The 13-Week Couch To 10K Training Program

If you’re planning on running your first 10K in the upcoming three to four months, but are a complete beginner, then you’re in the right place.

Yes, three to four months might be all you need to get prepared for the distance—even with no previous running experience, provided you’re in decent shape and are willing to be consistent with your training.

Follow my simple guidelines below, and you’ll be on your way to completing—even crashing—your first 10K.

So, are you excited?

Then here we go.

What’s The 10K?

Running a 10K is a fantastic way to get in shape—maybe the right motivation you need to get going with your fitness and health goals.

This race is a classic distance that covers all bases. It has elements of both endurance and speed.

Beside the 5K, the 10K is one of the most common and popular races among beginner runners, especially those in an already decent shape and are looking for a challenge.

In fact, you can train for the 6.2 miles distance without throwing your life out of balance. The training requires no major disruption to your current schedule.

Further, by crashing a 10K, you’ll propel your fitness into new and uncharted territories: running for more than one hour.

Crossing the 60-minute mark will push your endurance and stamina levels skyward and improve your leg strength and willpower like nothing else.

It’s also ideal for recreational runners who don’t feel they are quite ready to tackle the half or full marathon distance.

The 13-Week Couch To 10K Training Program

If you’re genuinely getting on the 10K path from zero running experience, then you need to proceed with caution.

The training plan shared below is quite challenging. And some of you might not be ready to run a 10K even after six months of training.So, please keep in mind that the plan is not for everyone.

If you’re obese, over 40, have chronic injuries, or physical limitations of any sort, then consult your doctor for a check-up and explain what you’re planning to do.

To tackle this 10K training plan, you should have no major health problems, and preferably already doing some form of training, whether it’s swimming, biking, strength training, etc.

My best recommendation?

The safest way, in my opinion, to start this plan is to only do it once you can walk comfortably for more than 60 minutes.

If that’s impossible, then you might need to spend more time training—longer than three months.

Be sure to build up your walks and then start the plan.

Already in a good shape? (meaning you can run 30 minutes without much huffing and puffing) Then skip the complete beginner weeks.

Take More Weeks

The program is 13 weeks long, but in case you need to repeat some weeks, then feel free to do so. No one is holding a gun against your head.

As a beginner, you’ll need time for both your body and mind to adapt to the high demands of training.

So, if this plan advances too quickly for you, then slow down and repeat a week—or two. This is so much better than getting hurt or discouraged—forcing you to stop training altogether.

Pick a Race in Advance

By registering for a race in advance, you’ll have a goal to work toward.

Just make sure your goal for the race is realistic and in tune with your current conditioning level.

Don’t shoot for the stars if you know it will only get you hurt and discouraged.

Training Program instructions

The plan below strikes the ideal balance between building endurance and prioritizing injury prevention by alternating intervals of medium intensity jogging/running and walking for most training duration.

In essence, the run-walk method involves intervals of low intensity running—or jogging—as well as walking for recovery.

The breaks will help you build running stamina safely as they reduce stress and impact on tendons, ligaments, and muscles.

By doing so, you’ll let your body adapt to running gradually, letting your muscles recover, helping avoid injury in the process.

In the end, your ultimate goal should be to finish your first 10K without walking.

But if you take a couple of walk breaks during the race, then it’s not the end of the world. You still have the rest of your life to work on your fitness—and by completing the whole distance—unscathed—you’ve just taken a huge leap forward.

Warm up Right

Start your workout with a 5-minute walk of brisk walking to warm up, and again to cool down after each session.

Keep it Conversational

Perform every session at a comfortable conversational pace, aiming for 65 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate, or a 6 to 7 on a rate of perceived exertion scale of 1 to 10.

If you’re getting winded and find yourself gasping for air every step of the way, then just slow down and recover.

Cross Train

During non-running days, feel free to cross train or rest.

Cross train on, at least, a couple of days per week. Best exercise includes biking, swimming, strength training, and yoga. These will also help you further build your endurance and stamina.

Just whatever you do, be sure to take one day off every week—for most people, that’s a Sunday. But different people, different strokes, as the saying goes.

Month One

This is the hardest phase of the training.

The first step is all about getting you out the front door.

So, if regular exercise has been absent from your life for the past few years, then you need to get in the habit of regular training.

Here is the exact breakdown

Week 1

  • Session I – 26 Minutes. Run one minute. Walk Two minutes. Repeat seven times.
  • Session II—30 minutes. Run one minute. Walk two minutes. Repeat eight times
  • Session III— 33 minutes. Run one minute. Walk two minutes. Repeat nine times.

Week 2

  • Session I – 35 Minutes. Run two minutes. Walk two minutes. Repeat five times.
  • Session II – 31 minutes. Run 90 seconds. Walk one minute. Repeat six times.
  • Session III—35 minutes. Run 90 seconds. Walk 30 seconds. Repeat eight times.

Week 3

  • Session I—35 minutes. Run two minutes. Walk one minute. Repeat six times.
  • Session II—40 minutes. Run two minutes. Walk one minute. Repeat eight times.
  • Session III—40 minutes. Run two minutes. Walk 30 seconds. Repeat ten times.

Week 4

  • Session I—40 minutes. Run two minutes. Walk 30 seconds. Repeat ten times.
  • Session II—40 minutes. Run three minutes. Walk one minute. Repeat six times.
  • Session III—40 minutes. Run three minutes. Walk 30 seconds. Repeat eight times.

Month Two

Once you get through the first month of training you’ll start to notice drastic improvements in your overall conditioning and fitness levels, especially if you’re starting from scratch.

Now it’s time to take it up a notch, but by no too much. So don’t worry.

Week 5

  • Session I—40 minutes. Run four minutes. Walk 90 seconds. Repeat six times.
  • Session II—40 minutes. Run four minutes. Walk 30 seconds. Repeat eight times.
  • Session III—45 minutes. Run five minutes. Walk one minute. Repeat six times.

Week 6

  • Session I—45 minutes. Run five minutes. Walk 30 seconds. Repeat eight times.
  • Session II – 45 minutes. Run seven minutes. Walk two minutes. Repeat four times.
  • Session III—45 minutes. Run Seven minutes. Walk one minute. Repeat six times.

Week 7

  • Session I—45 minutes. Run eight minutes. Walk 90 seconds. Repeat four times.
  • Session II—50 minutes. Run ten minutes. Walk two minutes. Repeat three times.
  • Session III—45 minutes. Run ten minutes. Walk one minute. Repeat three times.

Week 8

  • Session I—50 minutes. Run 12 minutes. Walk two minutes. Repeat three times.
  • Session II—50 minutes. Run 15 minutes. Walk 90 seconds. Repeat three times.
  • Session III—50 minutes. Run 20 minutes. Walk one minute. Repeat two times.

Months three

This where you’ll start to really challenge yourself.

Please don’t give up yet. Keep going strong and do what you have to do to get things done. This is especially the case if you are starting from scratch and unused to regular training.

Week 9

  • Session 1—55 minutes. Run 25 minutes. Walk for two. Repeat two times.
  • Session 2—50 minutes. Run 30 minutes. Walk two minutes. Run 20 minutes.
  • Session 3—55 minutes. Run 35 minutes. Walk three minutes. Run 15 minutes.

Week 10

  • Session 1—50 minutes. Run 30 minutes. Walk two minutes. Run 15 minutes.
  • Session 2—55 minutes. Run 35 minutes. Walk three minutes. Run 10 minutes.
  • Session 3 —45 minutes. Run 40 minutes

Week 11

  • Session 1—45 minutes. Run 40 minutes.
  • Session 2—50 minutes. Run 45 minutes.
  • Session 3 – 60 minutes. Run 30 minutes. Walk five minutes. Run 20 minutes.

Week 12

  • Session 1—45 minutes. Run 40 minutes.
  • Session 2—50 minutes. Run 45 minutes.
  • Session 3— 70 minutes. Run 35 minutes. Walk three minutes. Run 20 minutes.

Week 13

  • Session—60 minutes. Run 50 minutes.
  • Session—45 minutes. Run 20 minutes. Walk two minutes. Repeat two times.
  • Session—40 minutes. Run 15 minutes. Walk two minutes. Repeat two times.

Last Day

Race Day– Run 6.2 miles.

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David Dack

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