Doing B210K? There are many other ways to 10k

Scrolling through the posts here, as one does, I had a look at the B210K plan for the first time the other day, and was struck by just how demanding it is. That’s a heck of a lot of running, and if you’re a recent graduate it’s a big step up. Of course if you are following the plan and it suits you, and you are enjoying yourself, then you need read no further! But if it seems a bit too relentless, or you’re getting aches and pains, or even injuries, then I promise - there is another way! I think this is particularly relevant if you are 40ish and older. Alas we are no longer the invincible, self-regenerating young whippersnappers we used to be, and running is very high-impact.

I’ve done a few 10ks since April and I really enjoy that particular distance – who’d have thought it this time last year? I too got there by doing three runs a week, but only one of those was ‘long’, where I gradually increased my running time by 5 or so minutes a week until I was close to the magic 10k. The other two runs consisted of a 5k (or 30 minute run), and intervals of some sort. For these I did the Speed+ podcast but as I don’t particularly like running to the beat I also tried Week 1 of C25K but substituting walk/run intervals for slow run/faster run – it’s hard work!

This sort of approach is a very tried-and-tested training plan and there are many variations on it out there, but the key is variety: mix up your runs and your pace – perhaps throw in the occasional parkrun where you push yourself for a PB, or some hills for juicyju’s Dune June challenge. It's more fun that way, too.

You can make up your own plan (Miles Yonder has posted about this) and even vary it from run to run depending how you feel that day. In fact I don't think it matters how you do you do it, as long as you gradually increase your distance, sticking to one long run a week, always listening to you body and reining things back for a while if anything starts to grumble or hurt.

In my experience it is absolutely possible to get to 10k this way, in the same time as you would doing the B210K plan and, most importantly, in one piece.

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27 Replies

  • Very informative post, and one I'll keep in mind once I get my c25k out of the way. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks Paul. There are so many ways to get there, it's good to experiment and find one that suits you.

  • Wise words TT. The b210k plans generally look terrifying to me. Reckon your way makes much more sense, for me at least. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Have to admit the B210K still looks terrifying to me too, even now that I can run 10k fairly comfortably. I think the short walking intervals can make the runs seem really relentless, too.

  • Thanks for this post TT - wise words indeed. As you probably know, a few of us are on the B210K and I think the old adage "your mileage may vary" (see what I did there) certainly goes for the plan. It's a tough step up and I know some people have found it a bit too much while others find it challenging but are getting through it reasonably okay. It is a LOT of running in the 6 weeks!

    I think the key here is that whatever plan you choose it needs to be within the realms of being achievable without destroying you completely! I think it needs to be based on your ability and people need to listen very carefully to their bodies and only do what they feel comfortable doing - injury is no fun (and no run).

    Also - I think you're spot on about getting to 10K in different ways. If you can run 5K you can already run 10K so the key here is going to be slowly increasing your distance and stamina over time and not going too hard too soon....

    It's also nice to mix it up a bit... :)

    Great post!

  • Ha ha, I totally CWYDT! Thanks Aus - it was actually your recent post about B210k and icing your legs post-run that got me looking at the B210K plan. I'm glad it's working for you and you're finding it challenging in a good way - maybe it helps that you are a 30-something and the old bones aren't over the hill and on the way out yet. It's also being able to judge, as a new runner, the difference between a 'good' post-run ache and a potential injury. It took me a while to understand that and I would still rather err on the side of caution and have no pain at all.

    They do say if you can run 5k you can run 10k, but I'm not sure that I could have straight away. However I do believe once you can comfortably run 8k, AND your body has got used to it, the full 10 is well within your reach.

  • 42 on Wednesday.... I've asked the kids for a Garmin... ;)

  • Ahaha! 42 is the new 32! Happy birthday and hope the kids get you a Garmin with all the latest bells and whistles!

  • So happy you're back in form and back to a plan that works... great stuff!

  • Thanks Kitty! I'm glad you're back running again. It's no fun having an injury.

  • And I may just see if I can catch you at Richmond one day and get a PB... :)

  • Oh please do come along! I may even do the Bushy parkrun one day, just because it's the 'original and best'. 1000 people sounds a bit bonkers though.

  • The Bushy parkrun has over a 1000 runners on a good day but I now know the reason why - it's flat as a pancake! So if you want a boost on your PB - it's the place to go! Not that you need a boost, your times are brilliant! I've moved but hoping to move back so hoping to catch up with you @ Richmond one day! BTW is Richmond a slow course? I know some parts are hilly!

  • I agree - great post.

    After I graduated I did a few weeks of W9 just because I could. Then I started to add in the stepping stones, stamina and speed podcasts. Then I decided I'd like a challenge and a target so I started B210K. I did it, but it was hard work. Fortunately I didn't get injured, but I did find it hard fitting in the runs because they all got longer. (I had the disadvantage of having to run in daylight, so a very limited window of opportunity in the afternoons). I did enjoy the challenge, and I did complete the programme, but if I did it again or was asked for a recommendation of how to get to 10k, I'd go for the system you've outlined above. One long run a week is so much more practical to fit in, and you can still see the progress that you are making.

  • Thanks RNB. Everyone is different but I really felt the variety helped me. I didn't feel very strong when I graduated (was quite uncoordinated and kept kicking my own ankles when I ran - thankfully that's stopped now!) so I too consolidated for a while before upping the distances.

  • I've been saying this for the past 18 months. So many people here seem to 'blindly' follow the Sam Murphy podcast plan without doing any research on how to develop their running.

    As I said 6 days ago (in this thread )

    "...I wonder about that Sam Murphy B210K podcast. Sam must have thought it a good idea at one time, but if you read her books her 10K training plan does not follow that format. Check her online page/blog - she does not promote that podcast at all. I wonder if she now thinks it is not the best way to train for 10K?"

    A year ago I said:

    "I've been thinking for a while, that maybe Sam doesn't want people using it? I've read one of her books (sorry forgot the title as it was from the library) and her 10K training plan was nothing like the podcast. If you look on her website she doesn't share the podcast there: "

    When I graduated C25K in summer 2012, I believe someone had found that series of Sam Murphy podcasts somewhere, and to help others they put it on on their dropbox account. I doubt Sam is happy to know it is being shared around with no additional coaching advice.

    Most experts advise that you increase your running by about 10% each week; no more or you risk injury. At the end of C25K you will be running 3 x 30 mins each week = 90 mins. If you then go directly to do the 3 runs in the B210K podcast each week, you're running 3 x 40 mins = 120 mins. That's an increase of 30%.

    Read some running websites, look at 10K training plans, get a book from the library folks then decide which method works for you.

  • Thanks for this swanscot. I saw your most recent post and that was one of the things that spurred me on to write my own post, as well as the large number of recent graduates who are doing the Sam Murphy B210K podcasts at the moment. I am CERTAIN that if I'd tried to follow that plan, it would surely have broken me. The more of us that gently but firmly air our misgivings about it on this forum, the more people may realise there is another way, and the fewer potential injuries and disappointments.

  • Thanks for this, swanscot.

  • I am using run/walk to get me to 14K. Similar to TurboTortoise, I do one 30 minute Intervals run, one 5K non-stop run and one long run ( Run/walk 2 mins/1.5mins)) The run walk started at 5K and increases each week by 1K. This coming week I will do 11K.

    The reason that I am doing the Run/walk long run is because when I booked the 14K race, I decided that there was no way I could run 14K non-stop. But after I do this race, I may have a look at 10K non-stop.

    It is a bit difficult to decide where to go with this running. 5K is a good distance - and has the benefit of being bale to participate with the Parkrun organisation. There are quite a few 10K races here -- but am not sure if I really want to go down that track. I am interested in trail running -- but don't see too many oldies doing that and thta is something that I don't think I would want to do on my own.

  • I'm quite intrigued by the run-walk thing. On my first 10k race (on a hilly course) I was running beside a woman who'd stop to walk on the hills. I carried on running, passed her, then after a minute or two she would gain on me and pass me again. Then we'd get to the next hill, and it was rinse and repeat! Not sure whether she or I finished first.

  • I agree wholeheartedly. I will have just finished W1 of B210K and I can feel the ache in my hips. I have to run 10K R4L in 6 weeks time, so I have developed the Treemouse plan (T210K!) This will have R1 always at 30 minutes, an intermediate R2 and a long R3. This will increase my running time by 10% or less each week, and should still get me to 10K in 6 weeks, but without the wear and tear:

    ___ R1 R2 R3 Total mins

    W1 30 30 45 105

    W2 30 35 50 115

    W3 30 40 55 125

    W4 30 45 60 135

    W5 30 50 65 145

    W6 30 55 70 155

    The benefit of this, is that after that long run, I have a speed/pace based 5K. Also, I believe that I won't run 10K in 60 mins, so my plan aims for 70 mins :)

  • Thank you Treemouse! I have just replied to your other post about this - your plan looks good.

  • Just wanted to thank you for your post for encouraging people to make up our own minds for what works for us. C25K was great as it was structured & a gentle introduction to running however after graduating many people & myself included seem lost & unsure how to increase our performance whether that means distance, speed or both. As someone who's aim is to run 10k & a HM I agree mixing up the runs with a long run seems to be working for me. You should be really proud of yourself especially your awesome times!

  • Thanks CK, the odd thing about the B210K is how it is simply the C25k x 2, like no real thought's gone into it. It puts a huge strain on the beginner runner (and most of us are still beginners I reckon!). The last 10 days of the programme has you doing FOUR, relentless, hour-long runs. That would be enough to kill me!

  • Thanks for your advise, I only graduated last week and am very slow! I need some sort of structure to keep me focused so this sounds great! I have had two runs both for 35 mins this week and will aim for a longer one tomorrow. Saturday morning is always my best run of the week so that can be my longer run. I love running and I'm telling everyone I know how fantastic C25K is!

  • Thank you Lyn, it's slow and steady that wins the race (that's the Tortoise motto!). It actually took me six months from graduating till I felt ready to start tackling a 10k training programme so there is no hurry at all - just enjoy yourself, keep at it and you will find your times coming down and stamina going up.

  • Great post TT, I've just graduated today and am wondering how best to increase my distance to 5k in a structured way. I want to keep enjoying my runs and increasing my stamina gradually.

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