Essential guide to running the London 10,000

Check out your local running scene and you’ll find that there’s one race distance that surpasses all others in terms of popularity: 10km. This race distance has risen to the top of the charts over recent years for several reasons: racing for 6.2 miles is a meaningful challenge; the event requires an ideal blend of speed and endurance; and, importantly, the training can be easily fitted into your lifestyle.

So, could you complete a 10km race entirely under your own steam? If you’ve ever considered preparing for and completing the London 10,000 but need more of an insight into what it’s all about, what the training involves, the race itself and more, then follow our guide to running the London 10,000.

How do I get started?

To help guide you through the 10km maze, simply follow the three-step checklist below to get off the mark:

Step 1.
Check that it’s safe for you to begin exercising. If you’ve not exercised for some time, have a check-up with your doctor before you begin.

Step 2.
Evaluate your fitness levels. You need to know where you are before you can progress – so sit down and honestly assess where your running and general fitness levels currently are.

Step 3.
Select a training plan. Trying to prepare for the London 10,000 without a training plan is like trying to find your way to a new town without a map and signposts. To take you on your journey to London 10,000 success, you need to follow a structured training plan that is right for your fitness levels and will take you safely towards your 10km goal.

What should I wear?

To start your training, basic shorts and a T-shirt and/or sweatshirt is pretty much all you need. There is an excellent range of running-specific kit available that will keep you dry, will help you to avoid any chafing problems and will be light and comfortable to wear – but to begin with you’ll probably find that you already own enough gear to get you started. However, one area of kit where you shouldn’t compromise is on training shoes – and it is certainly worth investing in a proper pair of running-specific trainers. Seek out a specialist retailer who can give you advice and, if necessary, assess your gait, so that you can find the most suitable shoe for your running style. Remember that a good pair of running shoes is an investment in comfort and injury prevention, and will repay you again and again long after your initial outlay.

What should I eat and drink?

Correct nutrition and hydration is an essential part of both your London 10,000 preparation and during the race itself. Without the correct fuel – and enough of it! – you will be unable to complete the longer runs, and so paying close attention to your diet is key. As a runner, you need to be consuming plenty of ‘slow-release’ carbohydrate to provide you with energy – which means food choices such as pasta are ideal. As a rule of thumb, you typically burn at least 100 calories per mile on top of your general daily calorie requirements – so it is important that your body is supplied with enough of the correct type of fuel. Also, don’t neglect your fluid intake, because your fluid requirements will increase both for storing fuel in your muscles and because you will lose more fluid through sweating.

How much training do I need to do?

Up to a point, the more training that you are able to complete, the better. However, you should always remember that the most important component of any training plan is rest – so a correct training plan should balance building up your 10km-specific fitness with sufficient recovery. Use the following ‘Training times vs. finishing times’ guide to help you gauge how much time you need to commit per week. Your training plan should consist of a careful blend of long runs, recovery sessions and faster-paced training as you build your 10km-specific endurance – so that you will be able to run for 60 minutes or longer.

Training times vs. finishing times
  • Training for less than three hours per week = Your target London 10,000 finishing time should be 65 minutes or above.
  • Training for three to four hours per week = Your target London 10,000 finishing time should be between 55 and 65 minutes.
  • Training for four to five hours per week = Your target London 10,000 finishing time should be between 45 and 55 minutes.

How long will the London 10,000 take me?

Depending upon the weather conditions on the day and any unpredictable events that occur, your race may be faster or slower than your target time – so the finishing times we’ve given are just a guide. It is also important to remember that you will actually be out on the road for longer than your target time. It may take up to several minutes to cross the Start Line at the London 10,000 – but with modern computerised timing systems, the organisers are able to record your personal time from crossing the Start Line to crossing the Finish Line. At the start and finish, as well as at various points around the course, you will cross special mats that register your time as you pass over them– which will provide you with an exact time for your own London 10,000 race.

What happens on London 10,000 race day?

The day of your race will be a fantastic experience that you will never forget. In addition to running your race, the build up and culmination of all your training makes everything worthwhile. You need to rise early so that you can top up your energy stores before heading for the start. There will be many thousands of runners – which will make for an amazing atmosphere! Everyone will line up in positions according to their expected finishing time – indicated by placards at the side of the road – and then the start gun will fire and you’ll be off!

En route there will be Drinks Stations where you can top up with water and/or energy replacement drinks. Running in a huge field is very exciting but can take a little getting used to – so entering a lead-in race such as a 5km event will give you very useful race experience before you do the London 10,000. Pace judgement is very important during your race, and your training plan will help you to prepare for running at an even consistent pace. There are usually big crowds at the finish, and crossing the line and achieving your goal is a memory that will stay with you forever!

Once you have finished, you will receive your medal, food and drink, and a goody bag with a souvenir race t-shirt and other products. A few days after your race you can expect to receive the race results and a selection of photographs taken around the course of you in action – which will be excellent mementoes!

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