Training your way to 10K
A 10km race is the perfect challenge for beginner runners who want to get more serious, kick their training and fitness up a notch, and prepare for bigger and better challenges down the road.
The 10k blends the best of short recreational runs with longer more intense ones such as half marathons, offering a manageable challenge (but a challenge nonetheless) which will be fun to work towards.
If you feel like this is the next logical step for you, here are some things you should do to get ready for your first 10k.
Form a proper training plan including slow, long runs
If you’ve been running recreationally up until now, it’s likely that your training routine hasn’t been very focused. You may have been going for a short jog each morning and your natural inclination might be to simply increase the distance and speed of your runs in preparation for your first 10k
That’s not the way to go about it.
Instead, you should set up a fixed weekly training routine which includes around three runs per week. One of those should be an “easy” run – slow and for a short distance. The next should be a slightly more intense run – increasing your pace but maintaining roughly the same distance as with your easy run. The third should be a “long run” where you should aim to spend around 90 minutes on the road, getting as close to covering all 10k of distance as possible, while still maintaining a calm, manageable pace.
Between each running day, include a rest day to recover.
This system will allow you to work on your endurance, speed and technique with little risk of injury or exhaustion.
Add uphill runs to your training route
Uphill runs are fantastic when training for a 10k, as they help to promote proper running posture, while also putting enough strain on the muscles involved to strengthen them and improve your overall speed and power.
Be aware that these hill runs should be done at a reasonable, steady pace, not at a flat-out sprint. You don’t need to utterly exhaust yourself getting to the top – in fact; it’s counter-productive and likely to contribute to injury.
Stay in control when running back downhill as well. Control your pace and prevent yourself from going into the natural full-tilt sprint to the bottom. The better you can control your pace when gravity is telling you to “go!”, the better your form and discipline will become.
Before long you’ll notice that your speed on the flat is improving naturally.
Add in some cross training to kick things up a notch
Between your planned weekly runs, you should also include cross-training if you feel like you have the energy to manage it. Good cross training routines are those which work the muscles involved in running, without adding extra stress to your joints.
Having a spin on a stationary exercise bike between training days is a great way of working your quads and calves without risking injury, while swimming is another fantastic option as it offers the body resistance to work against, without any impact whatsoever.
That doesn’t just include the muscles of the lower body, either – strengthening your upper body too can help to make you more biomechanically efficient overall, and will directly improve your form and ability on the road.
Keep in mind: adding muscle mass while training for a run isn’t a great idea. Any weight you gain is just more weight your body will have to manage when you’re on the road. For this reason, avoid bodybuilding and serious weight training routines and stick to exercises like those mentioned above.
Feel free to throw in some bodyweight calisthenics exercises as well, such as lunges, pushups, and pullups.