Running 10km seems to be a go to distance. Long enough to be challenging, quick enough to be home within an hour. It’s is a distance that is ideal for the ‘staying fit’ runner and a first big milestone for many beginner runners.
Whether you are stepping up to 10km or beyond, your priority should be building up your distance whilst avoiding injury. Even if you feel capable of building distance faster, your body sometimes has a different opinion , and preventing Injuries is easier then healing them.
There are a number of steps that you should consider if you plan to increase your distance.
Running 10km is a great challenge for new runners, a first big milestone. If you are just starting out and 10km is still a stretch, check my advice for new runners first.
1.Know Your Running Base
You have already started your running journey, how frequently do you run? How many KMs per week do you run? What is your average running pace?
These are all components of your running base that you should take into consideration. This is your current starting point. As is often suggested, you should not add more than 10% distance week on week. So build up your weekly distance gradually.
2.Build a Healthy Routine
As always using one of the many available training plans is a recommendation. Using a plan that allows you to enter your current distance and pace will help in building a plan that is suitable to you.
When setting out you plan you will want to gradually increase your distance. Not every run will be further than the last. Ideally include one longer run per week, and gradually build up your weekly distance. Use the other runs to maintain your base and mix up the type of runs you do.
With the previously mentioned focus on avoiding injury you will also want to incorporate warmup and cool down as part of your run. As the distances grow, the importance of this also increases.
When adding distance to your long runs, add distance in small increments. This may be a few hundred meters, not kilometres.
3.Take Your Time
Your body has an incredible ability to adapt and strengthen, but you are teaching it something new. Don’t try to build up too fast.
If you explore 10km training plans you will see that they are typically 6 – 12 weeks depending on current level. Beginner training plans typically around 12 weeks. These plans will typically also include phasing with the first phase focusing on building your base and phase 2 working on the distance.
Even if it feels too easy, try to stick with the plan, you may thank yourself in the long run.
4.Prioritise Distance Over Pace
You need to make a decision. If it is distance that you want to grow, prioritise distance and don’t focus on the pace. Your current pace will be your starting pace and your starting point to build distance on, but it’s ok to slow down in order to feel comfortable adding distance.
As you start to build distance focus on reaching the goal distance for your run. Adjust your pace to get there, if it is feeling tough slow down. If the going really gets tough, run/walk for a while to enable recovery, but try to cover the distance.
5.Mix Up Your Runs
Your weekly runs should be a mix. Short runs that align with your base and long runs that push your distance.
With time you will see that each of these may naturally take on a pace of their own. Mixing your runs up further can help in conditioning the body. Introducing intervals/fartlek or hill running will add to building your run strength and endurance as well as keeping your running interesting and varied.
6.Train Your Core
With the focus on running the importance of building a strong core is often overlooked. I speak from experience. Setting aside a weekly session to focus on core is a must as your distance grows. This can take the form of bodyweight training, TRX or weights based training but as with running, start small and build up.
Training your core is essential for injury avoidance. I have learned the hard way that the entire body is connected, knee pain is triggered by weak glutes which are triggered by a weak core which landed me on the chiropractors table… repeatedly.
Recovery is an as important part of training as is the running itself.
When you look at endurance training plans (e.g. Ironman distance triathlon) you will see that training typically runs in cycles with a 3 week build up and a 4th week as a recovery week. The 4th week has reduced distance and time spent training. This is designed to allow your body to recover before you make the next push.
In the case of muscle recovery it is a little like taking 1 step back and 2 steps forward. The rest, whilst it may feel like you are not doing anything to progress, is actually when your muscles are repairing and building up stronger.
In the case of stepping up to 10km, the recovery week may not be needed, but allow yourself a few days to rest at regular intervals allowing for muscle repair.
And finally, listen to your body, if it is hurting give it a rest. Muscle recovery is part of muscle development, but any unusual pains should be a trigger to slow it down for a few days to allow your body to fully recover.
That’s it, enough reading… go out there and enjoy your run!
Jeroen is a keen runner and triathlete. With over 10 years of experience training and participating in races, simply for the joy of sport he has turned to sharing his experience through the articles he writes. As a founder at Loop Social Sport Jeroen has focused his passion on creating a community of like minded individuals who not only train together but also motivate newcomers to take up sport, whether in person or via this blog.