How to Get Faster at 10K: Run More 5Ks

If you want to crush your 10K personal record, 10K-specific training and racing more 10Ks is a must; but, did you know that 5K distance can help you become a faster, more efficient 10K runner?

A runner who carries out speed workouts at 10K and 5K paces eventually becomes much more comfortable at 10K speed and much more fatigue resistant at a 5K pace, increasing the likelihood that he or she will eventually be able to run 10Ks at close to current 5K speed. Learn how to run both a faster 5K and 10K with the following speed workouts from Running Science by Owen Anderson.

Speed Training at 10K Pace

In speed training, a general rule is that work-interval length expands at the slower end of the speed spectrum, that is, toward 10K and away from 800-meter speed. A 10K pace can hardly be considered lethargic, yet it is the slowest velocity used in speed training so the work intervals are the longest. A practical and productive work-interval length for 10K-paced speed training is 2,000 meters (1.2 miles). A speed training session at 10K pace should include a thorough warm-up, a specified number of 2,000-meter work intervals at 10K pace, jog recoveries after each work interval, a cooldown, and then stretching at the very end of the workout.

More: A Better Pre-Run Warm-Up: 5 Moves in 20 Minutes

The 2,000-meter intervals are easy to set up; this example presumes is based on a runner whose 10K finish time is about 40 minutes. Since there are 25 x 400-meter segments within a 10K, that's a 400-meter tempo of 40/25 = 1.6 minutes, or 96 seconds. There are five 400-meter components in a 2,000-meter work interval, so the goal time for each 2,000-meter interval would be 5 ? 96 = 480 seconds, or 8 minutes flat.

Ten thousand meter-paced intervals are demanding and facilitate a runner's capacity to move along at 10K tempo in continuous fashion for an extended period of time. Average work-interval intensity will automatically be about 90 percent of VO2 max, and blood lactate will be elevated during the intervals. So this workout will improve VO2 max and lactate-threshold velocity.

More: 3 Workouts to Increase VO2 Max

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that running at 10K speed enhances economy at this pace, an effect that should lead to upgrades in vVO2 max. Thus, a platform is created that makes current 10K speed easier to handle in race situations—and the physiological advancements prepare a runner to move up to faster velocities in future 10Ks.

  • 1
  • of
  • 3

About the Author

Owen Anderson

Owen Anderson, Ph.D., is the founder of Lansing Sports Management, which coaches elite athletes from Kenya and manages their international competitions. He has enjoyed a successful career coaching runners of all levels. He has written extensively on the topics of running training, strength training for running, sports nutrition, and injury prevention, appearing in Runner's World, Shape, Men's Health, Peak Performance, National Geographic Adventure and Sports Injury Bulletin. He is the race director of the annual Lansing Marathon, Lansing Half Marathon and Ekiden Relay, and he hosts running camps throughout the United States.

Discuss This Article