If you’ve signed up for a 10k race and you’ve set yourself the goal of getting a new PB, it’ll be important to do your preparation. We’ve got you covered, with our top tips through every step of the process so you’ll be getting plenty of kudos by the time you complete the 6.2 miles and cross that finish line.
Before you start:
Work out what level you’re at now, how long you’ve got until race day, what level you want to be by race day, and how you’re going to get there. Everyone is different, so will require a different strategy, but you’ll be much more motivated to get out of bed each morning if you have a schedule to hold you accountable.
It’s important that you don’t try anything new on race day. So this means you should do as much of your training as possible with exactly the same kit that you’ll be running the race in. That means there’s no risk of ill-fitting trainers or chafing running tops. It might also mean pre-preparing a killer playlist to spur you on.
You might not be taking on any food during the race, but you should practice running with water or an energy drink, so you know how your body reacts. Similarly, get used to the same pre-run meal, such as porridge, granola and yoghurt, or bananas. You’ll want to discover what works best for you well before you get to the day of the race.
It’s important that you build up stamina step by step. Don’t try to go for the full 10k straightaway, but gradually increase the distance of your runs until you are comfortable over the entire 6.2 miles. It might even be worth trying a couple of runs at 12k, so then you know the distance isn’t a problem and then you can focus on setting that PB. Make sure you keep your legs fresh in the days before the event, so taper your training plan.
If you’re going for a PB, then you’ll need to improve your pace. Interval training is great for working on your speed:
- 3 x run 5 minutes/1k at a fast pace, then walk for 2 minutes
You can then increase the time and distance of these intervals, or the number of reps. These sessions will improve your aerobic capacity, and soon you’ll see that you can sustain a higher speed more comfortably.
Running a fast 10k requires power, as you’ll be pushing yourself throughout. Running will be the best way to build your speed and stamina, but strength training can make a huge difference. Work on your glutes and legs with squats and lunges, but also don’t forget to work on your core and upper body with planks, crunches, and shoulder and chest presses, which help stability and posture so that your running is as efficient as possible. Yoga can also help build strength while maintaining flexibility. Strength training is also essential for lowering the risk of injury.
For the race:
Having a clear idea of how you’re going to strategise your race will make a huge difference. Most athletes swear by visualizing each chapter of the event. Bear in mind that the first 1-2km will be full of adrenaline, so it’s important you don’t come bursting out of the blocks and waste your energy early, so make sure to settle into a sustainable rhythm. Even though the focus of the race might be to set a new PB, it’s also important you enjoy the experience, so remind yourself to take in the support and atmosphere.
You don’t want to start cold and spend the first part of the race warming up, getting the blood flowing. To set a new PB, you’ll need to be loose and energised. When you arrive at the event, start with a gentle jog for 300-500m. Then, do some dynamic stretches, such as skipping, lunges, jumping jacks, high knees, bum kicks and speedy feet.
This is when you can really guarantee an impressive PB. Although it’s important to pace yourself early on in the race, once you’ve laid the foundations with your sustainable race pace, in the final 1-2k you can put the pedal to the floor and leave nothing left in the tank. Most record 10k times have been set by runners whose second half of the race is faster than their first, so make sure you’ve paced yourself to perfection and there’s nothing to stop you in the final stretches.