Training for a 10k is incredibly rewarding. If you stick to a 10k training plan, you will cross that finish line before you know it. The key to a successful 10k race is regular training to achieve gradual, sustainable improvements.
To begin, find a training plan that builds. A 10k is 6.2-mile run, and that is no easy feat. Given your running experience, that may be a short distance and it may be a long distance. But regardless, a 10k race requires intentional preparation no matter what.
Find a training program that builds up your training and increases mileage over time. For new runners, aim to find a program that begins by utilizing the run-walk method. For your first few runs, head out for 20 or 30 minutes, and walk for two minutes and jog for one. You can repeat that pattern through your whole walk/run, and over time you can decrease the amount of time you take walk breaks, and increase the amount of time you run.
Easing into your training has several benefits. First and foremost, gradual mileage increases will prevent injuries. Jumping into long, hard runs too quickly can result in injuries and/or pains that might cut your training short and leave you unprepared for race day.
Gradual improvements, on the other hand, will allow your body to adapt and recover after each small push so that you are improving sustainably. In addition, gradual improvements will make it so that none of your training sessions are completely unbearable.
Pushing yourself too hard during a training session will build a negative impression in your mind when you think of your training, which cuts directly into your motivation. Instead, you want to feel inspired and positive about your 10k training, and small improvements will allow you to feel accomplished, without leaving a harsh, negative memory of training in your mind.
Also, note that your training schedule does not necessarily need to be a 10k training schedule. A half marathon training plan could also work if that is your preference. However, as you move closer to race day, just consider adjusting the half marathon mileage a bit so that your training is more tailored to a 10k.
Continuing on with training tips, be sure that your training plan emphasizes proper run form. Proper run form is another crucial piece in preventing injuries.
If your plan does not directly teach proper running form, consider watching a few videos before you head out. Strength training will contribute tremendously to your run form, which is governed mostly by the proper engagement of your muscles.
This means you’ll need a plan that incorporates strength training. And in addition to shaping your run form, strength training days are a great way to break up your running schedule so that it doesn’t feel too monotonous or repetitive.
Hill workouts are a great way to strength train while improving your running, and they are a great addition to your training schedule even if your racecourse is flat. However, hill workouts maximize the importance of form, so be sure you are extremely focused on your run form as you climb.
Your body will need rest to be at its best come race day. So, when your training schedule has a rest day in it, follow that and rest. Truly allow your body the time it needs to recover and adapt. If you don’t, you are actually missing out on those gradual improvements that will make you a better runner.
While training every single day may seem conducive to your 10k goals, it is actually a quick way to run your body into the ground, and it can expose you to overuse or exhaustion injuries.
That said, mobility should be a daily occurrence. Even on your rest days, get out that foam roller or tennis ball and give your muscles some attention. If you can find a sauna or have the time to run a hot bath with epsom salt, try it. The better your muscles are able to recover, the more valuable the rest of your training will be.
Much like your rest days, your warm ups are in your training plan for a reason. No matter how short on time you are, the warm up is not the part of the workout to cut. Warming up is crucial in preventing injuries and getting your muscles ready to work.
If your body is not prepared for a tough run effort, it may get a little surprised when you pick up the pace or head up a hill. And when your body is not prepared, it can tense up and injuries can creep in. This is why the warm up is so important.
Always incorporate some dynamic stretches and warm up drills such as skipping, high knees, and lateral runs before you head out.
And feel free to incorporate these drills mid-run as well. They will help to wake up muscle groups that do not work as hard in your running motion, and can help remind you which muscles need to engage for proper running form.
Now that you know what to look for in finding your 10k running plan, you can start searching. Hopefully following your training schedule will make training simple. And if you simply show up every day and follow what your plan tells you, even if that is to rest, you’ll feel at ease come race day, and you’ll be smiling as you cross that finish line.