How to Prepare for a 10k Run: Beginners-Advanced

man and woman running

Preparing for a 10k run (6.2 miles) isn’t hard and doesn’t take a long time. In fact, it’s possible to prepare for a 10k run in as little as two weeks. There is a difference between finishing a 10k run and racing a 10k run. Finishing a 10k run may be a big achievement for some runners. More advanced runners might be looking to set a new personal best (PR). Both goals require different preparation strategies.

Keep reading to learn how to prepare for a 10k run whether it’s the first one or the hundredth one!

How to Prepare for a 10k Run (in just two weeks)

The following guide is designed to get someone with some running experience to the start line in good enough shape to finish a 10k. Walking breaks may be needed during the run depending on personal fitness level and running experience. This guide is not designed to help athletes race a 10k in a fast time (skip to the end if that’s a goal).

1. Run Several Workouts at Race Pace

With only two weeks, it isn’t possible to make any big physiological adaptations to your body. Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to run several intense workouts at the desired race pace  to develop a feel for running at a fast pace.

2. Get in one last hard workout

Do one last high-intensity workout four or five days before the race. This is usually one of the most important sessions for race preparation. It gives muscles one last training stimulus and prepares the body for the upcoming racing demands.

3. Don’t overtrain

One can’t pack 12-weeks of training into just two weeks. A few high-intensity workouts are important, but there also needs to be time for adequate recovery. The last thing one wants is to stand at the starting line with sore, fatigued muscles. That’s the surest way of guaranteeing a poor time.

4. The last week before a 10K race should look something like the following:

  • Six or seven days before the race:
    Long slow run
    – 30-45 minutes
  • Four or five days before the race:
    Intervals: 10-minute warm-up / 4 x 5 minutes at 10K race pace with 3 minutes of jogging in between intervals / 10-minute cool-down
  • One or two days before the race:
    Long continuous run followed by accelerations –
    10-15 minutes / 3-5 accelerations

man after a run

How to Prepare for a 10k Run for the First Time

10k runs are super popular because the distance is manageable for most people. Many people choose 10k as their first running event distance. Here are some tips to prepare for the first attempt at a 10k run:

1. Consistency is Key

Ideally, pick a 10k run at least eight weeks away. This gives plenty of time to get in enough running to train the body (especially the legs) to tolerate running for an extended period of time. 

Beginner runners may be running (and walking) for over an hour. Working up to this duration/distance requires running at least three times per week. Speed and duration of the runs are less important than just getting out and running or walking a couple of times a week since polarized training can improve performance for recreational runners. Don’t add more than 15 percent more total distance per week.

Can’t get out for a run? No problem. Do this butt and leg workout at home instead:

2. Build Up Long Run Distance

Work up to at least 75 percent of the distance (7.5 km) for the long runs. Try to get in a long run once a week or at least every other week. The long runs will help develop the muscular endurance to tolerate running for 10k. They will also help build confidence that the distance is doable.

An easy way to add distance to the long run is to add 500m – 750m to the longest runs usually done. It may not seem like much, but it will add up! 

3. Don’t Worry About Speed

One does not burn considerably more calories by running faster. Speedwork like HIIT and other forms of interval training can add too much intensity for new runners to tolerate. If the goal is just to finish the first 10k run, don’t worry about doing hard runs (unless you want to because they’re “fun”). Instead, just make sure to consistently train and avoid injury.

4. Take Recovery Seriously to Avoid Injury

Beginner runners might be tempted to run through the soreness and pain that comes from training consistently for their first 10k. Knowing when to ignore the pain and push through comes with athletic experience—beginner runners don’t have this luxury. 

woman doing cool-down exercises

Novice runners are at a higher risk for injury than others, as noted in The American Journal of Sports Medicine. Here are some indicators that one should stop or drastically reduce training:

  • Sharp pains that come on suddenly mean stop running immediately or risk getting injured. 
  • Prolonged soreness and swelling are likely from an overuse injury. Get in some RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to reduce swelling and speed up recovery. Don’t keep running on the injury, or it could get much worse.
  • Sickness symptoms below the neck are not worth continuing to train.
  • Consult a medical professional when in doubt.

Do this yoga-inspired recovery workout on recovery days to enhance body and mind:

5. Follow a 10k Training Plan

adidas Running Premium Members can create a training plan suited to their ability level, goal finishing time and race distance. The training plan guides training runs so new runners never run too fast and stay motivated to finish their run strong! Download adidas Running to check out other unique features like Live Cheering!

How to Prepare for a 10k Run (Intermediate-Advanced)

Intermediate or advanced runners are looking to improve their 10k time. They may also use 10k runs to build speed for a longer event like a half marathon or marathon. 10k is a great distance to build speed and endurance without adding tons of fatigue. It requires good endurance, a high threshold and maybe even a good sprint at the end. In other words, it’s a great distance to develop into a well-rounded runner. Follow these tips to try for a new 10k PR:

1. Master Pace Changes

Running a faster 10k requires training to run a faster 10k. Plan to include HIIT sessions and other types of interval workouts in the leadup to the race. Long runs with several kilometers run at or slightly above race pace are key workouts for race-specific intensity. Tempo and threshold workouts should be a staple in a quality, intermediate to advanced running plan. 

Don’t forget to include running drills before or after workouts. They help improve running economy and prevent injury. Run that 10k like a gazelle by doing the drills in this video from a pro marathoner:

2. Strength Training

Advanced runners and intermediate runners looking to jump to the next level should likely be doing strength training. As found in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, specific strength training can improve running performance. This doesn’t mean going to the gym to bulk up. Instead, bodyweight and functional training are sufficient. Check out adidas Training for a running-specific strength training program alongside a running training plan.

Check out this super short core and lower back strength workout that is a hit with runners!

3. Recover Hard to Train Harder

Intermediate runners might be tempted to skimp on recovery to get in another hard training session. This is what separates intermediate runners from unlocking advanced running performance. Elite runners know when it’s time to take it easy and put their feet up on the couch for an afternoon nap. 

4. Get a Good Training Plan

Following a training plan tailored to specific goals and abilities is vital for intermediate to advanced runners. adidas Running even has customizable plans to help achieve a 40-minute 10k. Become a Premium Member and start a plan to set a new PR in just a few weeks!

5. Warm Up

Make sure to warm up properly on race day. Learn how warm-ups can optimize performance and find the perfect warm-up routine.

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Morgan Cole Cole has over a decade of experiance as an endurance athlete. What moves him is moving you. View all posts by Morgan Cole »