Personalized 10k training plans for all skill levels and goals: How to train for your first (or next) 10k

While every runner’s goals are different, having a structured training program is undoubtedly one of the best ways to level up your running game. With the right 10k plan, anyone can become a better runner, from the complete beginner to the elite athlete. 

Man running a 10k.

How to train for a 10k

Whether you want to complete your first 10k, train for a race, or aim to set a new personal best, there are many factors that contribute to achieving your goals. Below, you’ll find detailed information on how to optimize your 10k training, nail your nutrition, and improve your recovery. 

So, what is a 10k – and how do you train for it?

A 10k is a common running distance that’s 10 kilometers or approximately 6.2 miles. 

It's a popular choice for runners of all skill levels. While it’s more challenging than a 5k (3.1 miles), it’s not as intense as a half marathon (13.1 miles or 21.1 km) or a full marathon (26.2 miles or 42.2 km), making it suitable even for beginners. 

For more advanced runners, a 10k can be used as a springboard to longer distances or as a standalone goal, where they’re working to improve their speed and performance. 

One of the most important factors in training for a 10k is staying consistent and holding yourself accountable. To become a better runner, you need to get used to running a few times a week, every week. For this, you can:

  • Add your running sessions to your calendar to integrate them into your schedule
  • Sign up for a 10k race – having a specific goal in the near future is a great motivator
  • Join a running club or run with your friends or a run buddy

To help you with all this, we’ve built Runna, a dedicated running coaching app that you can use to build a fully customized 10k running plan that’s aligned with your goals, availability, and schedule.

Our personalized 10k training plans

One of the best ways to prepare for a 10k race – be it your first, 10th, or 100th – is to use a customized 10k training plan that’s adapted to your goals and schedule. 

With Runna, your running coaching app, you get a personalized 10k training plan that:

  • Sets out all training sessions for you
  • Automatically adjusts your mileage and types of runs to your goals and schedule
  • Incorporates strength training sessions adapted to the equipment you have 
  • Helps you manage your recovery and nutrition

A custom-built 10k running plan makes it 10x easier to stay on track and level up your running game. 

Whether you are a beginner or an elite runner with dozens or hundreds of races under your belt, we have the right running plan for you. 

Pick the one that best suits your goals and level: 

Beginner’s 10k training plan 

With Runna, you can start training for your first 10k, even if you’ve only run shorter distances – you simply need to be able to run a 5k in under 60 minutes. 

With this plan, you’ll be able to make the leap to 10k safely and efficiently, regardless of whether you’re preparing for a race or simply want to get in shape. The plan features different types of runs and you can also add strength training sessions to boost your performance and get into better shape. 

Intermediate 10k training plan 

If you already have some running experience and can comfortably do a 5k, our intermediate 10k training plan will help you get to a 10k safely and efficiently. 

This plan features slightly more complex runs and a higher weekly mileage to help you achieve sustainable progress, lower your finishing time, and become a better runner. 

Advanced 10k training plan (run a faster 10k)

Wondering how to run a faster 10k? Our Advanced, Elite and Elite Plus plans are the answer. 

If you’ve completed a number of 10k races and are looking for ways to further boost your performance and shave a few minutes off your finishing time, Runna’s advanced 10k training plan is the perfect fit. 

It features longer and more complex runs to help you improve your speed, pacing strategy, and endurance.

Elite 10k training plan (run a faster 10k – intensive plan)

Eager to set a new personal best? Our Elite 10k plan is the perfect running program for experienced runners who are interested in fine-tuning their training to achieve optimal running performance and speed. 

It features more intense workouts aimed at improving your speed and pace to help you set a new personal record.

Elite plus 10k training plan (run a faster 10k – our most intensive plan)

Our Elite plus 10k training plan is our most advanced plan, designed for runners who wish to unlock their full running potential by further increasing the mileage and the complexity of their workouts. 

Setting a new personal best is not an easy feat if you already have tons of experience – the faster you are, the harder it is to get faster. This plan will help you get at the top of your game. 

10 week 10k training plan

Runna’s 10-week training plan is ideal for most runners, including beginners. With it, you’ll be able to nail all the components of a successful 10k program, including easy runs, more challenging training sessions, strength training, pacing, and nutrition. 

12 week 10k training plan

If you want to take it slower or simply have more time before your next 10k race, you can simply do a few more weeks of our 10 week 10k training plan. This will help you get up to speed in a safe and efficient way and prepare you for your 10k race.

16 week 10k training plan

If you’re looking to start training after an injury or giving birth – or simply want to take it easy on yourself – you can use our 6 week returning-to-running plan for the first six weeks of training and then use our standard 10 week training plan to prepare for a 10k. 

This way, you’ll get in shape by progressively increasing your weekly mileage and incorporating different types of runs into your training sessions. 

18 week 10k training plan

If you want to take it extra slow or have never run before, you can use our 8 week new-to-running plan (couch to 5k) and then stack our 10 week 10k plan on top of it. With these two plans, you’ll gradually get used to running and then increase your weekly mileage to get into shape and prepare for your first 10k race. 

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10k nutrition

Training is only one side of the coin. To optimize your running performance, you’ll also need to take care of your nutrition and make sure you’re properly fueling both your training sessions and your recovery. 

For this, you need to:

  • Keep your protein high to help with muscle recovery
  • Eat slightly more carbs before your tougher sessions or your next race

If you’re looking to step up your speed, don’t be afraid to experiment with caffeine, too. 

Here are some general tips to help you optimize your running performance: 

  1. Carb loading might be an overkill – but carbs are a great fuel choice: You don’t necessarily need to carb-load when training for a 10k, but carbs are still a smart fuel choice, especially for more intense workouts or your next race. 
  2. Complex carbohydrates are ideal for fueling your 10k training sessions: Oats, whole grain, quinoa, sweet potatoes, veggies, and fruits, are all top choices – and they also contain lots of fiber, which helps keep your digestive system happy. 
  3. Don’t go overboard with the sugar: Avoid excessive amounts of sugar, which can lead to spikes and crashes of your blood sugar levels and might leave you feeling tired and sluggish. 
  4. Be mindful of overall intensity and mileage: The more intense your workouts and the higher your weekly mileage, the more energy you’ll need to properly fuel your body. So, if you increase the distance or frequency of your training sessions, remember to increase your caloric intake, too, by adding more complex carbs and protein to your diet. Similarly, if you need to dial down the intensity of your 10k training, adjust your food intake accordingly.

What to eat before a 10k: Race-day nutrition

On race day, eat a carb-rich meal, ideally a few hours before you start running. This allows your body enough time to digest it and keep you feeling fresh during the race. 

Protein and fat slow down digestion and might make you feel heavy, so it’s a good idea to limit them in this meal. The same is true for fiber.

And, of course, don’t try anything new on race day. Stick to tried and tested foods and combinations that you’ve used to fuel your more intense training sessions in the past.

10k cross-training and strength training

To further reduce injury risk and improve your performance, consider adding cross-training and strength training to your 10k training plan. Here’s why: 

  • Cross-training is a great way to supplement your 10k training by adding variety. There are many good options to choose from (or combine!), such as cycling, hiking, swimming, rowing, elliptical, etc. But, most importantly, choose a sport that you enjoy. Cross-training will also help you stay in shape if you get injured and need to put running on pause for a while. 
  • Strength training is an excellent way to improve your running performance and run a faster 10k on your next race. It helps protect your body against injuries by preparing your muscles to manage more intense loads better – and it also improves your running economy by 8-12%. 

Runna enables you to add a personalized strength training program that fits seamlessly into your 10k plan. Customize it to your equipment, schedule, and current strength level to make the most of your training. And if you have no equipment or access to a gym, don’t worry – we have plenty of bodyweight exercises, too! 

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Types of runs to help you run a faster 10k: speed work, long runs, easy runs

Variety will not only keep your training sessions more interesting but will also help you improve your speed and endurance for your next 10k race. 

Speed work

If your goal is to run a faster 10k, speed work is essential. There are two main types of speed work to consider:

  • Interval sessions: Interval running is all about running faster for shorter periods and walking between them. Teaching your body to run at higher speeds will help you gradually improve your performance for the entire 10k.
  • Tempo sessions: In tempo sessions, you need to run slightly above your usual pace but for longer – and jog, rather than walk, between laps. This helps you build up your speed endurance.

Long runs

While a 10k is a relatively short goal, long runs are still an essential part of your training. Why, you might be wondering? Well, long runs help you improve your endurance and therefore also speed – for shorter and longer distances alike.

Easy runs

Although it might sound counterintuitive, easy runs are great for improving your performance and speed without being super taxing on your body. 

Fast runs near or above your threshold pace are very demanding and require longer recovery times. If you push your limits consistently, you risk injuring yourself, too. 

That’s why easy runs should be the bulk of your 10k training program. Use the 80/20 rule when preparing for your next 10k race: Spend 80% of your time on easy runs and only 20% at top intensity.

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10k pacing

If you want to be able to run a faster 10k, you need a solid pacing strategy. 

Knowing how to pace a 10k will help you get the most out of yourself and avoid blowing up too early or finishing with more in the tank. 

So, what’s the best strategy for pacing your 10k race? We advise using a negative split, i.e. starting slower and building up your pace during the race. 

Goal time

Start by working out your goal time. 

For example, if you are aiming for a 50-minute 10k, then this would translate to an average pace of 5:00 minutes per km. Targeting an exact pace is not easy, so you can aim for a range of 3-4s at either side of it. In our example, that’s a range of 4:57-5:03 minutes per km. 

Next, divide your 10k into 3 sections: 

  • First 3k: For the first 3k, aim for a pace that’s around 5s/km slower than your target pace. Your first 1 km will probably be faster because of the excitement of starting your race, but try to dial it down to save energy for the final few kilometers. The effort should feel fast but also relaxed and your breathing should feel controlled. 
  • 4 to 7k: If things start getting tough around the halfway point, this likely means that you paced the first few kilometers too fast. In this part of the run, aim to hit your target pace without surging, which would simply waste energy. Stay relaxed and hold your pace.
  • From 7k onwards: Pick your moment to push on and increase your pace a bit more. If you’re feeling good, you can do this at the 7th kilometer; if not, wait to get closer to the finish line. In the last kilometer, go all in to empty the tank. The only thing left to do is to celebrate your race at the finish line!

Adjust your pace, if your race is in a hilly location or on a trail-like surface. 

Take your running to the next level

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10k recovery: sleep, mobility work, sports massages

A 10k race usually doesn't require a long recovery period, but we’d still advise you to take it slow for a few days. This doesn’t mean no movement at all, though! Instead of running, you can simply try another sport at low to medium intensity.

During your 10k training and before your race, however, you need to allow enough time for recovery and downtime. In essence, this means to: 

  • Sleep enough: Sleep is one of the key components to top running performance. Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Add mobility work to your training: Yoga, pilates, or simply stretching can be very helpful.
  • Do sports massages: Give yourself a massage with a foam roller or go to a sports massage from time to time.
  • Be mindful of the signals your body is giving you: If you need extra time for recovery or if you’ve been sick, don’t hesitate to change your training program, skip a session, or take one more day off. 

10k gear: shoes, clothing, and more

Your gear is key for your comfort during training and on race day, and can either help or hinder your performance. Here’s what to consider: 

  • Shoes: Shoes protect your body from the impact with the pavement, so get a good pair of running shoes. We’d advise you to go to a specialized shoe shop with an in-store treadmill where you can get adequate tips and suggestions on the best models for you.
  • Clothing: Avoid cotton, because it retains moisture and can cause chafing (which will make for a very uncomfortable race or training session). Get running clothes with good quality performance fabrics that wick moisture and dry quickly.
  • Running watch/GPS tracker: You can either use your phone’s GPS tracker or get a running watch like Garmin or COROS to keep an eye on the distance and pace. Runna integrates with Garmin, Apple Watch, Coros, and Strava to help you get most of your training plan.
  • Accessories: A running belt or armband can help you carry your phone, keys, and other essentials. Consider hydration gear, too, especially if you’ll be running in hot weather.
  • Sun protection: Use high-SPF sunscreen, even on cloudy days. A sun hat might also be in order.

But most importantly, don’t try anything new on race day. Stick to tried and tested gear and accessories.

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“Very grateful I stumbled across this game changer! Out of years of different running programs, this is by far my favourite; it’s been so enjoyable”

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"Training program really adapted to my goals that got me motivated to run again and get ‘back in my groove’."

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All you need to know about 10k running

10k distance: How long is a 10k in miles?

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How long will it take me to prepare for a 10k race?

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Which 10k training plan should I pick?

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What 10k finishing time should I aim for?

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10k training and injuries: What should I do if I’m recovering from an injury?

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I only have 6 weeks to prepare. What should I do?

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How can I improve my 10k time?

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10k and general fitness: Do I need to do strength training to run a 10k?

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How can I progress from 10k to a half marathon?

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Take your running to the next level

Your personalized running coach with tailored training plans to achieve your goals, from running a faster 5k to finishing your first marathon.

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First week free. Cancel anytime.
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