With good weather and a complete lack of gym access, running has become exceedingly popular over the last couple of months. People have been sharing their excellent 5km times and seeing the benefits of regular exercise. But what next? In this article, we will show you how to progress from running 5k to 10k in just two months.

How easy you find this will depend on how fit you are already, if you have been running for a long time then you may find the transition easy. But do not fret if you are new to running. Not only is it possible to increase your running distance from 5k to 10k within two months, it is also simple to do.

Six Steps to 10K

Here are six steps that you can follow to increase your runs from 5k to 10k.

Step One: Assess Your Current Performance

How comfortable are you running a 5k? Before planning on running 10k it might be an idea to take a look at your current capabilities over the shorter distance. If you transition too soon, you may struggle. Before increasing your distance, run a 5k and time your performance. If you can run 5k without having to stop then you will certainly be ready to take the next step.

Step Two: Focus on Time Rather than Distance

This may sound like odd advice, considering that the whole point is to increase your distance. But running a 10k is a lot more endurance-based than running a 5k. A good 5k run time is around 30 minutes, while a good 10k run time can be around 50-60 minutes (for a beginner).

Many new 10k runners find it difficult to get used to how long they have to run for. Instead of immediately concentrating on distance, aim to increase the length of time that you run for. Perform your 5k run at a slightly gentler pace than normal, and then try to run for a further 10 minutes. Then 15 minutes. Then 20 minutes.

Step Three: Adapt Your Pace

10k runs are performed at a slower pace than 5k runs, as you need to conserve energy. This may be one of the hardest aspects of increasing the distance (other than the actual effort it takes to run). At first, you may find that you are running the first 5k as fast as before, and then seriously dropping your speed afterwards.

Making a conscious effort to run at a slower pace will take some time to master. But practice makes perfect. After a few weeks, this will begin to sort itself out.

Step Four: Focus on Recovery

While 10k runs are run at a slower pace, they still involve more work overall. This means that your body will need longer to recover. Particularly during the first few weeks. You will want to focus on your recovery. Sleep more, eat more protein, consume caffeine (this can block pain receptors and lessen the impact of muscle soreness), and do some light exercise such as yoga on your day off.

Step Five: Improve your Technique

Running is all about getting your technique in line, once you have done this your running style will become more efficient. Meaning that you will burn less calories. We know that this sounds bad (most people take up running to lose calories) but it just means that you have more energy to spare.

Improving your technique can involve not squeezing your hands tight as you run (keep your hands loose). Your head should be up looking forward rather than down. Relax your shoulders and upper back, rather than tensing up and hunching over. Things like this will make running a lot easier for you.

Step Six: Cross-Training and Weights

Usually, this section would be devoted to talking about how swimming, or different pieces of cardio equipment in your local gym are excellent ways to increase your fitness while reducing your risk of injury.

Sadly, during a lockdown this option isn’t really available. You can still cross-train, but you may have to be creative. Cycling is of course an option – provided you own a bicycle. Open water swimming may be possible (though only if you are a strong swimmer). Alternatively, you can use weight training as a form of cardio.

Dumbbell goblet squats are great, as are Romanian deadlifts, glute bridges, step-ups (with or without weights), and lateral lunges. Not only will they improve your cardiovascular fitness, but the exercises will also strengthen your muscles and improve mobility.

Strengthening your lower-body muscles can actually improve running efficiency, reducing the number of calories burned while moving, and also reducing injury risk. A stronger and more flexible runner is going to run faster than a weaker and less-mobile runner.

A Running Program (For Beginners)

Below is a running program designed for people who are planning on increasing their 5k running to 10k. This program is not suitable for people who are looking to train for a race. We are not focussing on increasing speed, nor are we looking to maximise race performance.

This is a simple program for increasing distance if you have only just started running and want to increase your distance from 5k to 10k.

 

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 5k run Rest Cross-Train Rest 5.5k run Rest Rest
2 5.5k run Rest Cross-Train Rest 6k run Rest Rest
3 6k run Rest Cross-Train Rest 6.6k run Rest Rest
4 6.6k run Rest Cross-Train Rest 7.26k run Rest Rest
5 7.26k run Rest Cross-Train Rest 8k run Rest Rest
6 8k run Rest Cross-Train Rest 8.8k run Rest Rest
7 8.8k run Rest Cross-Train Rest 9.68k run Rest Rest
8 9.68k run Rest Cross-Train Rest 10k run Rest Rest

Notes

  • Run Distance: The distance has been calibrated so that you are increasing distance by around 10% each week. This is about the maximum you should be looking to increase your distance for each week. If you are finding it quite easy, then attempt to run at a slightly faster pace.
  • Cross-Training Session: This can be swimming, cycling, hiking, weight training, or some bodyweight exercises.
  • Rest: Keep your step count up (7-10k steps per day), get your sleep, and consider some abdominal exercises if you want something to do. Increase protein, get some quality carbohydrates into your diet, and enjoy your time off from running!

 

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