Harder to find these days, but a fun distance to run, the 10K can be a great bridge between a 5K and a half marathon. The 10K is twice as long as a 5K, but in may respects it's a more enjoyable race. Instead of shifting immediately into 5th gear from the starter pistol, the 10K allows for a little more time to get in your groove.
While the 10K pace may be a little toned down from the 5K, it's still moving at a pretty good clip and for twice the distance. Speed training is a component of 10K training, but endurance-training is really the key to a successful 10K. Working to maintain your speed over a longer distance is now your primary focus.
Listed below are several tips to help you achieve great results with your next 10K.
1. Begin with a base.
Having a solid base before beginning your 10K training, will ensure that you're acclimating only to the new training demands. A solid base also helps to decrease chance of injury from over training or doing too much too soon.
If you're fairly new to running (just beyond the beginner stage), you should have a total weekly mileage base of about 8 miles (with your longest run at about 3 miles) for at least a month before beginning a 10K training program.
If you're more of an intermediate runner, you should have a total weekly mileage base of about 10 to 15 miles (with your longest run at about 4 to 5 miles) for at least a month prior to starting an intermediate 10K training program.
If you're an advanced (seasoned runner), you should have a total weekly mileage base of about 20 miles (with your longest run at about 8 to 10 miles) for at least a month before beginning a 10K training program at the advanced level.
2. Train with a buddy or group.
One of the best ways to succeed with 10K training is to ensure your accountability. Training with a buddy or joining a 10K training group helps hold you accountable for the weekly workouts. Knowing you'll be missed goes a long way in making sure you get to each session. The encouragement of others can really help you through the tough portions of training.
3. Find a plan.
Do your homework. Not all 10K running plans are meant for all runners. If you're a beginner, look for a 12 to 14 week plan. Intermediate and advanced runners will do fine with a 10 to 12 week plan. Also, look at the total weekly mileage. Beginners, your weekly mileage should be in the upper teens to low 20s. Intermediate runners, your total weekly mileage should be in the mid 20s. Advanced runners, your mileage may reach into the 30s. More miles are not necessarily better. Quality runs such as hills, intervals, and tempo runs may not rack-up the mileage, but the conditioning they provide trumps lots of long steady-state miles.
4. Vary your pace.
Don't run all your runs fast. Because a 10K is only 6.2 miles, many runners (especially intermediate and advanced runners) find themselves running all their runs at or close to race pace. A plan with varied-paced runs will help to improve endurance—both aerobic and muscular. It will also help to increase your pace. Runners that run fast with every run thinking they'll eventually get faster often find they stagnate or hit a wall with their speed and can't get any faster. A weekly regimen of short easy runs, speed work (hills and/or intervals), a tempo run and a slow long run will help to increase pace as well as better prepare you overall for race day as well as keep your injury free.
5. Run long.
It may seem odd to have "long runs" in a 10K training plan, but they are key in helping to improve your aerobic glycogen metabolism (energy making). Increasing your longest runs through the duration of the training program to mileage longer than the race length will help tremendously in making your energy production more efficient. If you're a beginner, having your longest run go to 7 miles will suffice. Intermediate runners can take their longest long run to 9 miles and the advanced runner can run his/her longest long run up to 12 miles.
Remember that a long run is an easy slow run. These runs are designed to increase distance endurance. Most of your long runs should be run about 1-minute slower than your 10K race pace. In the second half of your training, it's good mentally and physically to start picking up the pace to your 10K race pace during the last couple of miles of your long runs. This teaches your body and your brain that you have the ability to "pick-it-up" later in the run.
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