How Many Miles is a 10k? – How do you Train for a 10k?

Running
Training for your first 10k can be difficult. If you're American and used to dealing in miles, the first part is knowing how far that actually is.

How many miles is a 10k? It’s a question asked by beginner runners all the time. Sometimes though I’m surprised at the number of veteran runners who don’t really know how many miles are in a 10k.

In this post we’ll talk about the distance and discuss the training tips you need to get there. If you’re a beginner runner, or one that has yet to achieve the 10k distance – this one’s for you.

Sportive life concept

How Many Miles is a 10k?

A 10k is 6.21 miles. Once a beginner runner has tackled the 5k and then a 5-mile, this is typically the next goal. If you’ve already hit the 5-mile mark, it’s not much further than you’ve already gone.

For beginner and intermediate runners, the 10k can take about an hour to complete. But there’s nothing wrong if it takes you longer! If you can run the entire distance without stopping, no matter how slow, you’ve already beaten most of the population.

Why Are 10k Races Popular?

The 10k race isn’t as common as the 5k or the half-marathon, but it’s an important distance to tackle if you’re looking to ultimately tackle some longer distances.

Almost every big race that includes a marathon or half-marathon will include a 10k and a 5k as shorter options for less experienced runners. So while it goes without saying that 10k’s are less common than 5k’s, you’ll probably see as many (or more) of them than those of greater distances.

Woman leading at the marathon

How Do You Train for a 10k?

Before you get to that 10k distance, you first need to be able to run a 5k. The 5k is a great distance for beginners, and I have some 5k training tips in a previous article you’ll find useful. Once you’ve tackled the 5k, it’s time to really look at the 10k as an achievable goal.

Warm-Up

While doing a strong warm-up has been a staple of training guidance for many years, new research shows that warm-ups could involve just doing the first few minutes of your run at an extra slow pace.

Many years ago, warm-ups were a pretty hard workout on their own, but the new advice is to go light and easy. You’re just trying to wake up your muscles.

Breathing

Once you’re running longer than 20 minutes or so, the ability to continue depends heavily on your ability to develop a rhythm that keeps you moving without exhausting you to the point that you cannot continue. Controlling your breathing is a key to this.

Your breathing is how you deliver much needed oxygen to muscles that are working hard, and it’s also how you get rid of the toxins that are produced during that hard work.

Because of how many miles are in a 10k, you’re going to need to go well beyond that 20-minute mark. The sooner you get your breathing into a good and steady rhythm, the further you’ll be able to go.

Switching Sides

I’ve written about this before, and it’s still one of the most important things you can do to stretch out your ability to run long distances. Don’t stay on the same side of the road for too long – alternate which side of the road you run on. Why?

Most roads are sloped downward towards the gutter to help rainwater wash off the driving surface. Similarly, sidewalks are sloped downward toward the road so water washes off the sidewalk into the gutter. So if you run on the same side of the road all the time, one side of your body is always touching down lower than the other side. This results in misalignment over time. By alternating sides, you give both sides of your body an equal share in the imbalance which helps to keep both sides strong equally.

Stretching

It’s important to stretch after you finish your run. You don’t have to do an entire Yoga session (though that would be great for your health), but 5-15 minutes stretching out the muscles that running really hits – quads, calves, butt, lower back.

Similar to warm-up advice, things have changed over the years. It used to be highly recommended to stretch before a workout, but it turns out being too loose before a working increases the chances of injury.

Miles in a 10k: Final Thoughts

There are 6.21 miles in a 10k and it’s time you started working towards that goal! With perseverance and some patience, just about anyone can make achieving that goal a reality.

So, how many miles is a 10k? It doesn’t matter – just start going towards it and eventually you’ll get there. Running a 10k is a great goal to have especially if you’re a beginner or maybe veteran recovering from an injury. Don’t think about the miles, just focus on the next step.

Sharif Jameel is a business owner, IT professional, runner, & musician. His professional certifications include CASP, Sec+, Net+, MCSA, & ITIL and others. He's also the guitar player for the Baltimore-based cover band, Liquifaction.

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