If you’re looking to go sub 40-minutes or even sub 50-minutes in the 10km, then this newsletter is for you! Coach Sage Canaday will be giving you specific workouts and running tips to lower your 10km time. The examples he uses will be tailored towards those trying to go sub 40 minutes in the 10km, but know that a lot of the workouts and pieces of advice can also be applied if you’re trying to get a 10km run below 50, 45, or even 35 minutes. Even if you’re training for a 5km, this is all information that can still be applied, too. Here we go!
Let’s start with some simple math before we get started. If you’re aiming to run a sub 40 minute 10km, your race pace is going to be 6:26min/mile or 4min/km. This is important to keep in mind as we detail the workouts and pieces of training advice.
The first step is one we’ve preached in numerous other newsletters and training talks… can you guess? It’s to build up your weekly mileage (i.e., aerobic base). Even though it seems so simple, consistent training, the better stamina and endurance you’re going to have to run a faster 10km. It’s important to notice that this aerobic base building phase applies to whether you’re wanting to run a faster 5km or 100 miler. You can’t go wrong building up your weekly mileage in a progressive manner. Here’s the practical way to do this: if you’ve been consistently running 3-4 times per week, try to start running 4-5 times per week (or even 6 times per week if you have the time!). You’ll notice your body start to adapt to the training load, and naturally, you’re aerobic base will help you run faster. Not all runs need to be super long or hard, it’s the consistency that matters. If you’re aiming for a sub 40 minute 10km, most “easy paced” runs will be at 8 minute/mile pace or 5 minute/km pace.
BONUS: If you are at the aerobic base building phase of your training, check out our FREE Aerobic Base Building Training Plan.
A second point I want to note is just because you’re going to be running 10km, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be running longer than 10km for your long runs! Many long distance 10km runners will work up their long runs to 16-20km on training days. Don’t limit yourself to only running up to 10km because the extra mileage during your long runs will help contribute to your stamina and leg strength. Note: this same rule typically is not applied towards longer distances like marathons or ultras. If you’re training for a marathon, one does not usually run over 26.2 miles during training, or even full marathon for that matter.
Now let’s move on to the fun stuff, the speed workouts needed to run a fast 10km! Speed workouts don’t always need to be done on the track, and they should never be “all out” type efforts that have you laying on the ground gasping for air. However, they are always going to be substantially faster than your goal 10km race pace. Start by doing what we call “economy” or “efficiency” workouts. Typically, these take the form of 400m or 800m repeats. If a sub 40 minute 10km is your goal, you’d be targeting 2:55 for 800m. For 400m repeats, start by doing 4x400m at 1:24 per 400m with a 2-minute rest in between. You can then work your way up to 6x400m and finally 8x400m. As for how these should feel, it should be a medium-hard type of workout. During the actual speed portion, it’s going to feel really hard, but the rest in between should hopefully be able to alleviate some of the pain and get you ready for the next one.
You then move from “economy” or “efficiency” workouts to tempo workouts. The bread-and-butter tempo workout we prescribe is the “20-minute Tempo.” You can warm up for a few kilometers, and then you jump into a 20-minute tempo run with a pace that is very close to your 10km goal pace. So again, if you’re aiming for a sub 40-minute 10km, you would be running this tempo run at about 6:36/mile or 4:08/km. This workout should not feel all out, but more so help your legs feel what it’s going to be like to run near your goal race pace for the 10km.
To bring it all together, the final type of workout you will need to do are V02 max type of workouts. And yes, these are the workouts that are going to sting compared to the others. They are aerobic capacity type of workouts where you will be running the reps at 5km pace or even faster in order to get your heart rate up to 100%. The way to implement these are through longer efforts, such as kilometer or mile repeats at a high intensity interval pace. For a runner aiming at the sub 40-minute 10km, a sample workout would be 4 x 1 mile (1600m) at 6:10 pace with a 4-minute rest in between. Another workout could be 6-8 x 1000m at 3:50/km with a 2-minute rest in between. These are tough workouts, but it’s not like you need to be doing them every other day. Realistically, you be throwing in one of these hard workouts every week or two.
Pulling this all together, you’re going to have 80% of your running be the easy, base building type of runs. Throughout the training cycle, you’ll start to sprinkle in economy workouts, then tempo workouts, and ending with the V02 max type of efforts to help your heart pump more build to your working muscles.