Set Yourself Up for Success – 10k Training Plans

I know them all too well – the red-faces, the heaving shoulders, the strained looks, the pained limps… the struggle to get up yet one more hill in downtown Atlanta on July 4th. If I had a dime for every Peachtree runner who didn’t actually train for this hot, hilly and humid event I would have about 54,000 dimes… a year… for many years to come. While the idea of paying off my student loans early is intriguing, I am no sadist.

Now is the time to set ourselves up for success. Right now, today, this minute, find a training plan to follow. 

If you drive somewhere unfamiliar without directions, 90% of the time you’ll get lost. Training for a race is no different. You might coincidentally get there, but why not avoid the pain and hassle and just follow some solid directions? 

Search for your own plan, or I highly recommend these:

Novice 10k Training Plan from Hal Higdon

  • Do This: If the 2010 event is your first (or first in awhile) 10k, or if you’ve let the rainy winter get you off track and aren’t in the best of shape.
  • Path to Success: The plans from this highly respected coach are easy to follow - especially for folks with busy lives. Adapt it to you – take Monday as an extra rest day if needed, follow a run/walk approach with the mileage, consider pushups and crunches at home if you can’t incorporate weights into your routine. Make a goal of exercising at least 4 days a week.
  • Be Honest: This plan will get you comfortably across the finish line, but leave visions of grandeur back on MARTA. Finishing with a smile on your face and a tshirt in your hand is the real victory!

Intermediate or Advanced 10k Plans from Cool Running

  • Do This: If you’ve got a solid running base and a PR is what you seek, or you’re a veteran runner up for a challenge.
  • Path to Success: This web site has a wealth of information to supplement your training plan like sample track workouts and hill repeats, as well as how to properly complete fartlek, interval and pace runs.
  • Be Honest: Remember race day is no walk in the park. Hills and the Atlanta humidity can tear down even the most seasoned runner. Make the plan, do the work, but try and have a little fun while you’re out there.

As any product of the 1980s is aware, “knowing is half the battle.” Reading a plan is a start, but accountability is key. I have seen my fair share of good-intentioned yet untrained, struggling faces staggering down Peachtree Street. Atlanta medical personnel are fantastic, by why not avoid a face-to-face meeting this July 4th? Print your training plan and post it on your fridge or desk. List the daily workouts on your calendar or computer desktop (surely by now there’s an app for that). Make your workouts actual appointments in your day so you schedule time to complete them despite everything life throws your way.

If you make training a priority you will finish the race solidly and you might actually enjoy it! Make your grand entrance to Piedmont Park a good one in 2010.

How do you plan to make your training different this year?

4 comments Add your comment


April 21st, 2010
10:15 am

I thought I’d try the intermediate training plan from Cool Running, as this will be my 5th 10K, and my most recent 10K was a PR. But 35 mpw seems a little excessive for an intermediate runner, no? I didn’t train with that volume for my half marathon!


April 21st, 2010
10:58 am

Annette – 35 miles a week is not a necessary volume. It will work for folks looking for a challenge, or for people who inherently love big mileage (I am one of those weirdos).

The nice thing about these plans is the flexibility. That plan could work nicely even if you alter it. Consider cross training or taking Thursday off completely, lowering Friday’s mileage by 2m a week, and cross training on Saturday. But note that the Cool Running intermediate plan builds to 35 mpw MAX. The other weeks have less mileage.

And check out this intermediate plan too – It’s a great one that builds in a little speed work, while keeping total weekly mileage lower. I think the Cool Running’s intermediate plan is a step tougher than Higdon’s intermediate one. Just find one that works for you!


April 23rd, 2010
12:30 pm

I don’t think 35 mpw is excessive for an inermediate runner.

This is all depends on how serious you are about this. You want to complete the 10k without feeling like you are going to die – beginner plan. You have completed a few 10k’s, now you are paying attention to the clock and want to drop your personal best – intermediate. You want to start right behind the Africans – advanced plan. This takes more than a couple months of training, unless you are already young and fit.


April 23rd, 2010
1:32 pm

This year is my fourth Peachtree; last year, with everyone timed, I think I came in 40,000th. (There were only about 50,000 timed runners; I guess the other 5,000 were t-shirt grabbers who cut in.)

I’ve been doing 3.1 miles three days a week, and so far I’m at the same pace as last year. Sunday is ten weeks to the peachtree. I plan to use some form of Hal Higdon’s plan to build up the stamina and speed so I can finish with a much better time.