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10 Weeks to Your First 10K
This plan assumes that you are currently capable of running three to four times per week with a total volume of about 10 miles per week. It may be helpful to have had some 5K race experience. This plan occurs over the course of 10 weeks. Each week contains one long run, two easy runs, two intermediate-distance runs, and two rest days. The long run occurs on Sunday, the hard runs occur on Wednesday and Friday, the easy runs occur on Tuesday and Thursday, and the rest days occur on Monday and Saturday. You can adjust these days to fit your schedule, but try not to schedule two hard workouts back-to-back as it can cause fatigue and increase the chance of injury.
The training mileage begins at 12 miles per week and culminates at 17.5 miles per week. The plan is broken into three stages: a base period that lasts the first 5 weeks, a sharpen period that occurs weeks 6 to 9, and a taper period that occurs weeks 8 to 9. The base period seeks to build your aerobic endurance by progressively increasing your training volume. The runs during the base period should be performed on fairly flat terrain, at a slower pace, and at a lower intensity. You may find it helpful to alternate between trail, grass, and asphalt running to reduce wear and tear. The sharpen period seeks to build upon your aerobic endurance by increasing power and refining neuromuscular pathways. This period will include high-speed intervals and tempo runs. The training volume will decrease to accommodate for increased intensity of the workouts. Finally, the taper period seeks to help you recover and prepare yourself for the race by decreasing the training volume.
The training plan allows for some flexibility and includes options to enhance your training. It isn’t advisable to miss the long runs consecutively as these runs are particularly important for building aerobic endurance. The longest run will be 6 miles and the plan calls for you to repeat this two times before the full 10K. This will help your body adapt to the mileage demanded in the race and help you finish the race fast and strong. There are also options to run shorter races during training as these can help simulate the race experience and prepare you mentally for the big day.
Before you begin this training plan, we suggest that you assess your current level of fitness. This will help you determine your goal race finish time. Even if your goal is “just to finish,” it will help you set the appropriate intensity levels of your workouts. You can assess your current level of fitness by performing a one-mile time-trial on your own or you can enter a race (such as 5K). Once you have established your fitness level, you should train according to what your current ability is. There will be opportunities after several months of training to reassess your fitness level and adjust race goals.
We recommend that you consult a physician before taking on a training regimen of the nature called for in this plan.