Your First 10K: Five Easy Steps

Here's everything you need to know to compete in your first 10K race

by Michael Donlevy

first 10K race
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1. On your marks...

There's nothing like having the goal of competing in a race to focus the mind. "It gives you a target - and doing three sessions a week is enough to help you get fit," says RW contributing editor and running coach Nick Anderson (

Training for a race has many benefits, so you should enjoy training while gaining satisfaction from an end result. "Running is the best form of exercise for weight loss because it will help you shift pounds as well as get fit," says Anderson. "The 10K is a great mix of speed and endurance to help you achieve both of those goals."

It also releases
feel-good endorphins into the brain - so it's not all pain. "A race should be tough but training can be fun," says 5000m Commonwealth Games silver medallist and RW contributing editor Jo Pavey. "It can help lift self-esteem and fight depression."

The immovable goal
of a race date will also make you concentrate on healthy eating. "Running will help you eat well and snack sensibly," says Pavey. "The combination of eating healthily and running 10K can help lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, and strengthen your bones."

Training for a 10K
doesn't have to take over your life in the way preparing for a marathon can. "But it can help you be more organised," says Pavey. "The 10K allows you to set goals and train hard, but also enjoy the scenery and still have time to see friends."

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Discuss this article

I have just run 5k on the running machine with the grade at 2 i would like to run a 10k for charity. So what is the next steps from here to get myself up to fitness.

What r the best trainers for road running. And should I eat any differently?

Thank You

Posted: 25/06/2011 at 21:15

Best thing to do is go to a running shop and get some proper advice on shoes. I went to a running shop in Bristol where they did my gait analysis

. When i went from 5k to 10k i increased my runs by 15 minutes every 2 weeks and built up slowly,

 As far as fuelling goes if its hot i will take a water bottle out with me and whatever time of day i will make sure i have something to eat before for example if i have breaky at 9 i will run at 11 or if i ran at five i would have an apple or biscuit at 3ish. I find as long as i'm not starved but not full of food that works for me.

 You may find it harder on the road than on the Dreadmill so don't worry if you find 5K hard it takes time to build up...goodluck xx

Posted: 25/06/2011 at 21:33

I would stick with a knife and fork approach to eating.

Seriously, keep the carbs up (of the low GI kind), and just go with what your body tells you.

Hope you raise lots for charity.

Posted: 25/06/2011 at 21:39

Knee Injury - take a holiday in the Lakes - it may help!

Hi at the beginning of the year i decided to get fit and start running again after almost a decade (A ran a few Great North Runs in the 1990's).  I ran the Middlesbrough 5K earlier this year and ran a reasonable 26:45.  Around this time however i was getting tremendous pains in my knees (a common problem i am aware).  I went to respectable sports shop and one of there guys checked me out and said there was no problem with my running shoes or the way i ran.  He gave me a number of a specialist as there seemed obviously deep rooted problems and i had every intention to follow this up after a holiday in Coniston.  At the lakes i walked and walked all day every day, up commons, round Tarns and lake and also the Old Man of Coniston and not once did i feel a twinge or any problems with my knees. 

On my return home i had a few days rest then resumed my running scheduled designed for a 10K in Middlesbrough in Early September and i have been running every other day since i got back and not a twinge.  is it possible i have strengthened my knees and indeed solve my injury problem!

May be worth considering for other runners with similar injury problems.


Posted: 07/07/2011 at 13:28

Easy? Steady? Hard? Recovery?

Does Easy mean the speed where you can plod along and talk at the same time?

Is steady race speed?  Is Hard almost sprinting?  In which case, I am not sure I can sprint for 8 minutes.  Or is Hard your desired race speed?

Any guidance would be welcome.

Posted: 03/11/2011 at 18:05

Put simply...

Easy means you can still maintain full sentences with a buddy... hard means you can't.  It's not necessarily sprinting, it just means you're too out of breath for conversation.  Steady is somewhere in the middle... not conversational, but not breathing as hard as at "hard" pace. 

 Hope this helps!

Posted: 30/11/2011 at 16:43

i have less than 6weeks to train for a 10k for charity. i have only started training. Any tips would be appreciated as its freezing outside and i don't want to get injured.

Posted: 09/02/2012 at 09:57

I have started training for a 10k in May and also just to lose some unwanted poundage.

I can roughy run 5k in 30 mins...what do you think I should set as a target for the 10k in May?



Posted: 10/02/2012 at 13:06

Sally - make sure you warm up by walking a couple of minutes then running really slowly for 5 mins or so before you speed up. I was injured for 5 months last year due to over-training in january trying to get ready for a 1/2 marathon. Take it very slowly - do not increase your long run distance or your total weekly mileage by more than 10% per week. Either increase distance OR speed OR hills. Not all in one go. Stretch afterwards - holding each for 20 secs. Cross train if you cant run (swim, cycle, do fast walks up hills...) Good luck. Enjoy your training!

Grant - If you can do 30 min 5k now, aim for a 60min 10k by May. Then if you smash it you'll feel great! Don't aim too high, if you aim for a 55min 10k, and then end up doing it in 56, you will be disappointed. If you've aimed for 60 mins, a 56 min result will give you a massive high. Make sure you do some speed sessions (tempo runs, fartleks etc). You will definitely run faster on race day than you do in training - you just do!

Posted: 10/02/2012 at 20:07

Started running in the summer and followed a 6 week run/walk programme. Commitment was a bit up and down but got to a point where I could run for approx 5km in 30 mins.

Due to health reasons, had to stop running 3 months ago and havnt done any exercise since. 

 I want to start again and my brother has suggested a 10km run in May (12 weeks exactly from now) to motivate me. 

 Is this a realistic target? I just have no idea. I am feeling quite motivated at the moment but I'm not a natural runner at all. What do the more experienced ones of you think? (bear in mind my fitness is probably back to zero again and I might have to start with the run/walk thing all over again)... 

Posted: 19/02/2012 at 21:23

"Put simply... Easy means you can still maintain full sentences with a buddy... hard means you can't.  It's not necessarily sprinting, it just means you're too out of breath for conversation.  Steady is somewhere in the middle... not conversational, but not breathing as hard as at "hard" pace.   Hope this helps!"I'm new to running, but relatively fit (I currently do group fitness classes, mixing cardio, weights, mixed martial arts and spinning, 1-2 hours a time, four times a week) I'm wanting a challenge to aim for and 10k seems a nice one to start with. I have jogged/run a few times recently, just about 3km each time, e.g. to work etc. and do run on the treadmill, usually about 15-20 minutes at a time.I find I really have to train hard and watch what I'm eating to maintain a healthy weight, which is worsened by having a sedentary desk job.

I don't quite understand the whole easy/steady/hard thing though, even at a fast walk I struggle to "maintain full sentences", so am still none the wiser.

What could I be doing wrong? Is there any other way of defining the levels? When I do run I only seem to be able to go at one speed / pace, it's either stop or go!?! *confused*

Posted: 21/03/2012 at 15:00

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