Training plans for long-distance runs

Bupa Logo at the reception
Jody Phillips is a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, and John Fairhurst is a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Bupa
01 September 2023
Next review due September 2026

Have you been running for a while and are you looking for your next challenge? Or maybe you’ve run a 5k race and want to run further. Whether you’re running 10k, a half marathon, or a marathon, our training plans for long-distance runs can help guide you to your goal. 

You can also find out more about how the plans work and what type of training is involved on our 'How to use our training plans for long-distance runs' article. 

runner tying shoelaces

Training plans

We have several running training plans to suit your experience and aims:

  • beginner – if you’re new to running or haven’t run a race of that distance before
  • intermediate – if you’ve already done a race of that distance (or longer) and would like to improve your time
  • advanced – if you’re an experienced runner

For these training plans, distances in miles have been rounded to the nearest whole number for simplicity. One kilometre is equivalent to 0.6 miles. If you’re struggling to run the full distances suggested, don’t worry. Just make sure you cover the whole distance, slowing to a walk to recover energy before running again.

And remember that these are just guides – sometimes you might need to hold off for a week if things feel too intense. You’ll also want to take your work-life balance into account as things like poor sleep, not eating well, and stress can all affect your running and how you manage your training. And, most importantly, how you recover.

Beginner training plans

To make the most of the beginner 10km training plan, you should be able to run/walk 5km (3 miles) in less than 40 minutes.

The beginner half-marathon training plan is for you if you’re able to run 5km comfortably and have been doing so for several weeks or months.

To get the most out of the beginner marathon training plan, you should already be able to comfortably run at least 5km, and ideally 10km.

Intermediate training plans

The intermediate 10k training plan is for you if you’d like to improve your time. It uses long runs so you can be confident you’ll be able to cover the distance, and tempo speed work to increase your pace.

If you’ve already completed half marathon races before, you might want to try our intermediate half-marathon training plan.

If you’d like to run a marathon and have completed a half-marathon or marathon race before, you might find our intermediate marathon training plan helpful.

Advanced training plans

Our advanced 10k training plan is for you if you’ve already completed 10k races before and you consider yourself to be an advanced runner.

If you’ve completed half marathon (13.1 miles/21km) races before, perhaps following the Bupa beginner and intermediate training plans, why not try our advanced half-marathon training plan.

You might also find our podcast on marathon training tips and nutrition helpful.

Becoming unwell or developing an injury can be disruptive to our busy lives; which is why our health insurance aims to help you get back on your feet sooner rather than later, so you can get back to doing the things you enjoy.

Bupa Logo at the reception
Jody Phillips and John Fairhurst
Jody Phillips is a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, and John Fairhurst is a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Bupa



Sheila Pinion, Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

    • F.I.T. Factors: Getting it just right. Run Britain., accessed 19 July 2023
    • How to increase your activity levels. Health Service Executive., last reviewed 2 May 2023
    • Hutchinson Mj Kouwijzer I De Groot S Et Al. Comparison of two borg exertion scales for monitoring exercise intensity in able-bodied participants, and those with paraplegia and tetraplegia. Spinal Cord 2021; 59(11):1162-9. doi: 10.1038/s41393-021-00642-4
    • Williams N. The Borg rating of perceived exertion (rpe) scale. Occupational Medicine 2017; 67(5):404-5
    • Measuring physical activity intensity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention., last reviewd 3 June 2022
    • Paquette MR, Napier C, Willy RWW, et al. Moving Beyond Weekly “Distance”: Optimizing Quantification of Training Load in Runners. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2020;50:564-569. DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2020.9533
    • Foster C, Casado A, Esteve-Lanao J, et al. Polarized Training Is Optimal for Endurance Athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2022;54:1028-1031. DOI:10.1249/MSS.0000000000002871
    • UK Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity guidelines., published 7 September 2019
    • Steady on! Run Britain., accessed 20 July 2023
    • Napier C, Willy RW. The Prevention and Treatment of Running Injuries: A State of the Art. Int J Sports Phys Ther 2021;16:968-970. DOI: 10.26603/001c.25754
    • Long slow distance (LSD). Run Britain., accessed 20 July 2023
    • Progressing your interval training. Run Britain., accessed 20 July 2023
    • Strength endurance sessions. Run Britain., accessed 20 July 2023
    • Supplement your running with an exercise class. Run Britain., accessed 20 July 2023
    • Enhance your recovery. Run Britain., accessed 20 July 2023
    • Can you resist it? Run Britain., accessed 20 July 2023
    • Food for thought. Run Britain., accessed 20 July 2023
    • van Poppel D, van der Worp M, Slabbekoorn A, et al. Risk factors for overuse injuries in short- and long-distance running: A systematic review. J Sport Health Sci 2021;10:14-28. DOI: 10.1016/j.jshs.2020.06.006

About our health information

At Bupa we produce a wealth of free health information for you and your family. This is because we believe that trustworthy information is essential in helping you make better decisions about your health and wellbeing.

Our information has been awarded the PIF TICK for trustworthy health information. It also follows the principles of the The Information Standard.

The Patient Information Forum tick

Learn more about our editorial team and principles >

Did you find our advice helpful?

We’d love to hear what you think. Our short survey takes just a few minutes to complete and helps us to keep improving our healthy lifestyle articles.

Content is loading