How to Prepare for a 10k in 15 Weeks: Free Step-by-Step Training Plan

10K races are one of the best challenges a runner can partake in. It’s double the distance of a 5K, but not as taxing as a half marathon at 21K. At 6.2-miles, a 10K is just right.

If you’ve signed up for a 10K and have just under four months to prepare, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll show you how to prepare for a 10K in 15 weeks without overworking yourself.

How to Prepare for a 10k in 15 Weeks, Who Is This Training Plan For?

This 15-week training is suitable for individuals with beginner and intermediate-level running experience, particularly those who want to improve their running fitness in a safe way.

It’s also ideal for runners who are prone to injury, as this training plan takes on a slow-and-gradual approach.

Although not targeted towards athletes and professionals, it’s fitted for experienced runners looking for a less exhausting running routine.

In addition, this training plan is for physically healthy individuals with a decent fitness level.

If you’re suffering from any major health issues, including chronic injuries, lung and heart disease, obesity, or bone problems, kindly consult a physician before partaking in this plan. The same is said if you’re recovering from a serious illness or injury.

Some events require you to provide a medical certificate, so make sure you’re fully cleared for the race.

What Does This 15-Week Training Plan Consist Of?

This training plan is divided into several training segments. Each segment comes with its own unique function and focus.

Easy Run (ER)

Easy runs take on an easy, relaxed pace. Since you’re not exerting too much effort, you can maintain your ER pace for a prolonged period of time without getting tired.

During your easy runs, use your 10K race pace with an effort level of no more than 4 to 5 RPE.

Easy runs don’t exceed the 30-minute and 3-mile mark. They’re usually done at the beginning of every week to prepare your body for a week-long exercise.

These types of runs are one of the easiest and most effective ways of building your speed and endurance as a beginner runner.

Long Run (LR)

Long runs are much more intense than easy runs.

As the name implies, long runs exceed the 3-mile mark. They’re designed to improve your stamina and endurance, both of which are crucial in a 10K race.

Physically, long runs strengthen your musculoskeletal system, cardiovascular efficiency, aerobic capacity, and your ability to burn fat for fuel. With enough time, long runs reduce muscular fatigue and soreness.

If you’re a beginner, don’t be intimidated by long runs. We’ll gradually increase your mileage until you can take on a long run without too much effort.

On long runs, use a steady, comfortable pace of 5 to 6 RPE.

If you’re running out of breath too fast, you’re going over 6 RPE. Slow down and reduce your pace to a light jog.

Cross Training

How to Prepare for a 10k in 15 Weeks: Yoga

Training for a 10K isn’t only about running. To effectively train your body for the race, you must include cross training and strength training into your schedule.

Cross training improves your power, speed, endurance, and strength. It negates the shortcomings of running-only exercises by training various parts of your body instead of just your legs.

Cycling is a fantastic cross training activity because it strengthens your calves and quads without putting pressure on your feet.

Swimming trains your upper body, which helps prevent fatigue and improve endurance.

If you’re prone to injury, aqua jogging is the next best thing: it replicates the action of running without putting weight on your lower muscles and joints.

Here are other beneficial cross training workouts to add to your weekly sessions:

  • Dancing
  • Yoga
  • Skiing Pilates
  • Lifting weights
  • Climbing stairs

Strength Training

Burpees

Strength training, particularly functional strength training, involves using two or more muscle groups to perform a specific activity. It’s different from traditional bodyweight training because it doesn’t independently work on a particular group of muscles.

Strength training strengthens your muscles and joints, which not only improves your race times but also decreases the risk of injury.

It corrects muscle imbalances and increases the efficiency of your running biomechanics, resulting in a smoother, easier workout.

Examples of functional strength training include:

  • Lunges (jump lunge, lateral lunge, and reverse lunge)
  • Bodyweight squat
  • Push-ups and pull-ups
  • Burpees
  • Bench dips
  • Farmer’s walk
  • Climbing up and down the stairs

Throughout the training plan, you’re given the option to either cross train, strength train, or rest.

If you’re feeling exhausted after the previous day’s training, it’s a good idea to take it easy and rest. But make sure to include at least one cross training and strength training day into your weekly routine.

Run-Walk Training

Run-walk training is exactly what it sounds like.

The run-walk method is somewhat like interval runs. It incorporates planned walking breaks on your runs, so you’re regularly alternating between running and walking.

This method allows you to cover more miles than you usually would without walking breaks. It also helps you conserve energy so you can run further and much faster without putting too much stress on your body.

In our training program, walk-run periods increase as the weeks go by.

For instance, in week 1, you’ll run for 1 minute and walk for 2 minutes. You’ll repeat this 10 times.

On week 7, you’ll run for 7 minutes and walk 3 minutes, three times.

On week 13, you’ll run for 30 minutes and walk for 5 minutes. And so on. 

Rest Days

In this plan, you’re given a total of three rest days per week: two optional rest days and one mandatory rest day.

Make sure to include at least one rest day a week to help your muscles and joints heal and recover.

Your rest days can include active recovery exercises, such as gentle walks, yoga, cycling, and light swimming.

Don’t take on labor-intensive activities during your rest days as it increases your chance of injury.

What Is the RPE Scale?

Throughout this training program, you’ll regularly encounter numbered RPE.

RPE, or Rate of Perceived Exertion, is an international scale used to measure the intensity of your workouts.

Like most scales, the RPE uses a scale of 1 (lowest intensity) and 10 (maximum intensity).

We’ll gradually increase the RPE level as the weeks pass. By the end of week 15, we’ll ask you to run at a 7 to 8 RPE level.

Here’s what the RPE scale looks like:

  • 1 RPE – Very light activity; minimum effort.
  • 2 RPE – Light activity; Sunday stroll walk.
  • 3 RPE – Light activity; brisk walk.
  • 4 RPE – Moderate activity; gentle jog.
  • 5 RPE – Progressive activity; steady jog at a conversational pace.
  • 6 RPE – Progressive activity; quick jog but still at a conversational pace.
  • 7 RPE – Hard activity; quick but sustainable pace, can speak in short sentences.
  • 8 RPE – Very hard activity; tough, high-effort pace, can speak in short phrases.
  • 9 RPE – Vigorous activity; high-intensity pace; talking requires maximum effort.
  • 10 RPE – Maximum activity; all-out sprint, sustainable for just 20-30 seconds.

How to Prepare for a 10k in 15 Weeks: Training Plan For Beginners and Intermediate Runners

Now that we’ve discussed the basics, here’s our comprehensive 15-week training plan:

Week 1

  • Monday: 0.5-mile ER at 3 RPE (brisk walk)
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 20-minute cross training
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 30-minute walk-run: run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes; repeat 10 times.
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 1-mile ER at 3 RPE

Week 2

  • Monday: 1-mile ER at 3 RPE
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 20-minute strength training
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Rest 30-minute walk-run: run 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes; repeat 8 times.
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 1.5-mile ER at a 4 RPE (gentle jog)

Week 3

  • Monday: 1.5-mile ER at 4 RPE
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 20-minute cross training + 10-minute strength training
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 30-minute walk-run: run 3 minutes, walk 2 minutes; repeat 4 times.
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 2-mile ER at 4 RPE

Week 4

  • Monday: 2-mile ER at 4 RPE
  • Tuesday: Rest OR 20-minute cross training
  • Wednesday: 20-minute cross training + 10-minute strength training
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 30-minute walk-run: run 4 minutes, walk 2 minutes; repeat 4 times
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 2.5-mile ER at 4 RPE

Week 5

  • Monday: 2.5-mile ER at an easy pace
  • Tuesday: Rest or 20-minute cross training
  • Wednesday: 20-minute cross training + 20-minute strength training
  • Thursday: Rest OR 20-minute cross-training
  • Friday: 30-minute walk-run: run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute; repeat 3 times
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 3-mile ER at 4 RPE

Week 6

  • Monday: 3-mile ER at 4 RPE
  • Tuesday: Rest OR 30-minute strength training
  • Wednesday: 20-minute cross training + 20-minute strength training
  • Thursday: Rest OR 20-minute cross training
  • Friday: 30-minute walk-run: run 5 minutes, walk 4 minutes; repeat 3 times
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 3.5-mile LR at 4 RPE (gentle jog)

Week 7

  • Monday: 5-mile LR at 4 RPE 
  • Tuesday: Rest or 20-minute cross training
  • Wednesday: 30-minute cross training + 10 minute strength training
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 30-minute walk-run: run 7 minutes, walk 3 minutes; repeat 3 times
  • Saturday: Rest OR 20-minute strength training
  • Sunday: 3.5-mile LR at 4 RPE

Week 8

  • Monday: 3.5-mile LR at 4 RPE
  • Tuesday: Rest or 20-minute cross training 
  • Wednesday: 20-minute cross training + 30 minute strength training
  • Thursday: Rest or 40-minute strength training
  • Friday: 40-minute walk-run: run 10 minutes, walk 3 minutes; repeat 3 times
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 3.5-mile LR at 5 RPE

Week 9

  • Monday: 3.5-mile LR at 5 RPE
  • Tuesday: Rest or 30-minute cross training
  • Wednesday: 30-minute cross training + 20 minute strength training
  • Thursday: 40-minute strength training
  • Friday: 45-minute interval run: run 12 minutes, walk 3 minutes; repeat 2 times.
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 4-mile LR at 5 RPE

Week 9

  • Monday: 4-mile LR at 5 RPE
  • Tuesday: Rest or 30-minute cross training
  • Wednesday: 30-minute cross training + 20-minute strength training
  • Thursday: 40-minute strength training
  • Friday: 45-minute walk-run: run 12 minutes, walk 2 minutes; repeat 2 times.
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 4.5-mile LR at 5 RPE

Week 10

  • Monday: 4.5-mile LR at 5 RPE
  • Tuesday: Rest or 30-minute cross training
  • Wednesday: 30-minute cross training + 30-minute strength training
  • Thursday: 40-minute strength training
  • Friday: 50-minute walk-run: run 15 minutes, walk 2 minutes; repeat 3 times
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 5-mile LR at 6 RPE (quick jog)

Week 11

  • Monday: 5-mile LR at 5 RPE
  • Tuesday: Rest or 40-minute cross training
  • Wednesday: 40-minute cross training + 10-minute strength training
  • Thursday: Rest or 30-minute strength training
  • Friday: 40-minute walk-run: run 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes; repeat 2 times
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 5.5-mile LR at 6 RPE (quick jog)

Week 12

  • Monday: 5.5-mile LR at 5 RPE
  • Tuesday: Rest or 40-minute cross training
  • Wednesday: 30-minute cross training
  • Thursday: 40-minute strength training
  • Friday: 60-minute walk-run: run 25 minutes, walk 5 minutes; repeat 5 times
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 5.5-mile LR at 6 RPE (quick jog)

Week 13

  • Monday: 5-mile LR at 5 RPE  
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 40-minute cross training
  • Thursday: 60-minute walk-run: run 30 minutes, walk 5 minutes; repeat 4 times
  • Friday: 40-minute strength training
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 5.5-mile LR at 7 RPE (quick but sustainable pace), with 5 minute breaks

Week 14

  • Monday: 5.5-mile LR at 6 RPE
  • Tuesday: Rest or 40-minute cross training
  • Wednesday: 30-minute cross training
  • Thursday: 50 to 60-minute run at 10K race pace
  • Friday: 30-minute cross training
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 6-mile LR at 7 RPE (quick but sustainable pace), with 5 minute breaks

Week 15

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 6-mile LR at 6 RPE
  • Wednesday: Rest or 30-minute cross training
  • Thursday: 50 to 60-minute run at 10K race pace
  • Friday: 30-minute cross training
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Race day!

Final Thoughts On How To Prepare For A 10k In 15 Weeks

Our guide on how to prepare for a 10K in 14 weeks will safely and effectively train your body for a 6.2-mile race.

It takes on a slow and gradual approach, so it’s suitable for complete beginners starting at zero miles.

As long as you follow the training plan above, you’ll be more than ready to cross that 10K finish line.

Good luck!

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