After completing a 5K successfully, a 10K race is a great target for any runner.
The 10K requires a combination of endurance and speed, and training for this distance can be a bit more challenging than other races.
It’s all about finding the right balance on race day.
But to get to race day, you need a 10K training plan.
Train for a 10K race by gradually working up to the distance, practicing different types of runs (for example, long runs and speed runs), and including other exercises in your program like strength training and cycling. By race time, you should be comfortable with the distance required – with a good idea of a target pace that you can sustain to the finish line.
Unlike a marathon, the 10K does not require months of hard training and dedicated Sunday long runs. But it’s certainly a step up from the 5K, placing a much greater demand on your endurance and stamina.
To prepare for a 10K race, here are some useful training tips.
- How To Train For A 10K Race
- Follow A 10K Training Program
- Final Thoughts on Training For A 10K
How To Train For A 10K Race
Some of these tips are self-explanatory – and good practice for running any distance – but others are particularly important for your 10K training plan.
Always Warm-Up Before Training
Running a 10K will put a strain on your body, and you want to ensure that it’s properly warmed up to avoid injury and aid endurance. Warming up is something that quite a few runners tend to skip, or at least not do properly.
A warm up is essential before you start your run, preparing your muscles for what is to come.
A suitable warmup for a 10K would be to do a little jog and include some higher intensive exercises like high knees or strides. Throw in some dynamic stretches to get your muscles firing.
A 10K might qualify as middle distance, but it can involve some sprinting too – so you certainly don’t want to go in cold.
Of course, you won’t be running 10Ks all the time in your training plan – but it’s a good idea to practice the race day warm-up routine at least once before the event.
Progress To A 10K Distance Slowly
If you’ve never run a 10K before, it’s important to increase your distance gradually.
This process could take time, depending on your schedule. However, you should always do it gradually. Your fitness levels and strength need to improve from running a 5K to running a 10K, although a simple way to make the jump is to lower your pace (which you’ll want to do anyway!) to a level that you can sustain for the full 6.2 miles.
The popular recommendation is to try and increase the distance you run every week by 10% to 15%. You’ll ideally be doing a few runs in a week, together with other types of workouts, so that you can go a little bit longer with every run.
Vary Your Exercise Schedule
You could only focus on running and still be able to run a 10K race; however, it will help you immensely if you practice cross-training. This means also working on other types of exercise, such as cycling, swimming, HIIT workouts, and strength training.
Different types of exercise focus on different parts of the body. Incorporating various kinds of exercise in your routine will help you avoid overtraining in running, and you’ll have the added benefit of increased strength and stamina for running.
Walking may not seem like the best exercise for running training, but it is a great way to recover and still move on days when you don’t feel like doing any other activity.
Never underestimate the power of low-aerobic exercise in boosting your overall fitness levels to blitz that 10K.
Similarly, yoga and stretching can help your training.
Do Different Runs While Training
It’s so important to vary your runs.
Slow runs, regular runs, and speed runs are all different target aspects of training. For instance, slow runs are the long ones and will gradually increase your distance while training for a 10K.
Slow runs are as important as fast runs, as they emphasize endurance which you’ll need more of in a 10K than in a 5K.
Many runners, even more experienced athletes, struggle to run slow intentionally. Running slower on purpose can be challenging once you have built up a good fitness level, and running faster is more tempting.
But the slow run is miles in the bag.
Neglect it at your peril!
Speed runs, or tempo runs, aim to increase your speed which you can use at the end of the race to make up some time. Here, it also helps to have some goals in mind.
A 10K race requires the speed and endurance practiced in both your long and speed runs. Regular runs are your everyday run, but these can also be varied by trying some trail running or targeting hills.
Try to keep a sustainable pace during your regular runs.
Don’t push it too hard. You want to aim to peak on race day, not before it!
Practice Negative Splits
A good way to pace a 10K is to start slow and build speed gradually, ending with a faster pace than you started with.
That’s the theory, anyway.
This can be difficult for runners to execute as your instinct may be to start quicker and get ahead of the others. The best way to get comfortable with a negative split is to drill it in to your training plan.
You can practice a negative split over any distance. Simply run the first half of the session at a comfortable pace, and then crank through the gears in the second half.
Psychologically, it’s much easier to be moving through the crowd in a 10K rather than slipping behind others. A well executed negative split allows you to do just this.
Aim For A Realistic 10K Time
For a first-time 10K race, avoid high expectations or unattainable time goals.
With running, your first and arguably main competitor is yourself.
You want to push yourself but not to the point where you’ll be overtrained, prone to injury, and generally not enjoying the training process.
If you have no idea how to calculate an expected 10K finish time, you can work with this rough formula:
Firstly, see how far you run at a manageable and consistent pace in 15-20 minutes. Then take that distance in miles, divide the time (15 or 20 minutes) by the distance, and multiply that by 6.2. This formula will give you an estimate of your 10K race goal.
See more: what is a good 10K time to aim for?
Other Tips For Training For A 10K
Proper nutrition and hydration play a vital role in your training schedule. Your body requires a balanced diet for fuel and endurance. With an increase in your running distance, you may want to consider increasing your daily calories – but not with junk food.
Increasing carbohydrates will help keep your energy up, and staying hydrated is equally important.
See more: Here’s what to eat before a 10K
Follow A 10K Training Program
If you prefer to have some extra guidance, then following a training program specifically geared towards a 10K race is a great idea.
There are so many programs and apps that you can follow, and essentially you’ll have to find what works for you.
Depending on how your training schedule looks before a race, some programs cover two weeks, four weeks, or eight weeks. These training plans are pretty specific and tell you exactly how and what to train every week. The following is an example plan that covers eight weeks of training, giving you enough time to reach a sustainable pace and a good time.
An Example 10K Training Plan
Each week consists of five runs. There are two speed runs, consisting of intervals at different speeds. Twice a week are recovery runs, including a specific distance or a time.
For instance, one recovery run may be 25 minutes, and another may be a 3.2K run. The distances and time duration vary per week and are designed specifically to target stamina and endurance.
Once a week is a long run, also known as a slow run. The distance of this increases by 10-15% each week up to the point where you are comfortably running the full 10K race distance.
For example, in the first few weeks of training, the long run might be considered a 5K. By the end of the program, it may be up to 12.5K (but at slower than race pace).
There are two days left in the week for this example training program, and one should definitely be a rest day. The other can be any other exercise, like strength training or cycling.
Training plans for a 10K differ quite drastically according to the level of the runner. Beginners and novices may need a longer time to train for a 10K – whereas most intermediate runners will be able to run a 10K on any given day without any problems.
As you progress through the ranks, the challenge is no longer about completing the race. It’s about improving your time.
And for that reason, your training plan will never truly end!
Final Thoughts on Training For A 10K
To train for a 10K, you need to vary your runs, do cross-training, warm up correctly before each run and eat a balanced diet.
While planning your training, it is also important to be realistic with your goals and set a time goal that is attainable to you.