The secret to running your fastest 10K

You may think simply training harder will see you smash your PB over 10K, but often it requires a little more planning. Expert running coach Nick Anderson from RunningWithUs reveals his training secrets.

The secret to running your fastest 10K

To get faster at the 10K distance, you need to train smarter, rather than harder.

Whether you fancy yourself as the next Mo Farah or just want to improve that 10K time, there are a few training secrets that need to be part of your routine.

You can find 10K plans for all abilities in our training hub and remember to log your bugmiles to get support from fellow Bugs. Then simply find your ideal 10K in our events hub and get started!

Firm foundation

The long run puts the tiger in the cat. Aim to complete a weekly long run building eventually up to a regular 90 – 1hr 40 minutes. Always mix the terrain on which you run, including trails, hills and grass if possible.

Run at a conversational effort and as you get closer to race day, try to include blocks of threshold running at a controlled discomfort within the last 30 minutes of this long run. For example, 90 minutes including 3-4 x 6 mins at threshold pace within the last 45 minutes.

Feel the tempo

Threshold running is the essential element of any distance runner’s weekly training. Running at a level of ‘controlled discomfort’ helps to develop your running economy allowing you to sustain a race effort for longer.

Build blocks of running at 3-4 word answer effort at between 10k and HM pace within a 45-60 minute run. Ensure these blocks progress through your plan, building up from, for example 5 x 5 minutes to 3 x 10 minutes and even a continuous 20-25 minutes. Use your heart rate monitor if you really want to get this right.

An upward curve

Hill training builds strength, power and leg speed and can give you a massive boost to finding that fifth and sixth gear and running at pace.

Incorporate some 45-60s bursts of fast hill running into your weekly training. Complete 8-12 reps with a 90-120s jogged recovery focusing on running with a tall posture, quick, light foot-strike and generating power from driving your arms.

A great session could be 8-10 x 45-60 seconds fast uphill with 90 sec jog recovery, then afterwards, add 3 x 1 mile at threshold or 10K pace on the flat; it’s tough, but so is a 10K!

Power to the finish

Nailing your race will mean you need to finish the final 2-3K running strongly, when you body is beginning to fatigue. Practice this with progression runs.

Practice running ‘progressively’ in your training. Don’t try to nail your paces straight out of the front door. Including sessions such as 10 minutes easy, 10 minutes steady, 10 minutes race pace can help you adapt your body to finishing strongly.

This can progress to 15/15/15 and even 20/20/20 when you are feeling confident.

Visit the hurt locker

In the final 6-8 weeks of your training plan, its time to get specific. If you want a 45 min 10k you need to be able to run 10 x 1k at 4.30 pace without stopping… simple!
This is where interval training comes into play and top VO2 max sessions such as 6 x 1k at race pace off 90 seconds progressing to 8 x 1k off 60 seconds over the weeks are great examples of key 10k workouts.

You have to be fit to run these sessions and focus as the session progresses. In the final weeks you may even run intervals at quicker than race pace with sessions such as 2 x (8x 400) at 5k pace off 60 seconds recovery. This is the icing on the cake getting getting you sharper. It will make your race day pace seem comfortable and initially easy to hit when the gun goes.

Mix it up

Training well doesn’t have to just mean running. Cross-training and strength and conditioning can really help boost your cardiovascular fitness, whilst also leaving you a stronger and less injury-prone runner.

Include a weekly cross-training session and a couple of shorter, core strengthening sessions to give your running a boost without putting your body under additional strain.

Enjoy the competition

Are you one of those people that gets overwhelmed in the build up to races? Getting stressed about performances, listening to the guy that says he’s done double what you have and questioning why you ever enter races? Get into the mindset of enjoying the boost that competition and races can give you!

Your local 5K parkrun can provide an excellent way of getting some friendly, light-hearted competition into your training plan and will get you used to running with other people and pushing yourself harder than 10k pace. You can also find other friendly 5K races in our events hub

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