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10km running programme


Expert reviewer Dr Eleanor Atkins, Trainee Vascular Surgeon
Next review due January 2021

Welcome to Bupa’s 10km running programmes. If you’ve got a 10-kilometre run on the horizon, we’ve got a choice of three running programmes here to meet your needs:

  • beginner – for if you’re new to running and would like to train for a 10km run
  • intermediate – for if you’ve already done a race of 10km or longer and would like to improve your time
  • advanced – for if you consider yourself to be an advanced runner

Runner tying laces before exercise

How the programmes work

All the training programmes have three key elements, which alter as you progress. These are ‘FIT’; which stands for:

  • F – frequency (how often)
  • I – intensity or pace (how hard)
  • T – time (how long)

Exercising regularly and gradually increasing how much you do is the key to improving your health and fitness.

As you get fitter, you’ll be able to train more often and for longer in each session. As a beginner, this will mean that gradually you can run more and need to walk less. At an intermediate level, you should find that you’re able to run distances faster.

It’s hard to define ‘intensity’ (or pace) because it depends on your individual level of fitness, which will increase as your training progresses.

Some of the training programmes involve different types of run – see Types of training for more information. These correspond to your ‘perceived effort scale’. The scale runs from one to 10, where one is standing still, and 10 is your maximum effort, such as running flat out. The table below has more detail. The activities in the running programmes correspond to the ‘Activity’ column of this table.

Perceived effort levels

A table by Bupa showing perceived effort levels for running

Click here to open a larger version of the table.

Types of training

All the training programmes involve long runs and light / moderate (recovery) runs, and some also include faster runs (tempo and speed).

Easy runs

These allow your legs to recover from hard efforts and prepare you for the next day of training. Take them at a light to moderate pace (effort level of five to six). You should be able to enjoy running without feeling tired.

Steady runs

These runs should be at a slightly challenging pace with an effort level of six to seven. You should be able to hold a conversation, but find it difficult. This will become your race pace and be used for your long runs. It will increase your distance and build up your aerobic fitness, efficiency and endurance.

Tempo runs

Constant speed running is sometimes referred to as tempo running. This improves your running pace.

Although the true definition of tempo running varies, aim to run at a constant speed that feels ‘comfortably hard’. This should be about an 8 on the effort scale. Stick to about 15 to 20 minutes at this pace and always include warming up and cooling down as follows:

  • 30 mins total:
    • 5 mins warm up (effort level 5)
    • 20 mins tempo running (effort level 8)
    • 5 mins cool down (effort level 3–4)

  • 40 mins total:
    • 4 mins warm up (effort level 5)
    • 15 mins tempo running (effort level 8)
    • 3 mins easy jog (effort level 5)
    • 15 mins tempo running (effort level 8)
    • 3 mins cool down (effort level 3–4)

  • 50 mins total:
    • 5 mins warm up (effort level 5)
    • 20 mins tempo running (effort level 8)
    • 5 mins easy jog (effort level 5)
    • 15 mins tempo running (effort level 8)
    • 5 mins cool down (effort level 3–4)

Interval training

Training with intervals builds your aerobic fitness, strength and speed. Interval training involves running fast (but not sprinting), over a set distance or time, at an effort level of 9. Follow each hard interval with an easy one of at least the same length, then repeat. Try using a treadmill or running track to help you get the distances and times right.

As you go through your training programme, try filling the recommended time with these sequences:

  • Starting interval training:
    • 30 secs running (effort level 9)
    • 2 mins easy jog/walk (effort level 5)

  • Hitting your stride (from week 8):
    • 1 min running (effort level 9)
    • 2 mins easy jog/walk (effort level 5)

  • Closer to race day (from week 12), try short/fast intervals and longer/slower ones, eg:
    • 30 secs sprinting (effort level 10)
    • 90 secs easy jog / walk (effort level 5)
    • (repeat x 5)
    • 3 mins running (effort level 9)
    • 4 mins easy jog / walk (effort level 5)
    • (repeat x 2/3)
    • 30 secs sprinting (effort level 10)
    • 90 secs easy jog / walk (effort level 5)
    • (repeat x 2/3)

Don’t forget to perform 5 minutes of warm-up and cool-down before and after your interval training.

Cross training

This helps you to keep up your fitness but reduces the strain on the muscles you use for running. Take one session a week to do an activity such as swimming, cycling or using a cross trainer in the gym. This will work your muscle groups in different ways and help to stop you from getting bored of just running.

Beginner programme

This programme is for you if you’re new to running and would like to train for a 10km (6 mile) run. To make the most of this programme, you should be able to run / walk 5km (3 miles) in less than 40 minutes, and you may have already completed the beginner 5km programme.

1km is equivalent to 0.6 miles. For this training programme, distances in miles have been rounded to the nearest whole number for simplicity. Click on the image below to see the full programme (PDF 0.2 MB, opens in a new window).

Image of Bupa's beginner 10k running programme

Intermediate programme

This programme is for you if you have already done a race of 10km (6 miles) or longer and would like to improve your time. It uses long runs so you can be confident you’ll be able to cover the distance, and tempo and speed work to increase your pace.

1km is equivalent to 0.6 miles. For this training programme, distances in miles have been rounded to the nearest whole number for simplicity. Click on the image below to see the full programme (PDF 0.2 MB, opens in a new window).

Image of Bupa's intermediate 10k running programme

Advanced programme

This programme is for you if you consider yourself to be an advanced runner. You will have already completed 10km (6 miles) races before, perhaps following the Bupa beginner and intermediate training programmes.

1km is equivalent to 0.6 miles. For this training programme, distances in miles have been rounded to the nearest whole number for simplicity. Click on the image below to see the full programme (PDF 0.2 MB, opens in a new window).

Image of Bupa's advanced 10k running programme


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Related information

Tools and calculators

    • Start active, stay active. Department of Health. www.gov.uk, published July 2011
    • Zamuner AR, Moreno MA, Camargo TM, et al. Assessment of subjective perceived exertion at the anaerobic threshold with the Borg CR-10 scale. J Sports Sci Med 2011; 10(130–36). www.jssm.org
  • Reviewed by Nick Ridgman, Bupa UK Head of Health Content, January 2018
    Expert reviewer, Dr Eleanor Atkins, Trainee Vascular Surgeon
    Next review due January 2021



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