“If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” - Yogi Berra
There are different kinds of goals: short term and long term. If you have just started running and you have set a goal of running a marathon then that is a good long term goal. However, if that is your only goal then you may lose focus, get frustrated, and quit. Actually going from the couch to 26.2 miles is approximately a year and a half. You need to do is set a series of short term goals. These goals will be the framework that spans over the year and a half to carry you to the long term goal of running a marathon.
The 10k or 6.2 miles is a good second goal. The 10k is a really neat race. A good time in the 10k puts you within striking distance of the half marathon. Running a good 10k requires developing your endurance without ignoring your fast twitch muscles. Try to schedule a 10k 12 weeks after your 5k. There are several 10k training plans on the web, I have one posted here on my blog.
The half marathon should be your third short term goal on the road to a marathon. It is the ideal stepping stone to the marathon. The half is the way to find out whether you enjoy going the long distance and it prepares you for the physical and mental challenge of the marathon. It takes another 12 weeks to train for a half marathon. I have a beginner half marathon training plan posted here on my blog.
Now you are ready for your long term goal of running a full marathon. But keep in mind that you do not have to run the marathon to be a “real” runner. You can mix running in with shorts spurts of walking. It is true that crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles delivers a feeling of gratification and accomplishment like no other. It takes approximately 17 more weeks to train for a marathon. To start several marathon training most programs say you should be able to run 7 miles straight through without walking. I can now run twenty miles as a rule before I need to walk a bit and then resume running until I cross the finish line.
What are your goals?