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Home arrow Fitness arrow Running arrow Preparing for a 10K: 8 Tips That Will Help You Increase Mileage

Preparing for a 10K: 8 Tips That Will Help You Increase Mileage

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: September 20, 2022
10 min read 1267 Views 0 Comments
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Training for your first 10K? Using these tips would help you reach that 10K finish line in good time.

preparing for a 10k

So you’re planning to run your first 10K race? You’ve hit some miles or watched a 10K race, and now you can’t get over the excitement of pursuing a new running challenge. 

To succeed at a 10K, you need endurance, strength, and a truckload of dedication. So it’s time to work on pushing yourself to hit that 10K before your race day. 

In this article, we’ll answer your 10K questions and cover 8 solid tips on preparing for a 10K race. But first, just how long is a 10K?

How Long Is a 10K?

A 10-kilometer (10K) race is approximately 6.2 miles long, and it’s one of the long-distance races beginner runners attempt before attempting a half-marathon (13.1 miles) and a full marathon (26.2 miles).

Running a 10K requires not only intense speed work but also endurance. The 10K is predominantly used in cross country and road racing events and is a great way to challenge yourself after hitting the 5-kilometer mark. 

Data from Running Level says that the average 10K time for men was 46 minutes and 43 seconds. In comparison, females average 54 minutes and 13 seconds. 

What do you think your fastest 10K time will be?

8 Tips on How to Prepare for a 10K

Preparing for a 10K is never easy. It requires planning, dedication, and a guiding hand. To help you plan better, here’s a list of 8 must-know tips for preparing to run your first 10K:

  1. Build your running schedule
  2. Increase mileage by 10% each week
  3. Stay consistent
  4. Practice different types of running
  5. Don’t forget HIIT workouts
  6. Don’t overtrain
  7. Practice recovery runs
  8. Try to run the full distance before a 10K race day

#1 Build your running schedule 

Once you’ve decided to train for a 10K race, the next step is to design your running schedule or training plan. How you choose to do that is entirely up to you, but you must place focus on developing your performance. 

For example, a study in the Journal of Athletic Enhancement analyzed an 8-week program focused on improving running techniques for recreational runners. The program included 3 running sessions of 30 minutes per week, resulting in an improvement in running technique and a reduction in injury risk. 

Aside from training runs, an efficient training program should include at least one rest day for complete rest and cross-training days for yoga or strength training. Strength training involves exercises that train your muscles to support the long-distance run you’re aiming for.

When developing your schedule, you don’t have to start from scratch. A typical running schedule can look like this: rest (Monday and Friday), base run (Tuesday and Thursday), cross-training (Wednesday), long runs (Saturday), and recovery run (Sunday).

You can move things around and modify the schedule to suit your specific situation based on your fitness, running level, and availability. New runners with no running experience would benefit from a more gradual and drawn-out 12-week schedule.

Your body needs time to build distance momentum, so spend the first six weeks making sure you can complete a 4-mile run in one go before moving to a 6.1-mile run. At the earlier stage, focus more on duration and distance than speed. 

If you’re a more experienced runner, your experience affords you the luxury of accomplishing your 10K goal in 4–8 weeks. At this stage, you’re free to include speed in your focus for the initial stages of their training. 

#2 Increase mileage by 10% each week

Increasing your weekly mileage by 10% ensures you’re not raising your mileage and intensity too much. As long as you’re resting and caring for your muscles, following the 10% rule functions as a stop-gap that helps you avoid serious injury from excessive training.

For example, if you ran for 15 minutes last week, you shouldn’t get too hopeful and increase this week’s mileage by 5 minutes. It would help if you only increased it by a minute and a half, allowing your body to adjust gradually and not shock it into a damaging injury or fatigue.

However, experienced runners can get away with exceeding 10%. They have more experience with running and understand their body enough to make informed decisions concerning their goal race pace and weekly mileage.

#3 Stay consistent

Ask any successful runner, and they’ll gladly tell you that consistency is the difference between a high-performing sports person and a random Jack. Consistency improves your fitness, performance, and self-discipline, all of which you need to meet your 10K goal.

The first step to staying consistent is to create a training plan with specific days for training. A lack of planning is a hindrance to maintaining continuous dedication. You’ll find yourself unable to track your performance and stay dedicated. 

If you’ve created a running schedule, it means you’re on the right track. The problem usually arises when it comes to sticking to your plan and showing up for yourself every time. 

Consider joining a running group or getting a running partner to ensure you show up. The camaraderie and hype experienced from running with others on a similar journey may be the kick you need to stick to your schedule. 

Also, if you are struggling with staying consistent, we would recommend trying the Joggo running app. 

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#4 Practice different types of running 

You’ve created a training program and kept to the 10% rule, but did you remember to vary the type of runs in your schedule? Most beginner runners just put on shoes and start running fast or slow till they reach their goal race pace or distance. 

The different types of runs include base run, fartlek run, interval run, tempo run, long run, progression run, hill repeats, recovery run, etc. Each has its uses and accompanying benefits that address endurance, speed, and running economy improvement.

Base runs – short to moderate distance runs done at your natural pace that help boost aerobic capacity and running economy.

Fartlek runs – improve speed play and are basically base runs mixed with intervals of varying distance, duration, and speed.

Interval running or interval training – your plug for fatigue resistance, efficiency, and running economy. It consists of short or long bursts of maximum effort separated by equal or slightly slower running, jogging, or walking. 

Tempo runs – tempo runs build endurance and are done at the highest speed you can sustain for a certain amount of time. 

Whether training for a half-marathon or a 10K, you must vary your runs while training. 

#5 Don’t forget HIIT workouts

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. It’s a type of exercise that alternates between intense intervals of movements and a short period of rest. HIIT workout prevents overuse injuries, increases speed bursts, balances your body strength, and tones your muscles.  

Running puts more focus on your lower body. With interval workouts, you can focus on increasing upper body strength too. It’s also an opportunity to strengthen your muscles to run faster and prevent tired legs while running longer distances. 

Furthermore, HIIT workouts are an opportunity to engage your fast twitch muscles toward a faster pace and increased speed bursts. The idea of stronger, toned leg muscles makes for more efficient running.

The key to a great HIIT workout is to push with hard effort for those intense seconds. Of course, your muscles will burn due to the intense workout, but they and your running performance will thank you once you hit the 10K. 

Examples of HIIT workouts for distance runners are mountain climbers, squats, sprints, jump squats, and lunges. Combine these into 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work, separated by 10 seconds of rest. 

#6 Don’t overtrain

Overtraining happens when you train without enough recovery and rest in between – for example, running for six days and having only one day of rest. Experienced runners can run for seven days as long as they vary the type of runs, but beginners might not be able to do that.

Overtraining can cause muscle strain, microtears, pain, fatigue, reduced appetite, weight loss, irritability, a decline in performance, decreased immunity, and loss of motivation to go on training runs. 

Avoid overtraining by running and exercising well within your limits and allow enough time for your body to rest and recover from all the beating it received. In addition, shuffle the muscle groups you target to prevent overtraining a particular set of muscles. 

And while designing your 10K training plan, be deliberate about balancing your runs, muscle training, and cross training. If you need help, reach out to a certified running coach to assist with designing an effective running schedule. 

Despite warnings, some runners still fall into the temptation. You can treat it by resting, slowing down all activities, getting a deep tissue massage, or using an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain.

#7 Practice recovery runs

Recovery runs are slow-paced easy runs that you reserve for the tail end of your routine after an intense workout. Usually, a recovery run comes after high-intensity runs like intervals, fartlek, or tempo runs within 24 hours to aid recovery.

Adding a recovery run to your schedule helps increase your daily mileage without exerting yourself with more brutal forms of running. Over time, as studies show, you’ll also notice an improvement in endurance, base mileage, race pace, running form, technique, and more. 

So what pace should your recovery run be? It should be shorter and slower than your base runs, around 50–70% of your 3-mile pace. It’s not a time to beat your personal record. The goal is for it to feel easy and slow enough to engage in conversation without running out of breath.

#8 Try to run the full distance before a 10K race day

You might survive a 0.2-mile sprint without running the whole distance a day before the race, but 6.2 miles is a long distance that requires more strength and endurance. You might fall short or lag on race day without first running the length as you train for a 10K.

It all comes down to confidence. Your mind needs to know it can go the whole 10K. If you run the total distance twice or thrice before race day, it’ll be easier to reach the finish line on the event day.

So while you train for a 10K run, ensure enough time to test-run the total distance multiple times. Once you’ve got this and the seven other tips on lock, you’re sure to meet your 10K goal in the weeks leading to race day.  

How Long Does It Take to Train for a 10K?

Before you make any training plans, get a physical exam and consult a certified running coach to know if you’re fit enough to attempt a 10K race. If you receive a clean bill of health, go ahead and draw up a training schedule. 

The training period required to hit a 10K depends on your physical ability, time available, and running experience. Someone who conveniently runs 4 miles would achieve a 10K distance faster and require less training time than another who just started running. 

Wherever your training plan falls into, you must schedule rest days, cross-training, and strength training for a well-rounded experience like this beginner plan by the British Heart Foundation. You should also consider your current race pace and your goal race pace. 

Typically, beginners and people without any experience with running should schedule at least 8–12 weeks of training time. Intermediate and advanced runners who feel they’re past the beginner stages can plan 6–10 weeks for their 10K training.  

If you’re a beginner, you must target at least 3 days of running with rest and recovery in between to reach your goal. Advanced runners can go higher with at least 4 days of running. 

Is 4 weeks enough time to prepare for 10K?

Four weeks can be enough to train for a 10-kilometer race. If you have a running background at an advanced level of at least a 5K distance, 4 weeks is doable with a stringent training regimen and strength training. 

At the 5K milestone, your body and mind will be accustomed to enduring longer distances. You’ll find it easier to target a 10K within 4 weeks and even a half-marathon for a bit longer. Remember that the ability to finish the training in 4 weeks varies from runner to runner. 

Also, people with no running experience or who have been inactive for over 3 months should stay clear of scheduling a 4-week 10K training plan. If you’re starting from scratch, 4 weeks is never enough time to whip your body in shape. 

A Word From Our Coach

Training for a 10K race is an extremely tasking undertaking. While a 10K training schedule can kickstart your path to success, some runners erroneously forget about hydration, running gear, eating a balanced diet, hydration, and sleep.

When designing your schedule, you should include a hydrating and dieting plan. How you drink and eat contributes to your performance on and off the race track. Your running rear also affects your racing experience, so check them before reaching the starting line.

If possible, schedule some time for sleep and ensure you’re getting enough of it in good quality. You’ll be surprised how many runners don’t get enough quality sleep. A lack of sleep can affect your performance the same way a badly formed weekly training schedule can.

One last thing some runners overlook is the importance of knowing the 10K race course beforehand. If it’s allowed, visit the course ahead of time and learn all you need to know to aid your performance.

Once you’re in, take a walk around the course. Note weather conditions, terrain, water stations, and anything you think could affect your goal pace or race strategy on race day.

Lastly, if your training gets interrupted by sickness or a setback, you can always pick up where you left off. And if you miss your race day, remember there are more chances to break your record and hit the 10K in a race with others. 


Your registration number, running shoes, and good legs aren’t the only things you need to run a 10K race. The 10K is a 6.1mile long-distance race that requires physical endurance and ample preparation even to stand a chance.

In preparation for your main event, you must first create a running schedule and factor in your fitness level, running experience, hydration, and dieting, while adhering to the 10% rule. Also, staying consistent and practicing different types of runs add up to achieving the 10K pace. 

Remember to enjoy every moment of your training, especially the hard ones.

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 Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: September 20, 2022
10 min read 1267 Views 0 Comments

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