1. Run (at least) a bit before your first 10k
Running a 5k seems accessible for everyone, even without preparation. People run 5k races even if they haven’t run at all before. This is a distance that you can relatively easily cover with a combination of running and walking without any preparation.
However, the 10k is a bit more complex. It’s not like you cannot finish a 10k if you have never run before but I do not recommend trying a whole 10k if you have no running experience. It may feel a bit hard on your body, especially if you have close to zero experience with running. Thus, I recommend that you do some running before trying out for a 10k.
2. Build up gradually
As I mentioned, it is good to start from somewhere for your first 10k. Here, I would like to get more specific. Let’s say you run easy two/ three times a week and want to target a 10k race. To do one successfully, I would recommend that you incorporate some workouts and a long run in your routine as well.
After you have done some easy runs for at least three weeks, try to do one longer run once a week. Ideally, you want to reach a distance up to 15k long but you need to build up gradually based on your specific situation.
Let’s say your longest run so far is 8k. You can try to add 2 km each week until you reach 15k. After you have done this, you can also add workouts such as intervals, fartlek or tempo. You can try to add some type of intervals one week and try a tempo next week for example. Again, it is important to build up gradually.
Here is an example of what I am talking about:
2-3 easy runs between 3-6km each
2-3 easy runs and one longer run which is 2km more than your longer one for the previous weeks
1-2 easy runs, 1 longer run (if you have done 8km last week, try 10k this week), and one tempo (like 6km where you start at a moderate pace and try to close the last kilometer close to your 10k goal pace)
1-2 easy runs, 1 longer week (if you have done 10k at week 5, aim for 12km this week), and intervals (like 6-8 x 1km with 90s rest, starting slightly slower than your 10k goal pace and running down to your 5k goal pace).
3. Think about a reasonable goal pace
As runners, we are famous for our obsession with paces. Rarely somebody runs without a GPS nowadays. We like to follow a particular pace, collect data about our runs and share it with the world.
There is nothing wrong with it! But what can go wrong is that you want to run some crazy hype pace that you are simply not ready for. And this not only can hurt but it can leave you with painful memories of your 10k preparation AND your race.
For this reason, it is good to choose a pace that is somehow challenging but achievable. A good 10k time for beginners can be anywhere between 70 to 50min, depending on your level, age, and your weight.
4. Divide your race into segments
Once you are on the starting line there is a little you can do but there are some tricks that will help you run a good 10k.
I would suggest you divide your 10k into four segments. The first segment is 1-3 kilometer, the second one is 4-6 kilometer, the third one is 6-9 kilometer and the last segment is your last kilometer.
The first segment should feel relatively nice and easy, you should feel like you have good energy and you are not worked up yet.
The second segment is where things start to feel real and it will start to hurt close to the end of the segment. Many times, people start to slow down significantly after the 6k when they are not well prepared, especially if you run too ambitious in the beginning.
The third segment is really important because mentally it will be the toughest one. You just passed a bit more than halfway and you know that you still have a long way to go. This is the time when you have to concentrate, be present, and strong. It will pay off!
The last segment is my favorite – your last kilometer. Somehow you reached the point where you just have one kilometer to go and suddenly you feel like some weird energy kicked your body. I always say ‘last one, fast one’ so this is what I try to do – run as fast as I can, especially when I know the final line is so close after (so much) suffering.
5. Have goals but also have fun
I like to set a ‘minimum goal’, ‘medium goal’, and ‘maximum goal’. The minimum goal can be as simple as “finish the race”. The medium goal could be something like ‘finish strong the last 3k” and the maximum goal can be something like ‘run sub 60min’.
This way, when you finish the race you can see what you have done successfully and what potentially could be done better next time. The idea is to appreciate your effort, regardless of the final result. If you fulfill your minimum goal, you know that at least you are looking in the right direction.
Having goals is necessary but having fun is mandatory!
Whatever you do, it should please you! Yes, it will be painful but what matters is if you feel like it was worth it and you had a good time. Although not every part of the process will feel smooth like butter, it is important that you feel satisfied and happy with the time spent running to reach your goals!
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