If you can run 5k, you can run 10k

Allow me to add some substance to this claim! :-)

Around the time I completed the Couch to 5k plan, a friend of mine ran a half marathon. I was in awe of this chap. Whilst I was struggling to get through 5k, he was running almost 5 time that distance!

I recall chatting about his achievement and saying I was thinking of entering myself into a 10k but needed time to build up from 5k to 10k and how long would that take? Weeks? Months? To which he stated that during his training for a half marathon, he never ran more than 5 miles, indeed he'd never run more than 5 miles in one go in his life, then turned up on the day of the race and ran 13 of them! He claimed "if you're a running 5k two or three times a week - you can run 10k"

I thought he was off his rocker! I'd run 5k about half a dozen times at this stage, never anything further. But one day I decide to give it a try, to see if he was right. And low and beyond, I ran just over an hour and ran for 10km's!!

I couldn't believe it. I'd only started the plan about 12 weeks previously and I'd just run for 10km's! I was absolutely over the moon!

I firmly believe that, within reason, what ever distance you set off to run, you will run. If you have the stamina to run for 5km's, you already have the stamina to run for 10.

On Monday last week, I decided to run home from work, its just under 13km. I'd only ever run 10km before and only done that twice. But I did it.

Three days later I wanted to squeeze in a run because I knew my plans wouldn't allow to time until the weekend so I set out to run 5km. I was exhausted at the end! I barely got to the "finish"! The thought of running another 8km like I'd done a few days previously seemed ridiculous, I was knackered!

The point of all this rambling is I personally believe that once you get to the stage where you can run for around 30 minutes none stop, you're fit enough to run further. It's all in the mind.

Set out to run 5km, you'll need to stop after 5km.

Set out to run 7.5km, you'll feel ok after 5km and be able to manage the extra 2.5km.

Set out to run 10km and I bet its the same, take it steady and pace yourself from the off and you'll run 10km!

For those asking about the progression from 5km to 10km - I bet you can already do it. Trust your Couch to 5k achievement, trust your fitness, trust your body and trust in your ability. I'm convinced you're already there!

Good luck!

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31 Replies

  • I think you're absolutely right about mental attitude being a main factor - if you think something's going to be difficult it will be, if you think it'll be easy, you'll be right! And not just running! :-)

    But 5K to 10K in one fell swoop is a big increase - what about the 10% 'rule'? Be interesting to hear what the others think.

    I'm recovering from runner's knee, am now hitting 5K every run quite easily but the treadmill is both easier on the knees and about 8 minutes faster than woodland tracks. I wouldn't like to just go out and go for 10K in case my knees fell off...

    Or is that just me being negative??

  • Try it - I use the 'mill during the winter and outdoors in the better weather. I find outdoors MUCH easier than the treadmill. I know that's the opposite to what you normally hear, but it's certainly my experience. Also, woodland is generally quite soft - softer than my cushioned treadmill, so you might be surprised on that score too. Give it a go - you've nothing to lose?

  • My last woodland 5K (last week) took me 43 mins and afterwards I felt my knees for a day or two. (Which may or may not have something to do with the fact that I didn't stretch as carefully as I do at the gym; people watching you can be a great incentive... :-)

    Today on the treadmill I did 5K in 35 minutes. Neither time is my best time but within 2 minutes.

    The woods are soft, but the track has stones too, you go up and down all the time as well. And yes, it's more interesting and much nicer than indoors, but definitely harder on my knees.

    I'm sure my condition would allow me to run a lot further, but I just don't know about my knees so I'll probably stick to slow and steady!

  • Absolutely right! I was told that if you can run 6km, your cardiovascular system is ready for anything. You can run for any distance up until you run out of energy stores, and as long as you have the motivation to keep putting one foot in font of the other! The final day of the 5x50 Challenge, I celebrated by trying to do a half marathon distance. No preparation other than being comfortable at 5k. I expected to walk half the distance but ran the whole thing in a little over 2 hours including stops for photos.

    We can do much more than we think we can!

  • I also went out and did just that, I had run through some of the warm downs so I only just got to 5k in the last few runs before graduation, then on the weekend following graduation I ran for 10k - kind of by accident though.

    I had only intended to run 5k - and my route is an straight canal towpath run, so I have to turn around at some point, but when I got to 2.5k I felt fine, so I kept going. Then at 4k I still hadn't turned back. (I had already decided that I would stop at 5k because I was still listening to the W9 podcast, and would probably end up walking back) - so stopped to put on some new music and thought sod it I ran another 1.5k out, then turned and headed back - which is when I clocked in the full 10k.

    Although it all felt amazingly good at the time I did suffer after with sore shins, but just put that down to having done double the distance. So now that I have convinced my brain that I can do 10k, I'm now doing a 10k training program so that I can competently run for 10k on a regular basis without injury.

    I think it's a bit of both really, most of it is state of mind, but having being quite unfit for 20 years, I don't quite think that my body was physically ready for the leap up from 5k to 10k in just a few days.

  • Completely agree with all of that. If you can do 5 you can do 10, indeed I've done 17 without too much difficulty. 5 seems to prime you for further effort, in fact sometimes it takes 5 before I get into the "I can carry on forever" zone.

  • Well that is an interesting viewpoint and quite encouraging. I do believe a lot of it is your mind. Do you think this will get me a position to complete the London Marathon that I have place for - which still feels slightly surreal!

  • Really interesting to hear one or two different points of view on this subject.

    Of course everyone is different and we can only base these things on our own experiences but like Oldned has said, you get into that rhythm and just seem to be able to keep going.

    I know for me, about 1.5-2km into a run my body goes "what the hell are you doing?!" and I have that moment of doubt about completing the distance. But get past that stage and its all good.

    Like Malcy says, what have you got to lose by giving it a go?

  • Great blog.. And I agree with a few caveats.... I found the leap to 10k an interesting one. I do have a two minute walk every 30 to 40 minutes as I find it revives me and I can just keep going. I do think we should get to know our bodies as best we can so we know when we have pushed them to the limits and that includes our minds too as do much if thus is up there. I also think regular varied exercise helps. I swim a mile at least twice a week and I know I'm using different muscles etc and that all adds to overall fitness.

    Not sure if any of my ramble helps but hope it might add to the debate!!

  • I run 5K in a little under 30 minutes (28 - 29), which is fine. But I found that running with the podcasts I would get to the 30 minutes, and happily stop. Like I had been counting down to stop. Conditioning myself to that defined end-point. When I ran a fun run at work the other week I did not have a podcast playing in my ear, as I would have to run over the 30 minutes (the route was 6K). I just ran from the start to the end. Sounds obvious to say that, but what I mean is I ran until I knew I needed to stop. Did I feel any different, yes a little bit, but then I had just run in the afternoon not the morning, so it was a lot hotter.

    I am a firm believer that you can run as far as your body will physically let you, but the first hurdle will always be a mental one. I haven't put this to the test yet, but I am thinking of trying a 7K defined run, and see how it goes.

  • Great Post Ashton46, thank you. I run 5K a day 3 days a week, but no other exercises in between other than walking about 20 minutes+. My PB in running 5K has been 32 minutes 2 Seconds, never done 5K under 30 minutes even though that is the aim. I was thinking that I would try to do 10K once I can run 5K under 30 minutes, but now I wonder whether I really should wait until I run 5K under 30 minutes. Does it matter how long you take when you do 10K?? Should I have an aim to complete the 10K under a certain time. When I try to do my 5K under 30 minutes (even though I could never do it) I sure am tired when I complete it as I try to speed up at the end. Maybe I should do an easy pace of 5K first just to see how tired I would be when I finish it??

  • The first time I ran 10km, the time I referred to in my original post, I was running a 30-31 minute 5km. And I ran it in a few seconds under 61 minutes.

    Personally I don't see any harm in having a goal, but I wouldn't let it hold you back. The speed just seems to come with time (no pun intended!). I haven't followed any speed training as such, and in roughly 3 months I've gone from a 6 minute 10 second kilometre to a 5 minute 30 second kilometre (on average), almost without noticing. It just seems to come. I'm far for a seasoned runner, I've only been doing it since February, but my advise would be to just relax, not be TOO obsessed with times and distances. Just run. It's certainly worked for me anyway.

    Good luck! :-)

  • You know what ashton46? I got to thank you very VERY much! After reading your blog, today when I went to do my 5K run, I thought that I would try to do a 7.5K if it is at all possible. Then when I reached 7.5K I thought that I can still go on a bit more, I ran slow, not too fast. Then, I ran and ran and ran slow and a bit fast at the end and completed 10K for the first time in 1 hour 14 minutes! My PB for doing 5K had been 31 minutes 2 seconds, so I am well pleased with my achievement today. I want to tell you, if I did not read your blog (you saying that if someone can run 5K he/she can run 10K), I would not even try to do 10K today. Even after running 10K, I think I would have still gone on but it was dark (around 9.45pm as I had to wait until it is a bit cooler to start and then got carried away running for more than an hour non stop!) so had to return home. Thank you, thank you and thank you again!!! Good luck to you for all your runs!!!

  • Wow! Congratulations! What a brilliant achievement!

    1 hour 14 minutes of running, that is some going! I bet you felt amazing afterwards? And to think in some small way reading my blog helped you do that is wonderful, so thank you for posting that! :-)

    Maybe take an extra rest day to recover and swap back to a shorter distance on your next run before tackling 10km again (again, just speaking from my personal experience).

    Well done, well done and well done again! :-)

  • Thanks to YOU! Yes I did feel great, would have danced all the way back home, had such an incredible feeling! It is just the fact of 'knowing' that I can do 10K itself is great! I think at the end of the run, the legs were just taking me, I did not have to put much effort, it was magical, just amazing, never felt that way before.

    I will do a 10K again later on, not every other day. I think I will stick to my running 5K every other day for the minute and have a good rest before trying another 10K.

    Thanks to you again! All the very best for your runs!

  • I totally agree that from a cardiovascular perspective that 10K is possible if you can run 5K, my only hesitation is that if you're prone to injury then your legs might not be ready, but you'll know your own legs :-)

  • Got to agree with Phil. Your cardiovascular system should easily be able to make the increase from 5k to 10k )and similar increases beyond this), but for some people the legs may not necessarily cope with the increase.

    For new runners, those recovering from injury or those of us poor souls who are prone to injury, it's not advisable to take such big increases in distance.

    I admit I get a bit annoyed/upset when I frequently read "It's all in the mind" or similar statements. It's NOT all in the mind; it's often a case of listening to, and responding to, your body.

  • Just to clarify, when I say listen to your body, it's more than just a case of whether you are fit enough.

    I'm returning to running following injury and although I've previously run 22km, I'm taking it 'canny'. I currently cycle 30 miles each day and recently walked 25 miles in one day so I reckon I'm fit, but I made myself stop running after 45mins (7.5km) today, since this was a jump up from the 30 mins/5km runs last week.

  • When I posted the original blog I was hoping to receive to different opinions on this subject and as I've said, it's really interesting to see how others feel and what other runners experience.

    I agree everyone is different and people shouldn't run through the onset of an injury just for the sake of it. I have read a great deal on this subject and spoken to many people before and after the local Parkrun I go to and the general consensus seems to be that if you can run none stop for 30 minutes (not 5km) then you can run further. And also, if you're going to develop an injury, more often than not, you will know about it in the first 30 minutes of a run.

    But yes, we're all unique and something that works for one will not necessarily work for another.

  • I beg to differ.

    I'm doing the bridge to 10k plan. Monday evening I started week 3. It was a great run and I decided to keep going. I ran 9k and did feel as though I could go further. At this point I'd have totally agreed with you.

    Today, not so much. Set off to do a 40 minute speed run at 5.30am and barely managed 20 minutes. IT HURT!

    In short, by running for longer than the plan said and then not taking as much rest time ad usual I have clearly pushed my body too far.

    Back to taking it a bit more steady.

  • Hi, this blog really inspires me. I seem to be stuck at about 7k, on my way to 10k. It feels a bit like after I graduated from C25k, when I always seemed to run out of steam after 30-35 minutes. I guess it's just a question of plugging away at it. Unfortunately there are loads of serious hills where I live, so you can't run far without encountering one, and it's hard to extend your runs without knackering yourself out running up a hill. Not sure whether it's better at the beginning, middle or end of a run! I am getting to grips with the hills but they ARE a challenge, and it's hard to combine them with stretching out the distance.

    I will remember your blog tomorrow when I go running, maybe I'll try a new route and just deal with what it throws at me in terms of terrain, rather than anticipate difficulties on a known route!

    Thanks, Ashton46!

  • Thank you for your positive post. I have always been into some sort of exercise (never running though) but at Christmas my partner joined me into the gym. I started walking on the treadmill then running for seven mins non stop, then 10 mins , then fifteen then twenty . I built myself up gradually. Now in the fourth month I am up to 6k running non stop in about 30 mins. Following your advice should I just slow down slightly and go for 10k or would you do 7k then 8 k then 9 etc? I don't walk then run I just walk for a min then run for the whole time ??? Any advice would be good. I agree mental factor plays a role if I think I can then usually i can!

  • I do agree , yes if you can run 5k you can run 10 , I honestly believe this , but what about putting yourself in the firing line for injury , that's what would stop me if I'm honest the fear of that .

  • Well, it's not a simple matter of running 5k one day - and leaping to 10K the next - that possibly does lead to injury. Do it slowly over a few weeks -- at each step of the way, consider how your body is handling the advance -- it will definitely tell you and give you warning signs if it is not too happy :)

  • Ha ha I thought u meant do a few 5k s then one day just say right I'm off on a 10 . It's ok I'm a bit dumb sometimes lol

  • I absolutely LOVED this post and needed to see it. I am a 42 year old ex-smoker and I was dreading running last night. (I am trying to train for a 1/2 Marathon in November 2014). I have ran 6 5k's (actual races) since October 2013 and (3) three weekends in a row in May 2014, but my longest run ever was only 4 miles (and that was last year) and only one time. After reading this post, I wanted to put it to the test. I went out last night and ran 4.54 miles in 53.38. Not great time, but I wasn't looking for time. I didn't hit the 10k, either, but I just wanted to run relaxed and enjoy it. (My son's advice). I ran so relaxed and although, I ran between 11:30 - 11:50 minute miles, I enjoyed the run immensely. I had only set out to run 2 miles and did twice plus that. Had it not gotten so dark and spooky, I think I could have ran forever. I felt like Forest Gump. :) I smoked for 25+ years and quit December 1, 2012. The heavy breathing due to years of smoking is embarrassing in a race, but I take pride in knowing I finished. I gained 40 lbs over a couple years prior to this. Then, in July 2013, I decided to lose weight and run. (Mostly competition with my sister) :-) So, that's what I did. I couldn't run 10 seconds, but Couch to 5k in eight weeks changed that. (I finished the program in 6 weeks) I cried at the finish line of my first 5k. I was so happy. I finished in 33:05. My fastest 5k is still only 31.56, but by George, I finish every one of them strong. I LOVE to run. It has become my new passion and running to audio books is so much more enjoyable for me than music. So, for all of you who think you can't do it, YOU CAN!!! I have been smoke free for 18 months, lost 35 pounds and am possibly in the best shape of my entire life. I still want to lose 12 more pounds and hopefully run a 5k in 30 minutes, but that's not as important as the 1/2 marathon I want to run. That is my main goal. :) I am sorry this is all over the place, but thank you for posting your knowledge and experience. Because of this post, I have found an even greater respect for running and know that I CAN DO or RUN whatever I set my mind to.

  • You might be able to do it - but can your muscles??

    I run 5Ks around 3 times per week - and recently I went on a WALK!!!!! It was a 12K bushwalk - it wasn't particularly onerous. We did it easily . I was a little tired at the end of it -- BUT the next day, I could barely walk with frozen calf muscles and this lasted for 4 days.On 3 times, I had previously run 10klms using a Run/Walk ratio - taking about 1hour 15 minutes to cover the 10K . But this WALK -- this slow gentle walk -- did take us over 4 hours -- and I am certain it was just the repetitive walking over these 4 hours that hurt me. RSI -- repetitive strain injury - caused by doing the same physical action over and over again for a long time.

  • i agree with this article. Anybody who runs 5k's on a regular basis can run a 10k either by training or entering a 10k race. Just keep in mind that your pace per mile running a 10k will be slower unless you seriously train. i ran my first 10k race after running several 5k races and my time slowed down to just over 9 minute miles while my 5k pace varies between 7:30 min miles up to 8;15 min miles. It was quite the challenge so i ran anther 10k race and got 8 min miles. What i don't like about 10k's is i can't run them as often as i do 5k's. To summarize if you run a 5k on a regular basis just challenge yourself and try a 10k but preferably run a 10k race for more fun.

  • Thanks for this i did 10k last night i wasn't planning on it but i did it and you really do get to that "i could run forever" buzz Thanks heaps :)

  • Wow what an inspiring post!! Thank you. I'll have that in my mind when I tackle my next run 25 mins no walking on Wednesday. I'm a little nervous each increase but I am beginning to understand that it really is a lot about the mind. Thanks.

  • Late to the party, but I totally love this post. I ran my first 10k on Saturday in one hour and two minutes.

    The week before I'd been increasing my distance from 5k by a half or whole kilometre each time. I ran about 7k on Thursday and on Saturday I decided I was going to go for 10k. I think because I'd decided that's what I was going to do, I just did it. I agree, you must listen to know your body and work within your limits but it's amazing what you can manage if you tell yourself you are going to do it. Between kilometres 8 and 9 it was all up ridiculously steep hills and I wasn't sure I'd manage it but for the last one I'd hit that 'run forever' zone. I only stopped because 10k was the goal. I think I'm going to go for 12 next time :)

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