Your friend convinced you to sign up for a race. Now you’re wondering about what you need to know when running your first 10k.
First of all, congratulations on committing to a fantastic distance race. Not as short as a 5k, but not as daunting as a marathon. Great choice!
However, there’s still a lot you’ll need to know about your upcoming race and how to train for it. This all-inclusive post should help you succeed at your 10k race.
What’s the Meaning of “10k” in Running?
Perhaps you’re like Michael Scott from the popular American television show The Office in the Fun Run episode.
If so, you might think that a 10k means a race that is 10,000 miles long. I’m happy to share that this is not the case.
A 10k is one of many distance races in the running world. Essentially, the distance of a 10k race is 10 kilometers.
If you’ve heard of a 5k race, you can probably begin to understand that a 10k race is twice the distance.
How Many Miles is a 10k?
If you’re a citizen of the US, you might be thinking, “wait, I still don’t understand. How far is a 10k?”
When we convert kilometers to miles, we find that every 1 kilometer equals a little more than half a mile. To be exact, 1 kilometer is equal to .621 miles. This tells us that a 10k race is equal to 6.2 miles.
Is it Hard to Run a 10k?
This is a very open-ended question and the answer depends on many factors.
If you’ve never run a 5k before and you aren’t in good shape, a 10k race could be pretty difficult.
How Fit Do You Need to Be to Run a 10k?
It’s important that you have some foundation in your fitness level when you decide to run a 10k. The good news is that a 10k is a much shorter distance than a half marathon or marathon. If you only have a little bit of time to prepare, you can likely make it happen!
If you have at least two months between now and the race, you have a great chance to be properly fit for the 10k distance.
How to Train For Running Your First 10k
We’ve all been there. You just registered for your first distance race. Now you’re wondering where to start.
Training for your first 10k is a big deal, so be sure to commit to the training and start with your best foot forward (yes, that’s a running pun!).
Preparing for Your First 10k
Now that you’re getting ready for your first 10k, start with a solid training plan.
An excellent way to find the best 10k training plan for you is by hiring a running coach. If you have the means to find a coach you can count on then your training will be tailored to your needs. There’s nothing better than a perfect training cycle to give you confidence on race morning.
Another option for finding a dependable 10k training plan is to visit your local running store. Here you can ask questions about the 10k (especially if you’re running a local race) and inquire about group training the store may lead.
After all, running in a group during training can prepare you for the 10k race experience.
Tapering Before a 10k Race
If you’ve never run a long-distance race before you may have never heard of the running term taper.
However, based on what you already know about the word you probably can gather that it means to gradually decrease the mileage you run near the end of your training. This will allow your legs to be fresh for race day and your body well recovered for your first 10k.
Any good training plan will have you taper for the last week of your training cycle.
Running the Day Before a 10k
The decision on whether to run the day before your 10k race differs from one runner to the next.
In theory, you could forego the run to “save your legs” for the race. The expectation is that your legs will be fresh for the race and your glycogen stores will be full of energy for you to use so long as you’ve properly fueled your body.
Some runners prefer to run what’s known as a shakeout run. This allows you to move your legs and get any pre-race jitters out. This run will be relatively short, about 1 or 2 miles, and you should maintain a fairly easy pace.
If you decide to take it easy leading up to your 10k race you might want to know how many days of rest you can include. Don’t deviate too far from your training plan. Most 10k training plans have you rest for just one day before race day.
What to Do the Day Before Running Your First 10k Race
Once the day before race day arrives you might be feeling super anxious. Remember these helpful tips to keep your cool and be ready for your first 10k.
💡 Don’t Try Anything New
This is a rule for every and all races you’ll ever run.
It’s not the time to try out a new yoga or weight lifting class. Stick to what you know in all areas including your diet. If you’ve been eating healthy foods throughout your training grabbing fast food for lunch the day before your race is an awful idea.
Your training should have been like a dress rehearsal for the race. Keep everything consistent for the best race day outcome.
💡 Keep it Low-key
To piggyback off of not doing anything new, try to stay mostly relaxed for the entire day before your 10k.
Again, if you want to run a short shakeout run, that’s totally fine. Just remember to keep it leisurely so as not to overdo it right before the race. This is a great time to watch your favorite movies or consider watching one about running for inspiration!
What to Do the Night Before a 10k Race
The night before you’ll likely feel super anxious. Especially if you’re running your very first 10k.
Keep the night as relaxing as possible and try your best to get to bed at a decent time. This might mean eating dinner a little earlier so you can digest and go to sleep earlier.
Lay your race day clothes out the night before the 10k and have every single thing ready to go for the morning. This will help you to remember all of the essentials when morning comes around.
Dinner Before a 10k Race
What’s the best thing to eat for dinner before a 10k?
This depends on what you like to eat and what you ate throughout your training cycle. Remember, you don’t want to try anything new this close to the race. So find a meal that suits your needs and you’ll have a successful race.
Some options for common dinner foods amongst runners include
What to Do the Morning of a 10k Race
You’ve made it to the big day! In just a bit of time, you’ll have completed your first 10k. What do you need to do the morning of the race to succeed?
Here are some tips and tricks to set you up for success.
What to Eat Before a 10k
Remember our trusty rule of “nothing new on race day?” Good!
Prior to the race, it’s a good idea to eat something familiar that worked well throughout your training.
Some of the best and most common foods before a 10k race include:
- Toppings like peanut butter and banana
- Fruit with Greek Yogurt
How Long Before a 10k Should I Eat?
Planning when to eat before your race is just as important as what you eat.
If your body requires you to eat a full meal before the race, consider having enough time to digest for about 1 to 2 hours. If you only eat a small meal before the race you should give yourself at least 30 minutes to digest it.
What Should I Drink Before a 10k?
Hydration is also an important part of being well nourished for your race. You should have been drinking water regularly throughout training, especially the week of the race.
On race morning you might consider drinking only water. However, other options include a sports drink such as Nuun, or even a small amount of coffee.
As with all things running, you want to only take in what you tested during training. This way you’ll know exactly how your body will react.
How Much Water Should I Drink Before a 10k?
Consider drinking about 16 ounces of water over the course of the 2 hours leading up to the race. That might mean drinking 8 ounces as soon as you wake up to rehydrate your body after sleeping. Then you can take small sips of about 2 ounces of water up until the race.
When you eat your pre-race breakfast, this is a good time to get in some fluids too.
Remember to grab hydration on the course when you need it too. You should always be concerned about being well hydrated but if it’s hot on race day be even more adamant about hydration!
How to Warm Up for a 10k Race
If you plan on really racing the 10k you’ll need to be pretty serious about your warm-up. The benefit of a warm-up is that your muscles will be warm which allows oxygen to flow through your blood more easily.
More oxygen in your body means it’s easier to fuel your body and muscles during the race.
Remember to test out warm-ups during training. A good option for a warm-up includes a light jog for about 5 to 10 minutes. Keep the pace slow so that you conserve your energy for the race.
If you tried it during training, dynamic stretching can also be a good option for a pre-race warm-up. This is stretching that is done in motion, rather than stationary. The idea here is that you’ll keep your muscles moving in natural ways as they will once you begin to run the race.
What to Bring to a 10k Race
Hopefully anything you need to bring with you you’ve packed up the night before the race. Here are some things you might need to bring with you to your first 10k.
✔️ A throwaway layer of clothes if it’s cold
✔️ A gear bag if the race has a gear check
✔️ Anti-chafe balm
✔️ Pre-race fuel and hydration
✔️ Race bib (this is your race number)
✔️ Positive mindset
There are many things you might consider bringing. If you’re looking for a complete list check out this packing list for a half marathon or marathon. Many items overlap for each long-distance race.
Best Way to Run a 10k Race
The answer depends on how you trained.
If you had a great training cycle you likely can run a strong race. If your training didn’t go quite as well as you hoped, consider altering your goal. Likewise, if you woke up not feeling great for some reason, sometimes it’s best to just enjoy the miles and the race atmosphere.
If you have a specific goal, you’ll want to focus on your pacing.
How Do I Run a 10k Pace?
Running a 10k pace means something different to each runner. Elites expect to cross the finish line in around 30 minutes or less.
Back of the pack runners might finish the race in more than an hour.
Remember what you trained for and set your expectations appropriately. If you want to run a fast race, you’re going to need to start out fairly quickly, but not sprinting. Save a little speed for energy in the second half of the race.
Many runners aim for “negative splits.” This means each mile is run faster than the one before it. If you can manage this it can provide a great race experience as you won’t start at your fastest speed and you’ll save that energy for the second half of the race.
Can You Walk a 10k Race?
Yes, of course, you can walk a 10k! This is totally acceptable.
One thing to consider is the course time limit. You want to be certain that you have a fast enough walking pace to complete the distance and enjoy your time without being removed from the course as it closes. You could even try the run-walk method at a 10k.
People walk long-distance running events all the time. By the way, after running your first 10k you might consider running your first marathon. And if you prefer, you can walk a marathon too!
How Long Does it Take to Run a 10k?
By now you know every runner is different.
One runner might have a great race one day and finish in 48 minutes. Then the next 10k might be an off day for them leading to a time 30 minutes slower.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here.
What’s the Average Finish Time for a 10k?
An average finish time for moderate runners is anywhere from 50 to 70 minutes.
If you run your 10k in more than 70 minutes, it’s okay. The accomplishment of signing up for a 10k, training, and following through on race day is nothing to feel disappointed in. You’re making moves!
How Long Should it Take a Beginner to Run a 10k?
If you’re rather fit and took training seriously, it’s not crazy to think that as a beginner you could complete a 10k within an average of 50 to 70 minutes.
Sometimes beginners shock themselves on race day and find out that they’re a bit better than an average runner. This can be really exciting!
Remember if you decide to walk the 10k you have to adjust your goal.
At a quick walking pace, a person could complete a 10k in about an hour and a half. This would require the person to maintain a pace of about a 15-minute mile. Totally doable!
10k Race World Records
The current 10k world record holders are wildly fast.
Currently holding the men’s 10k world record is Rhonex Kipruto. He crossed the finish line with a time of 26 minutes and 24 seconds.
The women’s 10k world record is held by Joyciline Jepkosgei with a time of 29 minutes and 43 seconds.
Both runners are from Kenya and have incredible performances in the sport of running. If you ever need to be inspired during your training, I highly recommend looking up videos of these two runners (and many other outstanding elites) on YouTube
How to Recover after a 10k Race
Once the race is over you might wonder how you can recover.
Although the distance isn’t as far as a marathon, you’ll still want to take good care of your body to be sure you remain injury free.
What to Eat After a 10k
One important first step after completing your 10k is finding some food to refuel your body. Your muscles, bones, ligaments, and joints have worked so hard to carry you the 6.2 miles, now is the time to repay them.
Chocolate milk is always a great option for runners post-race. It has a perfect combination of nutrients to help you recover. If chocolate milk is something you enjoy, have at it!
Other delicious post-race food options include crackers, pretzels, fruit, cookies, fruit snacks, chips, bagels, etc. Basically, you want to replenish lost nutrients and minerals while also rewarding yourself for a job well done.
A little while after the race has ended you should consider a good source of protein to help your muscles recover.
How Long Does it Take to Recover After a 10k?
Recovery for every runner looks different.
Some runners could run a 10k one day and a marathon the next. Others might run a 10k and need to take a week or two to recover.
This is a time when it’s important to listen to your body and its needs. During the recovery time, you can do some light activities like walking, stretching (yin yoga), cycling, or even hiking if it’s not too intense.
There has been a theory in the running community that is highly debated around recovery. The idea is that you take one day of recovery for each mile that you ran in the race.
This means after a 10k you’d rest for about 6 days. The studies don’t conclusively show this concept to be foolproof, and it’s just best to listen to your body to know what’s best for you.
Once you feel your body is back to how it felt before the race you’re likely ready to start running again.
Should I Run the Day After a 10k?
Are you feeling great the day after your race? Do you have any aches or pains? Is there any soreness that causes you to walk stiffly?
How your body actually feels is the way you can decide whether it’s okay to run the day after a 10k. Because you raced the distance your muscles and joints may ache more than if you had run a 6-mile middle distance run during half marathon training.
So in theory it’s not a crazy idea to run the day after your 10k race, but you’ll need to be smart about your decision.
Final Thoughts: Running Your First 10k
I hope you’ve found the answers to all your questions about running your first 10k race. Maybe you wondered “how many miles is a 10k?” before reading this post and now you have confidence in knowing that the 6.2-mile race is completely achievable for you. I believe in you and hope you cross that finish line with a smile on your face!