How to Train for Your First 10K

Expectations for Your First 10K

Runner checking his time
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock
Don't worry about checking your watch. You may have trained really hard for your race, but don't expect to set a record time your first attempt at this distance.

Your expectations for your first 10K will depend on how you arrived at the starting line to begin with. Some people have ultra-competitive friends who goad them into running their first race. Others simply decide to get into better shape and just fall into the idea of running a 10K after hearing about an event.

If you've never run before (or if it's been 20 years since you've done anything more strenuous than walk the dog) and are unsure of your abilities, consider scaling back your ambitions. You might want to start with a shorter distance, such as a 5K, until you have a better idea of how running affects your body.

No matter what scenario resulted in registering for a race, you should approach the 10K for what it is -- your very first 10K. You may want to take your mental cues from runners who advocate a Zen-like approach to new race experiences, in that they just let the race come to them.

Anticipating the race with all sorts of high expectations and unrealistic hopes is probably not the healthiest approach. Many novice runners sabotage themselves mentally and emotionally before races by setting high goals and wracking their nerves about their impending performance long before the starting gun.

To avoid psyching yourself out, focus more on each preparation run instead of dwelling on the race. Complete your training regimen in a disciplined manner and learn to enjoy the challenges and rough spots as much as you do the highs of easy, pain-free runs. In short, just enjoy the journey of the training process.

One great thing about 10Ks is that the training and recovery time is relatively short compared to longer races like marathons. Should you fail to finish or miss your goal time by a wide margin, you won't have to wait months before you can try again.

In other words, once you've put your first 10K behind you, you can absorb the experience, set new goals immediately, and move forward with real confidence and understanding of how exactly to achieve those goals. Keep reading to see exactly how you can prepare yourself for your first race.