The 10k is a unique race distance in that you need both speed and endurance in order to race it well. However, the 10k can also serve as a stepping stone for newer runners from the 5k to longer distances. Whether your goal is to just cover the 10k distance, or to PR in your next 10k, here are some tips on how to train for a 10k race.
A Note on Virtual 10ks
This year as most live races have been cancelled, many runners have been turning to virtual races instead. The 10k race actually makes a great distance for a virtual race. It can push you to train and race differently than you would for a 5k, but is not as mentally draining to race alone like a half-marathon can be. If you’re looking for a new way to challenge yourself while waiting for live races to start again, consider a virtual 10k!
Here are some other reasons to run a 10k:
- It’s a nice progression from the 5k to longer distances
- Newer runners can work up to running 6.2 miles in a relatively short amount of time
- You can continue running higher mileage and doing longer runs if you choose to do so
- It helps you work on speed, endurance, and mental strength
- You don’t need a long recovery period after the race
Overall Tips for Training for a 10k
For anyone training for a 10k, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. The 10k distance may seem short to some runners or long to others- it’s relative to your experience with running and if you are a long distance or shorter distance runner. You will want to make sure you have a solid base developed before adding in any harder workouts. All runners need to consider balancing their harder runs with recovery days.
You should plan to give yourself at least 6 weeks to prepare for a 10k. If you have never run 6 miles before then you will want to very slowly build up to that distance. If you give yourself more time to train, you will be able to focus on building a base and then adding in race specific workouts.
Of course it is always important to focus on nutrition and injury prevention. Consider adding in 1-3 strength training sessions each week, while also including some mobility work or foam rolling on a regular basis.
Beginner Runners: How to increase your mileage to run a 10k
If you have never run a 10k before, you will want to progress slowly to avoid getting injured. Give yourself plenty of time to gradually increase your mileage. You may want to use the run-walk method as you are running longer distances.
Running 3 days a week is a good place for start for newer runners who are building up to a 10k. This will give you plenty of time to recover after each of your runs (you won’t be running two days in a row) and to include cross-training and/or strength training.
Don’t worry about adding in “workouts” for your first 10k. If you are feeling bored with running the same pace every day, you can vary your pace a bit or do a fartlek run or progression run no more than once a week.
Intermediate Runners: How to maximize your workouts to run a faster 10k
Maybe you have done a few 10ks, but have never really “trained” for them. Or maybe you are just looking to challenge yourself with something longer than a 5k. You can put in as little or as much focus into preparing for a 10k once you are comfortably able to cover the 6.2 mile distance.
First it’s important to make sure that you have that solid base. Spend a few weeks building up your mileage so that you can run 6 miles before adding in harder workouts. The 10k requires both speed and endurance, but the endurance needs to come first. Even though the race is 6.2 miles, continue to slowly build up your long run to anywhere from 8-12 miles, depending on what you are comfortable with.
From there you can start to focus on more race specific workouts like tempo runs and speed work. You will want to make sure that most of your runs are at an easy pace, and you can do 1-2 quality workouts each week. Start with shorter, faster, intervals with longer recovery periods and work your way into running workouts at your race pace. You won’t need as long of a taper as you would before a longer distance race. However, you still want to make sure you are recovered for the race. During the week leading up to the race you can keep your runs easy while adding in some strides or surges.
Check out these 5 Tips for the Taper Weeks
Advanced Runners: How to train for a 10k PR
Many distance runners only use 10ks as part of their training for a longer race, and don’t spend time focusing specifically on racing this distance. By shifting your focus to a shorter race distance it can help you become a stronger long-distance runner. (The same can be said for the 5k). If you have a period where you are not training for a longer race, consider training for a 10k to improve your speed and stamina. You will also be able to maintain a decent amount of mileage while training for a 10k.
If you are an advanced runner or a long-distance runner, you likely already have a good base. As you start training for a 10k you can include 1 long run a week of about 8-12 miles. For some of your long runs you can consider adding in a workout, such as a progression run or tempo run. In general you can do about 2 harder workouts a week, plus a long run.
Make sure to alternate hard days with easy days. If you are also completing strength training workouts, try not to do these before a hard workout. One strategy is to lift the evening after a harder run, so that the next day can be a truly easy day. Your workouts will be hard, so it’s really important to make sure your easy runs are truly easy. This will ensure that you can push hard on the days when it counts and it will help to prevent overtraining or injury.
As you are thinking about your workouts to help you to prepare for a 10k, you can start by using strides and surges to develop leg speed. The key workouts for preparing for 10ks are tempo runs. By working on running at 10k pace, you will get used to how the pace feels, become more comfortable with running at that pace, and start to mentally prepare for running a full 10k at that pace. Your tempo runs can include longer or shorter intervals and you can adjust the interval times and recovery times.
Workouts for Intermediate or Advanced Runners
Here are a few workouts you can include in 10k training. Your recovery intervals may vary depending on your fitness level and where you are in your training plan.
4-6 x 1 mile at 10k pace
8-12 x 400 meters at 5k-10k pace
3-6 mile tempo run
Speed Ladder (Mile, 1200, 800, 400) x 1 or 2
6-8 x 3-5 minutes or 3-5 x 5-10 minutes at 10k pace
You may also like: 4 Fun Track Workouts for Beginners
Racing a 10k
If you are truly “racing” a 10k, it’s going to be hard! 6.2 miles is a long way to go when you are running a pace that it uncomfortable to you. Many runners are better able to mentally handle a half-marathon because the pace is a little easier or a 5k because it’s over so quickly. You will really need to mentally prepare yourself for pushing through the discomfort.
It’s also important to have a good racing strategy to ensure you don’t go out too fast but also that you start out fast enough to be able to meet your race goal. As a shorter race, it’s harder to make up that time, but going out too fast can also cause you to crash and burn midway through the race.
Training for and racing a 10k is a great challenge for all levels of runners. If you are looking to increase your mileage, improve your speed, work on the mental aspect of your race, or just change things up, consider finding a few months to focus on training for a 10k!
Have you ever trained specifically for a 10k?
What do you think is the hardest part about training for/racing a 10k?
Now it’s time for the Runners’ Roundup! Link up your running and fitness posts below! Join myself, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs , and Laura Norris Running to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas.