Are you ready to take on the ultimate running challenge and go from a half marathon to a full marathon? 

If you’ve already conquered the 13.1-mile distance, you might be wondering how to train for a marathon and what it takes to double your endurance.

The truth is, training for a full marathon is not just twice as hard as training for a half marathon. It’s a whole different ball game that requires more time, dedication, and preparation. 

But don’t let that scare you off. With the right half-to-full marathon training plan, you can successfully make the transition and achieve your 26.2-mile goal.

In this blog post, we’ll explain how training for a full marathon is different from training for a half marathon, and give you a step-by-step guide to transition from half marathon to full marathon. 

How is Training for a Full Marathon Different from a Half Marathon?

Before you start your half-to-full marathon training plan, it’s important to understand how training for a full marathon is different from training for a half marathon. Here are some of the key differences you need to consider:

1. Extended Distances

Training for a half marathon versus a full marathon comes with distinct differences. The most notable one is the distance you’ll need to run in your weekly long runs and total weekly mileage.

For a full marathon, you’ll have to gradually increase your long run distance by one to two miles every other week. 

The longest run in most full marathon training plans is around 18 to 22 miles, compared to 10 to 12 miles in half marathon training. This peak distance should be achieved three weeks before your race.

Additionally, you’ll need to increase your total weekly mileage by about 10% every week until you hit your peak mileage about four weeks before your race. 

2. Nutrition and Hydration Needs

When training for different types of races, such as a half marathon versus a full marathon, the nutrition and hydration strategies you adopt can significantly change. 

As the distance and exertion levels increase, so too do your body’s needs for energy and fluid replenishment.

Why Nutrition and Hydration Matter More for Full Marathons

For a half marathon, you may be able to complete the race without relying heavily on in-race nutrition or hydration, aside from water stations. 

However, during a full marathon, proper nutrition and hydration become key aspects not only for achieving optimal performance but also for maintaining physical health and preventing issues like dehydration or energy depletion.

Tailoring Your Nutrition Plan

The increased distance and physical demand of a full marathon mean that runners must pay closer attention to their diet. 

Both what you consume in the weeks and days leading up to the race, as well as what you eat and drink during the marathon itself, can greatly impact your endurance, energy levels, and recovery time.

3. Increased Risk of Injuries

Full marathon training, with its higher mileage and extended running times, inherently carries a greater risk of injuries compared to training for a half marathon. 

Recognizing these risks and understanding how to mitigate them can make a significant difference in your training experience and race performance.

The more you run, the more strain you place on your muscles, joints, and connective tissues. Over time, this strain can lead to common running injuries such as:

Despite these risks, there are several strategies to help protect yourself from injuries:

Step-by-step Guide to Transition from Half Marathon to Full Marathon Training

half to full marathon training plan

Now that you know how training for a full marathon is different from training for a half marathon, you’re ready to start your half to a full marathon training plan. Here are some steps to follow to make the transition as smooth and successful as possible:

Step 1: Select the Right Marathon for You

The first step in your half-to-full marathon training plan is to select the right marathon for you. There are thousands of marathons around the world, each with its own unique features, challenges, and attractions. How do you choose the one that suits you best?

Here are some factors to consider when selecting your marathon:

Running location

Do you want to run close to home or travel to a new destination? Running close to home can save you time, money, and hassle, but traveling to a new place can add excitement and adventure to your experience.

Course type

Do you prefer a flat or a hilly course? A flat course can be faster and easier, but a hilly course can be more scenic and rewarding.

Preferred weather

Do you like running in hot or cold weather? Hot weather can make you sweat more and dehydrate faster, but cold weather can make you stiff and uncomfortable.

Size of crowd

Do you enjoy running in a large or a small crowd? A large marathon can offer more support, entertainment, and energy, but a small marathon can offer more space, peace, and personalization.

Date of the marathon

How much time do you need to train for your marathon? Most half to full marathon training plans require 16 to 20 weeks of preparation, so you should choose a marathon that gives you enough time to train properly.

Personal goals

What is your goal for your marathon? Do you want to finish, have fun, or set a personal best? Your goal can influence your choice of a marathon, as some marathons are more suitable for beginners, others for fun-seekers, and others for speedsters.

Once you’ve considered these factors, you can narrow down your options and pick the marathon that appeals to you the most. 

You can use online resources like to search for marathons by location, date, course, size, and more or you can register for both an entertaining OC Marathon Festival.

Step 2: Design a Comprehensive and Realistic Training Plan

Moving from half to full marathon training demands a tailored training plan that aligns with your fitness level, schedule, and goals. 

A thoughtfully constructed plan can enhance your endurance, ensure a gradual mileage increase, minimize injury risks, and effectively prepare you for race day.

Various training plans are available online or in books, but they typically share certain key aspects:

Understanding the common elements of a training plan

When choosing or designing your training plan, make sure it matches your current fitness level and your goal time. 

Don’t try to follow a plan that is too advanced or too easy for you. Also, be flexible and adjust your plan according to how you feel and how your body responds. 

If you need more rest or recovery, take it. If you feel sick or injured, skip a run or see a doctor.

You can find some examples of the half to full marathon training plans here:

Step 3: Focus on Building Stamina, not Speed

Transitioning from half to full marathon training demands a shift in focus: building stamina over speed. 

Stamina allows you to maintain a moderate level of effort for a long time, whereas speed enables fast running over a short period. While both are valuable for running, a full marathon leans more on stamina.

Step 4: Gearing Up for Longer Runs and Efficient Training

Transitioning to full marathon training involves longer runs, requiring more equipment, planning, and strategy. Here are some tips for efficient training:

Step 5: Include Strategic Breaks in the Training Plan

Breaks are part of the training process and will benefit you in the long run. It can also help maintain your motivation for running.

Step 6: Prepare Mentally and Physically for the Leap

The final step is preparing mentally and physically for the transition from 13.1 to 26.2 miles.

Final Thoughts

Running a full marathon is a rewarding and life-changing experience that anyone can achieve with the right half-to-full marathon training plan. 

By following the steps and tips in this guide, you can successfully make the transition from half marathon to full marathon and enjoy the journey along the way.

Remember, the key to running a full marathon is to respect the distance, train smart, and have fun.