10K Training 101: How To Train For Your First 10K Race

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

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.

Be Consistent

You should give yourself at least 8 weeks to train before the day of your race. This will give you enough training time to help your body adapt to running for extended periods. 

As a beginner runner, you might find yourself running and walking during a 10K for more than an hour. Working up to being able to run 10km requires that you do some diligent training at least three times a week. 

Remember that the duration and speed of your runs are far less important than just getting outside and running a few times a week. And if you feel like walking during your runs, that’s fine too. 

Forget About Speed

In middle and long-distance running, speed should be the last thing on your mind. You won’t get any fitter or burn more calories by running faster. 

Speed training, such as High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), can be too intense for new runners. Your main goal should simply be to complete the race, so don’t worry too much about doing hard runs during your training. 

The most effective training happens when you’re running consistently and avoiding injuries. 

Build Distance Up Over Time

Try to work up to running at least 75% of the desired distance when doing long runs. In the case of a 10km run, that means training enough to run 7.5km without stopping. These longer runs will help you improve your aerobic capacity and muscular endurance enough to run 10km.

This kind of training also has another important benefit – they help you build up the confidence you need to know that the distance is achievable. A quick and easy way to improve your distance is to add 500m – 700m to the longest runs you’ve already done. 

It might not seem like a lot now, but it’ll add up in the long run (pun intended). 

Be Serious About Your Recovery

As a beginner, pushing through any pain or discomfort you have while running during your training session can be tempting. But, it’s important to realize that the ability to ignore the pain comes with years of extensive athletic experience – a luxury you, unfortunately, won’t have as a beginner. 

What’s more, new runners are at a greater risk of getting injured than others. Below are some of the signs that you should stop your training or at least significantly reduce it:

  • Prolonged pain and swelling are often caused by overuse injuries. Reduce swelling using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), and prioritize recovery. Never run while injured, as you could make it far worse.
  • Sharp, sudden pains mean you should stop running immediately, or you could get injuries.
  • Sickness symptoms below the neck should not be present while you’re running. If you’re ill, stay inside!
  • When in doubt, speak to your physician.

10K Training Program for New Runners

If you have a pre-existing health condition or previous injury, you must speak to your doctor before you begin your exercise program. Good workout technique is of the utmost importance, as it will ensure your safety and the effectiveness of your exercise. 

What the Plan Includes

The following workouts and runs make up this 10K training program:

  • 1 long run
  • 3 shorter, easier runs
  • 1 cross-training session
  • 2 strength training sessions
  • 2 days of rest

As you can see, the plan involves more than just running. Any comprehensive beginner 10K training plan should include other exercises that complement your running, and for this one, we’ve chosen strength training sessions.

Strength training can help improve your aerobic capacity (your heart’s strength), helping you run further for longer. 

Long Runs

For this training plan, you’ll do one long run each week on a chosen day. We recommend choosing a weekend day, so the plan feels more rounded. It’s also generally easier to plan long runs on the weekend, as you won’t have to contend with work commitments. 

The important thing with your long runs is that you should take them at a slow pace. Don’t be afraid to spend some time walking on these runs, especially when you feel tired – the goal is not to complete your run as fast as possible but to complete the run at all.

Shorter Runs

The shorter runs in this plan are meant to be easier on your body. Again, don’t worry about your pacing or trying to run fast. As long as you’re covering the distance and running at a gentle, comfortable pace, you’ll improve your running ability. 

A good way to gauge whether you’re running at a comfortable pace is if you’re able to run and hold a conversation simultaneously. For this plan, you’ll be doing three easy runs each week.


Cross-training is any other activity that falls under the aerobic training category that isn’t running. This means doing things like walking, cycling, hiking, and swimming. 

These activities are excellent cross-training exercises and are naturally aerobic, meaning they move from low to high intensities. Once again, if you feel tired or want to take a break during the activity, that’s perfectly fine. 

As we mentioned earlier, it’s better to slow down than to push yourself and risk injury. What’s more, the cross-training you do in this plan should be easy. Avoid training too vigorously, as you’ll only wear yourself out, making it harder to see results. 

Strength Training

Also known as resistance training, strength training helps improve your running economy and form while reducing your risk of injury. You can do your strength workouts after easy runs to improve your fitness. Don’t do strength workouts on the same day as your long run. Most strength workouts only need to be around 20 minutes to be effective.

Rest Days

Recovery and taking time to rest is crucial to any good training plan and is the best thing for preventing injuries. Some runners will tell you that rest days are bad for your progress – don’t listen to them! 

You won’t be able to make the most of your training if you aren’t serious about your rest days. The two rest days included in this plan take place before and after your long run. 

Example 8 Week Training Plan For a 10K

The start of the 10k Zaragoza
The start of the 10k Zaragoza, image CC via Juanedc

Here’s a sample plan for you to base your 10K training on. You can adjust your activities and days to suit your schedule better. Just make sure that you’re performing each activity every week.

Week 1

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 2.5-mile easy run + strength
  • Wednesday: 30-minutes cross-training
  • Thursday: 2-mile easy run + strength
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 2-mile easy run
  • Sunday: 3-mile long run

Week 2

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 2.5-mile easy run + strength
  • Wednesday: 30-minutes cross-training
  • Thursday: 2-mile easy run + strength
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 2-mile easy run
  • Sunday: 3.5-mile long run

Week 3

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 2.5-mile easy run + strength
  • Wednesday: 35-minutes cross-training
  • Thursday: 2-mile easy run + strength
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 2-mile easy run
  • Sunday: 4-mile long run

Week 4

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 3-mile easy run + strength
  • Wednesday: 35-minutes cross-training
  • Thursday: 2-mile easy run + strength
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 2-mile easy run
  • Sunday: 4-mile long run

Week 5

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 3-mile easy run + strength
  • Wednesday: 40-minutes cross-training
  • Thursday: 2-mile easy run + strength
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 2-mile easy run
  • Sunday: 4.5-mile long run

Week 6

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 3-mile easy run + strength
  • Wednesday: 40-minutes cross-training
  • Thursday: 2-mile easy run + strength
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 2-mile easy run
  • Sunday: 5-mile long run

Week 7

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 3-mile easy run + strength
  • Wednesday: 45-minutes cross-training
  • Thursday: 2-mile easy run + strength
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 2-mile easy run
  • Sunday: 5.5-mile long run

Week 8

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 3-mile easy run + strength
  • Wednesday: 30-minutes cross-training
  • Thursday: 2-mile easy run + strength
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 10K RACE!

Repeat this training program – or your own modified version of it – for at least 8 weeks before the day of your 10K race, and you’ll feel more than adequately prepared to take on the challenge. Remember that it’s not about how quickly you can complete the run but about finishing the race. 

Once you’re familiar with the process, then you can start working on achieving a ‘good’ 10K time.

Things to Know Before Running a 10K

Now that you know what to expect from your training plan, here are some tips that will help you get the most out of your 10K run when the day of the race comes:

Don’t Forget to Warm Up

This goes for both when you’re training for your race and before you run the actual 10K. It’s essential to warm up before each run and do some stretching to cool down afterward. 

Warming up before a run will help get your heart rate up while loosening your muscles. Cooling down after a run returns your body to its relaxed, pre-workout state. 

A good warm-up includes some dynamic stretches and a light jog. 

Eat Right!

Nutrition and good food are just as important as running when you’re training to run a 10K. Try to eat healthy foods and follow a balanced diet, with your main fuel sources coming from protein and carbohydrates.

See our guide: What to eat before a 10K race.

Invest in Some Good Running Shoes

Finding a pair of good running shoes – let alone a pair that works for your foot type – can be a challenge, to say the least. But, if you can find a pair that keeps your feet comfortable and supported during your runs, it’ll go a long way in helping you prevent injuries and improve your performance. 

Be Consistent

Finding any measure of success in your training plan will inevitably come down to how consistent you are in your training. 

If you want to complete a 10K race, you’ll need to put in the work each week and maintain your momentum for the entire duration of your training plan. It can be difficult and exhausting at first, but if you put your mind to it and stay motivated, you’ll soon reap the rewards. 

In our experience, that’s more than enough motivation in itself. 

Pace, Pace, Pace

By the time you’re getting ready to run the 10K race, you may already have a goal time in mind that you’d like to complete the race. Whatever this goal may be, ensure that it’s realistic and based on your fitness levels and previous running experience.

If you’re new to running, you can expect to complete the race in around 60 to 90 minutes. The average time for a 10K is just under 50 minutes across all ages and genders, so if you’re able to complete your run in about that same time, you’ll have made a massive achievement!

You can use a GPS watch, a pace calculation app, or a simple metronome to determine your 10K pace on your training days. This will also help you set realistic goals.

Problems to Avoid in 10K Training

It’s all well and good to know what you should be doing to prepare yourself for your 10K race, but there are a few common problems that many beginner runners face. So, we’re going to help you avoid those problems. 

You Don’t Know What Time to Aim For

If you’re a beginner and have never run a race in your life, then the best advice we can give you is to set realistic, conservative goals. To get a general idea of a goal time for your 10K, see how far you can run at a brisk but sustainable pace in around 20 minutes. 

Divide 20 by the distance run in miles, then multiply your answer by 6.2 to get a general idea of a 10K goal time. Your equation should look as follows:

Time spent running ÷ distance run in miles = Result


Result x 6.2 = Estimated 10K goal time

Here’s a stock example:

20 minutes ÷ 3.2 miles = 6.25

6.25 x 6.2 = 38.75 = 39 minutes 15 seconds (converted to time)

Of course, you’ll need to be as realistic as possible. Running yourself into the ground for 20 minutes for a few weeks will not miraculously allow you to keep up the effort for three times as long on the day of your race. 

You’ve Never Run This Far Before

It’s completely normal to be nervous about running 10km, especially if you’ve never done it before. Remind yourself that if you’re able to walk 6 miles (which most people can do), you’re more than capable of traveling a distance of 10km, whether you’re walking or running. There’s really nothing to be afraid of.

The first and most important step in your training journey is to build up your running distances little by little. This will help you improve your endurance and is easiest when you incorporate the training into your regular life as much as possible.

For instance, if you are short on time during the day, try to jog from place to place rather than driving or taking the bus. 

What’s more, if you’ve never run a race before, starting with a 5K race can be a great confidence booster. It’s not essential, but it can certainly help. Remember that races are meant to be enjoyed, whether you’ve run the distance before or not.

You Don’t Know How Much to Drink During the Race

Don’t get any ideas – we’re talking about water here! How much water you should drink depends on how long you’re running, the weather, and whether you have enough water before you start the race. 

On a cool day, a well-hydrated, sub-45-minute athlete could complete a 10K without stopping to drink. A novice runner would benefit from slowing down and walking through the aid station and from the water itself. 

In the end, you’ll need to rely on your judgment and knowledge of your body. No matter the circumstance, try to get back into your running rhythm as soon as you can once you’ve passed by an aid station.  

You Have Endurance but Lack Speed

The great news is that there’s a surefire way to improve your running times, and it works for every runner. The bad news? It involves plenty of hard work.

If you’re already a good endurance runner, you must focus on incorporating a couple of quality sessions in your training program. At least once every week, try to push yourself on one of your runs to see how fast you can complete it.

Don’t push yourself so hard that you end up causing an injury, and certainly don’t try to run through any pain. The days you decide to push your speed should be when you feel most prepared for running. 

You’re Fast but Lack Endurance

This is a more common problem, especially amongst beginner runners. If you find yourself facing this challenge, you’ll want to focus on spending more time on your feet – especially when you’re running on tired legs.

In addition to ensuring that your weekly runs add up to 10 miles, try combining a warm-up and 4 x 400m sessions with a 3-mile run afterward. If you’re feeling tired (but not exhausted) after that, then you’ll know you’re doing it right. 

Interestingly, as well as endurance and speed, another important quality will help you be better at 10K runs: “speed endurance.” As the name suggests, it combines both qualities and is essential for helping you make the most of your runs. 

You Don’t Know How to Pace Yourself

The key to running your first 10K race is to run evenly. Starting out the gate too fast will result in a painful finish. 

For instance, if your goal is to complete the run in an hour, you’ll need to be able to run 1 kilometer every six minutes. Then, if you still have a good amount of energy at the end, you can pick up the pace and finish strong. 

More experienced runners should play to their strengths. If you’re able to run fast but aren’t that great regarding endurance, you’ll want to restrain yourself for the first 5km. Then, speed up. 

On the other hand, if endurance is where your strength lies, the reverse approach will work better. Finally, if you’re fit and have well-balanced abilities, build up a 10-second safety margin for yourself within the first 3km. Then, even your pace out of the rest of the race to hit your target. 

Final Thoughts on Training For a 10K

Getting yourself ready for a 10K race, whether your first or your 100th, doesn’t have to be a massive challenge.

With enough motivation and the right attitude, you can have yourself race-day ready in as little as 8 weeks. Be sure to stick to a consistent, balanced training program, follow a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water.

Happy running!

Author Profile

Alex Randall

Photo of author
Alex is the editor at Revel Sports. It was his idea to take our post-club-run chats and build a website out of them. He is responsible for dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s when any of us have something to post. (Basically: it’s all his fault). A ferocious 5K powerhouse on his day, Alex is known for not understanding the meaning of the term ‘negative split‘.
Alex Randall

Revel SPorts Contributor

Leave a Comment