8 Tips for Your First 10K

If you've done shorter races, but you're brand-new to the 10K distance (6.2 miles), here are some tips for running your first 10K:

Don't expect your finish time to be double your 5K time.

Runners Legs in Race
Werner Dieterich

As the race distance gets longer, your pace will be slower. While this may seem like common sense, some people still get disappointed when they realize they can't run as fast as they do in a 5K race. You can use a previous race time to predict your 10K time so you know what to expect.

Eat something before the race.

Bagel for breakfast
Eric Futran/Chefshots

You might have been able to get away with not eating breakfast before a 5K, but it's a lot harder to push through a 10K on an empty stomach. Follow these tips on what to eat before a race. Of course, don't make the mistake of eating too much before the race, either.

Also see: Best Foods for Runners

Don't start out too fast.

Marathon start
Getty Images

It's tempting to start out at a fast pace, especially if you're used to running 5K races. But you'll pay for it later in the race if you push it too much in the beginning. Follow these tips to make sure you don't start out too fast.

Also see: Common Racing Mistakes

Use the water stops.

Runners at New York City Marathon water stop
Competitors grab water from a drink station as they run down First Avenue during the 2007 New York City Marathon on November 4, 2007 in New York City.. Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

A 10K is long enough that all runners, no matter how fast you are, need to take in some water during the race. Take advantage of the water stations on the course. If you've never done it before, here are some tips on how to take water from a hydration stop.

Also see: Hydration and Running

Prevent chafing and blisters.

Foot blisters
Getty Images

You may have not had a problem with chafing or foot blisters when you ran shorter races, but it may be a problem when you're running longer during a 10K. Make sure you take steps to avoid chafing, such as using BodyGlide or Vaseline on trouble spots (nipples for men, bra-line for women) and wearing technical fabric (not cotton) running clothes. To avoid blisters, wear synthetic blend (again, not cotton) socks and make sure your running shoes fit properly.

Also see: Embarrassing Running Problems

Get your family members and friends to support you.

Race spectators cheering
Dream Pictures/Ostrow
It helps immensely when you have people along the course cheering for you. Recruit your family members and friends to be at strategic points along the course to help push you along. Knowing they'll be on the course will give you something to look forward to.

Stay mentally tough.

Runner in race

Your mental fortitude will be tested during the race, so you'll need to be armed with mental strategies. Try distracting yourself by looking at the sights along the course, other runners spectators. Focus on getting to the next mile marker, not the finish line – the race will feel more manageable if you break it down into smaller pieces. It also helps to have a mantra, or short phrase that you keep repeating to stay focused and strong.

Also see: Mental Tips for Racing

Push to the finish.

Woman Running Across Finish Line
Yellow Dog Productions

As you get closer to the finish line, there's no holding back -- if you feel good, go for it. Keep pumping your arms and looking up. Try to focus on runners in front of you and see if you can pass them before the finish line. If you know there's a photographer at the finish, make sure you smile for your finishing photo.

Also see: Tips for a Strong Race Finish

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