Congratulations!!! Many of you ran your first 5k as part of the Shrinking Jeans Ghostly Gallop. You made a commitment, found a training plan, moved up from running only a minute to running for over 30 minutes. That’s a HUGE accomplishement and you should be very proud of yourself.
Now that you finished your first 5k, what’s next? How about training for a 10k? You may think running 6.2 miles seems like a very daunting task, but keep in mind you probably felt the same way about running 3.1 miles about 9 weeks ago :) The 10k is a distance that I feel the majority of you can run (as with any physical activity, check with a doctor first to make sure you’re good to go). I really enjoy the 10k distance. It’s not an all-out sprint like a 5k can be but still requires some training and endurance. Plus, it’s a great mid-distance to try before you commit to a half marathon. Hint-hint!
If you think you’d like to tackle the 10k distance, here are a few tips to help get you there.
- Make sure you have a good running base. If you are a beginning runner, you should probably be running 2 to 3 miles at least 3 times a week, with your long run on the weekends at 3 miles or a little more. I’d recommend running this range for at least a few weeks before jumping into a 10k training plan.
- Find a training plan. This may seem like an obvious tip, but continuing to follow the structure of a plan is always a good idea until you gain some experience and feel comfortable creating your own. The Couch to 10k plan is an option but I think many of you would find this to be a step backwards since you are now running for 30 consecutive minutes. You can Google 10k training plans and get tons of hits. There is a basic one here. Cool Running has a slightly more advanced plan here. I also LOVE the training plans from Train Like a Mother. Not all training plans are created equal, but they should all contain 3 basic types of runs – an “easy” run, a “speedwork” or “hill work” day, and a “long” run. Round out your training plan with a couple rest days each week and some cross training and you will be all set.
- Find a running group. Accountability from runners who are training for a similar distance or race can be a big motivator when you don’t want to get out of bed and do your speedwork.
- Run long. This should be incorporated into your training plan but if you are going it on your own, plan to increase your weekend (or whatever day you choose) long run by 10% each week, with a step-back week every 3 weeks where you back off a mile or so. If you are training for a race, a longest run of around 7 miles is probably good, but intermediate plans will likely have you running an 8 mile long run a few weeks out from your race. Remember these runs should be SLOW (60-90 seconds per mile slower than your goal pace) with the focus being on covering the distance, not running “race pace”. Time on your feet will make you a stronger runner.
- Add speed work. Chances are, your 5k plan did not include runs designed to make you faster. You were working on developing the endurance to cover 3 miles in about 30 minutes or so. Now that you’ve accomplished that, you can include intervals, tempo runs, or even hill work to increase your speed. If you want more info, I wrote a post a couple months ago on how to get faster. Check it out here.
- Practice racing. Plan another 5k (or an 8k which is about 5 miles) race at some point during your training. Getting comfortable in the race environment and practicing pacing are important skills to a successful 10k race.
There you have it – a few tips to help you train for longer distance running. If you don’t feel like you’re ready to move up to the 10k, there’s nothing wrong with that. You will still get a tremendous amount of cardiovascular benefit from running 3 miles, 3 or 4 times a week. You can also use many of these tips to increase your speed at the 5k distance.