You have made the commitment to step up from the 5k program to tackle a 10k program. There will be all sorts of concerns and questions that will be plaguing you right now but don’t worry, there are hundreds and thousands of people who have made the same commitment and are facing the same dilemmas. A quick trawl through the C25K Forum website will allow you to read other people’s stories and see how they dealt with the issues you face.
In the meantime, here are some guidelines that may help you bridge the gap between running 5k and stepping up the distance to 10k.
Finding a training guide that you like and that you can stick to will be your priority. If you are the sort of person who has the time to devote to your training and can afford to spend a little longer each day on your training sessions then it may be a training plan that simply increases your mileage might be just the thing for you. Where you used to spend three days a week running about 2-3 miles each session, now you might run on five days, averaging 3-4 miles and your weekly mileage may rise from 9 miles to 15-20 miles.
However, that is a step too far for many people and there are many training programs that will take you to 10k without putting that sort of strain on your time or your body.
The first thing to consider is how much time you want to spend training on a weekly basis. If you want to do no more than 3 days a week training, then you will probably want to look for a 10k training program that has higher mileage but fewer days.
If you pick up injuries easily then you will want a training program that adds other activities to your weekly running sessions. Mixing running with cycling or swimming will help you increase your fitness levels, tone your muscles and increase your mileage without putting too much strain on vulnerable muscles. In this type of program, you might find that you run twice a week and substitute a third running session with a cycle ride.
The third method of running might take the form of ‘little and often’. This may involve four or five sessions a week, running 2-3 miles each time. This increases your overall weekly mileage but is not a daunting distance for you to attempt on your runs.
Choose your training plan based on the way you feel you would most like to train. All will increase your mileage but you need to take into account the training plan you feel most comfortable with. It is also a question of how long you want to follow the 10k training program for and what your end goal is. If you entered a 5k race at the end of your C25k training and have been ‘bitten’ by the running bug, then you may want to enter a race in 3-4 month’s time and so should choose a training program with that goal in mind. On the other hand, you may feel that you don’t want the competitive element of racing but you have been delighted by the weight loss and toning you have experienced over the past few months so you want to build on this. If this is you, then a longer program of 5-6 months might be more appropriate.
The other thing that you will find with a number of training programs is that they will often introduce new training concepts that you may not be familiar with. Fartlek training is a training method that means ‘speed play’ and involves changing pace from walking through to sprinting at regular intervals over the course of a run.
Hill running adds another dimension and is often used in training programs to develop your leg strength and speed. You may be asked to run for 30 seconds up a hill and repeat that a number of times. If you do not live near a hill don’t worry, you can substitute hill running with sprinting, or running on a beach.
Another training method you might encounter is interval running. This is a formal style of fartlek training. The 10k training program may say ‘sprint 5 x 100 metres’. To do this, you should pace out a distance that is roughly 100m, but don’t worry about making it exact, the important thing is to work a little harder for a period of time.
With all of these training methods, the important thing is that you don’t overdo it or take on a training program that is not right for you. Read what others say about 10k training programs and make a decision based on what you want to get from the experience.