Marathon Blog

5K or 10K: Choosing the Best Race and Training Plan for You


5K or 10K: Choosing the Best Race and Training Plan for You

Now that the Healthy Driven Naperville races include both 5K and 10K options, you might feel like you have a tough decision to make between these two race distances. Here are some considerations to help you make your choice. 

New to running? Choose the 5K distance and select a run-walk or beginner 5K training program to prepare. This distance and approach will give you plenty of challenge while helping minimize the risk of injury, which can be significant for a new runner. 

If you have been doing some running recently and regularly, you have a tougher choice to make. Think about the following as you consider what’s best for you:

Training time. If you have been doing at least some running (3-4 miles, 2-3 times per week) for a few months, you have a couple of options. You are in a great position to continue your current training and can expect to run a solid 5K race. Alternatively, you have enough calendar time to increase the distance of your longest run to 6-8 miles and can consider running the 10K. If you opt for the 10K, select a beginner 10K training program. Keep in mind that training programs for the 10K will include a long run of 6-8 miles (vs. 3-4 miles for the 5K) and more total weekly mileage than a 5K program, so the 10K will require more of a weekly training time commitment. 

Speed vs. endurance. If you are a more experienced 5K runner with a few 5K races under your belt, you can either focus on speed and on improving your 5K race time for this fall, or you can consider improving your endurance and moving up to the 10K.

If you stick with the 5K, choose an intermediate or advanced training program which will include 1-2 speed work sessions per week to help you set a new 5K personal record or achieve a specific goal time. This more advanced program will also increase your weekly mileage and long run distance compared to beginner 5K programs. 

Some of you have probably been running 5K races for a few years. You may feel like you have gotten as fast as you can in the 5K race and are looking for something different or are hoping to increase your endurance. Perhaps you would like to eventually move up to the half marathon. If this sounds like you, the new Naperville Healthy Driven 10K race could be the perfect next challenge. Since this will be your first 10K race, choose a beginner 10K training program which will focus on increasing total weekly mileage and include building up to a long run of 6-8 miles. 

Regardless of which option you choose, the Naperville Half Marathon, 10K and 5K race organizers will allow you to change your race distance; you can move from the 5K to the 10K via an online registration change (for a fee) or you can move from the 10K to the 5K (for free) online, at the expo or even ad hoc during the race. (In this case you will have to swap your finisher medal at the awards tent.) So, if you change your mind on your race distance during training or your training doesn’t go as planned, you can always switch race distances. 

Now it’s time to choose a race distance and start training. The 5K and 10K race distances are both great goals to motivate you through your summer training.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness