3 Biggest 10K Race-Day Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Woman Running on Asphalt Road

Experienced distance runners can make crossing the finish line of a 10K race look effortless. But successful 10K distance runners know that race day is about more than just pushing through the pain and ramping up your intensity near the finish line.

More: 10 Steps to a Successful 10K

We recently spoke to RRCA and USATF-certified running roach Sean Coster to discuss some of the most common 10K race-day mistakes he sees runners make. Here's what you can do to ensure you cross the finish line healthy, happy and running your best.

Mistake No. 1: Too Hard, Too Fast

There aren't many moments as thrilling as the anticipation at a starting line just before the gun goes off. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement as other runners take their marks, and you can forget to run at an appropriate pace as you lunge across the start line.

And no matter how "slow" you think you're going at the start, you can probably still go "slower."

"For the first 2 to 3 minutes of a race, you're a little immune to knowing how hard it is," says Coster. "In a 10K, if you learn you've gone out too fast at the first mile, it might be too late."

To remedy this common problem, it's important for a runner to first try to internalize his/her rhythm in training runs so that pacing feels natural when race day arrives. "If you haven't practiced your starts in your training, it will be very difficult to do it on race day," says Coster.

Until a runner finds his/her rhythm, it can also be helpful to use a GPS watch, as a a reference point, to see how fast they are going at the ?-mile and ?-mile marks.

More: 4 Steps to Your Perfect Pace

Mistake No. 2: Obsessing Over Hydration

There's no denying that staying hydrated during races, especially in the summer months, is important. It can be possible to focus too much on hydration during the race, however.

It's much more essential to focus on hydration and nutrition before the race starts, and not fret over what to do at the mile 3 marker. "It's all happening beforehand," Coster reminds. "If a runner is adequately hydrated pre-race, a 10K run will generally not be a huge issue in terms of water."

Coster suggests using water to find, "little strategies to feel good." Drink water to avoid cottonmouth, and use it to keep the head cool, especially in hotter temperatures. Employing these strategies will not only keep you mentally sharp, but also give you an advantage over the competition.

Mistake: No.3: Not Enough Recovery Time

Allowing the body to rest and recover during a 10K race is essential to preventing injuries, and encourages the body to adapt to stressors appropriately in the future.

After a 5K race, a runner may be able to resume workouts in a few days, but a 10K race requires more time. "A runner should wait at least 5 to 7 days after running a 10K [to run another hard effort]," Coster advises, "especially if a top-level effort was given during the race."

More: 4 Keys to Making the Jump From 5K to 10K

Active logo Looking for something else? Search for a 10K.

About the Author

Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke is an online video editor for His favorite part of the job is covering inspiring races and athletes who push themselves to be the best they can be.
Michael Clarke is an online video editor for His favorite part of the job is covering inspiring races and athletes who push themselves to be the best they can be.

Discuss This Article