You might be a somewhat new runner who has already conquered a few 5k races. Ready to take it to the next level? Time to start training for a 10k.
A 10k might feel intimidating because it’s twice the distance, but we’ve got you covered with a 10k running plan that can work for any schedule to get you ready for race day.
In this 10k training guide, we’ll walk you through:
Let’s follow along with Coach Nate to learn more about a 10k training schedule that will have you lacing up your running shoes to get started in no time.
This 10k running plan is focused on quality workouts that will take you to the next level. Nate will teach you how to set a foundation as a healthy runner and get you the finish line of a 10k—and hopefully a personal record!
A 10k length distance will cover 6.2 miles. Or you can think of it as two 5k races (3.1 miles) back to back.
As the car commercials say, your mileage may vary. Meaning, your 10k time will almost certainly be different than your buddy’s 10k time. With that in mind, runners generally need anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to run a 10k race. If you’re a beginner runner using a run-walk method, you’ll have a longer race time. If this isn’t your first 10k and you know more about your ideal race pace then you’ll be on the shorter end.
The important thing is not to focus on the clock. Instead, focus on putting in work on a solid 10k running plan that helps you build speed, stay strong, and prevents injuries.
First of all, you want to give yourself about an eight-week period of time to properly train for a 10k. Of course, this depends a bit on your fitness level, but it’s a good estimation. You’ll start with about three to four runs each week, and each run will have a specific purpose with varied paces, varied terrain, and different techniques. You’ll also want to incorporate some rest days to prevent getting injured and let your body recover.
Pro-tip: No matter what workout you’re doing, make time to fit in a short warm-up and cool down. This helps your body stay healthy, prevents injury due to jumping straight into a hard workout, and avoids excessive soreness.
For a short, follow-along warm-up join Coach Holly in this video. No equipment required!
This is a day where you’ll focus on different paces you’ll encounter during any race. It’s like a fartlek or interval run where you focus on different speeds for short periods of time with short recoveries. Beginner runners should start with a 20-30 minute run.
Try running for one minute at an eight out of 10 effort, then jogging for a minute. Then run 30 seconds at a nine out of 10 effort and jog for 30 seconds. Play with the intervals as you feel comfortable. Add a few minutes each week until you’re up to 40 minutes or more.
If you need some inspiration, here’s a follow-along fartlek workout:
One of your runs will be a faster run, also called a tempo run. Advanced runners can do two of them per week, but beginner runners should start out with one quality speed session per week.
10k training is more about running strength and stamina than sprinting or all-out speed. So, we want to spend time focusing on intervals of race pace effort–anywhere from three to eight minutes at a time.
For example, you might start out the first week with a 20-minute run where you run three minutes at 10k race pace three times. Recover by jogging for one to two minutes in between each interval. Each week, lengthen the amount of time of that tempo interval by one minute and add one more interval per run.
When you’re training for a 10k, you don’t need to go overboard with 15 or 20 mile weekly runs–you’re not training for a half marathon here. But, you do need to get comfortable running at least the 10k distance. Beginner runners should build up to that 10k distance over 8 to 10 weeks.
So, your first and second week might have a long run of three to four miles. Your third and fourth week can go up to five, and then the rest of the weeks should go up to six or seven miles each to get you comfortable with that 10k distance.
At The Run Experience, we like to keep a focus on the joy of running. So, that’s why we incorporate a “fun run” day where you’re not focused on anything specific–you’re just running for the pure joy of it.
Go with whatever you’re feeling that day. Enjoy a new trail run you haven’t explored. If you’re feeling super strong, do some hill repeats. If you’re feeling mellow, keep it down to an easy, relaxed jog around the neighborhood. This day is up to you!
If you’re feeling too beat up to run, here are some tips on how to make the most of a recovery day:
In this case, we aren’t giving you a written-in-stone training plan. The reason why is so that you can plan your training around your schedule. If you’re like most of us, you have a busy life and responsibilities outside of running. So, take these workouts–varied paces workout, the speed/tempo workout, the long run day, and the fun run day and work them around your specific schedule.
Maybe you like to run early in the morning before work or school. Perhaps you like to get a boost from a workout during your lunch break. It’s okay to run in the evening, but make sure to finish up at least an hour before bedtime so it doesn’t affect your sleep.
That being said, here’s an example of just how to fit all the pieces of your training puzzle together. Swap days as needed, but do avoid putting two hard workouts, such as speed work and a long run, back to back.
Pro-tip: Especially if you’re just getting started, incorporate some cross-training, mobility work, and strength training into your training program. Lower impact cross-training such as yoga, pilates, and swimming improve your cardiovascular capabilities, keep you limber, reduce soreness, and your risk of injury.
Here’s a simple, follow-along strength routine with Coach Holly that will focus on single-leg strength.
Don’t just take a single person’s word for it. Learn what all our coaches have to say about training for a 10K:
“I heard once that the 10K is like the 5K’s ugly step-sister–Often ignored and usually disliked. But if you ask me, it’s a great race. I call it a long sprint. You need resiliency AND speed. Don’t neglect either in the build-up to your race day.
In your training schedule, this means including “race-specific” workouts done at the same pace as the goal race, but they also have about the same volume as the race itself.”
“Remember we play how we practice! So, if you want to run a particular time, it’s imperative that you add speed work like race pace intervals into your 10K running plan every week. Start with shorter intervals of 3 x 2-3 minutes to get a good feel, and then progress to 3 x 6-10 minutes as the race gets closer.
At 10k pace, these intervals will feel quite challenging but they’ll give you the pacing experience, confidence, and physiological gains to have a great 10k all the way through the finish line.”
“The 10K marries grit with endurance. You can’t leave it all out on the table from the beginning, but there’s not enough time to leave too much fuel in the tank either.
Spend a big chunk of your 10K training schedule learning your zones—such as how hard you can push and for how long, so that your plan on race day comes down to a science, not hopes and prayers. Tempo runs are the key here for gaining endurance.”
“The 10k can be a tricky distance because it’s right in between a sprint and an endurance run. That means you have to devote equal time to both your speed work and your long steady runs.
The 10k can be the best of both worlds and will require both grit and determination to complete a 10k training schedule.”
“I think that mentally you have to accept that you have to run at uncomfortable paces (faster than a tempo) for longer-than-you’re-used-to periods of time. That’s what makes it a hard-but-honest race distance. It’s typically right at the edge of your lactate threshold, which means that it’s mostly an anaerobic effort.
Anaerobic efforts all come with a countdown timer– you can only run that fast for so long before you exhaust glycogen stores. The good thing is that lactate threshold levels can be improved with training. Your 10K running plan will need to include longer intervals that ride that uncomfortable edge so that your body learns to better buffer the lactate.”
Now that you have the 10K running plan, it’s time to add the finishing touches to your training. A 10K training schedule is just the beginning—now, you need to layer it with proper workouts, exercises, recovery, and nutrition.
It might seem overwhelming, but we’re here to help walk you from the start to the finish line. Our mobile app has everything you need to learn how to train for a 10K—from running technique to mobility workouts, it’s got it all.
Download our new mobile app for access to coaching advice, daily video workouts, injury prevention tips, and complete training programs that will help motivate and inspire your 10K training program!