Thinking about tackling a 10K race this summer or fall – but nervous because you’re a beginner runner? No need to worry, my friend! You’ll find a perfect beginner-friendly 12 week 10K training plan below.
The 10K race is a great distance for beginners. The 6.2 mile distance is a longer challenge than a 5K, but often feels more attainable than a half marathon (especially when you’re just starting out with races).
Plus, this training plan features a modest 3 days a week of running with very gradual mileage increases. This not only makes it feasible for anyone’s schedule, but that gradual uptick in distance means reduced injury risk.
Here’s everything you need to know about this 12 week 10K training plan:
You can scroll to the bottom of this post to view and print the training plan, but be sure to read over these important tips before starting it:
Who is this plan for?*
This plan is ideal for several groups:
- Beginner runners who want to do their first 10K
- Runners prone to injury that need very gradual mileage increases
- Experienced runners who prefer lighter training plans and have no time goal in mind
If you are an experienced runner looking to PR in a race, this is probably not the plan for you. (Feel free to check out my intermediate 10K training plan here, which might be a better fit!).
*Disclaimer: Check with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise plan, especially if you’ve had any injuries or have a medical condition that may affect your fitness.
How far should I be able to run before starting this plan?
You should be able to either run OR walk (or a combination of those two) for a mile straight when starting this program.
If you cannot currently run a mile but you can walk a mile, and you are hoping to run as much of your 10K as possible, you will follow the same training schedule below. Just incorporate as many walking breaks as needed to finish the mileage each day. For example, on Day 3 of the first week, you might alternate between 1 minute of running and 2 minutes of walking until you finish the 2 miles assigned that day.[Tweet “If you can run or walk a mile, you can train for a 10K using this 12 week plan!”]
Your running schedule:
You’ll run three days a week on this 12 week 10K training plan. Space out the days that you plan to run. For example, you might choose a Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday schedule — or a Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday schedule.
You can run or walk with this training plan, or use a combination of these methods. For most beginners, I recommend doing your training runs at a comfortable pace that you can maintain the entire time. OR, alternate between a run/walk schedule that you can maintain the whole time (for example, 5 minutes running and 1 minute walking).
If you are trying to run the entire 10K race without stopping, try to maintain steady, consistent pacing during your training runs. You might want to start at a pace that feels a little too slow for you, as most people tend to start out too quickly. If you get to the later half of the run feeling like you are still going too slow, then pick up the pace. The goal is to avoid going out too fast and having to slow down considerably mid-run.
Since this plan is developed for beginners, I have not included any speedwork. However, if you’re a more experienced runner and you want to build on this plan, you can add in an additional day with either speedwork or hill training.
Warm up & cool down:
Start each run with a few minutes of brisk walking or a slower paced jog to warm up. After each run, give yourself a few minutes of brisk walking to cool down.
It’s also worthwhile to stretch after your runs. If you struggle with ongoing tight muscles, try foam rolling as well.
Cross training & strength training:
Besides the three days of running each week, I recommend also adding 1-2 days of cross training and 1-2 days of strength training as feasible.
Cross training (like cycling or swimming) will help to work other muscle groups and balance out your training. Strength training will help to create stronger muscles that power your stride and also keep you in alignment during your run.
Don’t get overwhelmed with this though. If you only have one extra day to devote to exercise, that’s fine. Just choose a strength training or cross training activity to fit in and don’t worry about creating the “perfect” plan.
And always have one day a week that’s completely devoted to rest (“active rest” like a family walk or restorative yoga class is completely fine).
Soreness is normal; significant pain and injuries are not. If you have any type of injury that is changing your stride, you should see a doctor before starting to run again.
12 week 10K training plan:
Here you go! Feel free to print out, bookmark, or save it on Pinterest. 🙂
Share with me: Have you ever done a 10K? If you’re a beginner runner, what are you nervous about? If you’re an experienced runner, share your 10K tips in the comments! And if you’ve used this 12 week 10k training plan, share how it went for you below!
- Healthy Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars - March 29, 2023
- The Best Gluten Free Carbs for Athletes - March 29, 2023
- 8 Week Intermediate Half Marathon Training Plan - March 23, 2023
Beginners would definitely be the category I fall into! Is there a beginners-beginner category… lol! Thanks for these tips!
Everyone is a beginner when they start, right?! 🙂
I assume the figures in the beginners 10K training plan are Km to be run each training day?
Hi there – sorry about that, the numbers are in miles! So you start at 1 mile and work your way up to the 6.2 miles of a 10K race. Hope that helps!
Aditi Wardhan Singh
I’m so not a runner. But i really do admire those who can. i know I should get in some exercise but just don’t get the time… I know , I know. Bad priorities. This has inspried me. Small goals for sure. Thanks
I know it can be tough to fit in the time for any exercise! If you don’t like to run, maybe search out another activity that you’d enjoy and have an easier time prioritizing (family hikes? zumba class?). I think it’s all about finding something you enjoy!
I am hoping to work up to being able to run a full mile. It has been many many years since I have done that.
You can do it Rachel!! Also, I know some runners that simply choose to incorporate walking breaks regularly and that allows them to go a much further distance without having to run X miles straight. Either way works! 🙂
Cristina - Memories of the Pacific
I have such a hard time running! I should really get started one of these days…
You can do it!!! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to start and need some tips.
oh wow! NIce, thank you! I am in the process of getting back on my healthy lifestyle before I had my son and it’s tough! I was hoping to be able to join this in the future:) I hope I can last haha. Will bookmark and save this post so I can prepare:)
You definitely can do it!! I know it’s tough getting back into the routine – day by day my friend! 🙂
Tha k you for creating this plan. My daughter (11) and I are planning to run our first 10k in June. We’ve done a number of 5ks since she was 7 so we are excited for this challenge! Thank you!
Woohoo! This will be a fun challenge for you to both take on together. Let me know if you have any questions about training and I wish you both the best of luck!
Just wondering if the program is in kms or miles when it only has a number?
Sorry about that – everything is in miles!
First off, thank you for this plan! I started this program and have been doing really well, up until recently (I am at the beginning of week 9 now). I started to notice a change doing the long 5mi run for week 8, where I wasn’t able to complete the run without walk/running the last 1.5mi (where I had been running the entire length prior). Today, today when I attempted the day 1 run for week 9 (4mi), I was unable to complete more than 1.5mi without stopping due to discomfort (tightness and overall sluggishness) and had to cut the run short. I am in good health and have not had any issues until now. I really really want to complete this program as I have felt super accomplished pushing myself each week up until now. What can I do to get over this slump?
Hi Amanda – great to hear from you! Some thoughts below – disclosure: this shouldn’t be taken as individual medical/training advice, and is only for general info 🙂
There’s a lot to tease out here, so I’m probably not going to have a black and white answer for you! First question – when you say that you could do the entire 4.5 miles in week 7 but couldn’t do the full 5 in week 8 – was there any change in your pace during that time? A different route (maybe hills) that could have stressed the legs more? That stuff could have carried over to today too.
I don’t know about your running history, but if you haven’t run much before trying this plan, there’s always the possibility that your body may need more time to get used to the longer distances. This plan doesn’t build in any major ‘drop down’ weeks (weeks where the mileage drops down compared to a past week), which your body might need right now.
Another thing to consider is whether it’s truly a physical vs. a mental issue. I know whenever I take a break from running and get back into it, it feels SO hard. Sometimes if you have one bad run, mentally that can extend to others.
Other possible explanations could be an injury, overtraining (if you’re doing this at the same time as any other workout program), or nutrition issues (cutting carbs too low can lead to ‘dead legs’ feelings).
Assuming it’s none of the major issues above – which you should tease out first – then I would probably alter the plan to make this week a drop down week and give your body a little break, then kick things into gear again next week. So for this week, do 2-3 miles for Run 2, and 2-3 miles for Run 3. Then try to hop back into what’s listed for Week 10 next week and see how you feel. If you feel great again, your body probably just needed a little recovery. If you are struggling again, you may need a little more time to build up the mileage (perhaps repeating some of the earlier weeks).
An alternative option would be to continue with the mileage listed, but slow your pace down – so whatever you’re running at now, slow it down by about 30-60 seconds per mile. See how that feels and if that helps you complete the full distances in the plan.
Also, keep in mind – there’s nothing wrong with run/walking. If you have a ‘bad run’ that requires walking, that’s completely fine! Some people naturally need short walking breaks as they work their way towards the longer distances. Some people don’t.
That’s a lot of rambling but hopefully it gives you some stuff to troubleshoot 🙂 Good luck – you got this!
Is walking or going on a treadmill ok when the weather is to bad to go and try to run outside?
Of course! I recommend setting the incline around 0.5% if you use the treadmill to more accurately replicate what it’s like outdoors.
I have a couple races scheduled next year but have such a hard time starting back into running. Everything always cramps up. SO I’m looking forward to easing into it better. How do we print this plan out?
Hi Becky! Great to hear from you. Usually neuromuscular fatigue is the cause of cramping – a slow, gradual training plan can help with that. Sometimes slowing your pace or practicing a run walk approach (i.e. 3 min run / 30 sec walk) can also help reduce fatigue and prevent the time until cramping. 🙂 For printing the plan, you can right click the image and save it, then print it from there. Good luck with your races!
Thank you so much! I was looking for a plan that didn’t start at 5K.
You’re very welcome! Good luck with training 🙂
I’m curious why this plan never hits 6 miles? I’m on week 4 and wondering if I should increase the longer runs so I got 6 before race day.
Hi Jennifer! This is a beginner plan that is designed to get a beginner runner across the finish line. For that type of plan, it’s actually not essential to hit the full distance before race day; your race-day energy will help carry through the last 0.7 miles. That said, if you’re looking to train a bit more you can certainly adjust the long runs as it makes sense for you so that you get practice at the full distance in prior to race day. If you already have a solid running base, you could certainly merge this with one of our more intermediate plans, like this one – https://www.snackinginsneakers.com/intermediate-10k-training-plan/
Hope that helps!
That does help. I’m a beginner as I haven’t ran a race since 2014. It makes sense that adrenaline will carry me thru!
Awesome – good luck in your upcoming race!