How to Run a Faster 10K
Welcome back to our running faster series! Hopefully you’ve built up your base and made running a consistent and enjoyable part of your life. Maybe you have even experimented with some speed work and tested yourself with a 5k race, finding that red line and gutting out 3.1 intense, lung busting miles. Hopefully you walked away with a euphoric smile, a shiny new PR, and are motivated to work on the next big goal.
Or maybe you’re a seasoned vet, and you have built your mileage and fitness to a level where you’re ready to ratchet up the intensity and start making your workouts more specific to the demands of your goal race.
Below I share some ideas to help you run a faster 10k race or, tune you up for something longer.
The Difference Between a 5k and a 10k
The 10K is where speed meets endurance. New runners, or those who primarily race the 5K, will see their race distance double and many runners, regardless of experience, head to the track to grind out leg shredding, lung busting, limit smashing, ever rewarding repeats on the track (or flat-ish roads).
Race pace remains fast. Not quite at that redline of the 5k, but not far removed.
While the pace, distance, and training may change, one thing stays the same - we need to tailor our workouts to meet the demands of the race in a way that progresses from week to week with increasing specificity.
Run a Faster 10K with these Workouts
To achieve this progression, we will first gradually increase the length of our speed work intervals while gradually slowing the pace at which they are performed. When the total distance of the intervals reaches 10k and pace comes down to our 10k goal pace, we will reduce the active recovery time between intervals.
Here is an example of this progression:
- 12 - 16 x 400m at 5k pace, 2:00 active recoveries
- 8 x 800m at current 10k pace, 2:00 active recoveries
- 8 x 1k at current 10k pace, 2:00 active recoveries
- 8 x 1k at goal 10k pace, 1:30 active recoveries
- 6 x 1 mile at goal 10k pace, 1:30 active recoveries
- 5 x 2k at goal 10k pace, 1:30 active recoveries
- 4 x 2k at goal 10k pace + 1k max effort, 1:00 recoveries ***
The 7th workout is our final peak workout, which should be performed seven to ten days prior to our peak race.
Note that this is only an example progression, the important concept to take away is that each of our race specific workouts builds on the previous one, working up to our peak workout which closely mimics the demands of our peak race. The peak workout could also be changed to something like 3 x 2 miles at goal pace + 400m at max effort with 60 to 90 seconds active recoveries, or even another round of the 5 x 2k but with 60 seconds active recoveries instead of 90.
There are numerous variations of specific workouts (and we know how important it is to vary our workouts!), so make sure your training is fun, challenging, and specific!
Remember, these workouts should be worked into your training schedule after an appropriate base training period and combined with tempo and long runs. If you’re running five to six days a week, your training schedule might look something like the following:
You probably noticed that the schedule doesn’t fall into a nice seven day lineup. There is no reason (other than it looks cleaner) to follow a strict seven day schedule; in fact, it may do more harm than good. We want to make sure we are properly recovered between workouts to ensure we can perform each workout to the best of our ability and avoid injury. Remember, workouts provide a stress to which our bodies adapt; it is recovery that makes us stronger!
I feel it is also important to note that recovery time is different for each person. I personally recover quicker from a long run of 20+ miles at a moderate pace than a shorter track session of intense intervals. The point being this: you should schedule your workouts around how you recover rather than a date on the calendar.
A final note, if you just completed a race, give your body some time to recover before jumping into specific training. A few days off and a couple of weeks of easy mileage (an abbreviated base cycle) will help you recover and reap the benefits of the hard training cycle for your previous race.
Your 10K Race
Do you want to run a faster 10k? What other questions can I answer to help you achieve your goals? Leave them in the comments below, or contact us.