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10K Training in 3 Easy Steps

A 10K race is somewhat of a hybrid between short and mega-distance road races, so solid 10K training should incorporate and develop both of these running elements. Be sure to allow six to eight weeks if you're starting completely from scratch. Focus on finding a comfortable pace that first week, then migrate your efforts to building endurance and dispersing bouts of speed to the run.

1. Learn Pacing and Develop Endurance

Take the first week of your 10K training to get a sense of your pace and form. Go on a few one-mile or two-mile runs to focus on your form and breathing, and work on building from there. Be sure to start out at what feels like a slower pace, rather than expending all your energy up front and losing steam. Sprinting too fast at the onset of your training runs is an easy way to make the distance seem much more daunting than it actually is. Once you've gotten comfortable with a handful of two-mile runs this first week, convert some of them to three-mile and five-mile distances the following week, applying the same rules of proper pacing. You won't need to regularly run training runs at distances greater than 10K, but running a few seven-mile or eight-mile distances throughout those training weeks might give you an endurance edge for the race.

2. Sharpen Speed with Intervals

Interval workouts can enhance both your long distance and speed techniques. Select a jogging speed where you are working at about a 4 out of 10 on the intensity scale, and a running speed where you're at about an 8 out of 10. Start out running 30 seconds at the jogging pace and then switch for 30 seconds at the higher speed. Return to the slower pace, but add 15 seconds to each interval until your intervals max out at two minutes each. Work your way back down from this peak, alternating speed and jogging paces and subtracting 15 seconds from each interval, until you return to the 30-second interval lengths. For an additional challenge, up the incline on some of the speedy intervals. Treadmills are typically better suited to a more precise interval training, as you can monitor your speed exactly, but feel free to alternate sprinting and jogging bouts when running outside as well. The bursts of high-speed will be a great preview for the finish line at the 10K, when you'll want to expend all your remaining energy for a final kick.

3. Strengthen and Rest

Throughout your training, be sure to take days to rest and fully stretch your muscles after the high-impact workouts you've put them through. Integrating cross training workouts that enhance your flexibility and agility will prove beneficial as well. Think of exercises with high-intensity legwork, such as cardio dance or step classes, which will help develop your speed technique and form for the 10K.

After you've spent weeks carving your pace, building endurance and sharpening your speed, it's important to rest from 10K training for the final week before the race. Go on a couple of 2-mile jogs and otherwise focus on stretching and eating a balanced diet.

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