Which Wins Wednesday: 10K Run vs. 5K Obstacle Course

Are you training for a race this summer? You might be prepping for your first 10K – 6.2 miles – or eying an obstacle course race that may be shorter, but includes challenges throughout the course. While both are sure to get your heart rate up and incorporate great cardio into your routine, which one is better for you?

10K race
A beginner should take at least eight to 10 weeks to prepare for this distance. Someone that consistently runs at least three to five miles a week can take about six to eight weeks to prepare. Increasing mileage can sometimes result in common running injuries like shin splints and plantar fasciitis, so make sure you invest in a properly fitted pair of running sneakers, and warm up and recover properly during your training. Training for longer distances can also help improve your heart rate recovery time, which is another benefit of cardiovascular exercise.

5K obstacle race
Running. Mud. Fire. Water. More running. That’s just the first 10 minutes of some 5K obstacle races. These events have been building in popularity for the last few years and for good reason. Seasoned athletes who don’t mind getting dirty and getting a few bruises are enjoying the breaks from pure running. Training for an obstacle course involves more than being able to run a 5K. You will need to work on your upper body strength and agility. Most of the obstacle races post the challenges ahead of time, so you can practice the skill during your training. For example, if one of the stations requires you to crawl under barbed wire in the mud, add bear crawls to your routine.

The winner is…
Both a 10K and 5K obstacle course are challenging events, each one with risks and benefits. A 10K is a better event for a less experienced runner or exerciser because they are still developing their fitness foundation. Once you have mastered the longer runs, start working on those burpees and pullups for an obstacle race!


Robin M. Gillespie is a NASM-certified fitness professional, social media expert and IDEA Inspired Blogger from Philadelphia who loves cashews.