Which Race Distance Is Right For You?

The Pocatello Marathon offers different races to suit everyone’s goals. There is the marathon (26.2 miles), half marathon (13.1 miles), 10k (6.2 miles), 5k (3.1 miles) and MaraFUN (1.0 mile) and For Kids “2” (0.2 miles). To determine which race is best for you, ask yourself these questions.

  • What physical condition am I currently in?
  • How much time do I have or want to spend training?
  • How much do I want to test my endurance?
  • Will I be running with kids?

Here is a breakdown by each race.

MaraFun 1.0 mile or For Kids “2” 0.2 Miles

The For Kids “2” race is designed for the younger kids (11 & under) and is a short distance of .2 miles. For those kids wanting more challenge, but just not quite ready for a 5K, is the 1.0 mile MaraFun run (18 & under). Either of these events are a great way to get the younger family members out running and involved. See our earlier article on Raising a Running Child for tips on getting the young ones out running.


The 5K is a great distance to start with as you can run, walk, or mix it up as you like. It requires little preparation and requires little to no training. If new to running then it is recommended to run/walk several weeks for 30 minutes 3-5 times a week. Start out with a few sessions of walking, then add a mix of jogging and walking to your sessions, and keep extending your jogging time or even pick up the pace to a good run. Before long your thoughts will start to drift to, “hmmm, I can do a 10K, half marathon, or even a marathon”. So if you don’t have much time to train then this may be the race for you.

The 5k race course is primarily downhill and starts at the end of the marathon course. To see the course go here https://pocatellomarathon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ID16002LAB-Pocatello-Marathon-Course-Map-2016-06-19-with-other-Start-Lines.pdf


If you have run 5ks and looking for a bit of a challenge without the training commitment of a marathon then the 10K may be the right race for you. If you currently run a few days a week then you can be ready for a 10K in just a few weeks. If you are new to running then expect it to take 8-10 weeks to be ready. You should plan to run at least 3 times a week, with 2 days of 30 minute runs and 1 day of a longer run.

The 10K starting line is at the end of the marathon course. It starts with some uphill before the downhill finish. Be sure to practice running hills so you are prepared for it. To see the course go to https://pocatellomarathon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ID16002LAB-Pocatello-Marathon-Course-Map-2016-06-19-with-other-Start-Lines.pdf

Half Marathon

Half marathons are good for those who want the challenge of a marathon but don’t have the time to train for a full marathon or are new to marathons.  Half marathons are still a long distance and a significant accomplishment. You can prepare for a half marathon in as little as 10 weeks, if you start in good physical condition.

The Pocatello half marathon course starts just past mile 13 of the marathon course. It has two medium hills and drops 150 feet in elevation from the start to finish lines. To see the course map go to https://pocatellomarathon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ID16002LAB-Pocatello-Marathon-Course-Map-2016-06-19-with-other-Start-Lines.pdf


Marathons are hard! That is why only .5 percent of people in the US have run one. But with some preparation and a lot of training, anyone can do it. If you are currently in good physical shape then you can be ready for a marathon in as little as 16 weeks. But plan for it to take closer to 20 weeks if your physical conditioning has dropped off. Anyone can run a marathon with some preparation but you need to start early to be ready.

To get your body ready for the physical challenge, you will need to train 3-5 days a week with distances gradually increasing as you get closer to race day. It is key to slowly increase distance so you don’t overdo it which can lead to injury and burnout. Recovery days are also important but if you are like me and find it hard to completely sit still then go for a walk or do yoga which can help workout soreness. Work in longer runs every 7-10 days, gradually increasing the distance every time you do one so your body has time to adjust. Also work in speed workouts to increase your cardio capacity, see Training Advice for All Races section for some ideas.

Another thing to consider for marathon training is to figure out what clothing works best. Running for 3-4 hours straight can lead to clothing rubbing in ways you don’t expect. It takes some experimentation to find the best outfit and precautions to take such as where to place bandages/moleskin. See our other article on 20 Quick Tips for Running a Marathon at https://pocatellomarathon.com/20-quick-tips-for-running-a-marathon/

The Pocatello marathon race course is primarily downhill with an approximate elevation drop of 1550 from the start to finish line, with most of the elevation drop occurring in the first 15 miles. Be sure to train for the downhill.  To see the race course go to https://pocatellomarathon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ID16002LAB-Pocatello-Marathon-Course-Map-2016-06-19-with-other-Start-Lines.pdf

Training Advice for All Races:

Training will give you the best chance of performing well on race day. The first step is putting together a training plan. You will also need to consider what pace to target. If you want to take your running to the next level then speed workouts will help.

Training Plan

The first step to training is putting together a training plan. Be sure to choose a training plan that starts at your current fitness level and builds up slowly. Pushing your body too quickly can lead to injury and burnout. You shouldn’t add more than 10% distance every week. There are many training plans and tools out there. Here is just one of them from Runners World https://www.runnersworld.com/training-plans


A good training plan should prepare you for the race distance but also prepare you to run at a pace you feel good about. Setting a target pace early will help guide your training. At first that target pace should be difficult but as your body adapts it will feel “normal” and you will automatically fall into it. So how do you establish what that target pace should be? You will want something that pushes you but is attainable. Here is a good calculator for estimating your pace goal https://www.mcmillanrunning.com/

Speed Workouts

Speed workouts can take your running to the next level. Some common speed workouts include Track Repeats, Fartleks and Tempo Runs. Here is an explanation of each.

  • Track Repeats – This is where you run on a track running a certain number of laps at a fast pace and then go to a recovery pace for a certain number of laps. For example, run one lap at a fast pace then one lap at a recovery pace and keep repeating. You can also do ladders where you increase the amount of time you are at the fast pace during the workout with recovery running periods in between each fast pace.
  • Fartlek – meaning “speed play” in Swedish. A fartlek is running part of a regular practice run at a higher pace. For example, if you are doing a five mile run then run one of those miles at a faster pace.
  • Tempo Runs – also known as lactate-threshold (LT) or threshold run. The goal is to bump up your pace so you switch from burning fat to glycogen, this is referred to as your red line (or anaerobic threshold). The way it works is to start off at a comfortable pace for 10-15 minutes, then 20 minutes at your “tempo” pace, then 10 minutes at an easy pace to cool down. You can feel the tempo pace when you can no longer talk easily but not gasping for air. It is key to stay at that pace for a full 20 minutes to get the full effects. If you want your tempo pace calculated then here is a tool https://www.runnersworld.com/pace-calculators/training-paces

The Pocatello Marathon – Running the Gap offers a race distance for everyone. No matter which distance you choose, the Pocatello Marathon is a beautiful location with some of the friendliest aid stations, incredible race swag, and the best finish line food and beverages out there – but that is for another article! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to hear about giveaways or registration discounts (especially around holidays). Enjoy 15% off registration with discount code BLOG15 until July 1, 2018. Register now to participate in the BEST runner’s event out there.  https://pocatellomarathon.com/registration/



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