The 3 steps to running your perfect 10K

Pushed for time? Our resident running coach Nick Anderson from RunningWithUs shares his expert tips to help you nail your perfect 10K race on just three training runs a week.

The 3 steps to running your perfect 10K

10K is a distance that needs to be respected. It’s a real mix of speed, strength and endurance, but very achievable for most runners while still balancing a busy home and work life. The key is to follow a good training plan that slots into your busy schedule.

If you’re thinking of running a 10K you should first put a plan in place. But the good news is with a little bit of planning you can train for a 10K with just three clever runs a week. It might not sound like a lot but if you get those three training sessions right, they will make a huge impact on your race. 

The vital three P's

The trick is to plan, be patient and allow the progress to happen naturally. Our resident running coaches at RunningWithUs call this the Vital Three P’s. Look at the weeks you have until race day and start to identify when your long runs will work, what days you can host your threshold runs and when you will have enough time for that steady run.

When you aren’t training it is important to make sure you have enough nutrients in your diet. You need to have the energy to train and the correct fuel to rebuild your muscles and recover for the next session. Without fuelling yourself properly you will lack energy, motivation and will fatigue easily. We outline the three key sessions below.

1. Steady run

Run one of your three sessions at conversational pace. It can be between 30-50 minutes long, where you could talk if necessary. Try and do this run on mixed terrain that’s off-road, as this will reduce impact and prevent you from getting injured.

Trail running will also help build strength, as trails have the benefit of changing your running gait and getting you up on your toes. It’s important to incorporate one of these runs in your three weekly sessions. If you go out on every run trying to push hard like you would in a 10K race, you will only tire yourself out and won’t gain the correct endurance and fitness to improve.

2. Threshold run 

Incorporate threshold training into your week routine. Running at your anaerobic threshold (also known as your lactate threshold) is ‘comfortably hard’ running, so it shouldn't feel too difficult. This is the maximum speed at which your body can work aerobically for long periods.

The most difficult aspect of threshold running is getting the pace right. One way to gauge the ideal pace is to find the speed at which you can just hold a conversation. You should be able to talk, but perhaps not in complete sentences. If you are too out of breath to speak at all, you are running too fast. But if you can speak normally, you are running too slowly. You are aiming to run 'comfortably hard'.

Ensure these blocks progress through your plan – an example would be a 10 minute warm up, 6 x 3 minutes, to bigger sessions such as 5 x 5 minutes, 3 x 10 minutes and even a continuous 20-25 minutes, with a 10-minute warm down to finish.

3. Long run

Run one long run a week for between 60-90 minutes at conversational pace, where the speed feels relaxed and the run is enjoyable. Try to run off-road when possible to reduce the impact and build strength in your muscles.

Incorporate these three key sessions into your weekly run routine over a period of six weeks in the build up to your 10K race and you will cross that finish line comfortably.

Last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy it! Running is a hobby and we can only be the best we set ourselves up to be in preparation. If you don’t train consistently or fuel yourself wisely then you only have yourself to blame. Commit to one of our free 10K training plans, set yourself up to succeed in training and racing will be easy. Best of luck and enjoy!

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