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Your first 10K in three steps

Couch to 5K – tick. Parkrun – tick. What comes next? Your first 10K. It’s the UK’s most popular race distance for both recreational and seasoned runners alike but if you are new to it, how do you get there? Here is our three-step guide.

1 Build up slowly. If you can run a 5K in under 40 minutes without stopping you are ready to go to the next level. However, doubling up to a 10K takes proper preparation, typically over an eight week training period. The general rule of thumb is that you can safely increase your running distance by 10 per cent per week spread out over two to three runs.

Your training block will have three key elements which alter as you progress. These are ‘FIT’ which stands for Frequency (how often), Intensity (how hard) and Time (how long). Over time you can add an extra session, increase your pace and spend longer on your feet.

2 Vary your runs. The 10K requires endurance and speed so you need to be able to change your pace. Mix up your runs, typically doing an interval session, tempo run and an easy run each week with a day’s rest between each workout.

* Interval sessions help build up your aerobic fitness. This involves running fast over a set distance or time, following each interval with a recovery jog of at least the same length, then repeat.

* A tempo run means running at a consistent pace outside your comfort zone for 15 to 20 minutes to improve your running pace. It should feel comfortably hard but the warm up and warm down should be at a steady pace and of similar duration to the effort.

* Easy runs at chatting pace are important to allow your legs to recover from hard efforts. A lot of runners do this run on a day off or on a Sunday when they have time to add a little distance each time.

If you wish to add even more variety try a fartlek workout or hill repetitions. Fartlek is Swedish for ‘speed play’ and is unstructured, alternating moderate-to-hard efforts using trees, lampposts or signs as targets followed by recovery jogs. Hill reps are great for getting your knees up and your arms driving for that fast race finish!

3 Flex and stretch. Training for and running a 10K also requires strength. Warming up properly and stretching afterwards can keep niggles at bay while yoga, Pilates or circuit training will also improve your core strength, your running form and efficiency.

If you are short on time get yourself a resistance band to use at home. It will come with a workout guide and you can also access lots of ‘how to’ video clips online.

Finally, in the week before your race it is really important to taper or ease off on your runs and make sure you get plenty of sleep so you’re both ready and rested for the big day.

Stilton Striders, the town’s England Athletics affiliated club, are joining forces with Melton parkrun and Melton Running Club this month to help runners make the step up from 5K and will be hosting a 10K training programme from the end of September. For more details visit www.stiltonstriders.co.uk or call in to Melton Sports.

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