Moving from 5K to 10Kmpinzon
Rebekah Mayer, RRCA, USATF-Level 1 & Precision Nutrition certified
Are you ready to take the next step, and go from running a 5K to completing your first 10K? Read on for tips to help you go the distance.
Bump up your training
Training for your first 10K is mostly about covering the 6.2-mile distance. Your 5K training plan likely maxed out around three miles, but your 10K training plan should get you to at least a 5-mile long run. The term “long run” refers to your longest run of the week — whether it’s three miles (5K plan) or six miles (10K plan). It should be done once a week (often on a Saturday or Sunday) at an easy, conversational pace. You can build mileage safely by adding 0.5–1 mile per week to your long run, and taking a recovery week with a shorter long run every third week. In an 8-week plan, your long run progression might be (in miles) look like this:
Week 1: 3 miles
Week 2: 4 miles
Week 3: 4.5 miles
Week 4: 4 miles
Week 5: 5 miles
Week 6: 6 miles
Week 7: 4 miles
Week 8: RACE
Run more often
If you’ve been running only three times per week (or less), consider adding more runs to your training plan. Most runners find that training actually becomes more comfortable as they move up from running three times per week to four or even five times per week. Your body can get into the rhythm of running more easily with some back-to-back running days. If your schedule doesn’t allow for more than three runs per week, try to add additional activity to your week through cross-training or strength training, or by incorporating more walking into your day.
Play with intensity
If your goal is simply to finish your first 10K and have fun along the way, speed work is not a requirement. However, some simple and moderately challenging workouts can make your race pace feel easier. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Rolling hills: Complete your easy run on a hilly route.
Hill surges: Follow your rolling hills route, but push the pace on each uphill and relax on the way back down.
Hill repeats: These are a more focused effort on hills.
Choose a hill that is about a mile from your starting point. After an easy warm-up, run hard repeats up the hill four to six times. An ideal hill for this workout is about 100 yards long (the length of a football field). Run easy downhill to reduce impact. Finish with an easy cool-down back to your starting point.
Fartlek: This is a fun Swedish word for “speed-play.” In a fartlek workout, you don’t need to follow a specific plan, but you should include four to six “pickups” between various landmarks.
Choose an upcoming landmark (park bench, light post, etc.) and run hard until you get there. As you gain strength, the landmarks can be farther apart, up to three to five minutes away. Run easy until you decide to start the next pickup.
Surges: These are short segments of hard but controlled running. They should be a little faster than your goal 10K pace.
In a 4-mile run, you could include four surges of two minutes each, with two minutes of easy jogging or walking between each surge.
Goal 10K pace: If you have a pace in mind that you think you can maintain for 10K, you should spend some time practicing that pace. Our muscles have memory, so you can train them to be more comfortable at your goal race pace.
After a 1-mile warm-up, run 4x800m repeats at your goal 10K pace. Take two minutes of easy running between each interval.
If you don’t have access to a track, you can run half-mile repeats using your GPS device.
No GPS? You can run hard by time (e.g., five minutes per race-pace interval if your 10K goal is to maintain 10:00 miles).
For more training resources, check out your local Life Time Run Training options. If you’re not able to join one of our groups, you can get started with our 10K 8-WEEK TRAINING PLAN provided by Life Time Run & Gildan Esprit de She, or step it up to purchase a custom Run Plan.
With twice the distance of a 5K ahead of you, you’ll likely want to start at a slower pace. Most runners will need to add at least 20 seconds per mile to their 5K pace when moving up to 10K. The 10K is a great distance to run with a “negative split,” where you start at a more cautious pace for the first half of the race, and then pick up the pace for the second half. For many runners, the 10K is at a high enough intensity that going out too fast can lead to “red-lining” and going over your AT (anaerobic threshold) early; your breathing becomes heavy and your pace slows. If you can run negative splits, you’ll have more fun passing other runners late in the race, which can increase your motivation as the finish line nears.
During your race, plan to drink water at the aid stations. Most runners don’t need to consume a sports drink during a 10K, as the average runner can run at a hard intensity for about 90 minutes before running out of carbs.
For your pre-race meal, pick something familiar and easy to digest. Contrary to conventional wisdom, your pre-race meal doesn’t have to be loaded with carbohydrates; instead, make sure you eat a mix of carbs and protein, plus a little fat. This will allow you to start the run with balanced blood sugar and avoid the spike-and-crash that can follow a high-carb meal. It’s best to avoid foods high in fat or fiber, as well as dairy products, unless you know you tolerate them well. A few common snack examples are an apple and a handful of nuts, eggs and toast, or a protein shake with almond milk as a base.
Enjoy your 10K!
Rebekah Mayer is National Training Manager for Life Time Run. Life Time Members and non-members are invited to take part in Finish Line Training programs and Social Runs available at 70+ locations nationwide. Learn more about Finish Line Training & Social Runs at LifeTimeRun.com.