Whether you are training for your first 10K or are a seasoned vet, here is pro advice designed to help you crush the distance. It includes hills, intervals, tempo runs and long runs (four demanding days out of seven). There is a lot of intensity here, more than your typical 10K program, but you need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Let’s face it, a 10K has you railing from the gun, and it hurts — a lot.
Strength is paramount for the 10K. There is no better way to build strength than through hills and tempo runs. Intervals will help to boost your max VO2. And the long run is a staple in most training programs because it builds stamina and endurance.
Get the most out of hills:
On hill training day, be prepared for an intense workout. When running hills, shorten your stride slightly, quicken your turnover and lean into the hill to take advantage of gravity. Keep your arms relaxed with only small movements.
Get the most out of tempo runs:
Tempo runs need to be substantially faster than easy run pace, best described as comfortably hard. You probably won’t be able to carry on a conversation. Your tempo run pace should be the top speed you could maintain for an hour. A thorough warm-up and cool-down is necessary.
Get the most out of intervals:
Interval days include short, intense efforts followed by equal or longer recovery time at,or quicker than, race pace. At these speeds, it becomes increasingly important to focus on proper form and relaxing. (No flailing arms or tightening your neck and shoulders.)
On cross training days, make sure you hit the gym for weights and plyometrics to increase strength and endurance.
“Don’t let the distance scare you, because it may take a few times before you nail one,” Olympic 10K and marathon runner Lanni Marchant told me. “Embrace the grind. It will not give you anything that you have not worked for. You have to show up every day and love that. The end result is always in direct correlation to the time put in.”
Remember, whether you are an Olympic athlete, Canadian champion, record holder or someone running their first 10K, the struggle is the same. We are all just trying to beat yesterday.