Workouts to Achieve a 10k PB
A workout is a really tough session, and it probably takes at least as much out of you as a race. For that reason we would recommend that you focus, in the build-up to a target race, on these workouts, and at weekends drop any races and replace them by long runs, or use the race for a different purpose, such as a tempo run.
The Best 10k Workout: 3 x 2 Miles at Race-Pace
If you can perform three 2-mile repeats at your goal 10k pace in the last one to two weeks before your race, you will achieve your goal time. Guaranteed. It’s a simple workout but dead hard to accomplish. As such, you must build up to it, and this buildup of workouts turns out to be some of the best training you can do to run a fast 10K.
Buildup Workout No. 1: 6 x 1 Mile
Eight weeks out from your 10k, run six 1-mile repeats at your goal 10k pace, taking 3 to 4 minutes recovery jog between each. Don’t be surprised if you struggle in this workout. Many athletes become worried that their goal is out of reach, but trust me: You just need to complete the workout sequence and you’ll be ready. One thing I find helps is to just focus on goal 10k pace, not faster. Some runners try to “beat the workout” by running faster but that isn’t the goal. Start at goal pace and simply hang on.
Buildup Workout No. 2: 2 Miles + 4 x 1 Mile
Six weeks out from your 10k, advance to the following workout: Run a 2-mile repeat at your goal 10k pace then take a 5-minute recovery jog. Next, run four 1-mile repeats at goal 10K pace, taking 3 to 4 minutes recovery jog between each. As with Workout No. 1, you will get in 6 miles of running at your goal pace.
Buildup Workout No. 3: 2 x 2 Miles + 2 x 1 Mile
Four weeks out from the race, the workout advances yet again. This time, run two 2-mile repeats at goal 10k pace. Again, take a 5-minute recovery jog after each 2-mile repeat. Then, perform two 1-mile repeats at goal pace, taking 3 minutes recovery between each. By now, you should be feeling much more ready to attack your goal time. Your body is becoming calloused to the mental and physical stress of 10k pace. If, however, you’re struggling to hit your goal pace even on the first 2-mile repeat, then your proposed goal pace is too aggressive and you should re-evaluate.
The World’s Best 10k Workout (see above)
After this buildup of workouts, you’re ready to attack the ultimate 10k workout. I suggest you perform this workout nine to 12 days before your race to allow enough time to recover before the event. Start with your usual warm-up (which you should perform for each workout described in this article), then run three 2-mile repeats at your goal 10K pace. Take a 5-minute recovery jog between each repeat. Prepare for this intense workout like you will your race — be well-recovered, properly hydrated and fueled, use the equipment you’ll use in the race, run at the time of day that you’ll be racing.
8-Week Workout Sequence for a Fast 10k
While the 10k buildup workouts (see above) can occur every other week, the in-between weeks can provide a great opportunity to perform other important 5k and 10k workouts. 200m and 400m reps performed at 5k effort are good. Running slightly faster repeats on the in-between weeks makes 10k race pace feel easier. You may even perform a 5k race in preparation for your 10k. At least one tempo run during this buildup is beneficial; the pace for which may be slightly slower than 10k pace but will build your stamina for the goal event.
Week, Details of Key Workout & Notes
Week 1: 6 x 1-mile – 3-minute jog between 1-mile reps
Week 2: 10-12 x 400m – run the 400m reps at 5k race pace; 200m jog between
Week 3: 2-mile + 4 x 1-mile – 5-minute jog between 2-mile reps, 3-minute jog between 1-mile reps
Week 4: 3-mile Tempo Run or 5k Race – one simple prediction method is to double your 5k time and add 1 minute to get your 10k time. Are you on track for your goal 10k time?
Week 5: 2 x 2-miles + 2 x 1-mile – 5-minute jog between 2-mile reps, 3-minute jog between 1-mile reps
Week 6: 20-24 x 200m – run the 200m reps at 5k race pace; 200m jog between
Week 7: 3 x 2-miles – run the 2-mile reps at 5K race pace; 5-minute jog between 2-mile reps
Week 8: 10k RACE
“After running countless 10Ks and coaching runners who have run countless more, I’ve found one workout to be the absolute best to prepare you for the distance. It’s not an easy workout and you probably can’t do it right away, so you’ll need to build up to it with the sequence of workouts outlined here, which, when combined with supplementary workouts, creates an exceptional training plan for your next goal 10K.”
Greg McMillan, an exercise physiologist and USATF-certified coach, slightly adapted from an email circular from McMillanRunning.com.