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SaveHealth & Wellness How to Build Your Own Couch to 10k Training Plan

How to Build Your Own Couch to 10k Training Plan

You, yes YOU!, can finish a 10k race with this couch to 10k training plan. No couch to 10k app needed – just follow these easy steps to achieve your goal.

How to Build Your Own Couch to 10k Training Plan

One step at a time. That’s your mantra when you want to complete a race. You can apply the same mindset to any fitness goal, even when you’re more of a couch potato than a get-out-and-goer.

A 10k is a great race to start with when you want to achieve an exercise goal. “Harvard Health Publishing” reports just 5 minutes of low-intensity running a day can even extend your life by several years!

Don’t let the “10” number intimidate you. A 10k actually translates to around 6.2 miles. The fastest 10k in the world was around 26 minutes, but remember: one step at a time.

At a decent jog, you can run a 10k in around an hour. Some people who sign up for 10ks alternate between walking or running, while others wheel themselves through a course, depending on their mode of transport. At a leisurely walk at around 3 miles per hour, it’d take you around 2 hours to walk a 10k.

Whatever your fitness level, whatever your goal, there are many paths you can take to cross that 10k finish line. If you’re completely new to hitting the pavement with your sneakers, use this couch to 10k plan to get ready for race day.

Plan in advance

For total race newbies, you’ll want to allot around 3 months to train for your 10k race. First, decide on your goal time and how you plan to complete the race. 

Some people take an interval approach, which is sprinting for a period of time, then recovering with a jog or walk before the next sprint. Others prefer a steady jogging pace for the entire route. You might want to take it slower for the first half to get warmed up before picking up the pace toward the end. Your pace is up to you.

If you plan on running, it’s helpful to get your muscles and joints used to that motion before you race. You could seriously injure yourself by going out full sprint with no training.

Start slow and build up each time you go out for a practice leg. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical movement every week. This could be a brisk walk. If you’re not exercising at all, start your training plan by committing to work out at least 5 days a week for 30 minutes a day. You can start with brisk walking and build from there.

The CDC also recommends at least 2 days a week of strength training sessions. Plan to include these in your training, with at least 30 minutes twice a week of lifting weights or doing body-weight exercises like push-ups and tricep dips. The added bonus of strength training is that it supports your endurance, which will help you be a more effective 10k racer.

Map out your plan

Here’s what a beginner’s plan might look like over a 12-week span.

  • Week 1: Walk for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Move your arms forward and backward, like pendulums, as you walk to provide momentum and engage your upper body.
  • Week 2: Continue to do 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week. This time, increase your walk speed. Measure your effort by making sure you’re going a farther distance to and from your starting point outside, or on the treadmill.
  • Week 3: Add on distance during your exercise sessions. You can either do this by going a farther distance at the same pace as last week, or by increasing your speed during your sessions. Start small. If you’re increasing your speed, try jogging for 1 minute, then walking for 4 minutes.

For each subsequent week, continue to increase your mileage, either by walking or jogging for a longer period of time, or by increasing your overall speed. For example, in week 4, you could try to jog for 2 minutes, then walk for 3 minutes. In week 5, try to jog for 3 minutes, then walk for 2 minutes.

Pay attention to your body to determine how much jogging you’re ready for each week. Generally, if you can maintain a conversation, you’re moving at a safe pace that will help you avoid injury.

By week 9, you’ll want to have increased your mileage to reach at least 4 miles in each session. Week 10, make sure you’re hitting 5 miles. The last couple of weeks before the race, get as close to 6.2 miles as you’re comfortable with, even if you walk the entire time.

On race day, you’ll likely feel a rush of adrenaline that super-charges your pace compared to your training days. It may come from the spectators cheering you on, or simply from being surrounded by other people who are pursuing the awesome goal of completing a 10k. 

That’s why you don’t need to push yourself to the limit during the last week of your training. You want to keep something left in the tank that you can release once you hit the actual race course.

Rest and recover

Recovery is an important part of race training. When you rest, you enable your body to adapt to stress caused by exercise. You also give your body tissue time to repair and help your body muscles become stronger.

Don’t go all out all the time. Even when you feel that delicious “runner’s high” and want to start training for a marathon, enjoy the process of prepping for this 10k first. Going too fast too quickly makes you more likely to get injured. That could derail all your progress, and we don’t want you sitting on the sidelines!

Get even more help and a personalized plan by downloading a couch to 10k app. Apps like Peloton have outdoor and treadmill running programs, too, which can help you prepare with step-by-step audio coaching while you run.

Remember your new mantra: one step at a time. Aim to meet recommended exercise goals to support your health. Go a little bit farther and faster each time, and you’ll be crossing the 10k finish line before you know it.

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