Transitioning from Casual Running to Distance Running

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

By: Kira Volt DiStefano, Charm City Run Events Marketing Manager

The idea is planted when you see a former high school classmate post a picture on Instagram of them biting into a race medal. Why are they doing that? You zoom in, the medal says 13.1. Why would anyone run 13.1 miles?

This post is the latest in a string of posts you’ve seen from them, all featuring similar poses and notably, similarly huge triumphant smiles. You maybe roll your eyes and head to a different app – TikTok. On TikTok, you see runners of all ages documenting their for-fun runs and hear them talk about their next race. 

You’ve never been a huge runner, but you’ve been known to hop on the treadmill for 12-3-30, or get a couple podcast miles in before or after some strength training. But now after scrolling and seeing people in your periphery complete different distance challenges, you’re wondering how to start. 

Choose Your Distance Goal

When you run, how far do you normally go? It’s totally fine if you take breaks to walk, but what distance do you usually complete? 

If you’re running less than 3 miles or less than 30 minutes, maybe you set a 5K (3.1 miles) race as your goal!

If you’re regularly completing 3-5 miles or less than an hour, try a 10K (6.2 miles). 

And if you’re running several times a week for about an hour (or longer!), you may want to set your sights on a Half Marathon (13.1 miles). 

Many casual runners may have hopes to try for a full marathon one day, but consider tackling shorter distances before completing a full 26.2 miles. There are many reasons to start smaller, including building up your stamina, speed, and even just getting comfortable with all the logistics involved with running a race!

Choose a Race

What better motivation is there than seeing a high school acquaintance running races? Choosing your OWN race and setting your OWN goal! A great way to be accountable to building up your mileage and getting more comfortable with longer distances is to sign up for a race.

Think about if you want a destination race or a local race, and then search based on where you think you’ll be most motivated to run. If you’re in Maryland or have always wanted to visit (Baltimore, St. Michaels and Havre de Grace are all amazing destinations!), Charm City Run has loads of different race options.

Destination races are great, but when you’re venturing into unknown territory with your mileage, make sure all the logistics of the race are manageable for you.

Find a Training Plan or Running Group

So you’ve decided on a distance and a race – it’s time to train! There are lots of resources out there, but training with a Charm City Run Training Group ensures that you’re getting the personalization you need, and the professional advice to keep you injury-free all the way to the finish line. 

Another great option is checking out your local running scene. Most cities have running groups, and if your town or city has a running/walking specialty store (Charm City Run has stores across Maryland), they often have training groups you can join (check out Charm City Run Training!).

Here’s a couple super-welcoming groups in the Baltimore area: 

Finding a great training plan and then meeting up with a group of other runners for safety and accountability is a great strategy!

Have a Gait Analysis

One of the hardest parts of transitioning from casual running to distance running is the strain on your body from repetitive movement. Having a great pair of shoes that fits you and the way you run is the key to success. 

If you’re not sure where to start, find a running store near you (like Charm City Run!) that does shoe fittings and schedule one or walk in and see if someone can help you out. Your shoes are the vehicles that will move your feet to the finish line, make sure they’re taken care of!

Prep for Longer Runs

Another essential to grab at your local running store is nutrition! On longer runs, you’ll need fuel other than water, especially if you’re training in warmer months. Grab an electrolyte, as well as gel packets or solid fuel, whichever you prefer. 

It’s always a good idea to ask the store staff for their recommendations as different runners have different flavor and texture preferences!

Kira running alongside Billy Ornold, Charm City Run Senior Events Coordinator


You did it – you ran your first race! But even more than that, you’re creating a habit that is so beneficial for your mind, body, and mental health. Not every run is your best run ever, but every run makes you a better runner and person.

Whether you decide to keep racing, or just train for life, we hope you enjoy every step!

Kira post half marathon.


Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Live.Give.Run. Blog

We hope that you find this blog to be a source of training tips, inspiration and community. Our goal is to create a place online for every runner to find the motivation they need to hit the pavement. If you’d like to be a guest contributor, please email us at

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