Have you recently signed up for a 10K event? Maybe you’re running to raise money for a good cause, or perhaps you’re just looking for a new fitness challenge. Whatever the reason, after the initial buzz and excitement of signing up it’s perfectly normal to feel panic setting in about how you are going to train for your upcoming race!
Training before you head out and take on that 6.2 mile run is really important, not only to help you improve your 10K time and fitness levels but also to avoid injuries on race day.
How long does it take to train for a 10K?
The answer to this question will depend on a few things, such as your current fitness level, your goals (are you aiming for a new personal best time, or just hoping to cross the finish line?) and of course, how much time you actually have before race day to train.
There are a range of training schedules, that can guide runners of all levels, to take you from easy runs to higher intensity workouts as you build up to your race. The number of weeks covered in a training plan will usually dictate how much you can expect your fitness and performance to improve before you run a 10K. For example, if you only have two weeks to train you are much less likely to see a marked improvement in your race time than if you had been training for eight weeks.
Following a training plan can help to give your training more structure and keep things fun. Below, we explain some of the different 10K training programme lengths and what you can expect to achieve by following one.
Training for a 10K in 4 weeks
4 weeks probably won’t be enough time to make any dramatic improvements to your running time, but you can improve your fitness in preparation for your race. As 4 weeks is a fairly short amount of time, a training schedule designed to take you up to 10K distance in this brief period will assume you’re already running around three times per week. Although it’s not generally recommended for beginners to follow a 4 week plan, if you are running out of time before your race you should focus on building up the length of your runs rather than any speed goals set out in a programme, and aim to train at least 3 times per week, whether running, walking or doing a combination of both.
Training for a 10K in 6 weeks
If you have 6 weeks to go before your 10K, you have a reasonably comfortable amount of time to train up and start to see a difference in your strength, stamina and average run times. As with most training programmes, a 6 week programme will start out with easier runs, with intervals of running and walking, and build the length of running time and distance over the 6 week course.
If you are a beginner, or perhaps already have a 5K run under your belt, a 6 week programme will help you to gain confidence in running longer distances. Once you have crossed the finish line of your first 10K you may then want to up the tempo and work on your average time. If you are an intermediate or more experienced runner, already running several times a week, following a 6 week plan should help you to focus your training and see improvement in the areas you are hoping to work on. That could include increasing the amount of longer runs you complete or improving your average speed.
Training for a 10K in 8 weeks
If you have 8 weeks to spare before you lace up your running shoes on race day, you could really see a difference in your fitness by following an 8 week training schedule! For less experienced runners, the initial build up weeks in an a week programme will get you comfortable with running longer distances, starting out with shorter run walk distances then gradually increasing the ratio of running as well as the total miles you will cover each week.
If you are a more experienced runner, you might be worried that an 8 week plan could get boring. Make the build up weeks more interesting by varying your pace or adding in intervals where you run at a fast sprint for a few minutes at a time. Doing hill sprints will also have the effect of strength training and make for a more challenging workout.
Training for a 10K in 10 weeks
10 weeks is ample time to get yourself up to speed with running a 10K, especially if you are new to the distance or new to running in general. Even beginners starting from zero hours of running each week can hope to build up their strength and endurance through the training programme and comfortably complete the 6.2 mile run by race day.
The initial weeks will focus on building up your running distance with shorter, easier runs with periods of walking, and then build up the amount of miles you cover each week. Towards the end of the 10 week programme you will have built up your strength to complete steady runs of longer distances. You may also be looking at increasing your speed and challenging yourself to lower your average running time by the end of the programme.
Generally, the more time you have to train for an event, the better – especially if this is your first 10K race. That being said, runners of all abilities should make sure they consult a trained medical professional before undergoing any new training programme, and make sure you take adequate rest days to avoid injury.
Once you’re training is complete (well done!) and race day is here, make sure to pace yourself throughout the course of the race (don’t use all your energy blasting out the first few miles) and drink plenty of water.
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