Running doesn't get better than this. The 10K is a classic distance that covers all the bases - it's far enough to test you to the limit without shattering beginners in a way that a longer event can, yet short enough to be doable in a satisfyingly quick time, even if you are new to it.
If you find the right course, it's a challenge that requires fitness, preparation and tactical thinking. It combines a mix of speed and endurance, and boy does it feel good when you reach the finish line with enough left in the tank to sprint for the crowds.
You can do it, even if you're new to running, by following this five-step guide to training and racing the 6.2-miler. You'll gain a huge sense of achievement, plus a benchmark PB for that next race.
1. On your marks...
There's nothing like having the goal of competing in a race to focus the mind. "It gives you a target - and doing three sessions a week is enough to help you get fit," says RW contributing editor and running coach Nick Anderson.
Training for a race has many benefits, so you should enjoy training while gaining satisfaction from an end result. "Running is the best form of exercise for weight loss because it will help you shift pounds as well as get fit," says Anderson. "The 10K is a great mix of speed and endurance to help you achieve both of those goals."
The immovable goal of a race date will also make you concentrate on healthy eating. "Running will help you eat well and snack sensibly," says Pavey. "The combination of eating healthily and running 10K can help lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, and strengthen your bones."
Training for a 10K doesn't have to take over your life in the way preparing for a marathon can. "But it can help you be more organised," says Pavey. "The 10K allows you to set goals and train hard, but also enjoy the scenery and still have time to see friends."
2. Training right
It's time to get serious. You're not simply running - you've got a finish line to aim for.
Try this beginner's training guide as devised by Nick Anderson. "There are three runs a week: generally one is at a conversational pace, one is a slightly harder session and the last is a longer run. The other days should include rest and recovery with perhaps a cross-training or Pilates session, depending on how your body feels. Being new to the training load, your body has to be given time to adjust, so don't try to do too much and end up fatigued or injured.
Tueday: 3-4 mins easy, 1-2 mins recovery x4
Thursday: 5-7 mins steady, 3 mins recovery x2
Weekend: Long run: 8 mins hard, 3-4 mins recovery x3
Full 10 week plan available in the original article, to read the full article click here.
3. Training Tweaks
Include longer, slow runs - you'll know that you can hit 10K if you've already run 12K or more recently. "In training, run these only one minute per mile slower than your target pace," says Anderson. "This will make 10K seem easier on race day." You don't have to do too many of these, however. "One 90-minute run every week or two is enough to give you a psychological lift and boost confidence," adds Pavey.
Cut the distance, too. "If you're doing one longer session a week, you don't need to spend the other two proving to yourself that you can run 10K - you know that already," says Anderson. Concentrate on shorter distances that combine speed work and strength endurance (running at a consistent pace to get better at it) and that allow you to concentrate on refining your running technique so it is as efficient as possible.
Run uphill. "It helps maintain posture and it works against gravity, so it builds strength and power," says Anderson. "Most people do it too quickly, so don't fall into the trap of running up too fast and walking back down. Run up a hill in control, and then 'fall forward' on the way down. Most people tend to sprint, but you should rein in your pace to protect your calf muscles."
For three more training tips and the full article by by Michael Donlevy click here.