Many runners have Georgia on their mind on July 4th as Atlanta hosts the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race, the largest 10-kilometer race in the world — a title the race has held since the 1970s. And the numbers are there to prove it: Approximately 70,000 runners, both amateur and professional, attempt to register for the 60,000 available spots.
If you will be training for the AJC Peachtree Road Race as your very first 10-kilometer race, or if you are simply considering a 10-kilometer race elsewhere, there's a thing or two you need to know about the not-so-common distance and how to train for your first race.
A 10K is 6.2 miles. By committing to such a distance, you have jumped up from the distance of the popular 5K, but you're looking at a something nowhere near as taxing as half and full marathons. To put it simply, you've picked an excellent racing distance.
So lace up and let's get started with the most important things you need to know about training for your first 10K.
Prep your feet: Running is a fairly inexpensive hobby, but you'll need the right pair of shoes that support your foot type including: arch type, flex point, heel, instep, length and width. Confused? Don't be. You can visit your nearest specialty-running store to get fitted for no extra cost.
Put in the time: A beginner's plan for a 10K typically runs at least eight weeks. Your workouts will range from less than 30 minutes to about an hour and a half. Plan ahead and try to stick to a consistent routine of when you'll get your runs in. It can be very difficult to stick to a plan if you're doing your workouts at random times of the day.
Be consistent: Running is a significant mental effort and training requires even more self-discipline. Do not — do not — skip a single workout unless you are experiencing some sort of injury or sickness. Even if it's raining, find a way to get your workout in. Once you have a few weeks behind you of not missing a single run, you'll find that you are more dedicated to keeping your training plan flawless. If you think you'll feel guilty for skipping a workout, you probably will, and it could hinder the rest of your efforts.
Take care of yourself: By choosing to train for a race, you've done a great thing for yourself. Sticking to a training plan will help you become healthier physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, you'll get the most of your training plan if you choose to be healthy in other areas of your life. Eat a balanced diet, stretch, sleep well and avoid excessive stress.
Find ways to stay motivated: Whether it's training with a friend or following a running blog, it's important to keep your eye on the prize, which is finishing a 10K and being proud of it. In the case of the AJC Peachtree Road Race, the Atlanta Track Club will be providing weekly training sessions that will take place on Saturday mornings throughout the metro Atlanta area starting April 8.
These elements of training are just as important as your actual plan. To execute a plan, you have to be prepared for the time and effort it will take. The internet is filled with 10K training plans for all levels of runners. Find one that works for you that you know you can achieve.
Take a look at Hal Higdon's training plans. Higdon has been writing about running and putting together a variety of training plans for nearly half a century. His plans are simple to follow, of good quality and they work. His novice plan includes eight weeks of 10K training with a peak weekly mileage of 15 miles plus some cross training.