Core 10k race training
The 10k combines two key components of running fitness: speed and endurance – both of which will boost your health and fitness and give you a solid base for all your running. A good training mix is two faster sessions and one long run every week with the optional extra of one to three easy runs or cross training sessions for more advanced runners. For beginners adapt the intensity of the sessions, so instead of running the hard bits, power walk.
Here are some great 10k sessions:
Fartlek or speed play
Run 10 x 30 seconds, 60 seconds, or 90 seconds hard with a recovery of the same time. Run between lamp-posts if you prefer. Make it harder by opting for a hillier route.
400M, 600M, 800M, 1K, 1K, 800M, 600M, 400M with 60 seconds recoveries between the 400s up to 800s and then 90 seconds between the 1K reps. No measured track? Then opt for 90 seconds to two minutes (400M), two to three minutes, (600M), three to four minutes (800M) and four to five minutes (1K).
Try six to 10 minutes running comfortably hard. Recover for three minutes, then run 4 x 1K reps at your goal 10k pace, with 90 second recovery. Recovery jog for three minutes and finish up with 5 x 400m at 5K pace, with the recovery reducing from 60, to 45, 30 and 15 seconds to stimulate the feeling of a fast finish!
A combination of longer and shorter hill reps every three weeks. Hill training will help to boost your running economy (which refers to the efficiency of your ‘engine’ when you run) and strength.
Run for 20 to 60 minutes at a pace that is comfortably hard, between goal 10K pace for shorter runs and goal half marathon pace for longer sessions.
The long run
This will help you to build your endurance. If you find you’re a good sprinter but flag when running longer, pay attention to the long run. You don’t need to run fast, a long slow run will help to build your aerobic base. Choose hillier courses for strength.
Fuel a 10k run
What you eat before, during, and after the race, is far more relevant for longer distance runners. ‘You won’t need to go to a pasta party the night before your race, however, if you eat a meal that has the same calories as normal but a higher proportion of carbohydrates on your plate, it will help keep your glycogen stores topped up for racing 10k,’ suggests Rob Hobson, Healthspan’s Head of Nutrition.
If it’s a very hot day and you sweat a lot, it can help to get a drink containing some electrolytes, such as potassium and sodium. For more advanced athletes products that contain calcium and magnesium, and a boost of caffeine are a good choice.
Although it is important to take fluids on board, Hobson warns that you should avoid consuming unnecessary energy drinks. ‘As well as warnings from WHO regarding caffeine overdose and energy drink consumption1, taking protein and carb drinks, often laden with sugar isn’t needed to fuel a 10K run. The result will simply be piling in calories and voiding the benefits you gained from doing the run in the first place,’ he says.
Recovery from 10K
Hobson does recommend taking on board extra nutrients for recovery. ‘The performance benefits for athletes of cherry extract are well-documented, including helping with recovery from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) which is likely to occur if you’re an elite who’s pushed hard in a 10K or a beginner taking on the distance for the first time. Try Elite Performance Cherry Extract. ‘Magnesium is also great for recovery,’ suggests Hobson. ‘A magnesium bath after the race will really help with recovery. The salts absorb the skin and can help prevent DOMs as well as aid your sleep.’
See also: How to prepare for a 5K race.
1NHS (2014). Warnings issued over energy drinks, NHS News