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Q&A: How to Train to Run a 10K Race

I’ve never run more than three miles. How can I get ready for a 10K race, since it’s more than twice that far?


If the farthest you’ve ever run is three miles, doubling that distance can seem daunting, but you’re halfway to your goal! Here are some tips to help you increase your mileage:

  1. Have a plan. Create a training schedule that allows you to run on non-consecutive days to keep your muscles fresh. Build up your mileage gradually to allow your body to adjust to the additional stress. Make sure to incorporate strength training into your plan, which will help you run with good form.  You’ll use less energy per mile that way.
  2. Run with a friend. Find a co-worker, friend, or family member who can do some of your training with you. Knowing that someone’s counting on you can help you stick with your routine—and having a partner to talk to will make the miles seem to fly by. Race day is also more fun with a friend by your side.
  3. Train at your own pace. When you’re trying to go farther than you have before, smart pacing is vital. Find a pace that’s comfortable, and stick to it. Use this method on race day, too: If you start out too fast, you might not have enough energy to finish strong. As a first-time racer, you may want to include walking breaks in the race to keep you moving.
  4. Hydrate. Water and/or energy drinks will help keep you going on longer runs. If your run will take less than an hour, carrying fluids isn’t mandatory, but if you’ll be out there for an hour or longer, make sure to bring something to drink (a fuel belt or a backpack-style fluid carrier will leave your hands free)—or plan your training runs in a park with water fountains. On race day, make sure you hydrate as consistently as you did during your training.
  5. Train in your gear. Train with what you plan to wear in the race. This includes sneakers, socks, shorts, headphones, and hats. On race day, you don’t want to find that your clothes are uncomfortable, or that your shoes are giving you blisters.
  6. Be aware of signs of overtraining or injury. Fatigue or pain that doesn’t go away can be a sign that you need to take a few days off. If the discomfort persists even while you’re walking, it may be time to see a sports physician or a physical therapist. Don’t push through this kind of trouble—you’ll soon be shortening your runs instead of lengthening them. 

But most important, have fun! Trust in the training you completed, and make the best of it on race day. Be confident that you can reach the finish line and your goal if you put the time into training.


Leigh-Ann Plack

Leigh-Ann Plack, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist with Hospital for Special Surgery’s rehabilitation department. She received her doctorate in physical therapy at Northeastern University. Her clinical interests include gait mechanics and running injuries. She is currently working on her doctorate in education in applied physiology at Columbia University. 

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