Competition Tips

How many training weeks does it take to prepare for a running race?

Am I too late to start marathon training? This is one of the more frequent questions that lands in the inbox of our support team. That’s why today we would like to deal with the question of how many weeks of training are actually required for a specific preparation.

Skip directly to the suggested preparation time for the following distances:

Half marathon

Which factors influence the duration of the specific training phase?


Of course, the desired goal influences the duration of the preparation phase. An inexperienced runner needs a longer preparation time to finish a marathon than it would take to finish a half marathon. For experienced runners, the goal often consists of a timed performance. Again, the higher the bar, the more time must be spent on specific preparation.


Experienced athletes have the advantage of having already done a considerable amount of basic training. The training experience does not even have to be related to running. The body has the ability to remember what it has already learned and will reach a previously existing level of performance more quickly a second time than it did the first time. In other words, both experienced runners and generally athletic people start with a head start, but the inexperienced runners will probably be able to make running-specific progress more quickly.


A higher training volume can lead to faster progress. However, this assumes that a) you have enough time to train and b) your body can handle the high training load. Increasing the amount of training should be done very carefully. An increase of one session per week per six months should serve as a guideline.

More information: How often should you train?


A well thought-out training plan that is tailored to individual needs and goals can help optimise the duration of preparation.

How long should the preparation phase be for different competition distances?

As already described above, it is not that easy to make a generally valid statement about the required preparation time. However, we would like to give some general orientation guidelines.


Between 4 and 8 weeks of preparation time can be sufficient for a 5 km run. If you are already in good shape, you can prepare within 4 weeks. However, if you are a beginner or not yet in good shape, it may take you longer to build up the necessary endurance and speed.

At running.COACH, specific training starts 14 weeks before the target race.


For a 10K run, you should normally schedule between 8 and 12 weeks of preparation. If you have a solid base form, you can prepare within 8 weeks. Beginners should plan at least 12 weeks for preparation.

At running.COACH, specific training begins 14 weeks before the target race.

Half marathon

The preparation time for a half marathon should be between 12 and 16 weeks. Experienced runners can prepare in a shorter time. However, to build up the necessary endurance and strength and to minimise the risk of injury, it is advisable to invest a little more time.

At running.COACH, specific training begins 16 weeks before the target race.


Plan a preparation time of 16 to 20 weeks for the marathon. This gives enough time to build up the necessary endurance and strength and also to integrate longer runs into the training programme. For beginners or less experienced runners, it may be advisable to consider even longer preparation times to prepare for the marathon.

At running.COACH, specific training begins 20 weeks before the target race.

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