How to Walk a 10k – Beginners Guide and Training Plan

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Walking is a great way to exercise, but you have to do it consistently to see it make a difference. If you work up to walking a 10k, you’ll gain many benefits, like a healthier heart, stronger bones, weight loss, less stress, and an overall better mood!

If walking a 10k sounds hard, don’t worry! Keep reading for our guide on how to get started, whether you want to walk that far every day or just once or twice a week.

We’ll cover what you need to know, like how far a 10k is in miles, how long it might take, and how to start.

How Far Is a 10K In Miles Walking?

10k or 10 kilometers equals 6.214 miles. Most runners and walkers round that down to 6.2 miles to make it easier to remember.

This is also roughly equal to 25 laps around a track. On average, 10k is equivalent to about 12,500 steps, but this varies from person to person. It may be more or less, depending on your stride.

How Long Does It Take To Walk 10K?

How long it takes to walk 10k depends on how fast you walk. On average, it takes walkers between 90 minutes and 2 hours.

However, to hit that 90-minute mark, you’ll need to keep up a speedy pace of around 4 miles per hour, or 15 minutes per mile. If you’re walking leisurely, at a 20-minute mile—3 miles per hour—you’ll finish in just over 2 hours.

How to Start Walking a 10K

If you’re working your way up to walking a 10k, whether once-off or as part of your regular weekly routine, it’s important to plan.

Here’s how to reach the 10k goal based on your current fitness.

Assess Your Health

Taking a critical look at your current health is a key step for success. Almost anybody can walk – this is one of the things that makes walking an excellent form of exercise.

But if you’re actively training towards a goal—like walking 10k—then you need to know that you’re in good enough shape to reach that goal.

If you know about existing health conditions, check with your doctor before beginning a 10k walking program. This is extra important for heart and lung problems and joint issues. Your doctor may be able to give you advice on walking safely without making your condition worse.

Getting a checkup is still a good idea, even if you don’t have any known conditions. A quick doctor’s visit will give you insight into the intensity and duration of exercise you can safely do at your current health level.

Understand Your Current Level of Fitness

Health and fitness are entirely separate things. Your fitness level might be low even if you’re in good health. On the other hand, you could have worse health than the guy next to you but be fitter.

Your Starting Point

Your current fitness level will determine where you begin your training schedule. If you’re a complete beginner, you might need to adjust your training plan to shorter walks than the plan suggests.

If your current starting point is a little more advanced, you might find the training walks too easy. In that case, you can skip a week ahead and see if it suits your current level.

How to Adjust Your Progression

From the start, you should set realistic progression increments. If you’re a complete newbie, increasing your walks by a mile or two every week is unrealistic.

A realistic goal for beginners is to increase your time or distance by 5 to 10 percent weekly. You can go a little over 10 percent if your fitness level is already good, so this will change depending on you.

For example, if last week’s Monday walk was 3 miles, you can safely increase it to 3.3 miles next week, and to 3.6 or 3.7 miles the following week. Or, if your Monday walk was 30 minutes last week, you can up it to 33 minutes the following week.

If your fitness is good and you’re confident you can go further or longer, then do so, but be cautious and don’t overdo it. We recommend a maximum of a 20 percent increase, which will require more patience but make you less prone to injuries.

Pushing yourself too hard, too quickly without enough rest for your muscles means they won’t be able to recover correctly between walks, so you might end up exhausting yourself or your muscles will become too weak to keep proper form.

Time Management

You’ll need to dedicate time every week to training. Consider how you’ll fit these training sessions into your daily routine.

Consistency is essential for progress, so figure out what time of day works best for you. You could get up early in the morning, walk before work, walk in the evenings, or even split your training into 2 walks to accommodate your schedule.

You may also want to run your training plan with the people involved in your daily life. To achieve consistency, you’ll have to balance your walks with other responsibilities. Support from the people around you will be important.

Setting Realistic Goals

While walking a 10k is the ultimate goal, it helps to add smaller goals along the way. It’s easier to reach smaller goals—like working your way up to walking 5k—motivating you to continue working hard to reach your final goal.

Depending on your current fitness level and health, choose a few smaller goals to aim for before you reach your 10k. You might consider things like:

  • Walk 5k in one session
  • Increase from 3 weeks per week to 4
  • Walk a faster 5k than last time
  • Walk 8k on the weekend (no time limit)

Follow a Structured Training Program

Following a training program will guarantee success much more than just getting out for a walk every day and hoping for the best.

Here’s an easy-to-follow and easy-to-adjust training program that gradually increases the time and distance you walk daily. We recommend focusing on time in the beginning and working on increasing your pace as you go.

It’s easier—both physically and psychologically—to set a time and adjust your pace throughout your walk to help you reach that time than it is to aim for a distance.

Here’s our 12-week training program example that you can use to kick off your journey to 10k!

12-Week Beginner 10k Walking Training Plan

Remember to adjust this plan to accommodate your own fitness level. If you feel you can’t quite reach the mile or minute goal one week, lower it to something manageable.

Every walker is different!

Week 1

  • Monday: 20-minute easy walk
  • Tuesday: Rest or short, easy walk
  • Wednesday: 20-minute easy walk
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 1-mile walk (or 20 minutes) Saturday: Rest or other exercise (elliptical, stationary bike, etc)
  • Sunday: 20-minute brisk walk

Week 2

  • Monday: 25-minute easy walk
  • Tuesday: Rest or easy walk
  • Wednesday: 25-minute easy walk
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 2-mile walk (or 30 minutes)
  • Saturday: Rest or other exercise
  • Sunday: 25-minute brisk walk

Week 3

  • Monday: 30-minute easy walk
  • Tuesday: Rest or easy walk
  • Wednesday: 30-minute walk (15 minutes easy, 15 minutes brisk)
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 2-mile walk (or 35 to 40 minutes)
  • Saturday: Rest or other exercise
  • Sunday: 30-minute brisk walk

Week 4

  • Monday: 35-minute easy walk
  • Tuesday: Rest or easy walk
  • Wednesday: 30-minute walk (15 minutes easy, 15 minutes brisk)
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 2.5-mile walk at an easy pace
  • Saturday: Rest or other exercise
  • Sunday: 35-minute brisk walk

Week 5

  • Monday: 40-minute easy walk
  • Tuesday: Rest or easy walk
  • Wednesday: 40-minute walk (20 minutes easy, 20 minutes brisk)
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 2.5-mile walk at an easy pace
  • Saturday: Rest or other exercise
  • Sunday: 40-minute brisk walk

Week 6

  • Monday: 45-minute easy walk
  • Tuesday: Rest or easy walk
  • Wednesday: 45-minute walk (30 minutes easy, 15 minutes brisk)
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 3-mile walk at an easy pace
  • Saturday: Rest or other exercise
  • Sunday: 45-minute brisk walk

Week 7

  • Monday: 50-minute easy walk
  • Tuesday: Rest or easy walk
  • Wednesday: 50-minute walk (25 minutes easy, 25 minutes brisk)
  • Thursday: Rest or easy walk
  • Friday: 3.5-mile walk at an easy pace
  • Saturday: Rest or other exercise
  • Sunday: 60-minute brisk walk

Week 8

  • Monday: 55-minute easy walk
  • Tuesday: Rest or easy walk
  • Wednesday: 55-minute walk (35 minutes easy, 20 minutes brisk)
  • Thursday: Rest or easy walk
  • Friday: 3.5 to 4-mile walk at an easy pace
  • Saturday: Rest or other exercise
  • Sunday: 60-minute brisk walk

Week 9

  • Monday: 60 minutes easy walk
  • Tuesday: Rest or easy walk
  • Wednesday: 70-minute walk (40 minutes easy, 30 minutes brisk)
  • Thursday: Rest or easy walk
  • Friday: 5-mile walk at an easy to moderate pace
  • Saturday: Rest or other exercise
  • Sunday: 60-minute brisk walk

Week 10

  • Monday: 70 to 75-minute easy walk
  • Tuesday: Rest or easy walk
  • Wednesday: 75-minute walk (45 minutes easy, 30 minutes brisk)
  • Thursday: Rest or easy walk
  • Friday: 45-minute brisk walk, 30 minutes easy walk
  • Saturday: Rest or other exercise
  • Sunday: 60 to 70-minute brisk walk

Week 11

  • Monday: 90-minute easy walk
  • Tuesday: Rest or easy walk
  • Wednesday: 90-minute walk (45 minutes easy, 45 minutes brisk)
  • Thursday: Rest or easy walk
  • Friday: 45-minute brisk walk, 45 minutes easy walk
  • Saturday: Rest or other exercise
  • Sunday: 90-minute moderate to brisk walk

Week 12

  • Monday: 90-minute to 2-hour easy walk
  • Tuesday: Rest or easy walk
  • Wednesday: 90-minute walk (45 minutes easy, 45 minutes brisk)
  • Thursday: Rest or easy walk
  • Friday: 60-minute brisk walk, 30 to 45-minute easy walk
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 10k walk!

Keep in mind that if you don’t feel ready for a 10k walk at this point, you can do a 90-minute moderate/brisk-paced walk to end this week and then add another week or two of training before you reach your 10k.

Every runner is different, and the key is to pace yourself so you don’t get injured or exhaust yourself as your training program goes on.

Once you’ve hit that 10k, you can work towards doing a 10k run more often during your week, and then build up to doing it every day. Keep in mind that you’ll need to listen to your body and take rest days when you feel you need them.

Tips for Walking a 10K

Ready to start training towards that 10k? Here are some tried-and-true tips to help you get there faster.

Wear Comfortable Shoes and Clothing

If you’re serious about reaching your 10k walking goal, you need to invest in a pair of cushioned shoes that support your feet properly. You can choose shoes made specifically for walking or running shoes.

The right supportive shoes will align your joints correctly and help reduce your risk of injury. Good cushioning will also absorb shock, protecting your muscles and tissues from damage.

Light, breathable athletic clothing will also help you to feel more comfortable. Avoid cotton, as it holds onto moisture and can chafe.

Warm Up Properly

Walking may be less intense than running, but it’s still important to prepare your muscles for what’s to come. Do some gentle dynamic stretches and start your walk off slow before picking up the pace.

Focus On Your Walking Form

Proper walking form will help prevent injury and help you walk more effectively—faster and with less wasted energy. Here’s a quick overview of good walking form:

  • Keep your head up and look forward, not at the ground
  • Keep your neck and spine in a straight line
  • Relax your shoulders consciously
  • Bend your elbows at 90 degrees and swing them front to back
  • Tighten your core slightly and maintain it throughout the walk
  • Try to land your front foot under your pelvis, NOT out in front of you
  • Aim for 120 to 140 steps per minute
  • Practice diaphragmatic breathing

Walk at a Comfortable Pace

You should be able to hold a conversation while walking. If you can’t, slow down a bit until you can. Over time, you’ll be able to increase your pace as your stamina improves.

Plan Your Route

Choose a route that you know is safe and enjoyable. A park is ideal, especially if it’s scenic. Walking in nature is proven to be even more therapeutic, especially for mental health. If you’re confident, you can include some hills in your route.

Stay Hydrated and Well-Fueled

Walking for an hour or more at a time requires quite a bit of energy. To avoid feeling flat and exhausted during your walk, make sure you’re eating healthy every day—that means lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats.

You can also take an energy bar with you on long walks to snack on it if you start to feel weak or exhausted. Don’t forget to take water and drink regularly as you walk, even on colder days.

Buddy Up

Walking with a friend or family member can make your walks more fun. But even more importantly, it can be a great way to stay accountable. You don’t have to walk together every day, but it can be helpful to have company sometimes.

Track Your Progress

If you want to monitor your distance, time, and steps, we recommend using a smartwatch or fitness tracker.

You can use the device’s accompanying phone app to track your progress, or you can write in a running journal daily, allowing you to add your own notes.

Embrace Rest Days

It’s okay to rest when your body tells you that you need it. You should have at least one full rest day per week and one to two days where you do other exercise. This will help prevent both physical and mental burnout.

Sign Up for Your First 10K Race!

Even if you’re only aiming for 10k as a personal health or fitness goal and you aren’t interested in becoming a competitive walker, signing up for a race can be a challenge that motivates you!

You can sign up for a race before you start training or wait until you can do 10k comfortably before you sign up. Either way, completing a 10k race is an excellent way to see how far you’ve come!

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.