Getting ready for a 10k race can be challenging. A 10k is a mid-distance event, so while it’s not a sprint, it’s not a long-distance run like a half marathon or full marathon. It’s critical to run at a fast pace, but going too hard means you’ll run out of gas quickly.
You can prepare effectively for this event and drop your 10k time by following these proven guidelines:
1. Slightly Increase Your Weekly Distance
How many miles you run weekly to train for a faster 10k will vary. Much depends on your weekly total. But if you want to start training for a 10k, don’t increase the mileage too much.
Instead, increase the weekly mileage by 10 to 20 percent by adding a short distance to each daily run. And have a few weeks with less distance to help the body heal and rest.
People who do four runs per week can boost their mileage significantly with this strategy. It’s also important to incorporate speed workouts and a long run to boost endurance.
Also, remember to have one or two easy runs per week if you run more than four days. Having easier runs one or two days per week lets your body heal and recover, which may make you faster.
2. Use Intervals
Running faster intervals boosts your top speed, but there’s more. It also can enhance your form and economy (this means how quickly you can run at a given oxygen level). Pushing your body to run fast makes it figure out where to get that oxygen and use it more efficiently.
Running intervals also has mental benefits that will help lower your 10k time on race day. You need to tell yourself to push through the pain and discomfort after several intervals and do the next one.
Remember that much of running faster is about building mental endurance. Running painful intervals helps get you used to being uncomfortable.
3. Run Hills
Runners who hire a coach to train them for a 10k will tell you there’s usually a focus on running hills. Hitting a lot of hills is required to lower your 10k time. Many expert runners prefer to do one serious hill run per week. Select a hill that takes about 60 seconds to scale.
After you warm up for 15 minutes with a jog, run up the hill as quickly as possible. Turn around and jog down to where you started. Do this five or 10 times as hard as you can. Also, once per week, at the end of your workout, run hard up a hill a few times.
Running hills is much more difficult than running flats. Every time you run up that hill, you are taxing your cardiovascular system. The heart must pump more blood faster to your muscles. Over weeks of running hills, you will train your heart to pump blood more efficiently and increase your speed.
4. Adjust diet
Weight is always a factor in running, but it’s a big one for running 10ks. One of the most important diet changes is to eat more vegetables.
Long-time runners say you can fill yourself up during the day with big bowls of greens. Large salads give you plenty of fiber and vegetables, plus the same volume as higher-calorie carbs.
Mix healthy proteins and oil into the salad and eat that every day for a few weeks. You will feel full with all the greens, fats, and proteins and won’t be tempted to snack.
Doing so should help you drop a few pounds, which can help trim your 10k time.
5. Try Fartleks
If there isn’t a track in your neighborhood, you can do fartleks anywhere. A fartlek is a quick speed burst of various distances. The word comes from Swedish, meaning ‘speed play.’ You can easily work fartleks in your daily runs to increase speed.
When you run on the street, use a mailbox or lamp post to mark the distance. After a brief warm up, sprint to the lamp post or mailbox ahead, recover, and repeat it with another object of about the same distance.
Do this for a mile during several runs per week and you will increase your pace.
6. Run More
Running more miles can build speed, too. Say you usually run twice per week and go to exercise classes four days per week. You could see speed increases if you boost your runs to four days per week and dial back the other activities.
Some runners swear by running every day, but it’s best to take at least one day off per week. If you decide to run daily, vary the distances and pace so you don’t hurt yourself.
It also helps to vary your routine so your body doesn’t adjust to your daily runs. Keep your body guessing by switching things up with distance runs, sprints, tempo runs, and short distances every week. This varied schedule will build endurance and speed.
7. Check Your Form
Many runners just run without considering their form, but proper form can boost your running efficiency – and that can make you faster. Adjusting your running form for peak efficiency helps your body move easier and with less effort. So there’s more energy available to run at a faster pace.
For example, many runners run with tight shoulders. Try and relax your shoulders so your arms can swing naturally during your runs.
8. Be Ready For The Race
If you want to run your fastest 10k, it will be challenging. But if you prepare with the proper training outlined here, you can be confident that you can do it. After all, you sustained your personal best pace in training!
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!