How to run your perfect 10K

It’s no surprise that the 10K is by far the country’s most popular type of race. To say it’s a versatile distance is an under-statement. Take a cross-section of any 10K field and you’ll find a variety of different runners - some tackling it as their first run beyond five miles, others using it to stretch out their legs in company, whilst some will make it the focus of their whole season.

Whether this is your first 10K, or you’re looking for a training schedule to increase your pace, we’ve got everything you need in our definitive guide to running a 10K.

How far is a 10K in miles?

In miles, a 10K race is 6.2 miles long.

Related: The best 2018 summer 10K races

How much time do I need to train for a 10K?

The variety of schedules available are based on two things: how often you can train and how long you have till the race. From two-week training plans, to eight-week training plans, we’ve broken things down to help make things easier. One thing’s for sure: whether you’re a beginner, a one-off runner doing this for charity, or a seasoned club runner out for a new PB, this is your route to your best-possible, and most enjoyable, result.

Related: 10 key tips on how to run a 10K 

What time should I aim for?

If you’re a complete beginner, don’t start out with an overly ambitious goal. To give yourself a ballpark 10K target, see how far you can run at a sustainable pace in 15-20 minutes. Then measure this distance in miles, divide the time by the distance and multiply the result by 6.2 to get a rough figure for your first 10K race. If at that math sounds a little too complicated, try our race time predictor tool

For experienced runners, you can be a bit more structured. If you can run 5-6 x 1K or 3-4 x 1 mile at your target 10K pace with three minute recoveries, you should be able to hit your goal. We’ve also got time related 10K training plans below to help you reach your goal.

Related: How to handle the middle miles of a 5K or 10K 

The best 10K training plans:

We’ve broken our training plans down into time before the event, and runs per week to help you find the best schedule for you.

Two-week 10K training plans

Two weeks put you in a sort of no man’s land – you can’t improve a great deal in such a short time, but you can do some useful sessions to prepare for the race. If you’re a relatively new runner, it should allow you to learn to run with a degree of efficiency and economy. Regular runners can use the fortnight to fine-tune their existing fitness and practice running at 10K pace.

Our two-week training schedules:

RW's 2-week 10K training plan, running 3-4 times a week 

RW's 2-week 10K training plan, running 5-6 times a week 

Four-week 10K training plans

Four weeks is long enough to improve your fitness and put a little edge of speed in your legs. There are three schedule options here: one for runners who can spare three days a week to train; one for five days a week; and one for six or seven days a week. Each option loosely relates to a range of target 10K times, and these are shown at the top of each schedule.

The most basic option does assume you’re already running a minimum of three times and 16-20 miles a week, so if you’ve never run before but you’re committed to running a 10K in four weeks’ time you’d be best to simply focus on building up the length of your runs, rather than following the more speed-orientated structure of these schedules.

Our four-week schedules:

RW's 4-week 10K training plan, running 3 times a week – Approximately a 45-60 minute 10K 

RW's 4-week 10K training plan, running 5 times a week – Approximately a 40-50 minute 10K 

RW's 4-week 10K training plan, running 6-7 times a week – Approximately a 35-40 minute 10K

Related: Running your first 10K - 5 easy steps

Eight-week 10K training plans

You can really see your 10K fitness rocket over a preparation period of eight weeks. As with the four-week schedules, it’s important that you’re flexible in your approach. If the 10K is your single focus for the season and you’re willing to do everything you can for a best-possible time, you can add a two-to-four-month build-up period to the schedules, in which you focus on establishing a steady, solid mileage background.

Three-times-a-week runners should build up to a regular 20-25 weekly miles; five-times-a-week runners to 35-40 miles; and those training 6-7 times a week to 45-50 miles. You can vary your pace slightly to maintain interest during these build-up weeks, but save the real speed work for the final eight-week focus.

Our eight-week training schedules:

RW's 8-week 10K training plan, running 3 times a week – Approximately a 45-60 minute 10K 

RW's 8-week 10K training plan, running 5 times a week – Approximately a 40-50 minute 10K 

RW's 8-week 10K training plan, running 6-7 times a week – Approximately a 35-40 minute 10K

How should I pace on the day?

If this is your first 10K, try and run evenly – a fast start will often mean a painful finish. If you have a target of 60 minutes, you should aim to pass each kilometre marker at six-minute intervals. If you feel great near the end, pick up the pace and speed up.

What should I eat the night before a 10K?

SiS nutritionist Emma Barraclough shared the following top tips on how best to fuel your body for a 10K race, and what you should be eating during training. 

How much water should I drink during a 10K race?

This depends on a few things – the weather on the day and whether you are properly hydrated before you start racing. A sub-40-minute athlete on a cool day would be fine without stopping for water, a beginner would benefit from the liquid and the opportunity to walk through the drinks station. Use your judgement, but either way, try to resume your normal running rhythm as soon as possible after a station. Find more commonly asked questions before running a 10K here.

I’m finding my training difficult - what should I do?

Whether you’ve got the speed, but are struggling with the endurance, or are an endurance runner struggling to speed up, we’ve found the solutions to the most common 10K problems here. 

Related: How to develop a fast finishing kick for your next 10K