By Gemma Seager |
Maybe you’ve been running for a long time now, and just always stuck to shorter distances, or maybe you’re a total beginner looking for a challenge to train for. Either way, a 10k is an excellent race distance to set your sights on.
The 10k is one of the most popular distances for road races, and there’s a very good reason for that. Half Marathons and Marathons take a lot of time commitment, they are hard on your body and you need to devote a lot of time and dedication to your training to prepare your body properly. A 10k, however, is long enough to be challenging, but short enough that you can train for it properly without turning over 3 months of your life to thinking about it constantly.
Running for around an hour means you don’t have to think too much about nutrition protocols or hydration unless the weather is crazy hot, just have a decent breakfast and grab your bottle of water and banana at the finish line.
When you’re approaching that 6.2 miles for the first time it can seem pretty daunting, but the transition up from a 5k isn’t as hard as you might think.
Here are a few tips to get you started on your route to that first 10k medal!
#1 Plan your entire training programme
Whatever speed you are currently running a 5k at, you’ll want to lower your expectations at first for longer distances, but with just 8 weeks training you’ll find that planning ahead can help you build your speed over longer distances.
How you train will depend on your goals, are you happy just to finish or do you have a speed target?
✓ To start try planning in at least 3 sessions a week. 2 shorter ones, one at an easy pace and another focusing on speed or hill work that’s a little more challenging. Your third session will be your long run where you work up to that 10k, or even a little further.
✓ Increase your distances gradually, half a mile or a mile a week, and keep your pace for your longer runs slow, perhaps adding in shorter blocks of race pace in the last couple of weeks before the race.
#2 Be 100% Prepared
Running a 5k in a vest that rubs is one thing, by the time you’ve been running an hour that chafing can be more than just a minor irritation. Use your long runs as a sort of dress rehearsal.
✓ Try out the kit you want to wear on the day, eat the same breakfast at the same time as you’ll have to on the day and generally figure out in your head how it will all work.
✓ If you have a long distance to travel to the race you might find you’ll want a snack bar to eat about half an hour before it starts, and you don’t want to be trying something new on the day that might upset your stomach.
Consider the time of year, you’ll be outside for an hour, plus hanging around at the beginning and end, will you need sunscreen, sunglasses or a jacket or waterproof? Where will you leave your kit while you are running?
#3 Know your route
Over a 10k the hills and twists and turns can make a real difference in your race strategy.
If your route is very hilly it might make your time goals a lot more challenging.
✓ It also helps to know where water stations will be and if there are any toilet facilities provided on the route.
✓ Race websites often contain a map and advice on the positioning of facilities.
✓ You’ll also want to check out parking and transport arrangements to and from the start line to make sure you can be calm and focused on the day.
If you can it pays to get out there and walk or run all of the route in advance, just to familiarise yourself with the terrain.
#4 Prepare mentally
Not all your training runs will be easy. Some will feel terrible and you will convince yourself you will never be able to do it. Take on board some tips on how to motivate yourself to help yourself stay positive, motivated and reach your training goals.
✓ If you normally run with music you may find headphones aren’t allowed during the race, practice some other techniques to keep yourself going when it starts to get tough.
✓ You might use a mantra, or practice dissociation by running through your shopping list in your head or thinking about what you’re going to do as a treat when you’re finished!
#5 Make sure you recover properly
Keeping pushing on a training program that is exhausting you won’t help you finish that race any faster and could lead to injury and over training.
Listen to your body and make sure you schedule rest days into your training plan while you’re building up the distance.
✓ Try building cross training into your plan such as swimming or cycling and try some active recovery techniques such as yoga, foam rolling and sports massage to keep your muscles loose and treat any niggling injuries.
✓ As you build your distance up any minor problems with your form can become magnified, don’t ignore those little niggles as they can easily become injuries that might count you out of a race altogether.
Take care of your body and it will take care of you!
Take Home Message
Running your first 10k is a great adventure and with some proper preparation you should be able to approach that finish line with your head held high.
…Maybe keep enough in reserve for a sprint finish for the waiting crowds!