Race Day: How to Run a 10k

How to run a 10k race | 11 of 26 Marathon Series

The following three articles in the marathon blog series, are designed to give you some general information about the three most popular distances that people run as part of their marathon training; including the marathon itself. This week’s article is on the 10k, which in case you didn’t know, is 10 kilometers (or 6.21 miles).

Why the 10k?

The reasons many people start with a 10k in preparation for a marathon are simple. It allows you to gauge your pace for the marathon (using a race pace calculator) and also is a great introductory race distance for those who have never attended a running event before.

  • Marathon Pace marker – A lot of time and experience has gone into race pace predictors, which allow you to estimate how long it will take you to run a marathon simply on the basis of your 10k time. Whilst your 5k time can be used, your 10k time will be a more accurate marker. We like to use Runner World calculator which is very easy to use and gives good estimates of your potential.
  • Great Starter Distance – Not only is 10k a good balance between speed and endurance, it is also one of the most accessible race distances; with there being more 10k’s around the UK than any other distance. This makes it easy and cheap to find a race that allows beginner runners to get the feel of being at an event (such as arriving on time, warming up, running with lots of other people, and having people cheer you on!

10k Tips

  • Water consumption for a 10k should be kept to a minimum – unless conditions are hot, aim for no more than 250ml. If it is hot then increase consumption as you feel necessary (it is hard to advise on this as it is very situationally dependent), but make sure in either case that you are well-hydrated before the race.
  • Light and Fast – Remember this isn’t a trek across the Andes! Lots of runners that are new to 10k will overestimate the distance and load up with phones, headphones, bottle belts, several gels, bars, etc. You shouldn’t need to take any fluids with you because they will be supplied on the course and if you’ve eaten correctly beforehand you should only need one energy gel at the most for a 10k. Also, why not ditch the iPod/phone for such a short event to save weight?
  • Warm up well – As 10k isn’t that far you need your body to be thoroughly warmed up otherwise you will effectively be losing a large percentage of the race to warming up. So spend at least 15 minutes before the race warming up; including some sub-maximal effort sprints to get the heart rate up.
  • Stick to your pace – No matter how competitive you are, when you enter a race situation it’s natural to want to run faster to try and beat the other runners. Be careful not to burn yourself out doing this, by knowing your 10k target pace and using a GPS or running watch you can keep a close eye on your pace.
  • Walk it off – There is nothing worse for your recovery than finishing up, catching your breath getting into your car, and driving home to a hot bath or shower. Take your time, walk around for 30 minutes, watch the medal ceremony, and don’t forget to stretch! Then if you can brave a cold bath it will do wonders for your muscle recovery (a cold shower doesn’t quite have the same effect on the legs).

Hopefully this will help you with running a successful 10k, which is the first major rung on the ladder to enjoying a good marathon event!

Here is the next blog article in our marathon series:

12. Race Day: How To Run A Half Marathon

Race Day: How to run a half marathon | 12 of 26 Marathon Series



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Ryan has worked in the sports industry since 1999 and has a wealth of experience across most subjects. Ryan holds a BSc in microbiology and has studied sports physiology in great detail in his own time. His main areas of specialisation are: footwear construction, footwear technology, strength & conditioning and anatomy & physiology. He splits his 13 hours a week exercise between, Kickboxing, MMA, Crossfit, Rock Climbing and Running.