10K Race Training for Every Level

Adults running 10K race

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Many entry-level runners start their running journey with a 5-kilometer race, but if you feel you’ve mastered the 5K, you may be ready for the next level—a 10-kilometer race. These longer runs are extremely popular, with numerous options year-round throughout the U.S.

Whether you’re a beginner with a few shorter races under your belt or a more seasoned endurance athlete, a 10K can be an accessible—but challenging—fitness goal. So, if you are looking to lace up for a 10K event, here is what you need to know about training at every level.

What Is a 10K Race?

Ten kilometers equals 6.2 miles, which is twice the length of a 5K. Each 10K race will have its own course, some on flat, level ground and others featuring hills or more difficult terrain.

Some races are an out-and-back course while others have a more circular course. Some races even take you on a point-to-point distance course. To choose the best race for yourself, consider not only the course terrain, but also whether the race raises funds for a cause you care about or offers desirable prizes for placing.

10K Training Plans for All Levels

If you are planning to run a 10K, it's important that you put together a training plan that is right for you and your current fitness level. This way, you’ll start exactly where you are, working your way up to 6.2 miles with a lower risk of injury or burnout.

Here are three training plans to consider—one for beginners, one for intermediate runners, and one for advanced runners. Of course, if none of these options fit your running style or goals, consider building your own individualized training plan or work with a running coach to develop one that is tailored to your specific needs.

Beginner 10K Training Plan

When it comes to running, there’s no firm definition of who is a beginner. But, generally, people in this category may need to allow for a longer 10K training schedule than those with more experience.

“While there are no hard and fast rules, I would say a beginner is generally someone who has been running for 3 years or less and who runs for fun, fitness, or community,” says Pam Moore, ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, and marathoner.

Some beginners enjoy doing a run/walk program to train for a 10K. Typically, these training programs last around 10 weeks and gradually increase in intensity from 10 sets of 1-minute walks and 1-minute runs to 3-minute runs and 1-minute walks. By the end of 10 weeks, you’ll be prepared to complete a 10K through a combination of walking and running.

If you feel you’d like to run your entire 10K, you may want to try an 8-week training plan that reaches a pre-race distance of 5 miles. An advanced beginner training program may take you up to 7 miles before race day.

With either training program you might run a comfortable number of miles on Tuesday and Thursday and cross-train on Wednesday. Friday would be a rest day, Saturday would be a long run day, and Sunday an active recovery day. Then, Monday would be another rest day.

Finally, those seeking a greater challenge—or who are simply crunched for time—may benefit most from a condensed 4-week training schedule. Naturally, trying to fit your training into 4 days will require more miles in one day and more active cross training. a more intense training plan with fewer rest days—but when time is limited, it can still work for beginners.

Pam Moore, ACE-CPT

I think any beginner who completes 6 miles—whether it takes them 45 minutes or 90 minutes—should be proud of themselves for committing to the training, showing up at the start line, and getting it done.

— Pam Moore, ACE-CPT

If you are a beginner, you also may want to think about setting some goals for yourself. These can be as simple as completing the training and completing the race. Think about your abilities and what you hope to accomplish. But most importantly, make sure you are having fun.

“I think any beginner who completes 6 miles—whether it takes them 45 minutes or 90 minutes—should be proud of themselves for committing to the training, showing up at the start line, and getting it done," says Moore. "There are so many factors that go into one's success as an athlete, but the truth is, none of it matters if you aren't having fun.”

Intermediate 10K Training Plan

Intermediate runners have been running for a while and are starting to test their speed. They already know they can finish the race, so their training plans will include more variety to help them improve and hone their skills.

“Whether they're racing a 5K or a marathon, [intermediate runners] have time goals in mind and their training program typically includes structured workouts," says Moore. "The intermediate runner's weekly training will include one or two specific workouts such as hill repeats, a tempo run, or a track workout.”

To train for a 10K as an intermediate runner, you may want to test out an 8-week plan that features cross-training, tempo runs, interval workouts, and long runs that are up to 8 miles before race day. Or, for faster training, dive into a 4-week 10K plan for intermediate runners. Like the 8-week plan, you will have various days of cross-training, tempo runs, long runs, easy runs, and rest days. Just note that you should be able to comfortably run 5 miles to start this program.

Advanced 10K Training Plan

If you’re an advanced runner, training for a 10K may be less about reaching the finish line and more about refining your approach or getting a better time.

“Advanced runners generally have been running for at least 5 years,” says Moore. “While everyone's training varies, advanced runners have typically developed the ability to tolerate higher mileage than beginner and intermediate runners. They also may run upwards of 40 miles per week. While they may use data like pace or heart rate to inform their training, they typically have enough experience and self-awareness to let their perceived exertion be their guide.” 

As long as you have enough time to train, you can utilize an 8-week training schedule. Like intermediate training, it includes cross-training, tempo runs, long runs, and rest days, plus interval workouts.

Although you can adjust the training days to fit your schedule a sample one might include cross-training on Mondays, interval work on Tuesdays, a short run and strength training on Wednesday, a tempo run or hill work on Thursdays, and a rest day on Friday. On Saturday, you would go on a long run and on Sunday you would go on an easy run.

Tips for Training for a 10K Race

While a good training program is important for running a 10K, it is not the only thing that you need to to do prepare for race day. Here are some additional tips to ensure you feel your best—both as you train and on the big day.

Nutrition

You may have heard conflicting opinions about exactly how to fuel your body when preparing for a race. Extensive research from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) sets the record straight with nutrition recommendations for athletes.

The ACSM recommends carb loading of 10 to 12 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight for 36 to 48 hours pre-event. Then, the morning of your race, fuel with 1 to 4 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight.

As for fueling your body during your training, it is important to eat a balance diet throughout. Additionally, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics indicates that refueling post-workout should involve a balance of carbs and protein within 60 minutes of activity. 

Hydration

Every runner will have different preferences around hydration on race day, and multiple variables can affect how much water you’ll need.

“Your hydration needs during the race will depend on what your goals are, how long you'll be on the course, and how hot it is,” Moore says. “On a cooler day (under 60 degrees), if you're going to cross the finish line in under 1 hour, you don't necessarily need to drink anything on the course, especially if you're not thirsty.” 

That said, most people should be mindful of hydration before, during, and after their 10K. Moore recommends drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before the race, then 8 ounces 20 to 30 minutes before the start.

Once on the course, aim to drink 7 to 10 ounces of water or sports drink every 10 to 20 minutes of exercise—or at least one 24 ounce bottle every hour. And don't neglect your hydration needs post-run.

“Drink at least 8 ounces within 30 minutes of crossing the finish line and get in 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise,” Moore says. 

Rest and Recovery

It may seem counter-intuitive, but rest is one of the most important elements of your 10K training. When your plan says to take the day off, do so.

“Your body needs time to recover from the training you're putting in, particularly with a high-impact sport like running,” says Moore. “If you constantly push without respecting your body's need for rest, you risk overtraining, burnout, and injury.”

Moore points out that rest and recovery days don’t just benefit your physical ability, but your mental freshness, too.

“Varying your training by including not just rest days, but active recovery days where you do something low impact like yoga, swimming, or cycling gives you the opportunity to come back to running with your mind and body refreshed," she adds.

A Word from Verywell

No matter where you begin, training your way to a 10K can be an exciting, empowering experience. Just be sure to consult with a healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program—especially if this is your first time running. You want to be sure you are mindful of your needs and adjust your plans accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to train for a 10K?

    Advanced runners might not need any training at all to pound out a 6.2-mile run. Beginners, on the other hand, should account for anywhere from four to 10 weeks of training. Those in the intermediate category may be able to train more quickly (such as in four weeks or less) or may prefer to take up to 10 weeks as well.

  • What is a good goal time for a 10K race?

    If you’re approaching your first 10K, you are probably wondering what type of goals you should set for yourself. But the answer is more of a personal choice based on your individual abilities. The best goals are those that will push you but are also attainable. Most experts agree that, regardless of your time, you should be proud of yourself for completing the training and for showing up at the starting line.

  • What is the average time to run a 10K?

    Average times for 10Ks are as follows:

    • Elite male runner: 30:00 minutes or less
    • Elite female runner: 35:00 minutes or less
    • Average male runner: 55:37 minutes or less
    • Average female runner: 1:03:17 or less
    • Brisk walker: 1:30:00 or less
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2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Nutrition and Athletic Performance, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2016 - Volume 48 - Issue 3 - p 543-568. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000852

  2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Timing your pre- and post-workout nutrition.