10K Training Plan: How to Train for a 10K That Changes Lives

Get fit whilst bringing hope to children in poverty.

Plan your 10K run

The new year is a great time to get fit and active. But it can be hard to know where to start, especially after the Christmas break. That’s why Compassion Challenges has teamed up with 4MUK’s British Triathlon qualified coach Stew Smith, to put together a great 10k running plan to help you move from your couch to 10K in 12 simple weeks.

How to train for a 10k?

Running your first 10K can seem like a daunting prospect – but get the preparation right and you’ll be surprised at how easy, fun and life changing it can be.

We’ve put together a handy 12 week 10k training programme. It’s a beginner’s running plan so it doesn’t matter how fit you are, you can build your way to completing a 10K run!

Download your 10k training plan for beginners

Training for a 10k : your top questions

10k training plan

Why run a 10k?

Running a 10k is hugely rewarding and a brilliant way to get fit. What’s more running a 10k for charity is a great motivator. Knowing you’re raising money to change lives will help you get out of bed on those cold mornings. Compassion Challenges has a number of free race places to give away for 2019. Head over to our Challenges page to sign up and set yourself a training target today.

View our 2019 fitness challenges

How far is 10k in miles?

A 10K is 10 kilometers (10,000 meters) or 6.2 miles.

How long does it take to train for a 10k?

There are a variety of 10k training plans, depending on the time you have available. For example, the NHS Couch to 5k plan gives you 9 weeks to go from no activity to 5k. Our 10k training plan is 12 weeks, giving you time to increase your activity consistently and realistically up until your 10k race.

Can I run a 10k race without training?

This really depends on your current fitness level. If you haven’t run before or not run in a while, it’s not recommended. Either way, it’s good to use a training plan to get your best result. If you want to run without injuries, then building up to 10K with a sensible training plan is advisable. If you sign up to run with Compassion Challenges, our helpful team will be there every step of the way to support and encourage you.

Download your 10k training plan

beginners running plan

Why run with Compassion Challenges?

Compassion Challenges is a movement of runners, cyclists and walkers going the extra mile to release children from poverty. Running for Compassion is a great way to get fit, have fun and raise money for a meaningful and unique cause. Compassion UK has free places in a range of races across the UK and oversees.

You will get a free Compassion Challenges running top, an online giving page and encouragement and support from Andy and our Compassion challenges team. Discover the challenges you can take part in during 2019.

Can a beginner run a 10k?

Absolutely, with the right work, training and support anyone can run 10K. However, if you try to do too much too soon you could risk injury. Start where you are comfortable, make sure you mix running with strength training and find someone that you can run and train with for added motivation. Our 10k training programme is a great beginner’s running plan to get you started.

How long does it take to run 10k?

To give yourself a rough 10K target, see how far you can run at a steady pace in 15-20 minutes. Then measure this distance in miles, divide the time by the distance and multiply the result by 6.2 to get a rough figure for your first 10K race.

What running equipment do I need for a 10k?

Good running shoes are really important for your 10k. If you’re new to running, it’s worth getting your gait analysed – this will help protect you from injury as well.

How do I avoid an injury training for a 10k race?

We encourage you to stretch after every session on your 10k training programme. We’ve also put together a handy guide for strength and flexibility training.

Stretching – Be sure to stretch well after each run as soon as you’ve finished while your muscles are still warm, this is beneficial for injury prevention.

Strength & flexibility training – Build up the quantity over time, for example depending on your ability. You may want to swap out the Friday run for a Strength session.

  •  Week 1 – No strength sessions get used to routine
  •  Week 2 – 5-10 reps twice through of each exercise – Introduce one
    session this week
  •  Week 3 – 8-12 reps twice through of each exercise
  •  Week 4 – 8-12 reps twice through of each exercise
  •  Week 5 – 5-10 reps three times through of each exercise
  •  Week 6 – 5-10 reps three times through of each exercise
  •  Week 7 – 5-10 reps three times through of each exercise
  •  Week 8 – 8-12 reps three times through of each exercise
  •  Week 9 – 8-12 reps three times through of each exercise
  •  Week 10 – 8-12 reps three times through of each exercise
  •  Week 11 – 10-15 reps three times through of each exercise
  •  Week 12 – no strength work the week of your race, just maintain
    your running.

How do I keep training when things get tough?

Support from others is vital when training for your 10k. We encourage you to run with others of a similar ability, or join a running club. You may find it helpful to find your nearest Park Run group as the regular 5km races will help spur on your training.

If you choose to sign up for a Compassion Challenge, we’ll also connect you with a welcoming community of likeminded runners who will support your fitness journey via our Challenges Facebook group.

 10k near me: What 10k races can I compete in?

Here are just some of the 10k races you can take part in with Compassion Challenges during 2019. Sign up today to set yourself an achievable target and then use our 10k training plan to help you get fit:

Great Birmingham 10k – the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10k may be the perfect event for you. Strut your stuff across the start line to the most popular tunes from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, Noughties or present day, then hit the streets to your favourite music for an electric party atmosphere that will keep you going as you walk, jog, run – or even dance – all the way from the start to your well-deserved finisher’s pack!

Compassion Challenges has five places to give away and are looking for general ballot runners to join the team.

Or alternatively, you may be interested in one of our other fantastic Compassion Challenges:

Climb Kilimanjaro in February 2020Sign up to venture to reach the summit of this UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2020 and you’ll be rewarded with a landscape like no other. With its snowcapped peak and glaciers, standing on the roof of Africa is a once in a life time experience that is guaranteed to give you a photo opportunity like no other.

What’s more, climbing Kilimanjaro with Compassion will give you the chance to experience Tanzanian culture first-hand as you visit a Compassion project and meet the children whose lives are being changed by the charity.

Edinburgh Half Marathon May 2019Secure your free place for the Edinburgh Half Marathon course – voted the fastest marathon in the UK by Runners World. This is an ideal half marathon if it’s your first time or if you’re looking for a PB.

Rwanda Muskathlon June 2019 – Bring hope to children living in poverty by running, walking or cycling through rural Rwanda with our partners at 4MUK. You’ll get to experience Rwandan culture, visit Compassion projects, engage with the children and their families, and take part in a special fun day with the children.

Great North Run September 2019 – Starting in Newcastle upon Tyne the 13.1 mile route takes runners through the city centre towards the River Tyne where thousands of people will cross over the iconic Tyne Bridge, where if you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of the Red Arrows passing overhead.

Great South Run October 2019 – The fast and flat course of the world’s leading 10 mile running event takes you through the iconic sights of Southsea and Portsmouth, including the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, home of HMS Victory, past Spinnaker Tower, and finishes on the seafront with beautiful views of the Isle of Wight.

About the author

Stew Smith 4MUK

4MUK’s Stew Smith is a fitness fanatic with 20 years of race experience. Having completed at all distances within triathlon & raced for GBR, Stew is now an Ironman University and British Triathlon Qualified Coach.

Stew Smith

Words by Stew Smith


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Compassion UK Christian Child Development, registered charity in England and Wales (1077216) and Scotland (SC045059). A company limited by guarantee, Registered in England and Wales company number 03719092. Registered address: Compassion House, Barley Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 2UT.