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Home arrow Fitness arrow Running arrow The Ultimate 10K Running Plan for Beginners

The Ultimate 10K Running Plan for Beginners

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: May 19, 2023
7 min read 851 Views 0 Comments
clock 7 eye 851 comments 0

Looking for the perfect training plan to help you expedite your progress and get 10K-ready? Keep reading for an 8-week training program created by one of our running experts.

10k running plan for beginners

10K races are popular among beginners and experienced runners alike. They’re a great stepping stone for anyone who has a 5K under their belt but isn’t quite ready to take on a half-marathon.

Whether you have some running experience or consider yourself a novice runner, this 10K training plan and the additional tips will help set you up for success on your big day.

10K Running Plan for Beginners: What Does It Look Like?

A 10K training plan for beginners typically involves gradually building up to running 6.2 miles over the course of several weeks – in this case, 8 weeks.

It involves using a mix of running, walking, and rest days to increase endurance and stamina and is essential for preventing overtraining and injury while preparing the body to run longer distances.

How to avoid injuries while training for your first 10K

Running is a high-impact sport, meaning that because both feet are off the ground at the same time, there is more impact on your bones and joints when you land. 

Although running can have a strengthening effect on the lower legs, taking on too much too soon – before your body has had a chance to adapt, can land you with overuse injuries, like strained tendons and shin splints.

There are a few strategies that you can use to prevent injuries while training for the first 10K. Some of these include doing low-impact cross-training exercises, wearing proper footwear, getting adequate rest, and increasing effort and distance by no more than 10% every week.

How to Train for a 10K in 8 Weeks

This training plan is ideal for complete beginners and begins with long walks to acclimate the lower legs to increased stress. You will then slowly increase the length and pace of your runs for additional strength and aerobic training.

You’ll notice that one day a week is designed for cross-training. Workouts on cross-training days can include things like cycling, swimming, and strength training and are designed to build strength while reducing the amount of stress on your lower legs.

To avoid overuse injuries, it’s recommended that jogging intervals be between 3–5/10 and running intervals between 6–7/10. If you’re using a heart rate monitor, aim for 60–75% of your maximum heart rate.

In the days leading up to the race, it’s important to severely taper the distance you run and to prioritize rest and muscle recovery. Your 20–30-minute active recovery walk is designed to pump out any lingering lactic acid so your muscles are ready to perform at their best. 

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Week 1Walk 8,000–10,000 stepsRest dayWalk 8,000–10,000 stepsRest dayRest day/cross-trainingWalk 8,000–10,000 stepsRest day
Week 2Jog 5 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat 5x
Rest dayJog 5 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat 5x
Rest dayRest day/cross-trainingJog 5 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat 5x
Rest day
Week 3Jog 7 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat x4
Rest dayJog 7 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat x4
Rest dayRest day/cross-trainingJog 7 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat x4
Rest day
Week 4Jog 10 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayJog 10 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayJog 10 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat x3
Jog 10 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest day
Week 5Run 10 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayRun 10 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayRest day/cross-trainingRun 10 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest day
Week 6Run 12 minutes

Walk 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayRun 12 minutes

Walk 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayRest day/cross-trainingRun 12 minutes

Walk 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest day
Week 7Run 15 minutes

Walk 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayRun 15 minutes

Walk 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayRun 12 minutes

Walk 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Run 15 minutes

Walk 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest day
Week 8Run 12 minutes

Walk 3 minutes

Repeat x3
Rest dayJog 5 minutes

Walk 5 minutes

Repeat 5x
20–30-minute active recovery walkRest dayRace day!Rest day

Training for 10K: 6 Steps to Follow

#1 Build the base

In the running world, building a base refers to establishing a strong foundation of aerobic fitness and muscle strength over a longer period of time to reduce the chances of injury. 

This typically involves running at a moderate pace for longer durations and slowly increasing pace and distance, as opposed to focusing on speed or high-intensity exercises right off the bat.

Some of the ways that novice runners can build a strong foundation include doing dynamic stretches before running to warm up the muscles. It’s also important to start slow – usually between a 3–5 effort level, take as many walking breaks as you feel necessary, and aim to keep your heart rate no higher than 60–75% of your maximum heart rate.

#2 Cross-train

Although including some sort of cross-training into your 10K training plan isn’t a must, it’s definitely a good idea. Because a 10K is twice the distance as a 5K, training for it can be hard on the body. 

Cross-training exercises such as strength training or cycling can give your bones and joints a much-needed break from the repetitive stress of running. 

#3 Do your long runs

Most experienced runners have tricks for dealing with the mental and physical challenges that accompany running long distances and know how to set a race pace that won’t wear them out too soon.

Including longer runs – ones that are between 8–10 kilometers long – in your 10K training plan will set you up with the physical endurance, mental fortitude, and pacing practices you need to make it through your 10K race day.

#4 Mix in some speed

In the latter half of the 10K training plan provided above, it’s recommended to make the switch from jogging to running workouts. 

Increasing your running speed has a variety of benefits, the most helpful of which is increasing your anaerobic threshold, allowing you to run longer and faster without feeling fatigued. Increasing your speed can also improve your speed and power, making it easier to run uphill and overtake other runners.

#5 Rest, stretch, and foam roll

Cool-down and rest day practices such as stretching, foam rolling, or booking a massage with a registered massage therapist are essential components of your 10K training.

All of these are designed to enhance muscle recovery, which can make all the difference in preventing running-related injuries and minimizing the amount of time you need to bounce back in between workouts.

#6 Aid recovery with wholesome foods

The foods you consume while following your 10K training schedule can have a surprising impact on the length of time needed for muscle recovery.

Eating foods high in antioxidants, such as berries and leafy greens, is great for reducing inflammation. Meanwhile, foods rich in protein – the building block of muscle – help repair muscle tissue and promote muscle growth.

How to Prepare for a 10K Race

Getting ready for race day? Here are a few more tips to help you perform your best.

#1 Check out the course

Knowing a general outline of the course can help you conserve your energy for any uphill stretches and help you feel more confident heading into your big race.

#2 Pack the proper gear

Showing up in shorts and a t-shirt when you have to run in the rain is a sure way to make your 10K experience miserable. Make sure to check the weather, pack weather-appropriate gear, and bring extra layers just in case. 

#3 Eat a light and high-carb meal

Right before your race isn’t the time for a big bowl of pasta. Instead, pre-race meals can include high-carb foods like oatmeal, cereals, and bread and should be eaten 2–3 hours before your race. 

#4 Take time to warm up

Warming up is especially important if you’re running in the rain or cold, but either way, it can help improve your running economy by maximizing oxygen utilization and muscle performance.

FAQs

What is 10K in miles?

A 10K is around 6.2 miles long. The distance may seem daunting, but it’s ideal for intermediate and beginner runners wanting a new challenge and the chance to test their skills.

How long does it take to train for 10K?

Ideally, beginner runners wanting to do a 10K will give themselves 8–10 weeks to prepare, depending on their starting fitness level.

What’s the average 10K time for beginners?

How quickly a beginner runner can run a 10K depends on their personal fitness level, but on average, you can expect to finish around the one-hour mark.

Can you run a 10K in 8 weeks?

Yes, most novice runners can expect to be 10K-ready in as little as 8 weeks, just as long as they find the right training plan and stick to it.

A Word From a Running Coach

Heading into your first 10K with ideas about hitting a new personal best may not be the best mindset to set you up for success.

Even if you’ve run a 5K before, it’s important to remember that you’ll be running twice the distance and that pacing yourself, taking things slow, and even taking walking breaks when needed is nothing to be ashamed of.

Instead, remember that taking on a race of any distance is an accomplishment in and of itself. Regardless of if you hit your fastest mile while running, crossing the finish line is something you can be proud of, and having fun should be your number one priority.

Conclusion

Following training plans like the one outlined in this article is an essential part of preparing for a 10K. Doing so can help prevent injury while ensuring that you have the aerobic and physical capacity to complete the race.

The right training plan should include cross-training, running longer distances, and mixing in some speed, but start slow to avoid injury and build a solid base.

On race day, beginner runners should aim for a slow pace, especially in the beginning, to avoid burning out and to conserve energy for any potential hills. Beginners and experienced runners alike will benefit from wearing weather-appropriate running gear and eating a light, carbohydrate-rich meal 2–3 hours before the race.

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
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Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
Dr. Donika Vata
Fact checked by Donika Vata, MD
Last update: May 19, 2023
7 min read 851 Views 0 Comments
0 Comments

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