The Runner's Reward

Thursday, November 13, 2014

So you want to run a 10k

In this "So you want to run" we will talk about transitioning from a 5k to a 10k; What it takes and how to prepare.

Basically, the same slow build up for going from 0k to 5k is in play when preparing for a 10k. 10 kilometers is 6.21 miles. Though it may seem very far right now it is definitely achievable with a training plan and some good old fashioned persistence.

Plan your training time. I would suggest 3-4 days of running per week with one of those days reserved for the long run.  As you might have guessed the long run should be longer than your usual runs. If you regularly run 2 miles then 3 or 4 miles would be a good starting point. Keep your pace slower than what you normally run. You really can't go too slow with a long run so keep it feeling easy.  You should be able to easily have a conversation with someone at the long run pace. The ultimate goal here is to build up endurance and spend more time on your feet. 

The long run has a number of benefits and is a staple of training for distance running. However, you don't need to be a half marathon runner or marathoner to benefit from the long run. The long run strengthens the heart and opens capillaries up.  It increases the size and number of mitochondria, strengthens muscles and tendons, and helps bring your fast twitch muscles in to help in slow twitch tasks.

Fast twitch muscles are used in quick, intense efforts like sprinting. The slow twitch are your endurance muscles for long distance running. The long run will make you faster over short distances too! Start by doing the long run once every two weeks, but no more than once a week and reap the mental and physical benefits.

As you build up your miles training a good general rule of thumb is to add no more than 10% to your distance each week. If I run 10 miles this week the next week I would plan 11. If I ran 25 miles for the week the following week I can add roughly 2.5 miles or run 27-28 miles. This guideline will help keep you running and lessen the chance of over training injuries.

Cross Training

As you are increasing your distance now is a good time to implement some cross training. What is cross training?  Simply put, it is exercising muscle groups that you do not use at all or do not use heavily when running.  Cross training will help build a strong body and it will benefit your running tremendously. Additionally, it can help make you less prone to overuse injury.

What would happen if you took a Ferrari engine and dropped it into your old Ford Pinto? The power of the motor would likely tear a car like that apart! The body is the same. You may have legs of steel from running, but unless the support structure has strength then it is only a matter of time before you are sidelined from an injury.

Great cross training activities for runners include bicycling, swimming, elliptical, yoga, and core strengthening work. Weight training can help tremendously too.  

When I started running I had a number of minor injuries. When I did, I immediately went to the internet and read up on strengthening the damaged muscle. As I increased my mileage from the 5k towards the 10k distance and beyond I had pulled a groin muscle on more than one occasion. So I went to Marshalls (great resource for affordable running clothes/gear) and got myself a thigh master for $10.  I started using it a few times a week and within 2 weeks no more groin pain on longer runs. I'm glad to say it has been a very long time since I had that injury.

Change it up!
Another activity I can not say enough for is incorporating some trail running. Though it is not cross training in a strict sense running trails uses more muscles than road or track. Particularly it will strengthen your calves, Achilles tendon, and foot muscles. Also, trail running is easier on the feet in some ways. While it is tougher on the muscles and will make you stronger, the trail will be considerably softer than asphalt or concrete putting less impact stress on the bones.  If the trail you select is very hilly be prepared to go much slower. A seasoned trail runner may cover 6 miles in an hour while us mere mortals may cover 3-4 miles in that time. 

Changing up the terrain you run will make you stronger. Run some road, some trail, take a day at the track.  There are a number of workouts to target speed, endurance, and strength. Runners World online is a great resource for information and workout ideas for the newbie and the pro alike.

For now we will stay focused on a simple plan to increase distance in preparation for your 10k.  

Dreams + Action = Reality

I spent three summers working at a camp which functioned as a training program for high school aged mentors and as a mentoring program for elementary school aged at-risk youth. Two of those years were through Americorps,  essentially the domestic Peace Corps. General Jones, USMC started the camp as a way to give back. He was a troubled kid and a person stepped in, mentored him, and set him on the right track. The General is a man full of sound, caring advice. One thing we learned and taught the kids was this simple formula: Dreams + Action = Reality. If you want something you have to take action. You have to create what you want.

A dream, a goal of yours is to run a 10k? Great! Make an action plan,a training plan and stick to it. Running is an exercise in perseverance and persistence. Here is a rough outline for how I went from 5k to 10k distances. No one plan will be the ideal for everyone so be flexible without sacrificing training.


I mentioned above planning for 3-4 days of running per week. That is a good starting point. Is the long run necessary? In short, no. You can run a 10k without doing weekly or bi-monthly long runs. I prefer to do them and I take great enjoyment in tackling new distances. Just like training for the 5k start slow and if you are doing hard workouts (ie long runs, hill workouts, track speed repeats) make sure to sandwich your hard workouts between easy effort runs and/or rest days. Easy effort means a little faster than you run your long run. A pace you can speak a sentence or two while running before you get winded as opposed to the conversational pace of the long run.  Every 3 weeks I put an active recovery week in. This just means stepping down mileage a little to let your body acclimate and rest.

Your schedule might look something like this:

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday   Sunday
1 Rest  2 mi  CT 2 mi Rest 3 mi 1 mi EZ
2 Rest  2 mi Rest 2 mi CT or Rest 4 mi 1 mi EZ
3 Rest  2 mi CT 1 mi CT or Rest 3 mi 1 mi EZ
4 Rest  3 mi Rest 2 mi CT or Rest 4 mi 1 mi EZ
5 Rest  3 mi CT 2 mi CT or Rest 4 mi 2 mi EZ

6 Rest  4 mi CT 3 mi CT or Rest 3 mi 2 mi EZ
7 Rest  3 mi CT 3 mi CT or Rest 5 mi 2 mi EZ
8 Rest  3 mi CT 2 mi CT or Rest  10k Race!

CT = crosstraining

The same race week and race day prep apply from the So You Want to Run a 5k post. Get out there and enjoy the race!

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