Update: How To Train For a 10k in 6 Weeks!

The summer running season is here are there are a lot of great races in May, June and July! The 10k race is the perfect distance if you’re looking to challenge yourself a little more but don’t have the time to commit to a 1/2 marathon. But, if you live in Texas (or other hot state) like me, the heat can be a challenge…so keep that in mind. You might need to adjust your training intensity a little because your body will have to work much harder in the heat. You will also need to either workout earlier or later in the day to avoid the high temps and maybe do some of your runs inside on the treadmill. Just be sure to stay hydrated and don’t overdo it. For more tips, read this Post.

Don’t have the speed of Kara Goucher or Ryan Hall? No problem! Follow my plan below to get you in top shape in 6 weeks!

For Beginners:

If 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 (extra focus 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 (10min x 3.5miles). 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.      Off                  Off       RACE!

*You can designate Day 1 as any day of the week.

RP = Race Pace: Run at your goal pace for race day (ex. 9-minute mile pace). For the first few weeks, you will need to do 1-mile repeats. So, after your warmup run at your goal RP for 1 mile, rest and repeat for the miles indicated on the schedule.
SJ = Slow Jog: Jog comfortably at a slow, easy (conversational) pace, but try to jog the entire distance.
HR = Hill Run: Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes. Alternate one-minute hill slow jog intervals (at 6 to 12% incline on the treadmill) with 1 minute flat slow jog intervals or walk (if you need it).
SR = Sprint Run: Warmup jog for 5 to 10 minutes, then run at RP for 1 mile (ex. 9 minutes), rest, then do sprints for the last 10 to 15 minutes. Alternate 30 seconds of sprinting with 1 to 2 minutes of walking. Your sprint pace should be an all-out sprint that you can’t hold for more than 30-45 seconds.
WT = Weight Training (30 to 45 minutes). Do upper body, lower body and core. It’s important to be balanced…so try to work a little of everything.
FLX = Flexibility exercises, foam roller 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          EP 6mi.      HR 25 min.  WT/FLX     RP 4 mi.      SR 30 min.    Off        RP 4 mi.
2          EP 6.5mi.   HR 30 min.  WT/FLX     RP 4.5 mi.   SR 35 min.    Off        RP 5 mi.
3          EP 7mi       HR 35 min.  WT/FLX     RP 5 mi.      SR 35 min.    Off        RP 5.5 mi.
4          EP 7mi.      HR 40 min.  WT/FLX     RP 5.5 mi.   SR 40 min.    Off        RP 5.5 mi.
5          EP 7.5mi.   HR 45 min.  WT/FLX     RP 6 mi.      SR 40 min.    Off        RP 6 mi.
6          EP 7.5mi.   HR 45 min.  WT/FLX     RP 6.2mi.    Off                  Off        RACE!

* You can designate Day 1 as any day of the week.

RP = Race Pace: Try to run at your goal pace for race day (ex. 8-minute mile pace). For the first few weeks, you will need to do 1-mile repeats. So, after your warmup run at your goal RP for 1 mile, rest and repeat for the miles indicated on the schedule.
EP = Easy Pace: Jog comfortably at an easy pace, about 2-3 minutes per mile shy of your goal pace (ex. if your goal is 8-minute miles, then run at a 9.5 to 11-minute mile pace).
HR = Hill Run: Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes. Alternate 1-minute hill slow jog intervals (at 12 to 18% incline on the treadmill) with 1-minute flat slow jog intervals or walk (if you need it).
SR = Sprint Run: Warmup jog for 5 to 10 minutes, then run at RP for 1 mile (ex. 8 minutes), rest, then do sprints for the last 10 to 15 minutes. Alternate 30 seconds of sprinting with 1 to 2 minutes of slow jog jogging or walking. Your sprint pace should be an all-out sprint that you can’t hold for more than 30-45 seconds.
WT = Weight Training (45 to 60 minutes). Do upper body, lower body and core. It’s important to be balanced…so try to work a little of everything.
FLX = Flexibility exercises, foam roller and/or yoga class.

*If you have any questions, comment below or shoot me an email to [email protected]

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5 comments

  • Angela August 7, 2012  

    Hi Cari, I really like this training plan. I have been running 2-3 miles a couple of times a week for 6 months. Last week I completed my first 5K in 33 minutes (a few minutes slower than my normal time). AI am running a rather hilly 10K in 6 weeks, do you think that is a realiztic goal? I am worried about injuring myself and not being prepared for the race.

  • cari August 8, 2012  

    Hi Angela! It sounds like you are on the right track and since you just did a 5k, I think you will be fine. Over the next 6 weeks just focus on building your endurance and maybe do one additional hill run during the week or do one of your slow runs or “race pace” runs with some hills so that you get in more hill training. I would also try to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings and calves a little more because those muscles are targeted more when you run hills. But – I think you have plenty of time to prepare, especially since you aren’t starting from scratch. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  • Angela August 8, 2012  

    Thanks for the reply, Cari! I did my first HR session yesterday, it was challengind. Although, it was nice to change up my otherwise flat runs. I’ll keep at it, and let you know how I do. Thanks again!

  • Angela October 22, 2012  

    Cari, I know this is a late response, but I wanted to get back to you. Since I started the program I have done two 10K’s (Cow Harbor and The Big 8- both on Long Island, NY). I was able to finish both hilly races with ease. I loved the program, and how I started to see myself getting better. I am at the point where I really enjoy running as a hobby, and not dreaded exercise. Now I am going to start training for a half marathon; I’d like to do one sometime between now and the spring. Thanks for the training program, and for your earlier post! Best, Angela

  • cari November 5, 2012  

    Hi Angela! That’s great! So glad to hear that you enjoy running now and look forward to workouts : ) I’ve found that when most people practice and get good at running (or any sport/workout) it motivates them to do better and keep going. Keep me posted on your half marathon and keep setting goals!

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