Planning on running a 10K this summer? Perhaps one of our Women’s Running Race Series events? No matter what your level of fitness or your preferred approach to 10K training, there are some general guidelines that can help every runner reach their 10K potential. Here’s how to get off on the right foot.
It’s good to take a steady and sensible approach to training but don’t let that turn into procrastination and put off training. If you really want to race a 10K this summer, then start with a gentle jog today! That will give you a steer on just how fit you are and the amount of training you’ll need to put in.
Make sure you have the right shoes and sports bra before you start training – you can sort out the rest of the outfit later (that’s the fun bit!). To buy your first pair of running shoes, visit a specialist shop to have your running style analysed and your shoes fitted properly. Don’t assume you know your bra size, either – again, the best thing to do is visit a shop and get measured up. A friendly word of warning on the subject of kit: if you’re running your 10K for charity, make sure you try the vest or t-shirt on first to check for chafing points!
Running with someone else can help keep you motivated – just make sure you choose the right person. Find a friend who can keep a similar timetable to you and who is reliable – and make sure it’s someone who won’t let you off the hook easily if you lose your mojo some days!
Running 10 kilometres is perfectly achievable, but don’t underestimate the distance – it can take a toll on your body. By varying your training you’ll not only keep boredom at bay but you’ll also help to stave off injuries. Try to include some weekly strength training or low-impact gym sessions. This will build fitness and strength without stressing your body too much, which running can do if you’re new to it.
It’s better to train three times a week, every week, than to train for six days in one week and then not at all the next. So if you’re following one of our plans feel free to swap the days around but don’t be tempted to ‘make up’ missed sessions – if you find you just can’t fit it in at the moment, aim for a later race so you can train properly and enjoy it.
Even experienced athletes need the odd day off. When you are resting, your body is rebuilding and repairing muscles, making them stronger – it’s this reaction to training that ultimately gets you ready to race. So don’t be tempted to squeeze in extra training on your designated rest days. You might also find you need to factor in things like busy work weeks or heavy loads of housework – these can be as exhausting as a hard run! Take extra rest sometimes, if you need to.
Let’s be clear, you’re doing this for fun, so you don’t want to suddenly start living on poached chicken and courgetti (unless, of course, you love those foods). But wiping out some of the junk from your diet will give you more energy to train and could even help you shed a couple of pounds before your race (if you want to) which, in turn, can make it easier to run. It’s not just about cutting out food either – adding in a bit of slow-release carbohydrate on heavy training days can help you train for longer, while introducing a shot of caffeine before hard sessions will make them feel easier.
Most 10K races are marked in kilometres (no surprises there) so, if you’re still using old money, switch to measuring your training routes the metric way. (Many free GPS-based apps will do this anyway.) Learn how to pace your kilometres so you have a good idea of what you can expect on race day. This applies whether you’re planning to finish in 45 minutes or 90 minutes.
Never raced before? Try a parkrun as part of your 10K training. These free, friendly events are a great way to build your confidence running in a group and will give you a feel for how you perform over a measured course. Visit parkrun.org.uk to find out more.
You need to take your running seriously to finish a 10K… but not that seriously! Don’t forget that this is supposed to be a fun event. If you find yourself stressing out about it, plan to take friends and family along on the day to take your mind off the pressure, and chat to your fellow runners as you go round the course. We promise they’ll be friendly!
Use this plan if you’ve never run 10K before. You’ll need to have already been running for a few weeks, ideally having completed a Couch to 5K or similar programme. However, if you have some running experience and can run/walk for 20 minutes at a time, you should be OK with this plan. You’ll be training four times per week with the option of adding in stretching sessions.