Thinking of training for a 10K race? This plan is perfect for you if you've already mastered a 5K race and you're a "sometimes" runner who is able to do at least three miles without stopping a couple of days a week, most weeks. The goal for this 10K training plan, which was developed by developed by running coach Paula Harkin, co-owner of Portland Running Company in Oregon, will be to increase your endurance, run for an hour straight, and tackle a 10K by the end of 6 weeks.
The 10K training plan: This program incorporates a combo of tempo (effort of 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 10), and longer runs (effort of 5 or 6 ) to build endurance. "Combining these workouts will help you get faster while also making sure you can cover the distance," says Harkin. Do a combination of running and cross-training on alternate days. As the weeks pass, alternate between building up the speed bursts and balancing out the recovery time. Focus on covering the distance, not your pace. Kick off with an easy 2 to 3 mile run. Over 6 weeks, try to work up to running 6 miles.
How to train smarter for your 10K race
1. Make three the magic number. If you're used to running twice a week, says Jonathan Cane, an exercise physiologist and co-founder of City Coach Multisport in New York City, "three times is your sweet spot. You'll get a big bump in both speed and endurance, but it's not so much more that you'll risk getting injured." And if weight loss is a goal, remember that adding just one extra day of running helps you burn an additional 300 to 400 calories, depending on your pace and size.
2. It's OK to hit the treadmill. Some running purists say there's no substitute for the outdoors, but all things being equal, "your heart and lungs don't really know the difference between the road and the treadmill," says Cane. So if it's late in the day, raining or just not a good time to go outside but you really want to keep up your training, feel free to hit the "on" button. To compensate for a lack of wind resistance and natural terrain changes, keep the treadmill deck set at a 1% incline.
3. Turn down the music. Yes, pumping JT through your earbuds can power you up that hill, but don't forget to tune in to how your body feels. "At this stage, you know you can already run for a while," says Cane. "But it's important to be aware of cues: how heavy you are breathing, or if you have a small twinge in your knee and need to slow down. It helps keep you from getting injured and makes you more aware of when you can bump up your pace or give a little more effort."