Your best-possible 10K – from a four week plan to an eight-week-plus schedule, with all your questions answered
It’s no surprise that the 10K is by far the country’s most popular type of race. To say it’s a versatile distance is an under-statement. Take a cross-section of any 10K field and you’ll find a variety of different runners – some tackling it as their first run beyond five km, others using it to stretch out their legs in company, whilst some will make it the focus of their whole season.
Whether this is your first 10K, or you’re looking for a training schedule to increase your pace, we’ve got everything you need in our definitive guide to running a 10K.
How much time do I need to train for a 10K?
The variety of schedules available are based on two things: how often you can train and how long you have till the race. One thing’s for sure: whether you’re a beginner, a one-off runner doing this for charity, or a seasoned club runner out for a new PB, this is your route to your best-possible, and most enjoyable, result.
What time should I aim for?
If you’re a complete beginner, don’t start out with an overly ambitious goal. To give yourself a ballpark 10K target, see how far you can run at a sustainable pace in 15-20 minutes. Then measure this distance in miles, divide the time by the distance and multiply the result by 6.2 to get a rough figure for your first 10K race. If at that math sounds a little too complicated, try our race time predictor tool.
For experienced runners, you can be a bit more structured. If you can run 5-6 x 1K at your target 10K pace with three minute recoveries, you should be able to hit your goal.
Four-week 10K training plans
Four weeks is long enough to improve your fitness and put a little edge of speed in your legs. Each option loosely relates to a range of target 10K times, and these are shown at the top of each schedule.
The most basic option does assume you’re already running a minimum of three times and 25km a week, so if you’ve never run before but you’re committed to running a 10K in four weeks’ time you’d be best to simply focus on building up the length of your runs.
Eight-week 10K training plans
You can really see your 10K fitness rocket over a preparation period of eight weeks. As with the four-week schedules, it’s important that you’re flexible in your approach. If the 10K is your single focus for the season and you’re willing to do everything you can for a best-possible time, you can add a two-to-four-month build-up period to the schedules, in which you focus on establishing a steady, solid km’s background.
Three-times-a-week runners should build up to a regular 30 km’s weekly. You can vary your pace slightly to maintain interest during these build-up weeks, but save the real speed work for the final eight-week focus.
How should I pace on the day?
If this is your first 10K, try and run evenly – a fast start will often mean a painful finish. If you have a target of 60 minutes, you should aim to pass each kilometre marker at six-minute intervals. If you feel great near the end, pick up the pace and speed up.
What should I eat the night before a 10K?
SiS nutritionist Emma Barraclough shared the following top tips on how best to fuel your body for a 10K race, and what you should be eating during training.
How much water should I drink during a 10K race?
This depends on a few things – the weather on the day and whether you are properly hydrated before you start racing. A sub-40-minute athlete on a cool day would be fine without stopping for water, a beginner would benefit from the liquid and the opportunity to walk through the drinks station. Use your judgement, but either way, try to resume your normal running rhythm as soon as possible after a station.
I’m finding my training difficult – what should I do?
Whether you’ve got the speed, but are struggling with the endurance, or are an endurance runner struggling to speed up, we’ve found the solutions to the most common 10K problems here.