10K Training Plans for Beginner Runners

Two young guys stretching, running and working out together outside in a urban area on a sunny day.
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The 10K (6.2 miles) distance is very popular with beginner runners, especially those who have done a 5K (3.1 miles) race but don't feel they're quite ready to take on the half-marathon (13.1 miles).

You can use this eight-week training schedule to help get you to the finish line. It assumes that you can already run at least 2 miles. If you cannot comfortably run that distance, consider using the run/walk 10K training schedule, alternating running and walking intervals.

What Is a 10K Race in Miles?

A 10K race is ten kilometers or 6.2 miles. It is twice the distance of a 5K which is 3.1 miles. A 10k is 10,000 meters, or nearly 11,000 yards. Running this distance is equivalent to 6.25 trips around a running track, which is usually 1600 meters. People who compete in 10K races are considered long distance runners.

How to Train for a 10K

If you haven't had a physical recently, it's a good idea to visit your health care professional ​to get cleared for running. If you've never run before, the first step is to build up your running base mileage. Many people use the run/walk method to increase mileage and build endurance.

Don't worry about how fast you run during this stage. Instead, focus on running duration. Set a goal to be able to run for two miles, or about 20 to 30 minutes, before you start this 10K training plan. Don't forget to warm up before your runs, and finish with a cool down and then stretching.

Average 10K Time for Beginners

Once you establish an endurance base, you can start to track your pace for your training runs or to estimate your finishing time on race day. The average finishing time for a 10K varies substantially based on the level of training and other factors (like the type of course).

As a point of reference, elite and professional runners may be able to finish a 10K in 30 minutes or less. For an average runner, the typical finishing time will be much slower. According to data compiled in the U.S. by Strava, the average running pace for adult men is 9:07 per mile and for women it is 10:21 per mile.

Based on those numbers, the average 10K finishing time for a man would be 55:37. The average 10K finishing time for a woman would be 1:03:17.

As a beginning-level runner, your first goal might be to finish the event feeling strong. If you've completed a run/walk 10K, another reasonable goal might be to run for the entire event.

You can predict your estimated finishing time using a pace calculator. Simply input your typical pace for runs that are close to 6.2 miles in length and find out what your finishing time would be.

Typical Training Week

You'll see that there is activity scheduled for each day of the week on the training schedules below. But not every day is a training day. Some days are rest days and some days offer the option to participate in cross training (CT) activities.

Cross training gives your body a break from running, but allows you to get some physical activity. You might choose low impact activities (such as yoga or cycling) or exercise that focuses on your upper body, such as strength training.

For both of these schedules, you can switch days to accommodate your schedule. If you're busy on another day and prefer to work out on a Monday or Friday, it's fine to swap a rest day for a run day.

Rest days: Mondays and Fridays are rest days. Rest is critical to your recovery and injury prevention efforts, so don't ignore it. Your muscles build and repair themselves during your rest days. If you run every day without taking days off, you won't see much improvement. It's also good to sometimes get a mental break from running. If you run every day, you may get burnt out or injured.

Run days: On Tuesdays and Thursdays, run at a comfortable, conversational pace for the designated mileage. You should be able to speak and breathe easily at this pace. If your breathing gets out of control, slow your pace or take a walk break. If you feel good during the last mile, pick up the pace a little so you're running at your anticipated 10K race pace.

Cross-training days: On Wednesdays, do a cross-training activity (biking, swimming, elliptical trainer) at an easy to moderate effort for 30 to 40 minutes. Strength training is also very beneficial to get stronger and more injury-resistant. If you're feeling very sluggish or sore, take a rest day.

Long run day: Saturday is your long run day. After you warm up, run at a comfortable, conversational pace for the designated mileage. If you're running outside, and you're not sure how far you're running, you can figure out the mileage by using apps or sites such as MapMyRun or RunKeeper, or a GPS watch.

Active recovery day: Sunday is an active recovery day. Run at an easy, comfortable pace, which helps loosen up your muscles. Or, you can do a run/walk combination for the indicated amount of time, or cross-train.

Modifications

If your training is interrupted by illness or vacation, try to resume your schedule where it left off. If the interruption is for more than a week, repeat the last week's workouts before progressing.

While you might use the treadmill for one workout per week, it's best to do road training for a road race. Your body will encounter different conditions out in the real world compared with running on a treadmill. Use the treadmill for one of your workouts each week, but the others (especially the long mileage on Saturday) should be done outdoors.

If the route of your 10K race includes hills, it is good to include them in your workouts. Your body will need to get used to both uphill and downhill running as they use the muscles in different ways.

10K Training Schedules

The two schedules below are very similar. One plan is for absolute beginners—that is, those who have never participated in a 10K event.

The advanced beginner plan is geared toward runners who can run 3 miles comfortably and can run four to five days per week. It's appropriate for you if you've already run at least one 10K road race or you have some running experience and are ready to race a 10K.

If you need more of a challenge, use the intermediate 10K schedule. It adds interval workouts and tempo runs to improve your speed and finish time.

10K Beginner Training Schedule
Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 Rest 1.5-mile run CT or Rest 1.5-mile run Rest 2-mile run 25 to 30 minutes run or CT
2 Rest 2-mile run CT or Rest 2-mile run Rest 2.5-mile run 25 to 30 minutes run or CT
3 Rest 2.5-mile run CT or Rest 2-mile run Rest 3.5-mile run 30 to 35 minutes run or CT
4 Rest 2.5-mile run CT or Rest 2-mile run Rest 3.5-mile run 35 minutes run or CT
5 Rest 3-mile run CT or Rest 2.5-mile run Rest 4-mile run 35 to 40 minutes run or CT
6 Rest 3-mile run CT 2.5-mile run Rest 4.5-mile run 35 to 40 minutes run or CT
7 Rest 3.5-mile run CT 3-mile run Rest 5-mile run 40 minutes run or CT
8 Rest 3-mile run CT or Rest 2-mile run Rest Rest 10K Race
10K Advanced Beginner Training Schedule
Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 Rest 3 miles CT 2.5 miles race pace Rest 3 miles 30 min. EZ
2 Rest 3 miles CT 3 miles race pace Rest 3.5 miles 35-40 min. EZ
3 Rest 3.5 miles CT 3.5 miles race pace Rest 4 miles 35-40 min. EZ
4 Rest 4 miles CT 3.5 miles race pace Rest 4.5 miles 40-45 min. EZ
5 Rest 4 miles CT 3 miles race pace Rest 5 miles 40-45 min. EZ
6 Rest 4 miles CT 3.5 miles race pace Rest 6 miles 40-45 min. EZ
7 Rest 4 miles CT 3 miles race pace Rest 7 miles 40-45 min. EZ
8 Rest 3 miles CT or Rest 3 miles Rest Rest 10K Race

Get Ready to Run Your First 10K

You'll feel stronger and perform better on race day if you follow basic strategies to address nutrition, hydration, and gear. Follow these tips to optimize your performance.

  • Eat a balanced diet during training. You'll need lots of nutritious carbs to provide energy, healthy fats for satiety, and plenty of protein to support muscle growth. Familiarize yourself with the basics of a balanced diet and try to include a variety of foods in your meal plan.
  • Test gear in advance so that there are no surprises on race day. On your long-run days, wear the gear that you might wear on the day of the event, taking weather conditions into consideration. Then choose the outfit that works best and prep it the night before your race so it is ready to go in the morning.
  • Experiment with hydration during training. You can use long run days or even shorter runs to find out how your body responds to different fluids. You may find that water works best for you or you might try a sports drink for longer workouts. Try to find out which sports drink will be offered on race day to test it out in advance.
  • Optimize sleep to enhance recovery. Your body will perform better during training and especially on race day if it is well rested. Take steps to follow a regular sleep schedule to get the sleep that you need.
  • Familiarize yourself with the course in advance. Visit the race website to see a course map. Are there multiple hills? Is part of the course off-road? You can incorporate these elements into your training if you know about them in advance.

A Word From Verywell

If this will be your first 10K race, you'll want to to review road race etiquette, and even how to take water from aid stations and use porta-potties on race day. Be sure that you stay safe and, especially, enjoy your training and race.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a good time when running a 10K?

    If this is your first 10K, it may be best to set a goal to finish rather than to finish in a certain time. The average 10K finishing time for a man is 55:37. The average 10K finishing time for a woman is 1:03:17.

  • How long do you need to train for a 10K race?

    It is best if you have at least eight weeks to train for your first 10K. If you are currently running, you may need less time.

  • What can you do when training becomes difficult?

    Make sure you are getting adequate sleep to make sure you have the energy to run. A balanced diet helps as well. There are also motivational strategies (such as a good running playlist) that you can use to boost motivation.

  • What should you eat the night before running a 10K?

    You don't want to eat anything that is unfamiliar the night before your race. Choose a balanced meal that is familiar to you. Also try not to eat too late, especially if your race is early in the morning.

  • How much water should you drink during a 10K?

    Runners should drink 4 to 6 ounces every 20 minutes. During long runs of 90 minutes or more, it is recommended that you drink 5 to 10 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes.

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2 Sources
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