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Why you should race a 10K before your marathon

Racing a 10K can feel very difficult for marathoners, but here's why you should embrace the pace change

Toronto Waterfront 10K

For some marathon runners, the 10K can feel like an off distance. As runners prep for their spring marathon, throwing a 10K in might feel difficult but it’s a good way to break up your marathon build. For most, the distance is too long to feel fast and too short to feel comfortable, but here’s why sitting at an in between pace can do you some good.

2018 Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. Photo: Victah Sailor/PhotoRun

Doing off-distance training is great for marathon prep, but lots of runners find it uncomfortable and quite difficult. When you’re locked into a certain pace, a switch can make people feel terrible initially. Sasha Gollish ran her first marathon two weeks ago in Houston and incorporates lots of off-distance training into her routine. “Switching up the pace in workouts will make pace changes in races feel more comfortable. When you get that sticky, uncomfortable feeling in a race, you’ll already know the feeling.”


RELATED: Elmore and Gollish run 2:32 marathon debuts at Houston

Gollish says that blending 10K training in with your marathon prep is crucial. “Your legs can get stale at one pace. My plan for the spring is to do one day of short intervals, one day of 5K to 10K training, a half-marathon-style workout and of course a long run.”


Brittany Moran is a chiropractor, marathon coach and accomplished marathoner herself. She says that if timing allows, incorporating a 10K into a marathon build can be great for goal race results. “Scheduling a 10K race can be a great rust-buster and a chance to have a break from the monotony that is marathon training.”

RELATED: How to create a marathon training plan


For Rachel Hannah, has raced everything from the 3,000m to the marathon. She said that before her marathon debut, she ran her 10K personal best. “In May of 2015 I ran my 10K pb, it was three or four weeks later that I tried my first marathon in Ottawa. I’d incorporated long runs into my 10K training. My mileage before that race would’ve been somewhere from 130 to 160K, which was not as high volume as my full marathon prep years later.”

Her first marathon was her second fastest 42.2K to date. “My point is that if you’re in really good 10,000m shape, and you’ve got your long run down, you can run both distances really well. Obviously it’s a faster race, but I do think that racing for 30 to 35 minutes requires that blend of strength and speed that you need for the marathon.”