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How to train for a fun run

Signing up for a fun run is not only great for motivation, but it also helps you to set and reach goals and measure just how far you’ve come. Here’s how to cross the finish line of a 10-kilometre run with a smile and tick off one more thing on your fitness “to do” list.

Woman running

Training for your first fun run might seem pretty daunting, but with a little commitment and a lot of enthusiasm, you’ll be able to do it easily. The key is to start training a couple of months in advance so that you have plenty of time to build up your endurance and pace and track your progress. This running guide is designed for beginners who are ready tackle a 10-kilometre fun run. It has seven weeks of preparation with four days of running per week. The intensity builds up so that by the time it’s race day, you’ll be well and truly ready! Remember, while fun runs are great for setting — and reaching — your fitness goals, they are supposed to be fun! So challenge and push yourself, but learn to love the training — trust us, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll improve in such a short time.

Before we start…

This running guide is just that: a guide. Feel free to adapt it to suit your own fitness level and style. We won’t tell. Keep these tips in mind, too:

  • Don’t be afraid to take walk or jogging breaks if/when you need them.
  • During the week, aim to run for a certain number of minutes rather than kilometres to build up your confidence. On the weekends, try to measure your runs in kilometres to get an idea of your endurance and see how far you’ve come.
  • If you feel tired, slow down and have a rest.
  • Pace yourself: Start your runs slowly and finish them strong.
  • Mark the weeks off on a calendar as you go along — the sense of satisfaction is one of the best things about competing in a fun run!

7 weeks before

  • Monday — Start the week off with an easy running session of 15 minutes.
  • Tuesday — Day off.
  • Wednesday — 20-minute run and two “striders”. Striders are kind of like a sprint, but a little bit slower. They teach your legs to turn over more quickly, meaning you’ll run more efficiently. To do it, run quite fast for about 100 metres, concentrating on taking even, quick strides.
  • Thursday — 15-minute run.
  • Friday — Day off.
  • Saturday — Each Saturday is your “long run” day where you can measure your progress for the week. Today, aim to run (and walk) for 4 kilometres in total.
  • Sunday — If you’re feeling up to it, do 30–45 minutes of cross training. This can include cycling, swimming, the elliptical, or yoga — just avoid anything involving weights.

6 weeks before

  • Monday — 20-minute run.
  • Tuesday — Day off.
  • Wednesday — 20-minute run and three striders.
  • Thursday — 20-minute run.
  • Friday — Day off.
  • Saturday — Aim to run/jog 6 kilometres with a few walking breaks if you need them.
  • Sunday — Optional: 30–45 minutes of low-intensity cross training.

5 weeks before

  • Monday — 20-minute run to kick off your week.
  • Tuesday — Day off. Feel free to do some yoga or Pilates if you’re buzzing with adrenaline.
  • Wednesday — 20-minute run and three striders.
  • Thursday — 20-minute run.
  • Friday — Day off.
  • Saturday — Again, go for 6 kilometres and try to reduce the number of walking breaks from last week. Even one less break is an improvement!
  • Sunday — 30–45 minutes of cross training if you feel like it. Remember to listen to your body — if you’re too sore, give it a miss.

4 weeks before

  • Monday — 25-minute run. Well done, you just ran five minutes more than last week.
  • Tuesday — Day off.
  • Wednesday — 25-minute run and three striders.
  • Thursday — 25-minute run.
  • Friday — Day off, enjoy!
  • Saturday — Today, aim to run or jog for 8 kilometres all up. If it’s too much, don’t worry — you still have a month to work up to the big 10 kilometres.
  • Sunday — 40 minutes of cross training to build your fitness levels.

3 weeks before

  • Monday — 25-minute run. Try to run or briskly jog for the majority of it.
  • Tuesday — Day off.
  • Wednesday — 30-minute run and three striders. These striders are helping to not only build your endurance, but they are teaching you to run way more effectively.
  • Thursday — 25-minute run.
  • Friday — Day off.
  • Saturday — Attempt an 8-kilometre run again.
  • Sunday — 40 minutes of cross training if you’re in the mood.

2 weeks before

  • Monday — On the home stretch now! Do a 30-minute run and try to keep your pace even.
  • Tuesday — Day off. Why not soak in a bath with Epsom salts?
  • Wednesday — 6-kilometre run and three striders.
  • Thursday — 30-minute run.
  • Friday — Day off — you deserve it!
  • Saturday — Seeing as race day is mere weeks away, it’s great to get an idea of what 10 kilometres feels like. Do a practice run today and try to keep the walking breaks to a minimum.
  • Sunday — 30 minutes of light cross training.

1 week before

  • Monday — There are no big runs on the program this week as your body needs some time to rest and revive before the big day. Today, just do an easy 4-kilometre run.
  • Tuesday — Day off.
  • Wednesday — Brisk 20-minute run and two striders.
  • Thursday — Day off.
  • Friday — 15-minute run.
  • Saturday — Day off.
  • Sunday — Day off. Use it to get ready for the race!

On the day

After all your training, you should be ready and raring to go by the time race day rolls around. Now, the key is to take everything you’ve learnt over the past few weeks and apply it to the race. So, run smart, pace yourself and try not to burn out too soon. Also, you can’t go wrong with these tips:

  • Stretch before the race to warm up your muscles and reduce the chance of injury.
  • Wear good running shoes with thick soles — and if they’re new, don’t forget to wear them in first!
  • Try to maintain short, quick strides and take deep, even breaths.
  • Get to the starting line early so you have plenty of time to warm up and get organised.
  • Decide whether you want to run with a bottle or stop at the drink stations at different points along the way.
  • Stick to your race plan. Don’t get caught up with the other runners, just go at your own pace and at a speed you’re comfortable with. Sure it’s a race, but it’s not a competition!
  • Instead of starting out running madly and wasting your energy, build up your intensity and speed.
  • Use landmarks or points along the course to help you set goals. For example, say you’ll run to the 5-kilometre mark before having a walking break.
  • Run with someone who’s at the same level as you and motivate each other.
  • Make friends with carbs the night before and the day of the race. Carbs are a key fuel for runners as they release energy slowly, so don’t feel guilty about eating those potatoes for dinner!

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