Everything You Need To Compete Over 10K From Technique To Nutrition: Including Our Exclusive 6-Week Training Plan

Spring is around the corner, which means it’s time to lace up your running shoes and get ready for this year’s first 10K race – RSNG’s running experts have come together to provide all the skills, nutrition and mindset advice you’ll need, as well as a progressive training plan to get you there!

Nail The Technique
We asked running coaches and adidas Runners captains, James Heponstall and Noel Carroll, for the skinny on what makes a great running style. Apparently, posture is important: ‘Relax the hands, the shoulders, neck and jaw. I often get people to think about running with tubes of toothpaste in each hand, without squeezing any out. It may sound ridiculous but if you run with tense fists, then you hunch your shoulders, close off your chest and reduce your ability to get oxygen in,’ says Carroll.

It’s easy to run stylishly on the flat, but that usually all goes out of the window once you hit a hill and start laying siege to the gradient. There is an easier way: ‘Shorten your stride while running uphill. Over striding increases the load in your legs making the hill seem harder. Ask yourself is each step carrying me forwards AND up? Don’t run straight at the hill, run up it!’

There’s a lot of talk about foot strike in running. We’re all individuals but you can spot a problem if you unplug your earphones and take a listen: ‘Does your foot strike sound loud? Is it far out in front of you; does one foot sound like it’s skidding on the ground?’ If you’re throwing your foot too far out ahead then it will act as a brake on the rest of your body.

‘Also, it doesn’t want to slap down hard on the road as that wastes energy and potentially increases impact forces in your joints and muscles. Think carefully about where on the ground in front of you each footstep will be at different points on your run – you’ll be amazed as you get tired how form can drop off.’

Switch Things Up To Get There Faster
Repeating the same running loop at the same speed for weeks on end isn't going to do anything for your race performance. In fact, once your body has adapted to this your aerobic fitness actually starts to go into reverse and decline. James Heponstall recommends three key workouts for 10K runners: ‘Intervals to build up that base fitness, then Fartlek (speed play) sessions to inject some pace into your running when you are getting up to race pace, and finally hills for some good aerobic endurance! Buddy up with someone or a group when you can to get a lot more out of them compared to running on your own.’ (Check out the training plan at the end of this piece for a detailed breakdown.)

Watch Out For Rookie Errors
We all make mistakes so avoid these common errors that can turn into bad habits if unchecked… Lots of runners obsess over collecting training miles in their diaries and various GPS devices. ‘Work smarter. Ask yourself what is the focus of your training week and are you adapting you intensities and distances to do that?’ Carroll points out that distance and speed are inversely proportional. ‘So, if you want to run quicker then you can't go as far in the early stages. If you’re running loads of miles, but slowly, then don’t be surprised if your 10km time begins to plateau. Integrate hill sessions, speed sessions and long runs of different distances, speeds and intensities to get the most out of your training.’

It sounds basic, but well-designed and fitted running shoes are mandatory. ‘Go and get properly fitted. Wearing the wrong gear can often create problems. Most good running shops now offer free in store fittings. Work out how you run and let them show you which shoes will suit your style.’

When it comes to training for a distance, the first instinct is to flog yourself to stick to a set pace, but this can be counterproductive. ‘Too often runners chase times and with instant feedback from apps you’ll quickly know if you’re on or off the pace.’ It’s all hunky dory when you’re up to speed, but then: ‘This can become a very negative feedback loop. The time is slow, so you feel bad, push harder; the time gets worse and you eventually become disheartened.’ Our experts recommend ditching the watch occasionally, and running by feel.

Three Ways To Avoid Injury
Running injuries are often seen as inevitable but this is dysfunctional thinking – here are the top three ways to stay fighting fit:

Avoid sudden spikes in distance or training intensity.
Regular soft tissue work, either with sports massage, using a foam roller, or conscious stretching such as yoga or pilates.
Ask yourself this: are you really and truthfully resting on your rest days?

10K Runners’ Nutrition
You can’t get faster, fitter and healthier without the correct nutrition. ‘It’s important to eat enough calories from a balanced, varied and whole diet because this will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to recover and perform,’ says adidas Runners Captain Claudia Schroegel. Not eating enough calories, or the right macros, can increase the risk of illness and injury, and prevent your body adapting to training. Of course, stuffing yourself or making the wrong choices (white carbs) will lead to weight gain, despite your training, which will just slow you down.

Meal and snack timing is also important. ‘Getting it wrong, even if what you are eating across the day is good, can hinder progress. For instance, you don’t need a high-carb, late-night dinner and nothing else during the day.’

Think about your food choices as helping your body to perform and save the treats for one meal a week. And avoiding using food as a ‘reward’ for a hard session. ‘After a run, rather than feel you now deserve a dessert or a couple of pints, instead think about how that food is going to help your body recover and adapt to help you achieve your fitness goals.’

‘If you’re training for 30-40 minutes, three times a week then aim for around 25-35 calories per kilo of bodyweight, per day for a 50-80kg person. (If you’re nearer 2-3 hours, 5-6 times week then you would work more to 50-80kcal/day/kg). Depending on the level of intensity of training you may want to go nearer 35kcal/kg/day. Energy should come roughly from 45-55% carbs, 10-15% protein and 25-35% fat,’ says Schroegel.

Example Training Day Nutrition

Breakfast: Porridge made with skimmed milk & banana (easy to digest and carb-based to fuel for exercise); water to hydrate after the night

Lunch: Salmon nicoise-style salad – lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, boiled new potatoes, olives, boiled egg, salmon, olive oil dressing and anything else you want to add – peppers, capers, anchovies etc. (Complete meal - protein rich, complex carbs, healthy fats, vits/mins and antioxidants)

Snack: Hummus & oatcakes or Ryvita, apple (complex carbs, vits/mins and healthy fats)

Dinner: Chicken stir-fry with rainbow veggies (low carb, complete protein, vits/mins and antioxidants); Greek yoghurt (plain) and handful of berries (protein, vits, antioxidants)

Example Rest Day Nutrition

Breakfast smoothie: 2tbsp plain Greek yogurt, handful of fresh spinach, ¼ avocado, handful frozen berries, 1 banana, 1 tbsp walnuts or 1 dsp peanut butter, 2 medjool dates (stones removed), skimmed milk or water and blend. You can also add oats to make it more filling and a protein powder if you need to up your protein).

Lunch: Chicken wholemeal pitta with Greek salad and olive oil dressing (complex carbs, complete protein, vits/mins, antioxidants)

Snack: Fruit & handful of almonds (unsalted, unroasted)

Dinner: Vegetable soup; Omelette with tomatoes, onions & spinach (low-carb, complete protein, vitamins/ minerals, antioxidants)

WHAT NEXT? Our running experts have put together this exclusive 6-week plan (below) to get you on the road to 10K. If you have already been going for jogs or runs of about 5 miles per week then you can dive straight in – everyone else should spend a week or two putting our techniques tips into play first. Good luck!

adidas is hosting four city runs in the UK this year in four unique locations. Tickets are available

Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.

Follow the writer @mattfitnessray