The 10K is a difficult race distance to master. If you’re a beginner, running twice as far as the more commonly run 5K is quite the challenge, and requires doubling your training efforts. For experienced runners, the 10K is a blend of speed and endurance that necessitates performing 5 to 6 miles of lung-busting intervals on the track during training.
More: How to Go From 5K to 10K
To master the 10K distance, a runner needs to find the perfect blend between speed and endurance so he or she can maintain a torrid pace—usually only 10 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace for a 20-minute 5K runner. The key to running your best at 10K is performing a series of progressive 10K-specific workouts in the last six weeks of your training plan.
Not sure what I mean by 10K-specific workouts, or drawing a blank as to what that progression might look like? Have no fear. This article will detail the importance of race-specific workouts, and outline the perfect 10K progression for both beginners and experienced runners.
What is Race-Specific Training?
Simply speaking, specific training means the more you can tailor workouts to the specific physiological demands of your chosen exercise, the better you will get at that exercise. The principle of specific adaption applies to training in general as well as to specific race distances. In short, running more mileage is generally going to make you a better runner, compared to performing a CrossFit routine.
More: Can CrossFit Endurance Improve Your Runs?
While all types of running will generally help you improve, race-specific training will produce better results for a particular distance. In short, the closer you can perform workouts that mimic the exact physical demands of a specific race, the fitter you’ll get for racing that exact distance.
As a caveat, before you begin race-specific training, you should build your base-running fitness as high as possible by balancing the development of aerobic fitness. You can achieve this through four types of workouts:
- Tempo runs (focus on lactate threshold)
- Speed workouts (focus on VO2 max)
- Strides and short hill sprints (focus on neuromuscular development)
Like building a house, the stronger and larger you can build your foundation, the higher and more remarkable you can construct the peak.
More: 4 Tempo Run Workouts to Tune Up Your Training
Therefore, race-specific training should start six weeks out from your goal race after a good base-building period. The length of your base-building period will be determined by your experience level. Beginners will need 8 to 10 weeks of general training to be capable of completing the suggested workouts, while experienced runners may only need 4 to 6 weeks to get ready.