After being cooped up all winter, what better way to enjoy being outdoors than to train for (and finish!) a 10K? Whether you’re an occasional jogger or a serious runner, it’s motivating to have a goal to strive for, says Jenny Hadfield, co-author of Running for Mortals. And if you train with a friend, you’ll have built-in cheerleading. Ready to go for it? Here’s what you need to know.
Why run anyway?
Besides the mental boost it provides (runner's high is real), running strengthens your bones and burns about 100 calories per mile.
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Plan way ahead
Sign up for a race that’s at least six weeks away. This way you’ll have catch-up time if life (work, family, etc.) intervenes and slows down your training, Hadfield explains. Not ready for 6.2 miles? Cut running times roughly in half, and opt for a 5K. Either way, don’t overdo itramping up miles too soon can cause injury.
Halfway through training, tackle a 3-miler at your intended race-day pace. Wiped out? Consider a run-and-walk strategy for your 10K. In general, decrease your miles by 25 to 30% one week before the race to be rested enough for it, Hadfield says.
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Push each other (in a good way)
Crazy-hectic schedules can wreak havoc on group runs. Still, try for at least one weekly session with your friends. Hadfield’s suggestion: Meet at your crew’s favorite casual cafe for an out-and-back run. That way you get in your workout and refuel post-run (go for carbs, protein, and fluids).
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Pace your race
When the gun goes off, don’t go all out. Start slow, and conserve energy for the race’s second half. If you panic or feel like you won’t finish, push that negativity out of your mind. Simply slow your pace, and focus on breathing, Hadfield says. And remember: It’s perfectly OK to walk.
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Stretch it off
Post-race, walk around for a few minutes, then do some quad, hamstring, and calf stretches to prevent soreness. After you and your friends regroup, snap a finisher photo. Then head to the spaafter six weeks of training, you deserve some pampering.
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How to train
If you run 3 to 4 miles three times a week, here’s how to tackle a 10K:
Do two 40- to 50-minute runs weekly. Add a longer, slower run (45 to 90 minutes) on the weekends. Cross-train for 45 minutes one or two times a week.
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