A Step by Step Guide to Running 10km

Once you can confidently run outdoors non-stop for at least 2km or 15 minutes, it’s time to start building up to 10km. Even if that seems like an impossibly daunting task right now, with the right training program and expert advice you’ll get there before you know it.

Thanks to the surge in popularity of fun runs in the past few years, you’ll probably have a number of exciting events to choose from in your local area. Pick a 10km run that you’d like to participate in a few months down the track and sign up – having a concrete goal is guaranteed to kick-start your motivation.

Starting Out

It’s important to have medical clearance from your doctor before you start any exercise program. He or she may check your heart health, blood pressure and ability to handle cardiovascular overload. If you had a health check just before starting a beginner’s running program, you probably don’t need another one unless you have any specific concerns.

If you can already run at least 2km or 15 minutes non-stop, you’re ready to attempt the 10km distance! It’s a good idea to follow a specific training program – such as 12WBT’s 10k Running program – to ensure you increase your distance gradually and safely.

You should aim for three days when you go for a run per week: one tempo run, one day of sprints and one long run. On two days where you don’t run at all, do strength work that incorporates specific running exercises. You should also have a core workout and stretch day, and of course a well-deserved rest day!

Equipment for Running 10km

You need very little equipment for running, and you can do it almost anywhere. It’s essential to have comfortable, light, breathable running clothes and good-quality running shoes. For optimal comfort and support to prevent injury, replace your shoes every 750km to 1000km.

Other optional equipment:

  • MP3 player loaded with upbeat tunes and an armband to hold your device
  • Water bottle or hydration pack to keep your fluid levels up
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Free apps such as MapMyRun, RunKeeper or Strava – or preferably a GPS watch – to measure distance
  • Foam roller, golf ball or tennis ball for self-massaging.

Building Up to 10km

Aim to make small but steady improvements. You might start off with a 2km run in your first week and build up to 10km after 12 weeks.

To keep yourself interested, map out a variety of running routes – bush tracks, beaches and parks can be inspiring and refreshing. Also, try to include some hills in your runs to improve your cardiovascular fitness.

Dedicate your non-running days to strengthening and stabilising the muscles that help you run more effectively, including those in your core, hips and glutes. Strong stability muscles help minimise the risk of muscle and joint strains, especially in the hips, knees and lower back. Your core muscles are particularly important, so make sure you don’t neglect them. The more distance you cover, the more important strong muscles are.

Avoiding Injuries

Trying to do too much too soon can result in injury, so ease into your training and build up gradually.

Tips to avoid injury:

  • Warm up beforehand and stretch afterwards
  • Keep your core engaged while running
  • Run on softer surfaces such as grass, dirt or athletics tracks – but do run on footpaths or asphalt occasionally to get your body accustomed to harder surfaces if you plan to participate in fun runs
  • If you feel any pain, scale back on your training and attend to the pain so that small injuries don’t become larger ones
  • Consult a physiotherapist or massage therapist to help manage niggles and prevent injuries

Nutrition for Running 10km

It’s vital to choose nutritious food to fuel your training. You may find it beneficial to time some of your snacks around your runs to help you run faster and recover more quickly.

Try to add these foods into your daily diet:

  • Wholegrain breads and cereals for energy
  • Foods rich in protein (such as lean meat, fish and vegetarian options like tofu or eggs) to help muscles recover and repair
  • Fruits and vegetables to keep your immune system healthy
  • Low-fat dairy to keep your bones strong and help your muscles recover
  • Foods high in iron to prevent anaemia

Hydration for Running 10km

Drink at least two litres of water every day, and more when you’re doing sprints, long-distance running or any intense exercise that makes you sweat a lot. On a hot day drink 0.5 litres to 1 litre an hour. Ensure that you’re well hydrated before your run and that you continuously rehydrate during and afterwards. Take small sips spread out over the day rather than guzzling a litre in one go.

To assess your hydration levels, check your pee! When you’re well hydrated, your urine will be pale yellow as opposed to dark yellow.

Water is your best bet for fast, effective absorption and hydration – you don’t need sports drinks unless you plan to run for more than 90 minutes as you’ll naturally replace electrolytes through your diet. Most sports drinks contain sugar, which will contribute to your calorie intake.

Even if running 10km seems as difficult as climbing Everest when you start out, a gradual training plan will have you triumphantly crossing the finish line in just 12 weeks. Take it one step at a time and don’t give up!