Getting from Beginners to 10K+

This is my first time on the forum - so be kind to me! My query is that all the beginners training schedules take you to running for 30 minutes - which I can now do without any problems, 3-4 times a week; but what do you do after that?
I have been running further (45-60 minutes)3 times a week, but don't feel that I'm really improving at all. Also, I find that my mental state determines how fast and far I'm going to go rather than my legs! Am I alone in this? and if not what is the solution?
All replies appreciated.......


  • I think the best appraoch is to set yourself a range of progressive goals. Running 30 minutes eventually becomes easy. I found it useful to start entering races. My first was a 10k. I trained for that distance, then entered a half marathon a few months later, so I had a real objective. I gradually increased my 'long' runs, up to about 2 hours. After that, I could see how progressive training worked. I kept to running 30-40 mins during the week, and doing the long run at the weekend. The only real way to determine if you are improving is to test yourself either as part of your training, or by racing. Of course, if it is variety you are after, you could try varing your running, incorporating some speed work, fartlek, hills etc. There is a wealth on information around about this - I used Bob Glover's The Runners Handbook to guide me.
  • Penny firstly well done, you have made the hardest step.

    Now that you are a regular runner are you doing it for health reasons? If so 150 mins of 10 mins per mile per week is enough without running too much risk of injury.

    However if you want to get better then you need to set a goal and use a programme. There are many on this site and else where - so 10K in 8 weeks, look at the begginners schedule and even if you are already doing more go with that for your first race because too much speed work too early will put you off.

    After that you will be much more confident to tackle something else. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
  • Penny

    I'm no expert (I've only been running for 3 weeks) but I agree with you about ones mental state having a big influence on speed and distance ran.
    I have entered a race a 10K in October, so knew I need to be able to run at least that far to get around in one piece.
    What I have done to keep me focused and to cope with the pain is to set myself achievable goals i.e. running 2 miles, then running 2 miles in less time than the previous. Then running for 30 mins - 40 mins - 1 hour etc.
    I've also kept a run diary from the first time I went running - this way I can look back after a run and measure my progress. You may not feel you're improving but I bet you are!
    Also I've noticed that what I eat has an influence on how well I run. I find that eating about 90 mins before a run works for me - (a bowl of Cheerios, a banana and some apple and blackcurrant cordial) you may well be different - experiment to find what works for you.
  • well done for getting so far, you will be improving even if you don't think you are.

    the next step is probably some form of a race. sounds daunting at first but there are lots of local leagues and Fun runs about. (try typing the names of some local towns + runners into google)

    Now you'll probably be worrying about where you finish. Don't be. Many small race organisers now publish their results on their websites. have a look and compare the times with what you think you do in training. with your current activity I'd be surprised if there weren't many slower than you. Also when you enter a race you go faster than in training - something to do with adrenaline and people being about all the time.

    Most races can be entered on the day, you don't need to be a club member and you can often chat on the way round. (Though it seems that according to our freindly Velociraptor the people in Birmingham don't talk much!) tip for race 1 start slowly and from the back - avoid the gazelles at the front!

    Good Luck
  • Penny

    What would you like to do next?

    There are 3 ways of looking at this:
    - how long can you run for
    - how far can you run
    - how fast can you run (putting the other 2 together).

    To stop getting bored and to feel you are progressing you probably need to mix your runs up between these three. Like Codfather I'm a fan of keeping a very simple note of all runs (I just do date distance time route - others have far more complicated records). I;ve found it helpful both to look back on how I've developed but also to give me a nudge when the dates start to become wider apart than they should.

    If you are limited for time there is a technique which is very effective called 'fartlek' (Danish/Swedish for something like speed). Where you run along at your normal pace then sprint for short periods - ie to the lamppost after next then slow back to normal pace (don't stop) then repeat once you feel 'normal' again. I find it good fun and it really seems to help build up speed & strength.

    Hope this personal ramble helps in some small way (I guess the key is to do things you enjoy because then you'll be more likely to keep doing them)

    Good Luck


    Some days pick a point to run to
  • Following on from Penny's message, I have just completed my first 10k and now feel at a bit of loss as to what to do next. Would a half marathon be a feasible option?
    All suggestions appreciated....
  • Penny, I find most of my runs are a mental battle most of the time and if I'm not training for a race, I will pack in early thinking that's enough for today. Definitely set yourself targets and also if you are training in the gym, wear headphones as music can be very motivating, especially when listening to some of your favs!

    Kathryn, I'd be inclined to go for something in between first or even enter more 10k races and try and beat your time. Although no reason why you shouldn't train for a half marathon, but setting yourself shorter races to train in the run up, getting progressively longer distance, will keep you motivated to train for it.
  • Hi Penny!
    Sounds like you are in pretty much the same boat as me. I've signed myself up for a 10k at the start of Dec and a Half Marathon next March. My target is to get round without too much embarrassment. The 10k should be OK (sounds like you are OK with those distances already), the 1/2 is more challenging...

    I'm a plodder, so I did what has been suggested already and had a look on the web for how slow a slow time really is. This is a good one:
    The 10k I'm doing is in Weston and was mentioned on the forums as being 'friendly' which seems like a plus! Remember to keep enjoying it and don't get too hung up on times. :-)
  • Dear everyone who replied - I'm absolutely overwhelmed by the good advice and encouragment you've all sent me. Many Thanks!
    My new action plan based on all the advice, is as follows -
    1. start keeping a log of training (time, distance,route, attitude, weather?)
    2. have a goal - perhaps entering a 10k would be a good start(Mungus- perhaps I'll join you in Weston!?)
    3. put together a plan to get to the goal - with plenty of variety to keep me interested

    I am also going off to have a look at how slow 'slow' times are - as I reckon I do 12 minute miles currently.

    My 2 key philosophies are -
    1. doing something is better than doing nothing
    2. enjoy it!

    Thanks again - its great to know that I'm not alone.
  • I meant to say in my previous post that your comment 'my mental state determines how fast and far I'm going to go rather than my legs' struck a chord. I'm not sure whether this remains true as one improves as a runner or whether improved fitness/stamina leads to a more predictable performance. I find I let myself off too easily, especially if I'm doing a route that requires a double circuit. I'm toying with an idea that I read which suggests getting the train/bus/a lift to a far point and running back. But the thought of getting halfway and floundering is a bit scary!
  • Lots of 10K races have a 5K fun run attched. I have started doing these as a training goal, and also as a way of getting used to turning up at races without feeling too intimidated by all the super-fit 'real' runners. I came 65th out of about 100 in a 5K fun this weekend, but I beat the woman I'd picked out at the start as my 'target' (she looked roughly the same weight as me!)
    That gave a great sense of achievement, and I really felt part of things, as the 10K racers didn't make us Fun Runners feel less part of things and clapped us all off! I plan to move up and join them, in time.
  • Helen
    Well done on your 5k at the weekend (I certainly think finishing in the top 2/3 deserves a treat)
  • I've only done 3 races - a 5k, a 10k and the Bristol 1/2 marathon - and I run around 12 min miles too. I've found that whilst I am at the back of the race, I have had such a good time whilst I'm there that it doesn't matter at all! Spectators really seem to appreciate those of us at the back - my husband (normally finishes in the top 10% of races) ran with me in my 10k and said that we got far more cheers and applause than he ever does at the front.

    I thought I'd take John Bingham's advice and chat to marshals/people at drinks stations/other runners/anyone at all. It's worked a treat! It's a great way to take your mind off the difficult bits and the responses I got from the Bristol 1/2 crowd were brilliant and kept me going without walking all the way round.

    I'm signing up for the Weston 10k too. It's the one I did last year and the other runners were v friendly. The course was nice and flat too, tho I didn't think much of the t-shirt design..... maybe I'll see you there?

  • I was in a similar situation i.e. what do I do now?. I entered a half marathon and consequently couldn't sleep for the 2 days before worrying about it. Was I going to look silly/slow. On the day it was great. I stayed at the back so I wasn't pulled along too fast and just trotted around the course enjoying the view and the spectators. I most defiantly wasn't the fastest but I also wasn't the slowest. Getting a medal at the end was great and now I have entered 3 more races. I find it has motivated me to try and improve my speed and my endurance. It gives an aim to my training. It's great to read these threads and to realise not all runners are gazelles; there are quite a few of us donkeys out there too.
  • Finding it hard to get motivated after fulfilling a lifetime ambition-the marathon-even though I probably walked 15 miles of it
    Doing the GNR on Sunday, this is bad timing, but cant seerm to run more than 2 miles at the moment
    I know this is psychological, anyone got any tips to get over it?
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