Your guide to the women's running 10k - Women's Running UK

Couch to 10K plan

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  May 12, 2016

If you’re planning on running your first 10K this summer, you’ll be pleased to know you can prepare for the distance in just eight weeks – even if you have no previous running experience! Eight weeks might only seem a short period of time – and it is – but provided you put in the consistent training and follow our advice, it can be done! Follow our simple steps below, download our couch to 10K plan and get started! Good luck!


The best way to be successful in completing your training plan, and therefore your 10K, is to start off by getting organised. Before day one of the programme, work out when you’ll be able to train throughout the week (you can move sessions around to an extent), enlist friends as training partners to help you stay motivated, and make sure you have all the kit you’ll need. At the very least you will need a pair of decent running shoes from a specialist shop (don’t buy online if it’s your first pair) and a good, maximum-support sports bra. Ideally you’d also have some wicking sports clothes that won’t chafe and that stay comfy when you run, but that’s not essential to begin with.

Woman running on city asphalt


If you are truly starting from zero exercise, you need to proceed with caution. Make sure you’re mentally prepared for completion rather than competing – you can worry about running fast later. Visit your doctor or practice nurse for a once-over and explain what you’re planning to do. This is especially important if you’re very overweight, very underweight, or have recently suffered an injury or illness. If you’re well yourself but have a family history of heart problems or high blood pressure, go for a check-up just to be safe.


One great thing about running is that it allows you to indulge in the odd treat – you don’t have to start living like a saint even if you’re training for a full-on marathon. However, you might find some simple changes to your lifestyle will make your 10K build-up easier, especially if you are really starting from scratch with this whole health and fitness malarkey. Don’t do anything too drastic: start with committing to three booze-free nights per week and getting an extra half an hour of sleep. Even little tweaks like this will help you feel more energised and better able to train.

Female runner stretching before running in city park


As you’re new to running but need to build up your distance quickly, keep your route planning simple. Plan your runs in straightforward out-and-back routes or loops around the block so that you feel psychologically safe and you can bail out if you start feeling pain or have overstretched yourself in a session. You can always work up to more exciting routes later on.


Sneak in extra activity whenever you can, to gradually improve your fitness. It could be a 15-minute walk at lunchtime or running up and down the stairs a few times while dinner’s cooking, or you could challenge yourself to hold a plank for a few more seconds every day – it will all help with your general conditioning, which will make your 10K easier.

woman athlete feet and shoes while running in park.


Use quantifiable goals to keep you motivated as you go along. You can measure your runs and walks with free apps such as Strava or MapMyRun, or go a step further and buy an activity monitor such as a Fitbit to count your total activity during the day. Providing you don’t fall ill or get injured during your training period, you will definitely see your times and distances improve and there’s nothing more motivating. You can also use apps to share your workouts on social media – great if you need a bit of extra pressure to keep you going.


We’ve given a plan for total beginners and one for people returning to running. The difference is that if you’ve run before, providing you aren’t injured or ill, you should be able to build up quicker. If at any point you feel you’re overdoing it, you can switch to the beginner’s plan.

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Women's Running Magazine

NMA’s 2020 Lifestyle Magazine of the Year, Women’s Running provides expert advice on gear and training, motivation from your favourite runners and the latest running news.

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