10K TRAINING TIPS
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Finding the right 10K training schedule for beginners to run your first 10K is important.
You want training to be fun, approachable, do-able, right?
You want to achieve your goal of running a 10K.
And the right plan will help you do just that.
Why Run a 10K?
Have you run a 5K before and loved it? Maybe even a 5 miler?
Ready for the next challenge?
Then you should run a 10K!
A 10K is 6.2 miles
(or about 10,500 steps if your pace is around 10:30 minutes per mile)
It’s a great next step for runners with experience running 5K’s.
There are so many reasons to run a 10K:
Run for charity, for the fun of the theme
Run to reach a new distance or run for your next PR.
Set a (S.M.A.R.T.) Goal & Pick a 10K Run
What’s your reason for running a 10K? And what’s your goal?
Pick a goal from the start so you know what you’re working towards, and can train accordingly.
Not sure how to choose a goal? Get S.M.A.R.T.!
S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed-Upon, Realistic, and Time-Based. I learned this at work during a goal-setting exercise years ago and have applied it to my fitness for years.
It’s so easy to be noncommittal and say something generic like “I’d like to run a 10K someday…”
Ever done that? How did that turn out? Did you ever run that race? (If so, awesome, but most people probably answered “no”).
Instead, pick a specific race (usually 10-12 weeks out from when you want to start training) and pick a specific goal. Instead, try something like: “I will start training on April 1 for the July 4th 10K Run in my town and I want to complete the race in under an hour and 10 minutes.” Does this goal sound better?
Now it’s time to choose a 10K training schedule for beginners that will gradually build your mileage and endurance over the course of 12 weeks.
1.) Choose a 10K Training Schedule for Beginners
There are a few variations of training schedules – some only have 1 rest day, some have 2, some have 2 cross training days and some only have 1, etc.
I personally perform better with 2 rest days, and I think a lot of beginners do too. Because of that, I recommend this 10K training schedule for beginners:
This training schedule starts with 8 miles of total distance in Week 1 and maxes out at a 15 miles of total distance in Week 10, with a “down” rest week leading up to the race week.
Feel free to swap in strength & stretching or a cross training day for the second rest day if you prefer 1 rest day a week instead of 2.
2.) Prepare to Train for a 10K
If you’ve trained for a 5K before then you likely know the basics of running.
If not, check out the 5K Training for Beginners post because it has great info on the basics of preparing to train for a race.
So assuming you have some familiarity with training, here are some preparations to make before training for your first 10K:
Get the right Gear
You can maybe get away with wearing old cotton workout gear when running low mileage. It’s not recommended, but you could probably get away with it.
However, a 10K training schedule gets you up to a 5.5 mile run. Trust me, you do not want to wear cotton on a 5.5 mile run.
Do yourself a favor and invest in performance running gear. Specifically for shirts, pants or shorts, and socks. “Performance” really just means that the material wicks sweat away from your body, which helps prevent blisters and better regulates your temperature. I try to find deals, or go to the local TJ Maxx or Kohls to get recognizable brands at lower prices.
Sometimes Amazon has good deals too. You don’t need to spend a fortune. Also, speaking of getting the right gear – you absolutely 100% need to buy good running shoes. This is kinda non-negotiable if you’re training for a 10K.
Go to your local running store and get fitted. The knowledgeable, trained staff there will help determine the right shoe for you (and if they’re anything like the kind people at my local running store, they’ll spend a long time helping you try on countless shoes before selecting the perfect running shoe).
Find Cross Training Exercises You Like
Cross training becomes important once you start to train for a 10K.
As someone who used to ignore cross training days, believe me when I tell you cross training is important. My pulled hamstring and runners knee from early races are testaments to that.
Why do some runners skip cross training?
Because they know running, but don’t know other workouts as well? Because it requires thinking and planning, and running doesn’t (you mostly just go out and put one foot in front of the other…in simplified terms, anyway).
So my solution to this is: find a cross training activity you like, and plan for it.
Like hot yoga? Schedule in a class or two a week.
Like 30 minute HIIT workouts on YouTube? Schedule it in.
Like cycling class? Schedule that bad boy.
No matter what cross training activity floats your boat, just plan for it. Don’t make future you have to think about it on cross training day.
Need cross training ideas?
See Cross Training for Runners: The Hidden Secrets You Need to Know.
3.) Start Running!
This step is (kind of) easy – start running!
The part that trips people up is failing to plan running into your life.
If you’ve trained for a 5K before…a 10K training schedule requires a tad bit more time.
I mean, it’s not the same time commitment as a marathon, but running 4 or 5 miles requires at least an hour and a half from start to finish (including pre and post run prep, like getting dressed and stretching). Just something to be aware of, and plan for.
What’s the best time to schedule a run? Totally depends on your life.
Some runners are morning people.
Bang that training run out before heading to work, and you’re golden.
While other runners prefer running during the day or at night.
Whatever works. Just schedule it, and make it happen.
Pro tip: get a running buddy and plan one or two runs each week together.
This adds accountability, and quite frankly, it’s fun.
4.) Run Your First 10K Race!
You’ve trained for months, and race day is here!
Here’s how to be successful on race day:
Know the course and know how to get to the race – Plan for traffic if needed. Aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before the race starts so you can warm up and hit up the porta potty.
Lay out clothes and gear the night before – don’t wait until the morning of race day to grab everything, you’ll inevitably forget something important.
Eat right the day before, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – Eat healthfully during the whole training time, but especially the day before your 10K. Learn more about Runners Food 101: The Ultimate Guide to Nutrition for Runners and exactly what runners eat to perform well.
Pace Yourself – Don’t bob and weave right out of the starting gate. It might be crowded. But don’t waste energy trying to get ahead. Instead, pace yourself the same way you did during you long runs, and you won’t overuse energy too early in the race.
There’s all you need to run your first 10K!
Are you excited and ready to go?
Here are some bonus running tips:
15 Best Running Hacks, Revealed: Find 15 clever hacks to make running easier (check it out before starting 10K training!).
7 Clever Ways to Prevent Blisters from Running – because runners get blisters and it sucks. Learn to prevent them.