Run Training Plans

Training for a 10K

January 5, 2009

Training for a 10KReady to build on your 5K success? The next step is doubling the race distance and signing up for a 10K. But that doesn’t mean you need to double your mileage. Instead, we’ll add a few dozen minutes of running per week and focus on training at 10K race pace.

If you need to work on base, spend some time building to consistently running three or four days a week, with cross-training to get you to five aerobic sessions every seven days. Don’t forget the importance of days off, which should come at least once a week, and keep up your core strength and flexibility with yoga or Pilates. Refer to our 5K plan for details on choosing a race, running surfaces, equipment, and how to shuffle workouts. Be sure your shoes are still fresh!

BUILDING TO 10K

Running a 10K requires more sustained focus than the 5K. While your pace may feel slightly less intense, you’ll need to concentrate for twice as long as in a 5K. Practice makes perfect here, so the longer intervals become fruitful opportunities to observe your mental process as you push toward discomfort. These are good runs to do alone, or at least silently, and without the distraction of your MP3 player. You’ll probably learn some interesting facts about yourself and how you handle intensity, and this in turn gives you more strength in all areas of your life.

The 10K may take you up to an hour—give a little, or take a lot—so it’s time to consider your nutrition before, during, and after your training and the race. While you may be capable of completing the training and the race without planning any extra nutrition, keeping your stores up will ensure a good experience. Naturally, you’ll need to stay hydrated. If you find yourself very thirsty during or after your runs, plan to carry a bottle or to pass a stash of water on your route. If you run first thing in the morning or late in the day, you might benefit from drinking a sports drink just before you begin your run. Experiment with nutrition for your longer runs: determine a breakfast that works for you (something low in fat and low in fiber), and plan to eat it on race day. Add a small carbohydrate-rich snack (100–200 calories) after your runs of over an hour: this can be more sports drink, a banana, half a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter, half a PowerBar, a cup of soup or yogurt, chocolate milk or soymilk. This recovery snack will help replenish the glycogen you’ve just burned.

FIRST FOUR WEEKS

Tuesdays in the first four weeks will get you acclimated to spending time at threshold. You may remember this feeling—the edge of intensity—from your yoga practice. It should be pretty hard but sustainable. Try to run your least interval just as strongly as your first one.

Thursdays are for hills (or simulated hills on a treadmill set to 4–6 percent grade, if you live in a flat area). Hill running builds strength! Put out an effort that makes you feel glad to reach the end of the interval but still able to think and talk as you walk or jog back to the base of the hill to begin the next repeat. Time here is in minutes:seconds, so that 1:30 means one minute and thirty seconds.

Saturdays, you’ll run long. These long runs should be conversationally slow. If you do not cover six miles in 70 minutes, consider adding in the second four weeks so that you have gone the race distance. If you cover eight miles or more in 70 minutes of easy running, you’re fast, and the extra distance will be money in the bank come race day.

Supplement with easy running or cross-training. If you’re cross-training, you can go up to an hour each day, depending on your schedule, history, and mood.

MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
WEEK
1

Rest; Yoga or Pilates
Intervals:
Run 45 min. with 3 x (6 min. medium hard, 2 min. easy). Follow with Balance and Bowing.
Run 30-40 min. easy or cross-train.
Follow with Core Flow.
Hills:
Run 45 min. with :30, :45, 1:00, 1:15 and 1:30 steady up a hill.
Follow with Lunge Series.

Rest; include Relax.
Run 50 min.
Follow with Standing Stretches.
Run 30-40 min. easy or cross-train.
Follow with Warrior Flow.
WEEK
2

Rest; Yoga or Pilates
Intervals:
Run 45 min. with 4 x (6 min. medium, 2 min. easy). Follow with Balance and Bowing.
Run 30-40 min. easy or cross-train.
Follow with Core Flow.
Hills: Run 45 min. with 1:00, 1:15, 1:30 and 1:45 steady up a hill.
Follow with Lunge Series.

Rest; include Relax.
Run 60 min.
Follow with Standing Stretches.
Run 30-40 min. easy or cross-train.
Follow with Warrior Flow.
WEEK
3

Rest; Yoga or Pilates
Intervals: Run 45 min. with 3 x (8 min. medium, 2 min. easy). Follow with Balance and Bowing. Run 30-40 min. easy or cross-train.
Follow with Core Flow.
Hills: Run 45 min. with 1:15, 1:30, 1:45 and 2:00 steady up a hill.
Follow with Lunge Series.

Rest; include Relax.
Run 70 min.
Follow with Standing Stretches.
Run 30-40 min. easy or cross-train.
Follow with Warrior Flow.
WEEK
4

Rest; Yoga or Pilates
Intervals: Run 45 min. with 3 x (6 min. medium, 2 min. easy). Follow with Balance and Bowing. Run 30-40 min. easy or cross-train. Follow with Core Flow. Hills: Run 45 min. with :45, 1:00, 1:15 and 1:30 steady up a hill. Follow with Lunge Series.
Rest; include Relax.
Run 50 min. Follow with Standing Stretches. Run 30 min. easy or cross-train. Follow with Warrior Flow.

SECOND FOUR WEEKS

In the second block, Tuesday intervals are shorter and harder (think 5K pace or faster), and the rest between them shortens. These could be run on the track. Be sure you are covering the same distance or more with each consecutive interval.

Thursdays in this block are for putting it all together, simulating the 10K with longer tempo sections. Pay attention to your thought process and your body’s feedback in these workouts. You’ll learn useful tactics for race day.

In week 6, be sure you have covered at least six miles. Week 7 is your dress rehearsal: try out the clothing you plan to wear, including relatively new shoes.

MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
WEEK
5

Rest; Yoga or Pilates
Intervals:
Run 45 min. with 4 x (4 min. hard, 2 min. easy). Follow with Lunge Series.
Run 40-50 min. easy or cross-train.
Follow with Warrior Flow.
Tempo:
Run 50 min. with 20 min. medium hard. Follow with Pigeon Sequence.

Rest; include Relax.
Run 60 min.
Follow with Standing Stretches.
Run 40 min. easy or cross-train.
Follow with Core Flow.
WEEK
6

Rest; Yoga or Pilates
Intervals:
Run 45 min. with 5 x (4 min. hard, 90 sec. easy). Follow with Lunge Series.
Run 40-50 min. easy or cross-train.
Follow with Warrior Flow.
Tempo: Run 50 min. with 25 min. medium hard. Follow with Pigeon Sequence.
Rest; include Relax.
Run 70 min.
Follow with Standing Stretches.
Run 40 min. easy or cross-train.
Follow with Core Flow.
WEEK
7

Rest; Yoga or Pilates
Intervals: Run 45 min. with 5 x (4 min. hard, 1 min. easy). Follow with Lunge Series. Run 40 min. easy or cross-train.
Follow with Warrior Flow.
Tempo: Run 50 min. with 30-40 min. medium hard. Follow with Pigeon Sequence.
Rest; include Relax.
Run 50 min.
Wear clothes you plan to race in. Follow with Standing Stretches.
Run 40 min. easy or cross-train.
Follow with Core Flow.
WEEK
8

Rest; Yoga or Pilates
Intervals: Run 45 min. with 3 min. medium hard, 2 min. easy, 3 min. hard, 2 min. easy, 3 min. medium hard. Follow with Lunge Series. Run 30 min. easy or cross-train. Follow with Warrior Flow. Or, rest instead. Taper: Run 30-40 min. with 3 x 1:30 comfortably fast. Follow with Pigeon Sequence.
Rest or run 10-15 min.– just enough to calm you down. Include Relax.
Race! Include a warm-up of 10 min. with 4 x :30 fast, timed to finish close to the start.
Take an easy walk to work out any stiffness. Follow with Relax.

CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE PDF OF THE TRAINING PLAN
(Adobe Reader required)

RACE DAY

Give yourself time for a warm-up and a moment to take a few deep breaths before the race, reflecting on the work you have put in.

Where you position yourself at the start can have a big effect on your time. If you are competitive—or hope to be—don’t be shy about starting pretty close to the front. As runners pass you in the first quarter mile, notice how they look from the back: if you pace yourself right, you’ll reel most of them back in over the next six miles. If you are a slower runner, it’s fine to start farther back.

Wherever you line up, don’t start too fast. While that strategy can help at the 5K distance, it can spell disaster in a 10K. Apart from the first mile, where adrenalin may speed you up by 10 seconds or so, aim to pace yourself evenly. If you are feeling strong as you roll past the halfway point, very slowly begin to push the pace. Your goal is to hit the six-mile marker and run strong to the finish line (6.2 miles). If you can pick up the pace a lot, you may have been sandbagging. If you can maintain your effort or increase it slightly, you’ve probably paced yourself right.

Expect a rough patch along the way, possibly in mile 4 (it could come sooner!). Know that this is normal. Check in with your best form: stay light on your feet, engage your core, relax your shoulders, and lower your chin. Breathe as deeply as you can in the moment. Form and breath will get you through.

21 Comments

  • Reply Joanne January 27, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Great schedule for planning on a 10K. Last year I set my sights on running 5k’s and was toying with the idea of upping my endeavors to the 10ks. I might just try the routine to see how it goes.

  • Reply Sage January 29, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Go for it, Joanne! And let me know if any questions come up. I’m happy to help.

  • Reply Lesley March 23, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    On Thursdays you have run, “45 min. with :30, :45, 1:00, 1:15 and 1:30 steady up a hill” what does that mean?

  • Reply Sage March 24, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Hi, Lesley. Your Thursday hill run would start with a warmup lasting 10-15 minutes. Get yourself to a hill of medium grade that would take 90 seconds or more to run up. From the bottom, go up 30 seconds steady, then walk back to the bottom. Next, 45 seconds steady, walk back, etc. If you crest the hill before the end of the last repeat (1:30, or 90 seconds), that’s OK, just keep running steady/hard until time’s up. Finish with a cooldown of easy running to total 45 minutes of running in all.

    Does that help? If you don’t have a hill, you can make one on a treadmill using a 4-6 percent grade. Enjoy!

  • Reply gaelle goutain July 15, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Thanks for the plan. I have my second 10K on the 31st of August, so I will use it to be well prepared. For my first, I did not do any plan and found it hard around the 4th mile. I finished in 1h04. I hope to maybe do better this time.

  • Reply gaelle goutain September 10, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks to you I’ve broken my record at my last 10K! I did 59’19”

  • Reply Sage September 10, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Allez, Gaelle! That’s so wonderful. I’m delighted for you!

  • Reply erica January 12, 2010 at 6:32 am

    What training schedule would you recommend to maintain until the next race?

  • Reply Sage January 12, 2010 at 10:22 am

    That’s a good question. Between cycles, I suggest easy running, with three “featured” runs per week: one long(ish)–from 60-90 minutes, no longer; one with hills (run these however you feel like); and one in which you sprinkle 6-10 short (20-30 second) pickups to a pace faster than 5K pace–little ZOOM!s, with a few minutes between them. That should hold your fitness and keep you ready to enter a new cycle.

    Best,
    Sage

  • Reply Claire May 8, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    By following your 10K training program, I was able to learn how to push through rather than sandbagging. I no longer have as much “kick” as I once did at the end of a race, but now my pace is much faster and more even. 10K used to seem long to me, now it’s a comfortable distance. I have run 2 10K races using your training program: in the first, I beat my previous 5K pace, and in the next I took second place in my age group! Your program has helped me address my stiff hips, improved my balance, and vastly improved my core strength. I can feel my core holding me up in good posture when I run! Thank you so much for making your program available over the internet!

  • Reply Alicia May 13, 2010 at 7:30 am

    This looks like a fantastic 10K training program. I will be running my first 10K this summer. Thank you for posting this program and including yoga stretches!

  • Reply Max May 24, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I love the fitness plan. I was hoping you could also make recommendations for food intake guidelines. I love that you have sporty healthy models in your catalog too and it makes me wonder what eating guidelines they choose for their trainings. Food can be just as important as the training schedule.

  • Reply Barb July 22, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Love this training program, but I have a question about modifying it for someone who doesn’t have quite this much time to train. I have 2 small children so the only time I have to train is on my lunch hour while they’re in daycare. That means weekdays for an hour to an hour and a half every day. I’ve just gotten back to running after having a baby 9 months ago and I’ve already done a few 5Ks, but how can I bump this up to 10K training with the limited amount of time I’ve got? Or should I just stick with 5K speed goals rather than 10Ks? I’d love your input.

  • Reply Sage July 27, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Hi, Barb, great question! The workouts ought to fit in to an hour each day, except for the long runs, as they are usually 45 or 50 min. of running plus 10 min. of yoga, which gives you time to wipe off with diaper towelettes before getting back to your busy life! If you wanted to modify down, you could chop a tiny bit off those midweek runs, and position the yoga somewhere else (while your kids are napping, e.g., since you’d be at home instead of out on the road. The long runs on the weekend will ensure you’re comfortable with the distance. Hope that’s helpful, and please let me know how it goes!

    By the way, Max, I’m just seeing your good question. There are some nice nutrition pieces here on the Chi blog: http://www.athleta.net/chi/category/nutrition-health/nutrition-for-sport/.

  • Reply Barb July 28, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Thanks for the input. I am basically using your program but not resting during the week at all. I guess that is my bigger question… how to arrange it all since my rest days are Saturday and Sunday (when I’m with my kids and can’t get a run in) and my long run days are usually Fridays or Mondays. I think I’m figuring it out and tailoring it for my crazy life, but I just haven’t ever seen a training program that allowed for “weekends off” and I’m always looking for input on what’s best for my body.

  • Reply Sage July 28, 2011 at 8:16 am

    I see, Barb. You could try a two on, one off, two on, two off cycle by putting the Saturday runs on Monday and the Sunday runs on Friday. Keep Wednesday light to absorb, and it fit feels like too much, back off! Good luck!

  • Reply Gabriella July 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Sage, I’ve been enjoying your training guides (started with the 5K, and have now moved on to the 10K). However, it seems as though the links to your yoga routines no longer work! I never saved them, I always just clicked on the links. I’m so sad to have lost access to them. Is there any other way to get them?

  • Reply Sage July 10, 2012 at 3:37 am

    Thanks for pointing that out, Gabriella. The site that was hosting them shut down. You can find them on my website at http://sagerountree.com/media/videos/podcast/, or at my YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8EDB11FC51E5CAAD&feature=plcp

    Keep running!

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  • Reply Belle March 9, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Thank you for the 10K program. I love the incorporation of yoga to the program. 🙂

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