The 10k is one of the most popular running distances. It isn't quite as daunting as a half marathon or marathon, but it is a great step up for a 5k. The ASICS 10k is a great event to target for your first 10k or go for a fast time! It is important to think about your training in the 8-12 weeks before the event. There are a host of factors that all tie together to help you push your 10k time in the right direction. From improving your training, nailing your recovery and having a pacing plan. If you can master the following items, you'll be moving in the right direction!
Ultimately to run faster, you need to start practicing running at faster speeds. To do this you need to do two particular types of training sessions; Tempo and Interval sessions. An Interval session is typically where your run faster than you can run continuously for, with true rest periods (walking!) in between. This forces your body to adapt to running at these faster speeds and as a result, the pace you can run continuously for will increase proportionally. As well as running faster for short periods of time you should aim to build up your tolerance for running at faster speeds for longer and this is where Tempo sessions come in. Here you'll run at slightly faster speeds, but for longer and keeping jogging between sections.
You might be thinking "why do long runs" when you're training for a relatively short goal such as a 10k, but it's still crucial to build up your endurance alongside the faster training too. By building up your body's endurance to run longer at slower speeds, it'll help you run your faster paces for longer too! How far you go will depend on your ability and experience but your Runna plan will set the right distance for you.
Easy runs are often the most neglected part of runners' training regimes. Running slowly when you're aiming to run faster feels counter-intuitive, however it's for a good reason. Running fast is very fatiguing on your body, with heightened injury risk and longer recovery times. There is no set pace for easy runs but the slower the better! By spending most of your runs running slower and easier, it means you can still build your leg strength and endurance but also feel fresher for your quality speed sessions. Like they say, it's quality over quantity. A popular rule to bear in mind is the 80/20 rule; you should be looking to spend 80% of your time doing easy running and only 20% of your time training at or above threshold pace.
If you are only able to run 2-4 time a week then no stress! We would advise adding some cross-training alongside your running plan. For runners, cross-training options can include cycling, elliptical, rowing or swimming, but we would advise you do what you enjoy the most. It will add variety to your routine and help you build cardiovascular fitness without the impact of running, and therefore reducing your chance of injury.
Your weekly mileage is another important area to consider while training towards your 10k. First of all, you should start with a mileage that your know your body can tolerate; do not jump in all-guns-blazing! Start with a volume that works for YOU; this is key to reduce your risk of injury. Also, look to avoid jumping up significantly in the number of runs per week than you are used to.
As you build up your mileage over time, you should look to never exceed a weekly increase of more than 10% (e.g., if you can comfortably run 40km per week, next week run no more than 44km). Additionally, while you should look to increase your mileage over time, you should also add in deload weeks. A deload week is where you'll drop your weekly mileage every 3-5 weeks to allow your body to recover from, and adapt to, all of your recent training. This will reduce you injury risk and helping you to feel both physically and mentally fresher into your training moving forwards.
To help your body adapt to the hard training and also recover properly to avoid injuries, there are some essentials that you should be doing on a recovery side of things too. Firstly, sleep; aim for a consistent 8 hours of sleep every night. Secondly, whether it's Pilates, Yoga or simply stretching, you should look do to at least some mobility work each week.
Other ways to optimise your recovery include sports massages or even using at-home massage tools such as massage guns or a foam roller. Listen to your body throughout your training and be prepared to take an extra day of rest or move the sessions around within a week if you find that you need a little extra recovery.
To get faster and stronger at your 10k, you'll need to nail your training sessions but also make sure you're fuelling your recovery and making health-conscious nutrition choices too! To help optimise your recovery, look to keep your protein high, take on plenty of carbs before your tougher sessions and if you're looking to really push the pace or distance, don't be afraid to experiment with caffeine too.
Your shoes are going to be a huge part of your training and investing in a good pair will help protect your body from the impact with the ground. We recommend going to a shoe shop that specialises in running shoes and has a treadmill in-store so that you can test a few different pairs. If you're looking to shave a few seconds off your 5k time, you could even look to invest in a light, carbon-assisted pair of shoes!
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of training is being consistent and holding yourself accountable. Try to start off by developing a routine around your running and get used to getting out that door three, four or more times per week. You can even look to put your running sessions in your calendar/diary to help integrate them into your day-to-day. We'd also suggest tracking your progress as you go and using this as a tool to look back on how far you've come and motivate yourself to lace up for those harder sessions.
Look to make your training social, from telling your close friends your goals, to joining a community of runners either online or in your local area, to organising to run with people that you know. Additionally, what better way to hold yourself accountable than signing up to an event, knowing you have a deadline when you can put all of your hard work into practice?
Race Plan & Pacing
We would recommend having a pacing strategy to ensure you get the best out of yourself and avoid blowing up too early or finishing with more in the tank. The most efficient way to run is to start slower and build the effort/pace throughout; this is also called a negative split.
Start by working out what time you are aiming to finish in. For example, if you are aiming for a 50minute 10k, then this is an average pace of 5:00mins per km. Sticking to an exact pace to the second isn't easy so I would give yourself a range to target. I would give a buffer of 3-4s either side of your target pace. For the 50minute 10k runner, this would be a pace range of 4:57-5:03min per km. To help you achieve this negative split, divide your 10k into 3 sections: first 3k, 4-7k and final 3k.
Start off around 5s/km slower than your target pace for the first 3k. It is likely that your first 1km or mile will be a bit quicker as you get wrapped up in the excitement but dial it back and be strict with yourself. It is early on and you want to save that energy for the final few km. The effort should feel fast but also relaxed. Breathing should feel controlled.
It is common for people to dip around the half way point of the race. This is more likely to happen if you have paced the first few km too fast. From 4k, we want to up that pace to our target race pace. Avoid surging to change your pace as this is a waste of energy. Slowly up the ante and use other runners around you to pull you along. Keep assessing how you feel but wait for that final 2-3k to really push on! If you aren't sure, then concentrate, try stay relaxed and hold your pace.
You've got 3k to go. It will be feeling tough by this point but you are so close to the home straight. Pick your moment to push on. If you are feeling good this might be from 7k but if you are struggling then wait until you are closer to the finish line. From 9km, 1km to go, empty the tank and push hard to that finish line....then celebrate, you did it!
Follow a plan!
Finally, maybe the best thing you can do to level up your running is follow a plan! A good plan will take care of everything that we've mentioned in this article, from setting out all of the sessions for you, automatically adjusting your mileage, incorporating deloads to balancing the right types of running for your ability. Have a plan will also help hugely with accountability and mean that you can focus purely on your running game!
Good luck with the training and have a blast at the ASICS 10k!