After the triathlon season ended, I wanted one more goal to help motivate me for the fall road running season. I decided to try to pick off my longest standing running PR, the 10k. It’s been stuck at 41:16 since 2014 and now that I’m over 40 and a masters runner, it didn’t seem like that goal was going to get any easier in the future.
Unlike the marathon, where a lot of the training is just being on your feet and running with fatigue, or the 5k where it’s about holding that speed as long as possible, the 10k requires a mix of easy, hard, fast, and slow runs. This variety can be great to shake up a training routine that is stuck in a rut.
#1: 6×1 mile repeats at goal pace
This looks simple on paper. Doing a mile at race pace and then jog or walk a recovery for 5 minutes then repeat.
Don’t try to beat your goal pace, just try to find it and maintain it.
This is a good benchmark for early in a training block. It’s likely, depending on your fitness, that you will struggle to hit the pace on all 6 repeats, especially the final 3. Don’t freak out. This is where you will be able to measure and see your fitness gains over the training block.
#2. 2×3 mile repeats at goal pace
Doing 3 miles at goal pace with a 5 minute recovery jog in-between the sets.
This is the benchmark for the end of training. If you can hit your goal pace in both of these 3 mile intervals, you will hit your goal time on race day. Do this workout out at least 7-10 days before your race to give yourself adequate time to recover.
This is also a good time to practice race day prep. Try to do the workout around the time the race will be held. Fuel and hydrate the same way. Test out the shoes, clothes and other race day bag equipment you plan to use.
It won’t be easy, but if you hit the mark on this workout, you should toe the start line with confidence.
#3. 10-12 x 400m at 5k pace
Here is where you get some variety. Find a local track and work on leg speed with quarter mile repeats. Jog a 200 to recover.
If you go slightly faster in these repeats, it will help make the goal pace during the mile intervals feel easier.
#4. Tempo run or 5k race
There are no recoveries sets here. A tempo run is a sustained 30-60 minute effort (shoot for at least 3-4 miles) at a little slower (10-20 seconds) than your goal pace. It should be comfortably hard, you should still be running aerobically, and is typically called out as the pace you could maintain for an hour.
One easy way to track your fitness progress and sharpen your racing skills is to run a 5k about halfway through your training block for the 10k. Doubling your finish time and adding a minute is a decent projection of your 10k time.
Both of these workouts are great because beyond the fitness gains, they allow you to practice and improve your mental game as your prepare for the pain and discomfort of race day.
The fun of training for a 10k is the variety of workouts and runs you can incorporate into your training. The 10k requires a delicate blend of strength, speed, and stamina unique to the distance. There is no magic bullet workout or best 10k training run you can do in a lead up to the race, it’s all about variety and varied stimulus to keep pushing your fitness forward. These four 10k workouts are a great way to mix up your training in the lead-up to your next race.