Most coaches suggest the gradual approach in terms of race distance and training mileage.
The Wall Street Journal’s Sanette Tanaka has written an article for 5K and 10K runners who want to summit the marathon peak.
Tanaka argues that the bulk of runners tackle the shorter distances because it’s relatively easier compared to the full 26.2 miles.
Of the 15.5 million race finishers last year, 40 percent ran the 5K while 10 percent did the 10K and a mere 3 percent made it to the marathon.
“Going from 3 miles to 6 miles — a 5k to 10k — that’s logical,” says Runcoach founder Tom McGlynn. “Going from 6 miles to 26 miles is a whole different world of stress.”
Accordingly, coaches and doctors advise that runners who want to go the full 26.2 miles should ramp up their mileage slowly.
Tanaka writes that this period from 5K/10K to making the leap to the marathon should be at least six months. McGlynn suggests that runners sign up for their second race well in advance of their first 5K or 10K.