How to Train for a 10k in 6 weeks!

February 10, 2009 — 14 Comments

10k-in-6-weeks

*For an updated version of this post click HERE.

Have you been thinking about running a 10k for the first time, or are you an experienced runner looking to improve your time? If you’ve got six weeks to dedicate to a new training plan, you’ll be in top running shape by race day!

 

For Beginners

9b151b8efa9904aa_runninglargerIf you’re a beginner and have never run a 10k (6.2 miles), you should start by increasing the time you run during each workout until you are running for at least 30 minutes three to five times per week. I would recommend that your first race be a 5k (3.1 miles), and that you work your way up to the 10k. But if you’re already running for 30 minutes at a time and are able to do a 5k now, training for a 10k will be a piece of cake!

Before you start any running program, you should invest in a good pair of running shoes. Even if you already run 10 to 20 miles per week, when you train for a 10k, your old shoes might not be up to par. Ill-fitting shoes (with improper arch support, pronation, size, etc.) can cause shin splints, knee pain and even hip and back problems.
To start your training, begin with a week or two of 30-minute runs. After this initial phase, slowly start to increase your mileage each week and add some yoga/flexibility training, weight training (focusing on calves, hamstrings, quads and core), sprints and hill drills. Sprint days and hill days are important for all runners, even beginners. These days will be intensive, so make sure you are fueling yourself properly and staying hydrated. You can do any of these runs either indoors on a treadmill or outside. If you prefer outside, just pick a good location for your hill runs (Allen Parkway or Spotts Park in Houston work great).

You will need to commit to four to five days of running each week in order to be truly ready on race day. For your Race Pace (RP) runs, you need to decide what your goal race pace is. For instance, if you want to run the race in under an hour it would about a 9 minute 40 second mile pace. If you want to run at a 10-minute mile pace, it would take you 62 minutes to finish the race. So if your RP goal is a 10-minute mile, take 10 times the RP distance. For example, on Week 1, Day 4, it should take you about 35 minutes (10 x 3.5). Remember, on the day of the race you will more than likely run faster than you do on a normal training day, mostly due to adrenaline! Here is a sample training calendar to help you along:

Week Day 1* Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
1 SJ 3mi. HR 20 min. WT/FLX RP 3mi. SR 30 min. Off RP 3 mi.
2 SJ 4mi. HR 25 min. WT/FLX RP 3.5 mi. SR 35 min. Off RP 3.5 mi.
3 SJ 5mi HR 25 min. WT/FLX RP 4 mi. SR 35 min. Off RP 4 mi.
4 SJ 6mi. HR 30 min. WT/FLX RP 4.5 mi. SR 40 min. Off RP 4.5 mi.
5 SJ 6.2mi. HR 35 min. WT/FLX RP 5 mi. SR 40 min. Off RP 5.5 mi.
6 SJ 6.2mi. HR 40 min. WT/FLX RP 6 mi. SR 45 min. Off RACE!
*You can designate Day 1 as any day of the week.

Table Key:

  • RP = Race Pace: Run at your goal pace for race day (ex. 9-minute mile pace).
  • SJ = Slow Jog: Jog comfortably at a slow, easy pace, but jog the entire distance.
  • HR = Hill Run: Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes. Alternate one-minute hill slow jog intervals (6 to 12 percent incline on the treadmill) with 1 minute flat slow jog intervals.
  • SR = Sprint Run: Jog for 5 to 10 minutes, run at RP for 1 mile (ex. 10 minutes), and sprint for the last 10-15 minutes, alternating 30 seconds of sprinting with 1 to 2 minutes very slow jogging.
  • WT = Weight Training (30 to 45 minutes).
  • FLX = Flexibility exercises and/or yoga class.

For Intermediate/Advanced Runners

If you can already run for five or six miles without any problem, follow the plan outlined below. It is similar to the plan above for beginners, but a little more intense. Also, you should add in a longer run once a week (the Easy Pace run) to increase your overall stamina. For your sprints, try to run faster each week, and ideally work your way up to 9 to 10 mph (on the treadmill).

Week Day 1* Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
1 SJ 6mi. HR 25 min. WT/FLX RP 4mi. SR 30 min. Off RP 4 mi.
2 SJ 6.5mi. HR 30 min. WT/FLX RP 4.5 mi. SR 35 min. Off RP 5 mi.
3 SJ 7mi HR 35 min. WT/FLX RP 5 mi. SR 35 min. Off RP 5.5 mi.
4 SJ 7mi. HR 40 min. WT/FLX RP 5.5 mi. SR 40 min. Off RP 5.5 mi.
5 SJ 7.5mi. HR 45 min. WT/FLX RP 6 mi. SR 40 min. Off RP 6 mi.
6 SJ 7.5mi. HR 45 min. WT/FLX RP 6.2 mi. SR 45 min. Off RACE!
*You can designate Day 1 as any day of the week.

Table Key:

  • RP = Race Pace: Run at your goal pace for race day (ex. 9-minute mile pace).
  • SJ = Slow Jog: Jog comfortably at a slow, easy pace, but jog the entire distance.
  • HR = Hill Run: Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes. Alternate one-minute hill slow jog intervals (6 to 12 percent incline on the treadmill) with 1 minute flat slow jog intervals.
  • SR = Sprint Run: Jog for 5 to 10 minutes, run at RP for 1 mile (ex. 10 minutes), and sprint for the last 10-15 minutes, alternating 30 seconds of sprinting with 1 to 2 minutes very slow jogging.
  • WT = Weight Training (30 to 45 minutes).
  • FLX = Flexibility exercises and/or yoga class.

Now that you are committed to a training program, it’s time to sign up for a race! To find races in your area, check sites like Active.com, your local Road Runner’s Club (or try HARRA in Houston) or running clubs such as USA Fit.

**Have questions or comments about this topic? Post your comments below or email me and I will respond ASAP! You can also email me at [email protected]

Cari Shoemate

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Cari Shoemate is an ACE-certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, fitness expert and nutrition coach. She is an avid marathon runner, and was recently selected to be a Brand Ambassador for Oakley Women.

14 responses to How to Train for a 10k in 6 weeks!

  1. I’ve done loads of 5k’s and I’m signed up for my first 10k that will take place this Thanksgiving–6 weeks away!
    I really like your training plan and plan to follow it. Also I’m blogging my progress and I mentioned you in the first post!

    http://madelinetiani.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/newspaper-canceled-new-challenged-train-for-a-10k/

  2. Hi Madeline,

    That’s great!! 10k’s are a lot of fun and you’ll do great, especially since you’ve been doing 5k’s already. I like your blog and thanks for mentioning me! Let me know how the race goes…

  3. Hi! Just wanted to tell you I had great success with this plan (i used the beginner one) and wanted to thank you! I crushed my initial goal time and am continuing to improve and I was wondering if you had any training plans for 5ks that I could use to work on speed as the winter months approach and I’ll have less daylight! Thanks!

  4. Hi Rosa,
    Thanks for your comment! That’s awesome!! I’m so glad I was able to help you and you you beat your goal time! I’ve been meaning to do a 5k plan, so I’ll try to post something soon! But, basically…it’s not going to be too much different from the 10k one. The major changes will be less distance, more speed work and more strength training (helps with speed). Check back soon or subscribe so that you get a notification when I post it. Congrats again and keep up the good work!

  5. Thanks for posting this training program….starting this monday…will post how i do. thanks again

  6. Great Marni! Let me know how it goes!

  7. Hi Cari – Thanks for the training program.
    One question – on the sprint workout days, for the 30 sec sprint – is it an all out sprint or 80%….? Thanks!

  8. Hi Ruth! If you don’t have any injuries or health issues – I would do an all-out sprint at 100% effort. However, if you feel you aren’t warmed up enough – you can do the first few around 80% effort and finish with 100%.

  9. I don’t understand the race pace runs. Doing them at shorter distances and with adequate recovery time maxes sense, but this here is very odd.

    Assuming the race is a maximal effort, it should be impossible to do a 6.2 mile run at 10k race pace at all! Attempting to run full race pace for the full race distance a few days before the goal race seems absurd! Why are there so many race pace runs for so long? Am I missing something?

  10. Thanks for the nice review! How is your training going?

  11. Hi Jody. Thanks for the comment. So, basically your race pace should be your goal race pace for 10k. Set a realistic goal and keep in mind your 10k pace is going to be slower than 1 mile, 5k, etc. and it’s not necessarily sprinting all-out or you won’t be able to sustain it for 6.2 miles. If you follow the plan for 6 weeks, you will be able to run longer each week at that pace. At first, it may be hard to run 2-3 miles at your goal pace, but if you are working out every week and getting faster…you can slowly increase the time (and mileage) you run at that faster pace. The last week I put in a 6 mile race pace run as practice – but then you have a slow recovery run the following day and and off day before the race. If you are getting super sore each week and are worried about being sore too close to the race – you can move the 6 mile race pace run back a day and do 2 off days. Also, be sure to incorporate the stretching and flexibility exercises because that will help to decrease tightness and soreness. It sounds like you are probably on the right track but you may need to adjust your goal some so that it’s realistic and you don’t burn out during the first half of the race. The goal should be to finish strong and feel prepared. That’s why I want you guys to practice running at your goal race pace during the 6-weeks in case you need to adjust it. Hope that helps!

  12. Hi Cari, at the moment I am training for the fitness test to join the territorial army. MY aim is to run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes. At the monet I am running 1 miles in 9.17 minutes. I have 5 weeks to smash this – is it realistic? I am training 5 days a week 2-4 miles runs with fartliks thrown in here and there.

  13. Hi Carly! So sorry for the delay! I’ve been having problems with the comments on my site. So, have you had your test yet? If you have less than 2 weeks – there isn’t much you can do at this point but just make sure you run easy and don’t do anything that will make you too sore the few days before. Also, I don’t know if you are at a healthy weight or not – but losing a couple of pounds (doing it the healthy way) will make you lighter and sometimes faster. Just don’t restrict your diet too much or you won’t have energy to go fast. In the future – if you need to train for speed, I would recommend that you do intervals and also train with hill runs because they will help build power in your legs and help with explosiveness. Also, focusing on your breathing will help. When you are sprinting – it’s important to take as deep as breaths as possible and just try to relax. Hope that helps – and again…sorry for the delay!

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