Everything you need to run your first 10K race

From training plans to hills sprints, we cover everything you will need to know if you're about to embark on your very first 10K race.

Everything you need to run your first 10K race

Getting started

Thinking of signing up for a 10K? To get started visit our events hub to find your perfect race!

Once you've chosen your event, if you're a total beginner or retuning after a break, make sure you build your mileage up gradually. Trying to do too much too soon could result in injury, so aim for a 10 per cent mileage increase per week. Read our 10K training tips to get you started.

Follow a training plan

Even though 10K is a relatively short distance compared to a half or full marathon, training is essential if you want to get to the finish line. With so many training plans out there it can be tricky to know which one to choose.

The key is to find the plan that applies specifically to you, and be honest with yourself when it comes to selecting your perfect plan. If it's right for your current running ability, it will give you the correct balance of miles on the road and rest to ensure you get to race day fighting fit but not over or undertrained.

We have a wide range of FREE expert 10K training plans, whatever your current fitness level: 

Get kitted out

Perhaps the most important thing you will need for your first 10K race is a comfortable and professionally-fitted pair of running shoes (and a sports bra for the ladies). A good pair of trainers will stand you in good stead for your first 10K race and beyond. For help shopping, read Find the right running shoes for you

Once you've got your kit sorted, you can focus on the 10K race ahead. Even if you're an experienced runner, our kit list for beginners is a welcome reminder of what you might need. And pssst... don't forget safety pins.

Training can be fun

Even if you're a complete beginner, training for a 10K race needn't be a slog. There will be days when you just want to stay in bed and days when the thought of going for a five mile run makes your head spin. To stay motivated, ask a friend to run with you, or go out exploring on foot. If you need some inspiration, jazz up your training jaunts with our running hacks

Listen to your body

If you're a total beginner, it's going to take your body a bit of time to adjust to high-impact exercise and this often comes with a few aches and pains. If your entire body hurts the day after a big run, try not to worry. Muscle soreness is all part of the process, as your body heals itself and becomes stronger.

If you are in acute pain, stop running immediately and seek medical advice. If you're simply a bit sore, rest for a day and see how you feel. 

Think about your health before embarking on a high-impact exercise regime and if in doubt, seek advice from a physio or sports massage therapist.

If you suffer from a classic runner injuries such as chafing or blisters, consider it to be a badge of honour and plough on through. Runners often have black toe nails, blistered feet and chafed bits. It's all part of the fun! You'll see...

Get up to speed

One of the best things about a 10K race is it's the perfect distance to work on improving your speed. Set yourself an intermediate goal of completing a 5K time trial or parkrun 6-7 weeks into your plan. Then experiment with Fartlek training to improve your speed. Hill training is also an excellent way to develop endurance and speed.

Fuel your runs

10K may feel like a long way to run for a beginner, but it's still short enough that you don't need to worry too much about fuel during the race. However, what you eat before and after the race (and your training runs) is essential for recovery and improved athletic performance.

Your body will start to use up its glycogen stores (the energy you need to keep on running) after approximately 90 minutes of exercise. It's important to fuel up before your run to sustain your energy levels throughout the race, especially if you think you're going to take longer than 90 minutes to finish. 

Experiment with what works best for you. Give our fuelling tips a read and don't forget essential post-run recovery too.

Don’t run 10K in training

In preparation for your first 10K race, running six miles or more in training (in one go) isn’t necessary. You want to reach the start line feeling fit and ready to go without being overtired.

If you're stepping up from 5K, our 12-week intermediate training plan will help you build on your fitness base. But don't sweat, if you train and rest well you'll have enough in the tank to go the extra mile on the day.

Drink up!

Hydration is essential irrespective of the race distance. Sip up to two pints of water a couple of hours before the race starts and drink to thirst (so don't keep drinking if you're just not thirsty!) For more advice check out our race day hydration tips

Set realistic goals

Although it will be over before you know it, running a 10K race isn’t all about speed and beating your PB, it’s an incredible experience (and one you’ve paid for) so try your best to enjoy yourself! If this is your first race, set yourself a reasonable finishing time that's personal to you and aim to have fun.

Most importantly, try and get to the finish line in one piece with a smile on your face, regardless of your speed. 

Make running buddies

Chatting to likeminded runners is not only great for motivation and support, running buddies will make you much more likely to achieve your 10K dreams. From online pals to real life running partners, a running buddy is a friend for life. Join The Running Bug today and start making running friends.

For more training tips, read The secrets to running your fastest 10K

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