The Injury free guide to running your first 10 km

by Lindsey Parry, Official Coach to the Comrades Marathon Association and National Triathlon Coach

Are you tired of seeing yourself getting bigger each time you look at a mirror? Always wanted to run but don’t know where to start? Tried running but always getting injured?

I have put together the perfect programme to guide you through the first 6 months of your running journey. You will glide through injury free and enjoying every step of the way. The number one stumbling block for beginners is patience, the longer you have been away from regular exercise the longer it will take before you can build up to a reasonable fitness without risking injury.

Starting out:

What is your cardiovascular risk? If you answer yes to 2 or more of the following questions it is a good idea to have a medical before embarking on any exercise regime:

  • Do you have a family risk of cardiovascular disease?
  • Have you been told you suffer from any cardiovascular disease?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Experience bouts of dizziness or shortness of breath?
  • Are you more than 10km over weight?

The next step is getting kitted out in the correct gear. There is a lot to choose from on the market. The rule of thumb for shorts, tights and tops is: Make sure they are comfortable.

You will also need some warm clothes, gloves and a beanie to keep you warm if you are planning on training outside.

The most important aspect of your pre training preparation is running shoes. Although only a small percentage of running injuries can be attributed to footwear, it is worth getting into the correct pair from the start. Head to your nearest running specialist store where the staff are trained to put you in the correct pair of shoes. And since your feet are your weapons on the road buy yourself proper running socks so that you can be as comfortable as possible.

The last step before hitting the road is to buy yourself a reflective bib or belt and a flashing night light so that cars can clearly see you on the road.

If you are already a regular Park Runner looking to move up to running 10km Races, you can start the programme from October, using 8-12 weeks to build to a 10km.

Guide to using the programme effectively:

Less is actually more: 

This saying has never been truer than when dealing with novice runners, by building up slowly and making sure you rest you will allow your joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments to strengthen and adapt to the increasing demands being placed on them by training. Even though there is plenty of rest built into the programme, listen to your body and if you are sore then take an extra days rest. This will allow you to come back stronger and enjoy your next workout more. Ultimately managing the dose of the exercise with the rest/recovery will be the difference between breaking down with injury or not. Use the programme as a guide and do what you can when you feel your body is ready for it. 

Walking is important: 

Especially for novices, in the beginning you should walk more than you run. You will get much better short term results if you force yourself to run as far as you can IF you remain injury free. But for long term, sustainable results and to ENJOY the process: Build up slowly 

Park Runs or Time Trials: 

There are Park Runs built into the programme. These are there so you can get an early sense of achievement by completing your 1st 5km; they are also included so that you can get into contact with likeminded people of a similar running ability. This will help you build a running community, potential training partners and allows you to track your improvement on a weekly basis. 

You will need to temper your enthusiasm initially, although it is great taking minutes off your time every week, pushing too hard each week may lead to injury. 

Days are interchangeable with the exception of Park Runs as these only happen on a Saturday. Use the programme as a guide and moves days to best fit in with your life, work etc. 

As race day approaches: 

As race day nears you will ask yourself all the typical questions: Why am I doing this? Can I do this? Did I do enough training? The answers are numerous but the important answers are: Yes you can do it and yes you did do enough. You can always do more next time, but remember as a novice less is more and you have done months of consistent training, completed a number of 5km Park Runs or Time Trials now ready to complete 10km in an official race. 

The programme decreases slightly in volume as the day approaches, this is so that they can freshen up and you can feel really good on the morning of the race. Use this feeling of strength to build your confidence BUT do not take it to mean you are ready to sprint the whole way. Remember the lessons learnt on the Park Runs and Time Trials. Pace yourself, if you feel strong during the last 5km you can push yourself but the first race should be an enjoyable experience. If you have been using a walk run strategy in training then use it again on race day, especially if there are big climbs. This will leave you fresh for the flats and downs. 

Get to the start early as you will be very nervous and rushing around getting organised will waste energy that you need for the race. If possible go with a regular club runner so that they can worry about the parking etc and you can just focus on your race. Remind yourself that you can do this and try to enjoy it as much as possible. 

On the run you need to focus on three things: 

  1. Hold Back, especially in the first 5km. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement and the crowds and go to fast, ruining your race.
  2. You are ready for this.
  3. You are here to have fun. 

Schedules 

Seven month training schedule for 10 km race. For convenience we have assumed every month starts on a Monday and has four weeks. Adapt to your needs. 

Month 1 

Week

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Week 1

Walk 4min, run 1min x 3

REST

Walk 4min, run 1min x 3

REST

Walk 4min, run 1min x 4

Walk 4min, run 1min x 5

REST

Week 2

Walk 4min, run 1min x 3

REST

Walk 4min, run 1min x 3

REST

Walk 4min, run 1min x 4

Walk 4min, run 1min x 5

REST

Week 3

Walk 4min, run 1min x 4

REST

Walk 4min, run 1min x 4

REST

Walk 3min, run 2min x 4

Walk 3min, run 2min x 6

REST

Week 4

Walk 4min, run 1min x 4

REST

Walk 4min, run 1min x 4

REST

Walk 3min, run 2min x 4

Walk 3min, run 2min x 6

REST

 

Month 2

Date

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Week 1

Walk 3min, run 2min x 4

REST

Walk 3min, run 2min x 4

REST

Walk 2min, run 3min x 4

Walk 2min, run 3min x 7

REST

Week 2

Walk 3min, run 2min x 4

REST

Walk 3min, run 2min x 4

REST

Walk 2min, run 3min x 4

Walk 2min, run 3min x 7

REST

Week 3

Walk 2min, run 3min x 4

REST

Walk 2min, run 3min x 4

REST

Walk 1min, run 4min x 4

Walk 1min, run 4min x 8

REST

Week 4

Walk 2min, run 3min x 4

REST

Walk 2min, run 3min x 4

REST

Walk 1min, run 4min x 4

Walk 1min, run 4min x 8

REST

 

Month 3

Date

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Week 1

Walk 1min, run 4min x 4

REST

Walk 1min, run 4min x 4

REST

Walk 1min, run 5min x 4

Walk 1min, run 5min x 8

REST

Week 2

Walk 1min, run 4min x 4

REST

Walk 1min, run 5min x 4

REST

Walk 1min, run 5min x 4

Walk 1min, run 6min x 8

REST

Week 3

Walk 1min, run 5min x 4

REST

Walk 1min, run 6min x 4

REST

Walk 1min, run 5min x 4

Walk 1min, run 7min x 7

REST

Week 4

Walk 1min, run 5min x 4

REST

Walk 1min, run 7min x 4

REST

Walk 1min, run 6min x 4

Walk 1min, run 8min x 6

REST

 

Month 4 

Date

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Week 1

Walk 1min, run 6min x 4

REST

Walk 1min, run 9min x 4

REST

Walk 1min, run 7min x 4

Run 15min, walk 1min x 4

REST

Week 2

20min easy running with 3 x 1min walk breaks

REST

20min easy running with 1x1min walk break

REST

Walk 1min, run 8min x 4

30min easy running, walk as needed

REST

Week 3

22min easy running with 3 x 1min walk breaks

REST

22min easy running with 1x1min walk break

REST

Walk 1min, run 9min x 4

35min easy running, walk as needed

REST

Week 4

24min easy running with 3 x 1min walk breaks

REST

25min easy running with 1x1min walk break

REST

20min easy running

Park Run

REST

 

Month 5 

Date

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Week 1

26min easy running with 3 x 1min walk breaks

 REST

28min easy running with 1x1min walk break

REST

22min easy running

Park Run

REST

Week 2

28min easy running with 3 x 1min walk breaks

REST

30min easy running with 1x1min walk break

REST

24min easy running

Park Run

REST

Week 3

30min easy running with 3 x 1min walk breaks

REST

33min easy running with 1x1min walk break

REST

26min easy running

Park Run

REST

Week 4

33min easy running with 3 x 1min walk breaks

REST

36min easy running with 1x1min walk break

REST

30min easy running

Park Run

REST

 

Month 6 

Date

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Week 1

36min easy running with 3 x 1min walk breaks

REST

40min easy running with 1x1min walk break

REST

33min easy running

Park Run

REST

Week 2

40min easy running with 3 x 1min walk breaks

REST

30min easy running

REST

20min easy running

10km race – walk as needed

REST

Week 3

30min easy running

REST

35min easy running

REST

40min easy running

Park Run

REST

Week 4

33min easy running

REST

40min easy running

REST

45min easy running

Park Run

REST

 

Month 7 

Date

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Week 1

36min easy running

REST

50min easy running

REST

55min easy running

Park Run

REST

Week 2

40min easy running

REST

55min easy running

REST

20min E running

10km race – try not to walk

REST

Week 3

REST

REST

40min easy running

REST

1hr easy running

Park Run

REST

Week 4

40min easy running

REST

40min easy running

REST

1hr easy running

Park Run

REST

 

@LindseyParryZA  @AskCoachParry Coach.Parry@gmail.com

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