The 10K receives so much less attention than it deserves, especially compared to the speedy fast 5K and the ever-popular marathon. And unjustly so – the 10K provides an excellent progression from the 5K for new runners and an challenging alternative to the 5K for long distance runners.
Today I’m THRILLED to bring you a guest post from running coach Laura of This Runner’s Recipes. I’ve been debating doing more 10K’s and yes even as a coach myself needed the reminders she provided! As always we love hearing from you so add your two cents and make sure to follow Laura for more great running info.
Training for the 10K proves a bit tricky, no matter your level of experience. This popular road race distance requires a good amount of speed, but you also need a decent amount of endurance to run 6.2 miles. So how do you master the 10K, whether you’re a beginner or experienced runner? Follow these 10 tips for running a 10K and you’ll not only cross the finish line, but blast your PR!
1. Run faster than 10K pace
New runners should focus on completing the 10K distance. Most novice runners take an hour or more to run a 10K, and so need to focus on building their endurance. Don’t worry about your pace for race day. The primary focus of your training should be preparing your body (and mind) to run for 6.2 miles on race day.
More experienced runners and those training with time goals can add in a weekly speed workout at 10K goal pace or, even better, faster than 10K pace. These speed workouts can take multiple forms: traditional workouts like mile repeats, fartlek runs, or longer cruise intervals at goal race pace.
Early in training, you should perform speed work both at and faster than your goal 10K race pace. Running faster than 10K pace will make goal pace feel more comfortable over a long period of time, along with training your fast twitch muscles and increasing your aerobic capacity. As the race approaches, more of your workouts will focus on tuning in at 10K pace so by race day you are familiar with how the effort of race pace feels.New to speedwork? Follow these 8 tips to add faster runs to your training.
2.Do your speed work on the roads, not the track
Chances are, you will race your 10K on the road, not the track. Specificity is one of the guiding principles of training, whether you’re a novice or experienced runner. Along with training for the specific endurance and speed demands of the 10K, you should train for the specific terrain and surface upon which you will race.
Doing your speed work, especially repeats at 10K goal pace, on the roads to mimic the impact and changing terrain of race day. A track doesn’t change incline, which means if you do all of your speed work on the track you will struggle on any hills on race day. Plus, running in flat circles can increase your risk of injury, especially if you’ve suffered from IT band problems in the past.3.Train at tempo pace
All runners will benefit from tempo runs, but 10K runners should include them in their weekly training schedule. Tempo runs increase your lactate threshold, which means that they help you hold a faster pace (particularly 10K pace) for longer.
What’s a tempo run? It’s approximately 3-5 miles at a pace slightly slower than your 10K pace (near 15K pace for most runners, slightly faster than half marathon pace.
Experienced runners can add in tempo runs as part of their training routine. If you run 3-4 days per week, devote one day to speed work and alternate each week between a tempo run and faster speed intervals. If you run 5 or more days a week, you can include both tempo runs and faster intervals each week, as long as you include an easy run or rest day in between them.
4. Strength equals power
Running is essentially a prolonged series of single-legged forwards hops. The stronger your leg muscles are, the faster you will be able to run and the longer you will be able to sustain those faster speeds. This is particularly true for your glutes, which power your forward from the start of the race to the final sprint over the finish line.
A 2003 study in Sports Medicine found that “trained distance runners have shown improvements of up to 8% in running economy following a period of resistance training.” Whether you’re running a 5K or marathon, improving your running economy helps you run faster as you become more efficient running at any given pace.Lower body strength is not all that matters: a strong core and upper body will improve your running form. An upright posture and a good arm swing (no chicken wings) are easier to maintain during a race when you have a strong core and upper body.
Aim to add at least two days of total strength training to your 10K training routine, whether you are a beginner or experienced runner. Here are 27 body weight workouts you can do anywhere, no excuses.
5.Keep most of your training runs significantly slower
A common fallacy amongst runners both novice and experienced is that most of their miles should be run near goal race pace. The logic behind this notion is that running more often at race pace will make it feel more comfortable and therefore easier to sustain on race day.
However, quite the opposite of true: 80% or more of your runs should be performed at an easy effort. The easier you run most days of the week, then the harder you can push yourself in speed workouts.
Yes, the tempo runs and speed workouts we talked about above will make you a faster 10K runner, but you’ll burn yourself out or get injured if you do them every day.10 tips from @thisrunrecipes to master the 10K! #run Click To Tweet
6. Move beyond the mentality that’s “just a 10K”
One of my biggest pet peeves as a runner and a coach is when people refer to any distance shorter than a marathon as “just” that distance. First off, all running accomplishments should be celebrated, whether you’re crossing the finish line of a mile race or a 50 mile race.
The shorter the race, the faster the pace should be. A 5K can be just as difficult as a marathon in terms of running as fast as you possibly can for the distance.
A 10K is no easy race – simply a different type of physical and mental challenge.
Experienced runners should not view the 10K race as “just a 10K.” Instead, focus on the challenge of running as fast as possible as you can for 6.2 miles – which will be a challenge for even skilled marathoners.7. Long May You Run
Long runs aren’t just for full and half marathoners; 10K runners will benefit by adding a long run to their weekly training schedule.
The distance of a long run is relative to your weekly mileage. Beginner runners should aim to make their long run at least 6 miles (or 1 hour) in order to build the physical endurance and mental fatigue resistance for the race.
More experienced runners can extend their long runs up to two hours in duration (12-15 miles for most runners). Long runs will help create an aerobic base that is necessary for running fast over the 10K distance.
8. Be Mentally Prepared to Be Physically Uncomfortable
Those last two miles of the 10K? No matter how well trained you are, the final couple miles of the 10K are going to sear your lungs and burn your quads. That’s the inevitable consequence of pushing yourself as hard as you can for 6.2 miles.
This doesn’t mean you should back off during the 10K race, especially if you’re an experienced runner hoping to PR. Rather, you should mentally prepare yourself to be comfortable with the physical sensations of running hard.Read more about the difference between discomfort and pain for runners.
9. Figure out a pre-race meal
The 10K is not long enough to require any mid-race fueling, but you don’t want to toe the starting line with an empty stomach. Since a 10K won’t deplete your glycogen stores, stick with your normal size pre-run meal: a banana, toast with peanut butter, oatmeal, whatever works best for you.
There’s no need to carb-load for a 10K either. In fact, carb-loading could weigh you down and increase your risk for the runner’s trots next morning. Eat a normal, albeit bland, meal the night before. If you are at risk for GI distress during races, forego any vegetables, beans, or other fibrous food at dinner the night before.
10. Divide the Race into Thirds
Gone out too fast in previous races? A negative split is one of the most effective race strategies. To accomplish this, divide your race into thirds. Run the first third slightly slower than goal race pace. You’ll feel as if you’re holding back a bit, and that’s ok – you want to be able to push yourself over the final miles. Ease into a steady effort for the middle two miles, right at goal pace. Over the last two miles, increase your pace until you’re running as fast as you can sustain over the final few minutes.Want to improve your 10K time?
Try one of these workouts. Since these runs effort and time based, they can be adapted for any level of training ability or goal.
Speed Workout: This workout will teach you to sustain 10K goal pace and then finish fast on tired legs.
Warm up with 1-2 miles easy running and dynamic stretches. Run 4 x 3 minutes hard at 10K goal pace (jog easy for 1 minute in between each interval), 3 x 2 minutes hard at 5K pace (jog easy for 1 minute in between each interval), 2 x 1 minutes faster than 5K pace (jog easy for 1 minute in between). Cool down with 1-2 miles easy running.
Tempo Workout: This workout is best in the early weeks of training, as you ease into longer tempo runs, or as a tune-up in the last couple weeks before your goal race.
Warm up with 1-2 miles easy running and dynamic stretches. Run for 2 x 2 miles at tempo pace with a 3 minute easy jog in between. Cool down with 1-2 miles of easy running.
Bio: Laura Norris is a certified running coach, writer, distance runner, outdoor enthusiast, and Midwest transplant living in Seattle.
She blogs about all things running, hiking, and food over at This Runner’s Recipes. When not writing, she can be found running along the trails or hiking in the mountains with her husband and puggle.
Like myself Laura is a running coach, so if you’re in the market reach out to her! email@example.com
What’s your favorite race distance?
How often do you run 10Ks?
Other ways to connect with Amanda