10 Tips for Training for Your First 10K


I ran my first 10K yesterday - my longest run ever! After kissing three little blonde heads, I walked out the front door into 44 degrees and glorious rays of sunlight. One foot in front of the other, I prayed and breathed with each step.

If you've circled a 10K date on the calendar and you're gearing up for 6.2 miles, here are 10 tips to get you there:

1. Run a 5K first. Set your sights on smaller races and gradually work your way up. 5Ks are a fantastic distance because you can start without any prior running experience and reach your goal quickly. There are plenty of fun options available - mud runs, color runs, obstacle courses, races at amusement parks and schools, etc. Google "5K + the name of your city" to find upcoming dates.

2. Hydrate. Several days prior to the race, begin drinking LOTS of water. Most people recommend 8-10 glasses per day, but do what feels right for your body. Don't skimp, however. Being properly hydrated will give your body the energy it needs to persevere. It is disputable whether you ought to bring water with you when training for a 10K. I prefer to hydrate heavily ahead of time and then run the whole way without weighing myself down with jugs or vests. That said, do pay attention to the weather, the intensity of the sun, and cues from your own body.

3. Buy good shoes. The longer the run, the more important it is that you provide your hips, knees, and feet the support that they need. Note that quality running shoes will probably run you $75+. The general consensus is that shoes should last between 300-500 miles. I'm currently averaging about 10-15 miles per week so my shoes should last approximately 5-7 months.

4. Invest in your breasts. It's really hard to spend over 50 dollars on a bra, but consider that money spent on keeping your chest in tip-top shape. If you're well-endowed, running IS possible. Look into the Enell or the Jubralee by Moving Comfort - my two favorites! Women with A and B cups can probably stick with a bra at a lower price-point, but do make sure your choice offers sufficient support and comfort.

5. Get real running clothes. Although not "necessary" by any means, running in clothing made for the sport will undoubtedly make you look and feel better. Technical shirts, for example, are far more comfortable than cotton tees and form-fitting capris trump bulky sweats every time. I typically alternate between tops from Nike and SkirtSports, and bottoms by SkirtSports, Moving Comfort, and RunningSkirts. [See pictures of my winter SkirtSports outfit!]

6. Find a running friend. Even if it's only once per week, it's nice to meet up with someone and talk in-between breaths. Consider your sister, your mom, your neighbors, or your children. Ask around to gauge interest among your favorite people...or people you'd like to get to know better. Though some people prefer to run solo, I always find that my runs are easier and more fun when shared with someone else.

7. Strengthen your mind. I've come to find that running distances really is as much a mental feat as it is physical. Tell yourself you can do it. Visualize what you will feel like after running X number of miles. Repeat.

8. Use an app to clock your distance. I use MotionX. The iPhone app tells me my distance, time, and pace after every minute. Other friends have used MapMyRun and RunKeeper.

9. Fuel up - before & after - with healthy food. I don't like to eat directly before I run, but I do think it's important to have food in my system to ensure that I have the energy necessary to sustain me. Think along these lines: green smoothies, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, homemade bread, etc.

10. Celebrate! After running across that finish line, you'll be shining (and I don't mean just from the sweat). As you stretch underneath the sheets after your first 10K, you will be proud of your hard work and you'll probably fall asleep in record time. Also? You *might* look up 1/2 marathon dates the day after. This running thing has a way of getting under your skin.

What is the farthest distance you have ever run? Do you have other running tips to add to this list?

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10 comments on “10 Tips for Training for Your First 10K”

  1. Great tips and congrats on your 10k!

    I also think that if you can run the route which you're going to be running (even if you run it in segments) it's much more motivational during the race. Then you have so idea of where you are going and what lies ahead. I've run a 5k & 10k lately that both ended up being very hilly (and I train in flat areas) so it kinda killed me mentally when I never knew what lied ahead! :)

  2. "invest in your breast" - when it comes to running (among other things), you are so right! A good sports bra will definitely keep you moving...

  3. Congrats on the 10K! You are an inspiration to us all!

    The most I have ever run is 5 continuous minutes at a very slow pace. 4 1/2 weeks ago I started a C25K (Couch to 5K) program. Saturday I will do my first 20 minute jog. My advice to beginners - start at a VERY slow pace. I started by running at 5.0 mph. After hating the run segments, I went seeking advice from my running friends. Their advice was always the same - SLOW DOWN!!! The last few workouts I have slowed to 4.0-4.2. The important thing is that I can do it when I slow down.

    And... your tips are wonderful! I particularly second investing in the right gear. I about died spending $75 on a good sports bra and then about fell over at the idea of spending $110 on shoes and another $30 on 4 good pairs of socks (on sale!). But, after 4 weeks, I don't hurt. My feet and legs don't hurt. My chest doesn't make me want to cry in the first few steps of jogging anymore. And my other tip beyond clothing... if you can't run with people, run to either great music or your favorite radio program or book. I have been listening to my favorite radio series in which I have to listen and pay attention to really "get it." It takes my mind off the difficulty of the workout. I love it!

    1. These are wonderful tips, Rena!

      I especially like the one about slowing down. When I get very tired and feel like stopping on a distance run, I tell myself that very thing: "Keep going. One foot in front of the other."

      Glad to hear that you invested in good running apparel and footwear! It makes all the difference, doesn't it? I used to think that I simply couldn't run due to the fact that I have a larger chest size. Buying a supportive sports bra changed my perspective.

  4. Great tips! Im HORRIBLE about pre-hydrating, but I do love to cary my little hand-held squirt bottle. Its the perfect amount for 3-4 miles and is more of a way to keep my mouth and throat from getting too dry. Looking forward to a 10k we can do together!

  5. The farthest I've run is a 1/2 marathon. I've done a bunch of 5Ks, and a series of 2.5 mile cross country races (that was my favorite, but you had to come back and run the SAME course every week for 4 weeks - which was a little mind-numbing).
    Tips? I always liked to eat something with peanut butter before running. I don't know why but it gave me lots of energy. Also... counting - when I got super tired and didn't think I could run another step, I'd tell myself "just run ten more steps" and I'd count them out. Then I'd repeat this over and over until I finished. Incidentally, this is how I got through natural childbirth too! LOL! :)
    Congrats and best of luck to you in your running future!!

    1. I do something very similar for motivation. When I get tired, I tell myself to go "just one more mile" (which seems managable). Mentally, it's easier to run one mile six times than it is to run six miles!

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