Running your first 10K (6.2 miles) is a rite of passage for any novice runner. It signifies your ability to run about 40 to 60 minutes and opens your training possibilities up to be able to run a half marathon down the road. So, yes, it is something to be proud of.
I remember from Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike (Phil Knight), that he ran 6 miles pretty much every day. That is also something my father-in-law did for a long time on his lunch breaks before he retired. Great stress reliever and allows your mind to think clearly.
For me, my non-training schedule given my full-time job and family commitments is typically 3 miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 6 miles on Saturdays or Sundays. When I’m not training for a race, I try to just keep myself healthy and in solid running shape. That way, it’s easier to ramp things up when I need to.
Now, for your training, you have likely already trained for your first 5K. So, you know what the running schedule looks like and how it’s imperative that you carve time out for proper training. There’s no way around it – you have to log the miles.
To start you can check out our gear recommendations, best-selling items, and other tips below:
- Prepare to run your race
- Where to find races in your area
- Your training Plan
- What shoes to purchase as a beginning runner
Running your first 10K race is a great milestone.
Running your first 10K is not something you should take lightly. It’s where the beginning runner encounters some serious distance for the first time. No, it’s not the half marathon or full marathon. But, running over 6 miles is not easy — no matter how many times non-runners will pretend it is. You need the right preparations and gear to get you through training, to race day, and across the finish line.
I’ve run a few 10Ks, so I can help you get prepared. Check out some information below:
Start with Why
If you spend enough time on this site, you’re going to learn something about me. I believe we all need to start with WHY we’re doing something. We need to understand our purpose behind desiring to achieve this goal. So, whether it’s sticking to a budget or running your first 10K race, you need to understand and be firmly grounded in your “why” behind it.
For example, maybe you decided to embark on running your first 10K to get in shape. Or maybe you’re doing it to raise money for a cause you believe in. You may also be a parent trying to set an example of how to live a healthy lifestyle for your children. Still, it could be that you’re being challenged by a friend or co-worker to run a 10K together. Whatever it is, make it your mantra. Make it your modus operandi. Do I need to keep going with the cliches?
Start with “why” and you will have a constant reminder when things get tough. Believe me, they will get tough. If you’re thinking of your kids when it’s 90+ degrees in the middle of summer and you’re only 1.7 miles in to a training run, you will find it in yourself to keep on going. Trust me, it helps.
Set a Goal and Mark Your Calendar
There is nothing more motivating than putting something on the calendar and setting that goal. Then, you go out and tell people to hold you accountable. Since your goal is running your first 10K, you better not let yourself or anybody else down. That’s not to put any pressure on you, but it should pump you up. You’re doing something.
Set the date and put it on your calendar. Then, track your runs. As I mention in this post, use the Seinfeld method. What’s the Seinfeld method you ask? As the story goes, comedian Jerry Seinfeld created a habit of writing at least one joke per day. Every day he wrote a joke, he got to cross that day off in red marker on a big year-long calendar. The point was to string as many of those red X’s together without breaking the chain.
How does that relate to your goal of running your first 10K? Well, however you set your schedule (and we will address that below), mark off your calendar or do something to acknowledge it. You’re one step closer and, yes, that is definitely a reason for celebration.
Get a Baseline
How fit are you? Do you workout often or not at all? Do you play pick-up basketball with the guys or sit on the couch? You need to know and be honest about where you’re starting from. Where ever that is, it’s OK. I don’t care how out of shape you are. It’s not about that. It’s about knowing yourself and your body. Knowing where you are now will make it easier to get where you want to go.
Understand that what you do off the road, track, or trail is just as important (maybe more) that when your feet are pounding the terrain. In my opinion, the most important things is being properly hydrated. When attempting to run a 10K, or partaking in any physical activity for that matter, making sure you have enough water or Gatorade is so crucial. The worst thing you can do is get sick during or after a run with dehydration problems. It can be scary and kill your motivation.
If 9 to 13 cups is the directive from places like the Mayo Clinic, you then need to be drinking more because you’re sweating all of that out during your training runs. Drink before your runs, during your runs, and after your runs. Keep hydrated throughout the day and especially make sure you’re re-hydrating yourself after training. It will help keep you healthy and happy.
You’re going to want to eat well as you train. Don’t fall into the trap that some runners do (like yours truly) who think they can eat anything because they’re running a lot now. You need to fuel your body with proper food filled with nutrients, vitamins, and protein. Things like eggs, whole wheat pasta, mixed green salad, chicken, salmon, berries, and nuts are a great start. Plus, all of this food will keep you healthy, thin, and provide plenty of energy as you increase your mileage totals.
Many people skip this step before they run and after they run. I’m better at it before I run because I tend to get shin splints. I usually do a warm-up quarter mile to full mile and stretch. Here is a list of the 3 key stretches I do:
- Calf stretch: Place one hand on a wall for support and bend over with your right foot pointed upward. Use your right to gently pull your foot toward you and you should feel the stretch in your calf muscle. Hold this for 10 to 20 seconds and perform the same stretch for the left calf. Do this stretch 2 or 3 times before your run and at least once after your run.
- Quad stretch: Place one hand on a wall for support and bend your right knee up toward your butt. Use your right hand to pull your leg tighter toward your back. You should feel this stretching out your quad muscles. Hold for 20 seconds and perform the same stretch on your left quad. Do this stretch at least once before your run and once afterward.
- Groin stretch: Sit on the ground and place the bottoms of your feet together. Point your toes up and pull them toward you as you lean forward. Hold this for 20 seconds. Do this one also at least once before and after your run.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a solid training plan for running your first 10K.
The schedule I want you to start with will have walk days and rest days sprinkled in each week as you increase your run time and mileage. This will give your body the rest it needs as you begin your journey toward running your first 10K. You will be able to recover and ease into your training.
If you need to adjust the days, that is just fine. Re-create the schedule as you need to. This schedule is a guide. As I trained for half marathons and my first marathon, I adjusted the training program to work for me. It is more than OK. But, you need to make sure you get the runs in. If you need to miss a day, make sure you make it up or else you will be behind. You want to go into to race day at your best.
If you have any questions, please email me.
Make sure to scope out 10K races in your area.
Congratulations! You’ve decided to run in an actual race. You should be proud of yourself for making this commitment and embarking on a rewarding path. Now, it’s time to choose where you will be running your first 10K.
You may be able to find a race in your area. There are always charity or community 5Ks and 1-mile fun runs, 10Ks, and half marathons being put on. But, in case you don’t learn about one or you can’t find one that works with your schedule, here are a few places you can find a local run:
If you’re running your first 10K, you need to have the right gear.
If you’re running your first 10K, you have to have the proper attire. No, I’m not suggesting you go out and spend hundreds of dollars on running gear. After all, this is also a personal finance site and that would be dishonest. However, I do believe you should make a small investment in a good pair of running shoes and socks. I know it sounds crazy, but making sure you have socks that don’t lose their tightness and shape is very important. The last thing you want are blisters to derail your training progress.
I put together a list of the best gear based on my own knowledge, Amazon rankings, and other running blogs. Check them out, read reviews, and find the items that fit you best. (I do want to add that the following links are affiliate links).
Best Men’s Running Shoe for Beginners: ASICS Venture 5
So, I picked these ASICS shoes as a recommendation because they are a top seller on Amazon. I have not personally used them, but they do have 4.5/5 stars with over 4,800 reviews. Of those reviews, 60% are 5 stars. Seems like a solid shoe all in all. Price is pretty reasonable too and starts at around $40. Pros are that people use it for a variety of reasons and it holds up — from logging the running miles to using them as a delivery man to using them for yard work. So, the shoe holds up for most people and one gentleman mentioned how it helped his plantar fasciitis.
However, for the cons, some people have found that the shoe wasn’t quite as durable. It may not be a great trail running shoe it appears. That said, at 4.5 stars and $40, it is a reasonably-priced beginner’s running shoe. Even one guy who complained about the durability was happy with the comfort. Overall, 89% of the reviews the shoe received gave it a 4 and up. So, it looks to me like a good bet and it’s a great shoe for running your first 10K.
Best Woman’s Running Shoe for Beginners: ASICS Venture 5
The women’s version of these ASICS shoes received similar reviews as the men’s. Overall, we still see a 4.5/5 stars with over 2,500 reviews. Of those reviews, 66% are 5 star reviews. One woman praised the shoe for help with her plantar fasciitis, citing the shoe’s support and beautiful design. Another loved the toe space, comfort, and the fact that it doesn’t cake in mud/dirt. All very positive features as she uses these ASICS to run trails.
However, not everyone had a remarkable experience. Cons include one woman who actually believed these shoes are not for running. She explained that the arch support was subpar and caused her to have shin splints. Others didn’t believe the shoes were not very comfortable, specifically the toe box and the shoe being too narrow. That said, 85% of the rating for this shoe come in at 4 stars or more and it starts at $40. It could be worth a try for you as you’re training for and running your first 10K.
What I Wear: Men’s Brooks Transcend
I can’t tell you how much I love these shoes by Brooks. I used these shoes to train and run for the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon. In doing so, I logged hundreds of miles training for that race and I actually purchased a second pair of these as race day drew closer. I wanted to make sure I had enough support. These shoes are incredibly durable. From what I remember, they were immediately comfortable and helped alleviate much of my pain from shin splints. They have 4.2/5 stars on Amazon. The reason I didn’t have them as the top running shoe for men despite my love for them is because they start at $110.
Personally, if you’re running your first 10K, I don’t want you spending a lot of money on shoes. These are affiliate links, so I do make a portion on the sale if you buy from them. But, I am not telling you to drop a ton of money on your first pair of running shoes. Since this is also a personal finance blog, I would be irresponsible to tell you to do so. That said, Brooks really does make quality running shoes for men and women.
Best Pair of Running Socks for Men & Women: Feetures! High Performance Socks
These socks by Feetures! are incredible. First off, when running, the last thing you want are socks that lose their integrity / shape and become too loose. When that happens, the sock becomes uncomfortable, especially when you tighten your shoes. Plus, the sock will oftentimes fall down in the shoe and that’s the last thing you want when you’re trying to concentrate on your mileage.
The Feetures! socks are very comfortable and fit tightly against your foot. But, not in an uncomfortable way, more like “form fitting”. This makes it so you don’t have to worry about the sock stretching out and losing its integrity. Furthermore, they wick away moisture to keep you feet cool and dry. My wife and I love them so much that we wear them even when we’re not working out. They are comfortable enough for every day use. I highly recommend Feetures! socks. You will not be sorry. And if you’re running your first 10K, I would get these socks. They’re a must.
Best Selling Headphones: TaoTronics Bluetooth Wireless Earphones
Ok, seriously, these TaoTronics headphones are a great deal. They are only $26. And, yes, they are marketed as the Top Seller for Bike Headsets, but runners can use them as well. One reviewer explained how he runs between 3 and 10 miles per week, 3 times per week. He cites how the blades fit in his ears and don’t move around. Trust me, the last thing you want as a runner is to have the headphones constantly popping out.
Overall, 87% of the reviews for these TaoTronics headphones come in at 4 stars or more. But, of course, not everyone loves them. In fact, for what the runner above says are a plus, another person cited how the headphones don’t fit in the ear well. Go figure. To be honest, with a lot of running gear as with anything, it comes down to the person. It comes down to individual preferences. What works for me or for you, will not work for other runners. You have to find what works best for you.
What I Wear: Mailiya Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
I purchased my Mailiya headphones after another pair of Bluetooth headphones suddenly stopped working. So far, I have little to complain about when these. They fit fairly comfortably in my ear with great sound. However, the loop part that goes over my ear can get annoying. I sometimes find that the ear buds fall out and I’m constantly re-adjusting them.
But, overall, I do like the Mailiya headphones. I’m not the type to drop $100 to $250 on incredibly expensive pairs of sunglasses or headphones. That’s just not my style. Plus, I think Anna would kill me. After all, this is a personal finance site too! I really like the fact that these headphones are water resistant. It helps me because I sweat a lot! These are fine for beginners too and have a good volume range to go with great sound quality.
Running Watches & Wearable Tech
Top Running Watches: Casio W800H-1AV Classic Sport
This particular Casio watch is #1 in Men’s Sports Watches on Amazon. It comes in at 4.5/5 stars with over 2,000 reviews. Now, I used to wear a Nike watch when I ran. But, after it died, I went the cell phone and armband route. It’s worked for me ever since. I ran the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon and 3 half marathons between 2015-2016 that way. So, I didn’t miss the watch. That said, if don’t want all that stuff on your arm, go with a cheap watch to start. This one is less than $13. You can’t really beat that.
Let’s be honest, though, cheaper things have a tendency to be made, well, cheaply. So, people do mention that in the reviews. But, 74% of the reviews for this watch are 5 star and 16% are 4 star. That’s a lot of happy people. If you want to go with a watch and you’re a beginning runner, start here. Save yourself some money.
Handheld GPS Unit: Garmin vívoactive Black
So, this thing seems pretty cool and it’s the top seller on Amazon in the Handheld GPS Unit category. It has 4/5 stars and over 1,900 reviews. Garmin vívoactive comes with Sports apps for Running, Biking, Swimming, Golfing, and Walking. Many people seem to love it and gave it some pretty good reviews. However, it’s $136. Certainly a lot to lay out for a watch.
It’s unfortunate to see that people had issues with the technology, particularly sync problems, screen dimness, charging failures, and not being able to use when swimming. How can you track swimming but not submerge it in water? Overall, the Garmin vívoactive received 55% 5-star ratings and 18% 4-star ratings. Not bad, but not overwhelmingly great either.
Cell Phone Armbands
Best Selling Armband: Tribe AB37 Water Resistant Sports Armband
I’ll be honest with you. I wouldn’t worry too much about cell phone armbands. Find one that fits the phone you have and be done. They are all pretty much the same. This one here is a Best Seller on Amazon. It has 4.5/5 stars and over 10,500 reviews. Plus, it’s on sale right now for under $10. One person complained about the armband sliding up and down their and the plastic getting foggy. Honestly, the same thing happens with mine. Many of the newer phones are water resistant anyway. So, it shouldn’t be a problem. Another person said this armband didn’t fit iPhone 6S despite it being advertised. Overall, the armband got reviews of 4 or above 85% of the time.
What I Wear: Iwotou Armband for Samsung Galaxy
Yes, I still have a Samsung Galaxy S5. As I said above, I do run into the armband slipping down my arm and the plastic fogging up. But, you just need to tighten it a bit more. It’s usually no big deal. As for the moisture on the inside of the plastic, it’s from me sweating. It doesn’t hurt the phone as the phone is more or less water resistant. I’ll say that it’s a good product to use for running your first 10K.
If you run long enough, you will get a ton of t-shirts and swag from races. You certainly should get one when running your first 10K. Don’t toss them. Use the heck out of those shirts. As runners, we go through lots of shirts. Have mostly cheap ones, but invest in a few nice sweat resistant ones. You will be glad you did!
I don’t get too fancy with running shorts. Hell, I even get stuff at Walmart. I could care less. Plus, I ran track and cross country in high school. I will never be caught dead in that underwear they call running shorts. No thank you. Nobody needs to see my milky white thighs. OK, TMI. Sorry for that.
I personally own Nike and Under Armor winter gear, particular wind breakers, running pants, sweat pants, and gloves. You could always start out and go “Rocky” style in the beginning. Nothing wrong with a cheap hoodie and sweat pants combo.
Please don’t feel like you need to purchase everything on this page when your running first 10K. In fact, I am telling you right now not to break the bank as a beginning runner. I truly don’t want you to do that. Get the essentials. To me, that’s a good pair of running shoes and good socks. You want your feet to be comfortable when you’re running your first 10K and you don’t want cheap socks that slide around and don’t absorb sweat. That’s how you get blisters. So, take my advice and get out there! Happy trails!
Approaching the day of your 10K race
No, running your first 10K is not like running a 5K. It’s not just the distance, either. Running your first 10K requires much longer of a commitment in training and it takes time to develop that lung capacity. So, it’s a true accomplishment. Be proud of yourself and trust your training plan. It’s ok if you’re nervous, but once the race starts, you will be focused. Again, this will be a major accomplishment and you should treat it as such. Crossing the finish line will only motivate you to want to race again. Competition is such a satisfying experience and there’s no better competition than yourself.