How to prepare for your first 10k race…

Chennai Runners

Looking for a new year resolution? How about taking up running? Ok, let’s start with a more modest goal of running your first 10km race. (Yes, that’s modest for them runners!) All you need is a time of 8 weeks, a pair of running shoes and roads. Should you have doubts about benefits of running/want to debate injuries due to running, press Ctrl+W now, we’ll explore that later. This is for those who’ve given a shot to running but never succeeded running more than a couple of kilometers at a stretch and gave up as a result. At the risk of me sounding sermonizing, here we go:

Pre-requisite: So what’s the minimum level of fitness required to be able to run 10k in 8 weeks? (at a stretch and not over 8 weeks). It’s simple really. If you can run for 10 minutes at a go, without chest pain, uneasiness or nausea (without walking in between) then you’re fit enough for the task. If you’re someone who has never run before at all and if tying shoelaces wheezes your breath out, this may not be the right solution. You may want to try this or this.

Schedule: There are many ways to prepare for a race. Some advocate running more, some advocate strength training more. Over the course of time what you’ll figure out is ALL of these approaches work, though what works best for you may need a bit of experimenting. Provided here is the schedule that worked best for my friend Manivannan and me. It involves running 3 times a week and some strength training/core body workouts 2 times a week and 2 days of rest (my favourite days in the week!)


Sundays are off to give you a ‘shot’ at those Saturday nights.

Before we nosedive into the mumbo-jumbo, here’s something:

Strength: Some form of upper body and core body strengthening exercises. Need not be done in gym.
Rest: Means not indulging into running or any strenuous activity (waking up from bed excluded).
Runs: 3k, 4k etc. are distances to be run and not donations made to Peeliamman temple. If you haven’t figured already, 4k = 4kilo meters.

Swaying your arms in the air and waving at the crowd doesn’t count much, implying running is predominantly a lower body exercise. It is thus advisable to combine running with some form of upper body/core strengthening exercises. They need not be done at a gym and can be done using body weight (your own). You can find the sample workouts here, here or explore Raj Ganpath’s blog here for more.

The running distances mentioned need not be completed non-stop. If you cannot run at a pace you can talk to someone (known as conversational pace), take a walking break. Take this not as an assault on your pride but as a necessary intermediate before you can run longer. Some runners follow a run walk technique of 5/1 (running for 5 minutes and walking for 1) or some variation of it. Do whatever works.

Rest is an important part of recovery and muscles regenerate only after 48-72 hours of rest. Don’t be obsessive about each and every workout, keep long term goal in mind. Make sure you’ve eaten sufficient food to power you through a long run. I’ll post some general tips by a veteran Chennai Runner (not me) soon!

Resources: Some useful links.  I recommend you don’t open them unless you want to be befuddled before setting a foot on the road.

  1. Hal Higdon
  2. Run less run faster
  3. Get better at running

You can find a list of races happening in India here. Do give it a shot and let me know how it works out for you…


6 Comments  to  How to prepare for your first 10k race…

  1. Venkat says:

    Nice article.. very informative. thanks

  2. omi says:

    Thanks. That was for the quantity (10k). Can you give some tips on improving quality i.e. reducing the time taken for the run? Is it just practice-practice or any special training required ?

  3. [...] This is a story of how I improved my 10km timings from 51:20 to 45:00 in TCS 10k. It can be of help to those of you who have run a 10k race before and want to improve your timings. To prepare for your first 10km race, you may want to read this. [...]

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