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Q&A: How Do I Train for a 10K Race?

Do I have to train differently for a 10K race than for other races?

Ten kilometers is a challenging distance, especially for those who are new to running it. To train for this 6.2-mile race, it’s important to run a minimum of three times per week. This should ideally include two mid-length runs during the week and a longer run on the weekend, with the long run’s distance reaching six miles or more about three weeks or longer before the goal race. (When increasing your weekly mileage, it’s a good guideline to add no more than 10 percent of your previous highest week’s mileage to the current week.)

Runners who want to improve their race times may want to do “speedwork” once each week. This could be a tempo run (a run at faster-than-usual pace), a session of fartlek (Swedish for “speed play”—alternating between fast and slow runs of arbitrary lengths), or an interval workout (short, fast runs of specific distances, with rests between them). Remember, to minimize injury risk, it’s advisable to add mileage first before increasing the intensity of your training sessions.

To train well for a 10K, you’ll probably be running for an hour or more on some of your weekend long runs. Therefore, it’s a good idea to drink during those runs; also, 10K is long enough that you may want to grab water or a sports drink during the race. Also, before your long training runs, be sure to fuel up with familiar foods that are easy to digest.

10Ks are popular and draw big crowds—of both participants and spectators.  The Oakley New York Mini 10K (June 14 this year) is a very special event here in NYC, as it’s the first-ever women-only road race. If you’re racing it, you’ll get to spend a morning with lots of people cheering you on, and afterward you can celebrate doing something healthy for yourself! 


Julie Khan

Julie Khan is a physical therapist in the HSS Rehab Department. She graduated from Columbia University with a Masters and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Her clinical interests include post-surgical sports-related injuries and running mechanics. She has completed more than 20 half-marathons and six marathons.

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