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How to Train for a 10K Walking Program
The next time you take a drive in your car, set your odometer to zero and note how long it takes you to drive 6.2 miles. Walking in a 10-kilometer, or 10K, event is the equivalent of walking for 6.21 miles. 10K events are not just for conditioned runners; most welcome and encourage walkers, and some events are targeted to the walking athlete. To complete the 10K walk successfully, carefully build your strength and endurance to finish strong.
Analyze your current walking technique before beginning a 10K training program. Walk in the style of fitness or race walkers to increase your speed and develop your walking technique. Keep your hips fluid, your abdomen tucked in and your back straight, the Walking Connection website instructs. Point your toes forward and walk with your head level and straight. Bend your elbows until your forearms and hand are parallel to the ground, and pump your arms back and forth.
Follow a training schedule to prepare for walking a 10K. If you are new to fitness walking, begin by walking for 15 minutes every other day, increasing your time by five minutes each week until you are able to comfortably walk for one hour. If you use a pedometer, increase your number of steps by 20 percent each week until you reach one hour of walking. If you already walk for 30 minutes comfortably, take six weeks to build up to walking continuously for one hour.
Concentrate on distance and speed once you can walk for one hour. The Walking Site website advises that a goal of 15 minutes per mile is reasonable for fitness walkers, but your pace will vary based on the terrain, your ability and the weather. If you walk a 15-minute mile, a 10K will take you slightly more than 90 minutes.
Time yourself to determine how long it takes you to walk one mile at your normal pace. Practice walking faster by performing interval training every second walking session. Walk for one mile at your normal pace, then, over the next mile, walk as briskly as possible for one minute then at your regular pace for three minutes. Continue the intervals for 30 minutes of your 60- to 90-minute walk.
Increase the distance you walk by 5 to 10 percent every two weeks until you are covering 6.21 miles. When you walk for long periods of time you improve both your endurance and the health of your heart. Vary the distances you walk and build up to walking longer distances than your scheduled race, to compensate for the natural tendency to go faster during a race and enable you to keep your energy level up during the entire event.
Taper your training off the 10 days before your event to prepare your body properly. Rest completely the two days before your event. Resting your body gives you the extra energy and endurance you will need to complete the 10K walk successfully.
Join a walking group to train for a 10K event.
Replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles.
Stay properly hydrated.
Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
- Metric-Conversions: Kilometers to Miles Conversion Table
- Walking Connection: Fitness Walking Technique and Form
- PBS: America's Walking: The 20% Boost Program: Fit Walking Into Your Life
- University of New Mexico Exercise Science: Calorie Burning: It's Time to Think "Outside the Box" -- 7 Programs That Burn a Lot of Calories
- Harvard Men's Health Watch: Exercise and Aging: Can You Walk Away From Father Time?
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC; 2018.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?. 2020.
- Harvard Health Publishing. Walking: Your Steps to Health. Harvard Medical School. 2018.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measuring Physical Activity Intensity. 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate. 2019.
- Mahmod SR, Narayanan LT, Supriyanto E. Effects of incremental cardiorespiratory exercise on the speech rate and the estimated exercise intensity using the counting talk test. J Phys Ther Sci. 2018 Jul;30(7):933-937. doi:10.1589/jpts.30.933
Diane Lynn began writing in 1998 as a guest columnist for the "Tallahassee Democrat." After losing 158 pounds, she wrote her own weight-loss curriculum and now teaches classes on diet and fitness. Lynn also writes for The Oz Blog and her own blog, Fit to the Finish. She has a Bachelor of Science in finance from Florida State University.