Training programme for your first ten kilometre race

With grateful thanks to Lindsey Parry

Are you tired of seeing yourself getting bigger each time you look at a mirror? Always wanted to run but don’t know where to start? Tried running but always getting injured? I have put together the perfect programme to guide you through the first six months of your running journey. You will glide through injury free and enjoying every step of the way. The number one stumbling block for beginners is patience, the longer you have been away from regular exercise the longer it will take before you can build up to a reasonable fitness without risking injury.

Starting Out

What is your cardiovascular risk? If you answer yes to two or more of the following questions it is a good idea to have a medical before embarking on any exercise regime:

  • Do you have a family risk of cardiovascular disease?
  • Have you been told you suffer from any cardiovascular disease?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Experience bouts of dizziness or shortness of breath?
  • Are you more than 10 kilogrammes over weight?

The next step is getting kitted out in the correct gear. There is a lot to choose from on the market. The rule of thumb for shorts, tights and tops is: Make sure they are comfortable. You will also need some warm clothes, gloves and a beanie to keep you warm if you are planning on training outside.

The most important aspect of your pre-training preparation is running shoes. Although only a small percentage of running injuries can be attributed to footwear, it is worth getting into the correct pair from the start. Head to your nearest running specialist store where the staff are trained to put you in the correct pair of shoes. And since your feet are your weapons on the road buy yourself proper running socks so that you can be as comfortable as possible. 

The last step before hitting the road is to buy yourself a reflective bib or belt and a flashing night light so that cars can clearly see you on the road. If you are already a regular Park Runner looking to move up to running 10 kilometre races, you can start the programme at the start of a new month using 8-12 weeks to build to a 10 kilometre race.

Guide to using the programme effectively: 

Less is actually more

This saying has never been truer than when dealing with novice runners, by building up slowly and making sure you rest you will allow your joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments to strengthen and adapt to the increasing demands being placed on them by training. Even though there is plenty of rest built into the programme, listen to your body and if you are sore then take an extra days rest. This will allow you to come back stronger and enjoy your next workout more. Ultimately managing the dose of the exercise with the rest/recovery will be the difference between breaking down with injury or not. Use the programme as a guide and do what you can when you feel your body is ready for it.

Walking is important

Especially for novices, in the beginning you should walk more than you run. You will get much better short term results if you force yourself to run as far as you can IF you remain injury free. But for long term, sustainable results and to enjoy the process: Build up slowly

Park Runs or Time Trials

There are Park Runs built into the programme. These are there so you can get an early sense of achievement by completing your first five kilometre run. They are also included so that you can get into contact with likeminded people of a similar running ability. This will help you build a running community, potential training partners and allows you to track your improvement on a weekly basis. 

You will need to temper your enthusiasm initially, although it is great taking minutes off your time every week, pushing too hard each week may lead to injury. Days are interchangeable with the exception of Park Runs as these only happen on a Saturday. Use the programme as a guide and moves days to best fit in with your life and work.  

As race day approaches

As race day nears you will ask yourself all the typical questions: Why am I doing this? Can I do this? Did I do enough training? The answers are numerous but the important answers are: Yes you can do it and yes you did do enough. You can always do more next time, but remember as a novice less is more and you have done months of consistent training, completed a number of five kilometre Park Runs or Time Trials now ready to complete ten kilometres in an official race.

The programme decreases slightly in volume as the day approaches, this is so that your legs can freshen up and you can feel really good on the morning of the race. Use this feeling of strength to build your confidence BUT do not take it to mean you are ready to sprint the whole way. Remember the lessons learnt on the Park Runs and Time Trials.

Pace yourself, if you feel strong during the last five kilometres you can push yourself but the first race should be an enjoyable experience. If you have been using a walk run strategy in training then use it again on race day, especially if there are big climbs. This will leave you fresh for the flats and downs.

Get to the start early as you will be very nervous and rushing around getting organised will waste energy that you need for the race. If possible go with a regular club runner so that they can worry about the parking, and you can just focus on your race. Remind yourself that you can do this and try to enjoy it as much as possible.

On the race you need to focus on three things –

  • Hold Back, especially in the first five kilometres. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement and the crowds. You will be tempted to out too fast, ruining your race.
  • You are ready for this.
  • You are here to have fun.