If you’re looking to speed up your 10K you can’t just focus on pace alone. Any good eight to ten week training plan leading into your 10K race should cover the following key elements of training – longer run, threshold work, recovery run and running-specific conditioning work – before your attention turns to speed and pace. Jumping into speed work too soon is the biggest mistake inexperienced runners make, as many assume (incorrectly) that speed equals faster race times.
However, the above ingredients are absolute staples in any runner’s week and can’t be rushed or overlooked. But once they are regularly in the mix, you will be ready to layer the speed work on, in the form of 10K-specific sessions. Below are ten key sessions. Try to include one per week (or every couple of weeks) consistently, over an eight- to ten-week period.
6 x 5 mins on the road or track, with 75-90 seconds jog recovery. Run numbers one to three at threshold effort and four to six at target 10K pace. You have to run the second half of this session quicker than the first.
8-10 x 800m or 3 mins, with 75-90 seconds recovery. Run the odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) at threshold and the even numbers at target 10K pace/effort. This is another bigger volume session that makes you think about paces and efforts, but alternating with threshold allows you to complete the full workout.
4-5 x 1 mile or 6 mins at target 10K pace on the road or track, with a 90-second jog recovery. No hiding in this session! It always hurts, but is a classic bread-and-butter 10K session.
The long fartlek. Aim to run for 60 minutes, but include within the run blocks of 6 mins, 5 mins, 4 mins, 3 mins, 2 mins and 1 min, all off a 90 second jog recovery. Each block should be a fraction quicker than the last as the duration shortens. You might run the first block at threshold and progress from there.
10 minutes at threshold (with a 3-minute jog recovery), plus 5-6 x 800m with numbers one to three at 10K pace and four to six at 5K pace, all off 90-second recoveries, then three-minute jog recovery, then 10 minutes at threshold. A clever session with big volumes of running, but different paces. A real endurance builder for any event.
8 x 1K or 4 minutes, all at target 10K pace, off 75-90 second jog recoveries. You are now ready to test your fitness with this classic! Be careful not to run faster than your target 10K time though, or else the last few reps could see you fade. Aim to finish the session strongly and even pick up the pace in the final few reps.
Run a 5K parkrun or GPS time trial at your target 10K pace. Take a 5-10 min jog recovery, then complete 5 x 2 mins at your 5K pace, off a 2-minute jog recovery. This is a test of mental strength and it’s a fabulous feeling to run a 5K at your planned 10K pace, feeling in control although working hard. A great confidence-boosting session!
The wind-up session! Run 2K or 6-7 minutes at threshold (2-3 minute jog recovery). Then complete 4 x 1K at 10K pace off 75-90 second jog recoveries. Finally, complete 5 x 400m at your 5K pace off 60-, 45-, 30- and 15-second diminishing recoveries. Be strict with your paces and if you get this challenge right, the 400ms will feel tough but achievable.
It’s time to sharpen up this week and next. Try these key speed endurance sessions… 6 minutes at threshold (3-min recovery), then complete 2 sets of 8 x 400m off 30-60 second jog recoveries. Take a 3-4 minute jog recovery between each set of 400m and aim to run set one at your 10K pace and set two at your 5K pace or quicker, if you feel good in the final reps. This session is all about running a little quicker in the second half, but remaining patient and in control in the first half – just like a 10K!
This session is completed early in the week, perhaps five to six days before you race the 10K. It’s now time to feel quick and just ‘turn your legs over’… 5 minutes at threshold (3-minute jog recovery). Then 2 sets of (4-5 x 400m) off 60 second jog recoveries. Run set one at 5K pace and set two a little quicker.