How to Train for a 10K Race in Just 4 Weeks

Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Programs

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If you signed up for a 10K race (6.2 miles) and haven't started training yet, you can still get into racing shape if you put your mind to it. By establishing a roster of rotating programs—with regular training and rest days—it is possible to be race-ready in as little as four weeks.

The secret is to build endurance and strength without overtraining, a task that is often easier said than done. To this end, it is important to follow the prescribed training schedule whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced runner.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t run longer or incorporate more runs into your weekly schedule. You simply need to avoid pushing your body beyond its limit, something that can not only set you back physically but cause you real harm.

Facets of the 4-Week Program

Whether you are a beginner or veteran racer, the foundational training schedule would involve one of three training programs:

  • Long runs (LR) are those over three miles designed to develop your stamina. These would be run at a pace where you are able to breathe easily and speak in complete sentences.
  • Easy runs (ER) are those that are no longer than three miles, also run at a comfortable, conversational pace.
  • Cross-training (CT) and rest days are non-running days where you can either take the day off or embark on easy CT activities such as biking, swimming, or yoga. The choice is largely dependant on how your body responds to the training. As part of the CT program, try to incorporate a strengthening workout two to three times per week.

Intermediate and advanced runners would need to incorporate additional training programs to achieve their optimal 10K race pace:

  • Tempo runs (TR) help you develop your anaerobic threshold (AT) critical to fast racing. Start with 10 minutes of easy running followed by 20 to 25 minutes of running at a pace 10 seconds per mile slower than your 10K race pace. End with 10 minutes of running at a reasonable cooling-down pace.
  • 10K interval workouts are those that are run at your optimal 10K race pace, followed by a two-minute recovery pace. You should start and finish these workouts with one mile of easy running.
  • Hill repeats (HR) involve running up a hill for 200 to 400 meters at your 10K race pace. Recover by running down the hill at an easy pace. Your breathing should not belabor by the time you start your next repeat.

If you are running training outdoors, you can measure your routes with either a running app like RunKeeper or Strava or an online mapping site like MapMyRun.

Beginner 10K Training Schedule

Although this schedule is for beginners, it is not meant for someone who has never run before or has been inactive for more than three months. The four-week schedule should only be used if you are already able to comfortably run three miles. If not, aim for a program able to get you up to speed for a one-mile or two-mile run.

Week 1 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: 30 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 2: 2 miles ER
  • Day 3: 30 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 4: 2 miles ER
  • Day 5: Rest
  • Day 6: 3 miles LR
  • Day 7: 2-mile brisk walk or rest

Week 2 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: 30 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 2: 2.5 miles ER
  • Day 3: 30 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 4: 2.5 miles ER
  • Day 5: Rest
  • Day 6: 4 miles LR
  • Day 7: 2-mile brisk walk or rest

Week 3 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: 30 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 2: 3 miles ER
  • Day 3: 30 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 4: 3 miles ER
  • Day 5: Rest
  • Day 6: 5 miles LR
  • Day 7: 2-mile brisk walk or rest

Week 4 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: 3 miles ER
  • Day 2: 30 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 3: 3 miles ER
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: 2 miles ER
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: Race day

Intermediate 10K Training Schedule

This four-week training program is designed for runners who have previous race experience and are looking to improve their 10K time. You should be able to run up to five miles comfortably to start this program.

Week 1 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: 40 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 2: 20 minutes TR plus 2 HR
  • Day 3: 30 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 4: three 4-minute intervals at a 10K pace
  • Day 5: Rest
  • Day 6: 5 miles LR
  • Day 7: 3 miles ER

Week 2 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: 40 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 2: 30 minutes TR plus 3 HR
  • Day 3: 25 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 4: three 4-minute intervals at a 10K pace
  • Day 5: Rest
  • Day 6: 7 miles LR
  • Day 7: 3 miles ER

Week 3 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: 40 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 2: 25 minutes TR plus 3 HR
  • Day 3: 30 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 4: three 4-minute intervals at a 10K pace
  • Day 5: Rest
  • Day 6: 6 miles LR
  • Day 7: 3 miles ER

Week 4 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: 30 minutes CT
  • Day 2: Rest
  • Day 3: 20 minutes TR
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: 2 to 3 miles ER
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: Race Day

Advanced 10K Training Schedule

This four-week training program is designed for veteran competitors who are already able to run up to seven miles comfortably.

Week 1 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: 40 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 2: 25 minutes TR plus 2 HR
  • Day 3: 30 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 4: three 5-minute intervals at a 10K pace
  • Day 5: Rest
  • Day 6: 7 miles LR
  • Day 7: 4 miles ER

Week 2 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: 40 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 2: 30 minutes TR plus 3 HR
  • Day 3: 40 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 4: four 5-minute intervals at a 10K pace
  • Day 5: Rest
  • Day 6: 8 miles LR
  • Day 7: 4 miles ER

Week 3 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: 40 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 2: 25 minutes TR plus 3 HR
  • Day 3: 40 minutes CT or rest
  • Day 4: three 5-minute intervals at a 10K pace
  • Day 5: Rest
  • Day 6: 7 miles LR
  • Day 7: 3 miles ER

Week 4 Training Schedule

  • Day 1: 30 minutes CT
  • Day 2: Rest
  • Day 3: 20 minutes TR
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: 2 to 3 miles ER
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: Race Day

A Word From Verywell

Although four weeks is plenty of time to get ready for a 10K race, it is important to do so within your limitations. Training is the time when many overuse injuries first develop or get worse. Always listen to your body, and take a couple of extra rest days if you need it.

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