Whether you're a novice runner or you're ready to transition to 10K racing from shorter distances, 13 weeks is all you need to prepare for a 6.2-mile race. To fuel your motivation, you might sign up to run a 5K race at the end of week 11 or 12. At any rate, go ahead and register for a 10K that's at least three months out.
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To prepare for a 10K, you need to run three times a week on nonconsecutive days. Incorporate two shorter runs and one long run each week. Running coach and former Olympian Jeff Galloway suggests that you limit your short runs to 20 to 25 minutes during your first two weeks of training. Add five minutes to your short runs for the third and fourth weeks. Peak at 30- to 45-minute short runs, starting with the fifth week and continuing through the week of the race.
Your long runs will get progressively longer as you condition your body for endurance. Try to schedule your long run for the same day each week. Galloway's 10K training schedule calls for two-mile runs for the first two weeks, followed by a three-mile run the third week and four-mile runs in the fourth and fifth weeks. Your next five long runs include two at five miles, two at six miles and one at seven miles, successively. Taper your last two long training runs down to three to four miles.
Incorporate three cross-training days into your training schedule. Marathon coach and author Hal Higdon advises using one of your cross-training days for strength training and stretching. Work all your major muscles using your body weight or light weights, aiming for one set of 12 to 15 repetitions for each exercise. After your workout, stretch each muscle group using static stretches. Go deep enough into each stretch that you feel a gentle pull, but never to the point of pain.
Thirty- to 40-minute cross-training sessions will contribute to your cardiovascular endurance while giving your body a break from running. Consider opting for low-impact activities such as walking, swimming or bicycling. Be sure to take one day off each week to rest.
Alternate between walking and running during your short and long runs if you need to. Galloway says this can help speed recovery without compromising your endurance goals. You might walk for two minutes and run for one minute, using the method called interval training. As your training progresses, decrease your walking intervals while increasing your running intervals.
Check with your doctor before starting a running program if you have heart problems or if you've been inactive for an extended period.