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From Marathons to the 5k: A Coaching Call on How to Transition to Middle Distance Races

When runners find a racing distance they enjoy, many end up focused on that event to the exclusion of other distances. But even if you prefer longer races like the marathon, you’ll develop into a stronger runner by taking time to compete at shorter distances as well.

For those who love the half and marathon distances, training for shorter, faster races often becomes a thing of the past. As challenging as 26.2 miles can be, the intensity and discomfort of the 5k present an entirely different set of challenges. Adult runners who didn’t compete in cross country or track as a high school or college athlete also tend to have less experience with training that is specific to shorter distances.

While it’s easy to settle into a training routine, your overall development as a runner can be limited by focusing on the same types of workouts and races, year after year. Additionally, racing longer distances means you have fewer opportunities to learn the skill of racing – often only a couple times a year – which can also prevent you from reaching your potential.

Helping Hannah Transition to Middle Distance Racing

My guest on the podcast this week is Hannah, a former one-on-one coaching client who recently earned a PR at the 2023 Boston Marathon. Hannah and I met a little over a year ago at a running retreat in Colorado and started working together shortly thereafter, with her focus almost exclusively on half marathons and marathons. 

Recently Hannah started to contemplate going after a 5k PR, but has had questions about making the transition from endurance training to 5k specific workouts. Our discussion today revolves around the best way to make that transition. Hannah is already doing a lot of things right in her training, but needs help learning how to reorient her focus and tweak her workouts.

In our conversation, Hannah and I cover:

  • Hannah’s running history and recent training
  • What her typical week looks like
  • How 5k training can help her long term development as a runner
  • Learning how to engage psychologically with more intense efforts
  • How to “bridge the gap” from marathon to 5k training
  • Using shorter races on the road or track to get out of your comfort zone
  • Transitioning to 5k specific workouts

No matter what your preferred racing distance may be, you’re sure to gain some insight on how to plan your training from this episode.

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Links & Resources from the Show:

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