If you want to run your fastest 10K, the final eight weeks of training can get you there. The 10K is a distance that almost any runner can complete. It is also one of the first targets that most beginners set as a goal. But if you’re a seasoned 10K runner looking to chalk up some noteworthy times, there are some strategies that can help you break the barrier you thought to be out of reach.
In any sport, fitness is a gradual process. When you start training or are returning from an injury, you start with a run/walk program and progress towards an achievable goal or race. The same approach applies for experienced runners. Every year and every training cycle, you need to increase your training load and refocus your goals. Adding more miles, more speed, more strength, better recovery and addressing weaknesses will get you closer to your target.
There are many ways to train to run a fast 10K. The neat thing about this sport is that everyone on that start line has trained differently. There is no perfect plan or magic workout. But everyone can agree it requires strength, endurance, speed and various combinations of those key ingredients. You can tailor your schedule from an under- or over-distance standpoint. Any approach requires dedication and hard work with large amounts of running.
Strength training is one aspect of a program that seasoned runners often overlook. Kenyan runners are naturally strong from running at altitude and training on rolling terrain. For the rest of us, hitting the gym or cross training is a good supplement. Being a stronger athlete can benefit your running economy and explosive power that is vital in improving speed.
Looking after the little things is another often-overlooked aspect of training that could help break that barrier and save you precious seconds. What exactly are the little things? They can be as simple as replacing worn out shoes, eating better, running on softer surfaces, taking ice baths, getting more sleep or scheduling massages/physiotherapy. You can make a huge improvement in your fitness by incorporating some of these simple components into your training. Most importantly they will help you avoid injury and stay consistent which is the key to improving aerobic endurance.
All race distances have a performance benchmark that every athlete strives for. Whether it be a sub-60 10K or a sub-40, by fine-tuning your training and progressively increasing your workload you can get closer to your personal magical mark.
There is no cookie-cutter schedule that will suit every athlete. The total amount of kilometres run per week is dependent on the individual and experience. A general week for most advanced runners should include one long run of between 90 minutes to two hours and easier aerobic runs between workout days.
Below are eight key workouts you should include in your plan in the eight weeks leading up to your 10K race. If you feel as though you can run workouts at race pace but cannot sustain that effort for 10K, add a tempo run to help increase your endurance.
If your target pace feels like a sprint, add a second workout focusing on speed, such as 400m repeats. The amount of running done during race week should be substantially reduced, but remember the key to an effective taper is to maintain training intensity.
Weeks by Key Workout
- Week 1 – 40 minute tempo at half-marathon pace
- Week 2 – 6 x 1.6K at 10K pace with 2 minute jog between
- Week 3 – 2 x 15 minute tempo at 10K pace with 2 minute jog
- Week 4 – 16-20 x 1 minute at 5K pace with 1 minute jog
- Week 5 – 5K race or 20 minute tempo at 10K pace
- Week 6 – 10-12 x 1K at 10K pace with 2 minute jog between
- Week 7 – 10-12 x 400m at 5K pace with 200m jog between
- Week 8 – 10K RACE