How to train for a 10K in four weeks (especially if you want to pick up running in lockdown 2.0)

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Nobody could have predicted the running boom of the first lockdown: from March until the end of June, there were almost one million downloads of running app Couch to 5K – a 92% increase compared to 2019. And that’s just taking into account the beginners.

But running in lockdown 2.0, which begins on Thursday 5 November, seems a little less inspiring. It’s cold, it’s rainy, and we’re all feeling pretty bored. But if you feel up to it, the four promised weeks of lockdown could be the time to build on the running skills you picked up earlier this year. 

One person who is planning on challenging herself is Alyss Bowen, Stylist’s social media editor. “A friend and I have been talking about doing some kind of ‘race’ for forever. We’ve entered a few 10Ks and then something fell through so they never happened, which is why this lockdown we’ve committed to running together from afar,” she says.

“We’re both going to use the next four weeks to train for our own personal 10Ks, without the pressure of an actual race or outside people. Neither of us is bothered about time or competition, we just want to get outside and move our bodies with the end goal of a distance to spur us on.”

Laura Fountain, of Lazy Girl Running (the perfect person to turn to), says: “Whether or not training for a 10K is appropriate really depends on what your fitness level going into it is.

“If you did Couch to 5K this summer, and you still run for around half an hour a few times a week, you could realistically get up to 10K.”

If you’re reading this as a total newbie – don’t give up. It might take you longer to take to 10K, but spending four weeks working on running will still help you progress. “Often beginners to running have a certain level of fitness from something else. But if you’re an absolute true beginner, I would encourage you to build consistency. Getting out three times a week to do run or walk. By week four, you should be able to get to five or 10 minutes running non-stop,” says Laura.

10K run
It is possible to train for a 10K in four weeks if you feel up for it

Four weeks to 10K

If you are looking to up your distance, Laura has a suggestion of how you might want your training to look. But remember: everyone is different and what works for some people might not work for you. 

1. One 5K

Stick with a 5K or a half an hour run once a week as a starting point for your training. 

2. One speed session 

Adding speed into your training is good for fitness and endurance, but Laura says it’s also a great form of training to do right now. “I find that doing a tough interval session is a good way to get rid of some of that pent up energy, stress and anxiety,” she says. This session could be done multiple ways, but two examples Laura offers are: 

  • A 10-minute jog followed by one minute fast running then one minute jogging, five times.
  • A 5K run to a hill, where you can then do sprints to the top and walk back down, five times. 

3. One longer distance 

When you have a bit longer, try adding around 5 minutes onto the end of your usual 5K run. By the end of the four weeks, you’ll have run 5K plus 20 minutes, which should get you ready to nail the 10K. 

4. One strength session 

Use your home workouts to do specific strength training for runners, says Laura. “Find something that’s going to strengthen your glutes and your core. This won’t only help to power your running better, but it will also hopefully help you avoid injury as well,” she says. 

Things to remember when training for a 10K

“I see a lot of running challenges pop up which get you to run every day. I really don’t like that,” says Laura. “While it sounds really motivating, our bodies are just not adjusted to that load, so we risk injuring ourselves. But also, if you miss one day, then that’s all your motivation gone because you’ve ‘ruined’ the challenge. Not to mention, recovery is so important when we are running.”

Laura says it’s important to make sure you take at least one rest day a week, and focus on a much more manageable target of running three times a week. 

“You won’t get faster every week,” Laura also reminds us. “Some days, you might have more energy than others, and your body won’t adapt that quickly.” Most importantly, we also need to remember that we aren’t training for a 10K – we are training for a 10K in a pandemic. 

“We shouldn’t overlook the fact that, just as our physical health can benefit our mental health, the opposite is true as well. So if you’re going through a period of lots of stress and anxiety, don’t expect your body to perform as well as it would do in normal circumstances. Just acknowledge that some days are gonna be harder than others, and that isn’t necessarily a reflection of your fitness.” 

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.

Images: Getty

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