Whether you are a seasoned runner or have recently started running, you likely know that there are certain common race distances, particularly when considering popular road races. Typically, at least in the US, this grouping includes the 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon.
There are also many other distances for road races based on the viable courses in different communities or the history behind certain races, but by and large, you might consider the 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon the “big four” running race distances to choose from.
Although still not nearly as common, 10 mile and 15k road races are becoming increasingly popular as a nice intermediary step between the 10k and the half marathon.
However, while it is easy to find training plans and advice to prepare for the more common running distances, guidance on how to train for a 10 mile run is harder to track down.
In this guide, we will discuss how to train for a 10 mile run, the elements that go into the best 10 miler training plans, and provide a link to our free 15k training plan for runners who want to train for a 10 mile run.
We will look at the following:
- How Far Is 10 Miles and How Far Is 15k?
- How To Train For A 10 Mile Run
Let’s jump in!
How Far Is 10 Miles and How Far Is 15k?
Before we look at the elements that go into the best 10 mile race training plans, let’s cover the basics for new runners.
We are lumping together running a 10 miler with running a 15k race in this guide on how to train for a 10 mile running race because these two distances are quite similar.Generally, depending on where you live in the world, it may be more common to find 10 mile races or 15k running races.
Either way, how you should train for a 15k or 10 miler has so much overlap that you can use a 15k training plan to prepare for a 10 mile race or a 10 mile training plan for a 15k race.
For runners outside of the United States, a mile is approximately 1.6 km, so a 10 mile race is 16.09 kilometers.
How far is 15k?
For runners in the United States who are unfamiliar with kilometers, 1 km is a little less than 0.62 of a mile, so a 15k race is about 9.32 miles.
As can be seen, 10 miles and 15 km are very similar distances, just over 1 km apart. Therefore, for the purposes of this 10 mile training plan guide, we will be using the 10 mile/15km distances interchangeably.
Finally, we also want to note that some runners simply ask: “How do I train to run 10 miles?“
Running 10 miles can be a bucket list running goal distance for recreational runners, even if you do not have any intention of running a 10 mile race or 15k race.
This is perfectly fine as well. You can still follow a 10 mile training plan to prepare for your 10 mile long run.
How To Train For A 10 mile Run
Some runners who can’t find a good 10 miler training plan just modify a 10k or half marathon training plan, but the more specific you can be with your target race distance in your training plan, the more success you will have come race day.
However, as with training for any race distance, there isn’t a single “best 10 mile training plan” that will work for every runner, as it really depends on your fitness level, race goal, experience running 10 miles or 15k races, available time to train, injury history, etc.
That said, the best 15k training plans have the same common key running workouts and training elements, including the following:
A 10 mile running plan should have easy aerobic runs performed at a conversational pace (6-7 on an RPE scale of 1-10) to help you build your endurance and aerobic base without overly taxing the body.
Easy runs also help you recover from the speed workouts on your 15k training plan.
One of the key workouts on a 10 mile training plan is the weekly long run, which generally gets progressively longer (with some step-back weeks for recovery) as you build your cardiovascular, muscular, and mental endurance for your 10 mile race.
Speed workouts on the best 10 mile training plans usually involve running specific distances on the track at race pace or faster to develop leg speed, a sense of pacing and to improve your anaerobic threshold.
You may also see fartlek runs, which are pick-ups performed in the middle of a regular run rather than on the track, hill repeats to build speed and strength, and tempo runs or threshold intervals.
The threshold intervals are run at a pace that corresponds to your anaerobic threshold, which occurs around 83-88% of your VO2 max.
Threshold pace is roughly the pace that you would be able to hold for one hour of all-out running at a constant pace.
Depending on your running ability level and speed, this may be just a bit faster than your goal 10 mile race pace (or closer to your 10k race pace if you are a little slower).
These 10 mile training plan workouts, in particular, train your body to clear acidic metabolic byproducts faster and be able to sustain a faster running pace before significant fatigue sets in, which is crucial for having the best 10 mile or 15 km race.
A tempo run is at the same pace as your threshold intervals but requires at least 20 minutes of continuous running at your threshold running pace.
Tempo runs really challenge your speed endurance and mental endurance to sustain discomfort for a longer period of time without getting recovery breaks in between intervals.
When you are trying to learn how to train for a 10 mile race, it may be surprising that you would do any type of sprinting, but you will find strides on the best 10 mile race training plans.
Running strides also helps improve neuromuscular coordination while challenging the anaerobic energy systems and fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Cross training workouts on your 15k training plan can be any type of cardio exercise other than running.
Choosing low-impact cross-training exercises like cycling, swimming, deep water running, the elliptical machine, etc., helps you continue to build the aerobic endurance that you need while reducing the impact stresses on your bones and joints relative to running.
Plus, because you are using different muscles and motions with cross-training workouts for runners, incorporating cross-training into a 10 mile running training plan is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of running injuries.
Strength training is another good way to help prevent injuries by strengthening your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, joints, and other connective tissues to handle increased loads so that the impact and physical demands of running do not exceed the capacity of your musculoskeletal system.
The best strength training workouts for runners also help prevent muscle imbalances.
On top of your 10 mile training plan running workouts, you should aim to do 2-3 total-body strength training workouts per week.
Particularly when following a 10 mile training plan for beginners, it’s essential to take rest days.
Rest days allow your body time to recover, adapt, and rebuild after your workouts.
A 15k training plan for beginners may have 2-3 rest days per week to start and then decrease as fitness improves and the body gets used to running consistently.
Advanced 10 mile training plans should still have at least one rest day per week for injury prevention and recovery.
Finally, it’s also important to focus on fueling your body well when training for a 15k, including day-to-day healthy nutrition, pre-run and post-run nutrition, and race hydration.
Learn more about nutrition for runners here.
Ready to get started on your 10 mile training program?
We have a great, free 10 mile or 15k training plan for beginners or intermediate runners that you can find here: