If you are asking yourself, how long does it take to train for a 10k, you have decided to take the next big step in your running career. You’ve likely run at least one 5k, hopefully, many 5ks, and are looking to bump up your volume a bit.
I told you this would happen, didn’t I? You start out with the 5k, but after a few it’s just not enough anymore; you want more!
My best piece of advice, though, is to take each distance as seriously as the last. Follow a well-thought out plan and take the necessary steps to get there happy, healthy, and excited for more.
In this guide, we will look at the different factors that can affect your readiness to train for a 10k, tips and tricks to prepare yourself as best you can, and of course, answer your burning question, how long does it take to train for a 10k.
More specifically, we will discuss:
- Factors Affecting How Long To Train For A 10k
- How Long Does It Take To Train For A 10k?
- What Does A Couch To 10k Training Plan Entail?
- How Long Does It Take To Train For a 10k, If You’ve Already Run A 5k?
- 10k Training Plan Tips For All Levels
Let’s jump in!
Factors Affecting How Long To Train For A 10k
There are various factors to consider when figuring out just how long you will need to train for a 10k. These include your current fitness level, running or fitness experience, and your current goals.
Suppose you are a sedentary person and are not used to exercising at all. In that case, you will need more time than an active person who exercises regularly to train for your first 10k.
If you already run routinely, or used to run and are ready for a comeback, your 10k journey will be a bit smoother that someone who is just starting out, as your body is already accustomed to the stresses of pounding the pavement.If you are an advanced runner looking to improve your current 10k time, you can train specifics to improve your current PR.
How Long Does It Take To Train For A 10k?
How Long Does It Take To Train For A 10k? A Complete Beginner
As a coach, I always err on the side of caution, especially with beginner runners. A new runner is not accustomed to the impact running puts on our bodies’ muscles, bones, and connective tissues. Doing too much too fast could frustrate a new runner, causing discomfort, pain, or even injury.
Ramping up little by little over the course of 12-16 weeks is the way to go for a beginner runner with the goal of completing a 10k.
If you can run for 60 seconds straight, you should be able to take on the 12-week program without a problem.
Suppose you cannot run for 60 seconds straight. In that case, I suggest taking it slower and beginning with intervals of just 20 seconds of running followed by a couple of minutes of walking.
Once you can jog 60 seconds without stopping, jump into the Couch to 10k, 12-week program.
Our Couch to 10k program begins with just a minute of jogging, followed by bouts of walking. When following this program, it is crucial that the recovery walk in between the jogging intervals allows you to run again when the rest time is up. Therefore, choose a walking pace that will enable you to do so.
Note: If you are overweight or have a medical condition that has been keeping you from exercising in the past, consult your physician to get the go-ahead before beginning an exercise regimen such as this one.
How Long Does It Take To Train For A 10k? A Moderate Exerciser
If you are someone who does work out but is not an avid runner, you can plan on taking less time to train for your 10k.
If you are physically fit and exercise on a regular basis, you most likely have an aerobic base that you can work off of when training for a 10k. However, you will still need to have your body adapt to the impact of running.
So, how long does it take to train for a 10k for someone who already has an aerobic base?
If you already have an aerobic base, you should be able to train for your 10k in just 8 weeks. It should be sufficient time for your muscles, bones, and connective tissues to adjust to the new stresses of running.
How Long Does It Take To Train For A 10k? A Seasoned Runner
What Does A Couch To 10k Training Plan Entail?
We will look at two different Couch to 10k training plans and explain the slight differences so you can be sure and choose which is suitable for you.
12-Week 10k Training Plan For Complete Beginners
This Couch to 10k training plan begins quite similar to our Couch to 5k training plan. If you do not have running experience, it’s imperative to start with very little running time and ramp up gradually to avoid frustration and, most importantly, injury.
For our Couch to 10k training plan, you will need at least three days a week to train.
These three days will be your walk/run interval workouts for the first four weeks, followed by some longer runs for the plan’s duration. After week 8 and your 5k debut, we steal away a rest day and add one more running day to your schedule now that you are increasing your volume for the 10 big ones!
In addition to your four running days, you will want to add even more days of complimentary exercise to get stronger and quicker. This could be one to two days of cross-training and/or strength training.
Scattered throughout the Couch to 10k plans, you will see the option to cross-train. Cross-training is a great way to add more endurance work to your overall training without enduring the impact of running.
Being new to the sport, your body is not used to the constant pounding, so other forms of working your endurance without the impact of running is a great way to build a solid aerobic base.
Examples of cross-training:
- Elliptical / Sparc
- Pool running / Aqua jogging
You will not see strength training scheduled in these Couch to 10k plans, but I highly recommend you add it into your week, twice if possible.
Sessions can be short, 20-30 minutes, and can even be done from the comfort of your home with bodyweight exercise or with limited implements such as resistance bands, a suspension device, or dumbbells.
Here are some basic exercises that should be included in these workouts to help strengthen muscles and decrease the risk of injury:
- Glute bridges
As you will see in our Couch to 10k training plans, there is at least one full rest day and even the option for more. Do not skip this rest day as your body needs time to recuperate for the following workouts. This is all new to your body, so be careful not to overdo it.
Our Couch to 10k workouts begin time-based. Distance-based runs are included as you advance in the program and have developed your running base.
You will find three types of running workouts in these plans: interval workouts, runs during the week, and long runs.
The interval sessions include alternating jogging and walking for an established period of time.
An example of an interval workout is:
For 20 minutes, repeat the following:
Run 2 minutes
Walk 2 minutes
Your runs during the week and long runs should all be done at an easy, conversational pace. Don’t push yourself hard during these runs; you just want to complete the time. There is no stress in running fast or at a specific pace.
8-Week 10k Training Plan For Active People
The same rules that we described above apply to this training plan, the difference being, you start out a bit more advanced. Instead of taking time to ramp up to a long run, you already have one planned for week one.
Assuming you are active and have an aerobic base established, you should be able to cut those 4 starter weeks out and jump right into some more extended running periods.
This plan still includes run/walk interval sessions during the week, so you don’t overdo it and can adequately prepare your body for the impact of running.
So, how long does it take to train for a 10K? You’ll have to choose which plan sounds right for you. And don’t worry, if you need to repeat a week here and there and advance at a slower pace, there is nothing wrong with that!
Everyone progresses at a different pace, so take all the time you need to do it safely; you also want to ensure you are having fun!
10k Training Plan Tips For All Runners
#1 Increase Your Volume Gradually
I cannot stress enough how important it is to gradually increase your running time or distance. If you decide to go out and run too much too quickly, you risk injuring yourself and becoming frustrated to the point where you may never want to run again.
Our Couch to 10k training plans are designed primarily to follow this rule, so if you stick to the program, you shouldn’t have any problems.
#2: Invest In The Correct Gear
If you are a beginner and have not run before, you may not have proper running shoes in your closet. Running shoes have specific features designed for running, so visit your local running store and have an expert help you decide which shoes are right for you.
There are endless options, so if you need help knowing where to start, you can check out our running shoe guide.
#3 Focus On Proper Running Form
If you haven’t run before, you’re in great luck! This means you haven’t acquired any poor running form habits and can get it right from the get-go!
Take a look at our Running Form Guide for a full explanation of proper running form. If you don’t have a running coach to help you out, you can have someone take a video of you running so you can catch any mistakes from the very beginning. Proper running form not only aids in running economy, but can help avoid a variety of running injuries.
#4 Choose A Race
If you sign up for a race from the very beginning of your 10k training journey, you will be even more motivated to stay focused, dedicated, and consistent with your training sessions. Find a race near you and sign up right away!
#5 Find A Running Buddy
Another way to motivate yourself to stick to your plan is to find someone to take this challenge on with. Ensure it’s someone who has a similar fitness level as you do, so you can enjoy running together.
You could also join a local running club and find others to share the experience with.
#6 Warm-Up and Cool Down
Leave some extra time before and after your training sessions to properly warm up and cool down. This is another biggie for decreasing your risk of injury. Before running, you will want your muscles to be nice and warm, so you don’t run the risk, no pun intended, of pulling one.
For a warm-up, walk briskly for 5 minutes and perform 5 minutes of dynamic stretches. At the end of your run, cool down with static stretching of the muscles used. Here are some stretching guides to give you ideas on which stretches to perform:
#7 Don’t Worry About Pace
Run your training sessions at a comfortable, conversation pace. We are not aiming for a specific finish time, at least not the first 10k. You’ll have plenty of time to worry about pace later after you get good and addicted to this new distance.
#8 Have Fun
Let’s not forget why we chose to so this in the first place. Sure we want to get in shape and feel good, but running is tons of fun, so enjoy the journey, and of course, crossing that finish line!
I hope this has helped answer your question, how long does it take to train for a 10k, and given you the inspiration to get started. The time will fly by, and you’ll be crossing the 10k finish line before you know it.
For our very own 10k training plans, check out our 10k training resource library.