Traci Copeland is a Nike Master Trainer and run coach based in New York City. She’s created this five-week program that will have you eyeing the finish line of a 10K, whether it’s your first time lacing up or you’re an old pro. Train with us over the following month and we’ll meet you on October 26 for our virtual race.
Allow me to blow your mind: If you’ve never run a race before or are a race-day pro, the mental preparation is exactly the same—and that holds true no matter if you’re training for a one-mile sprint, a 5K, or a 10K. So in other words, don’t let the thought of powering through 6.2 miles psych you out, because as long as you’ve got your head in the game, you can do it.
This five-week plan is designed to carry you to the finish line of a 10K. Each week, you’ll build up the minutes you spend pounding the pavement until you’re powering through a full six-miler like it’s nobody’s business. You’ll combine walking, running, and walk-run sessions throughout each week, getting both your body and mind accustomed to moving for such a sustained period of time.
Though this is technically a running program, you’ll actually only be running three days—the others will be spent either as a rest day or cross-training, both of which are critical to getting you across the finish line in tip-top shape. Cross-training is important because, while running is great for building cardiovascular strength and endurance, you also need muscular strength to get through this race. Whether you opt for yoga, spinning, HIIT, or something else, mixing things up will help you run harder, better, faster, and stronger.
To stay mentally motivated throughout the training process, it’s important to have a goal in mind every time you start a workout. Whether that’s reaching the finish line at the end of the program, or just getting through that day’s training, use a goal as your motivating mantra and applaud yourself when you hit certain milestones. Running 30 minutes is longer than running 25 minutes, so even slowly increasing the amount of running you’re able to endure is an accomplishment in itself.
There’s no question that 6.2 miles is a haul, especially when you’re a first-time 10K runner. But go into your race with no expectations other than the intention of starting strong and finishing strong. Whatever happens in between—whether you have to walk or stop for water or take a break—it won’t matter once you’ve crossed the finish line.