marathon training requires a solid base level of fitness, plus a fairly significant commitment to training (hours/miles), and a longer training cycle (ie 24 weeks) to be fully prepared for the event.
First first half marathon? Here’s some tips on how to best prepare for it.
How long does it take to train for a half marathon?
Know that most half marathon plans are typically 12-20 weeks in duration. The range varies due to current fitness level, and goals for the half marathon (ie: just finish versus a personal best time).
How Many Miles is a 10K?
A 10K is 6.2 miles, and is a great distance for newer runners to graduate from a 5K. It is a blend of endurance with a bit of speed in the mix. While the training plan and miles run are greater than a 5K, it is still a manageable distance for those who can train three-four days per week.
How long does it take to train for a 10K?
First 10k? First time 10K runners that are running less than five miles a week should plan eight-12 weeks to prepare. Of course, if you’re already consistently running, less time to prep for a 10K.
Here’s some info to get you ready for your 10K race day!
How Many Miles is a 5K?
A 5K is 3.1 miles, and is the most popular race distance in the U.S. – accounting for roughly half of all race registrations. It’s not too surprising though as it’s a great introduction to organized racing. Don’t let the shorter distance fool you though, a 5K at your top speed is a gratifyingly painful experience.
Here’s a 5K plan for the beginner runner if you’re not sure how to tackle this fun distance.
How long does it take to train for a 5K?
If you can run a mile, eight weeks is sufficient time to ensure you are 5K race ready. Plan on a longer duration if you currently are not running, or very inconsistently.
How Many Miles for Other Race Distances?
Two race distances that are less common, but are on the circuit are the 10 Miler (16.1K) and the 15K (9.3 miles). Both of these distances (similar in length) are a good step between those who’ve run a 10K, but are not sure about pursuing a half marathon just yet.
What about Ultra Marathons?
This is the tricky part – it can vary! And, it’s more common for ultra marathons to occur on trails, and/or over multiple days. It’s often (not always!) longer than a marathon, but the most common distances are below:
- 30K (18.6 miles)
- 50K (31 miles)
- 100 miles (161 kilometers)
Less common ultra marathon distances are
- 50 miles (80.5 kilometers)
- 100K (62.1 miles)
Quick conversions for mile to kilometers, or vice versa:
To convert from metric to miles, multiply by .62 (or .6 to make it easier).
- Ie: 400M interval equals .24 miles – essentially a quarter mile.
To convert from miles to metric, multiply by 1.61. (Although you’re less likely to need this conversion.)
- Ie: three miles equals 4.8 miles (3 x 1.61 = 4.83)
What race distances are you interested in tackling?