Get Faster In 8 Weeks With This 10K Training Plan

Continue 6.2 miles with training and race day tips from the pros.

10k training plan
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Week 10K Training Plans for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced race distances in the U.S.: the 5K and the half marathon. Yet, only 1.5 million runners registered for 6.2-mile races, compared to nearly nine million for the 5K in 2019, according to Running USA’s U.S. Running Trends 2020 report. Where’s the love for the 10K?

For athletes like Dominique Scott, a professional runner who represented South Africa in the 10,000-meter race (the track equivalent to a 10K road race) at the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2020 Summer Olympics and trains with Team Boss in Boulder, Colorado, it’s the length that’s so appealing. “So much can happen and change during those six miles,” says Scott. “It’s long enough that there’s time to warm up into it—which I like—but also long enough that you need to have a strong mental game.”

That perspective applies to recreational runners as well as the pros. “Regardless of how long this distance takes you to complete—whether it’s a half hour or a over an hour—it’s similar to a tempo or threshold run,” says Marco Anzures, a USATF-certified endurance coach, certified strength and conditioning specialist, and head women’s cross-country coach at San Diego City College. “It’s a nice, hard distance, but it’s not as intimidating as a 5K [in terms of speed] and it’s not going to beat you up the same way a half marathon might.”

With a solid aerobic base, you can be ready to race a 10K in as little to six weeks (and no more than 12 weeks), says Anzures—a way more accessible timeline than a lengthy half marathon or marathon training plan.

How to Prepare for Racing a 10K

Clock your fastest times at this distance by prioritizing two types of workouts: long, steady state runs and speed work, says Anzures.

“Saturday: 75-90 minute long run at a conversational pace marathon pace,” he says, where your effort level is between 50 to 85 percent of your max heart rate, or a 6 to 7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. These slower efforts strengthen your slow twitch (type I) muscle fibers, which are geared towards endurance events, and train your cardio, respiratory, and muscular systems to work more efficiently—which will help you go faster in the long run.

For lower volume runners, you want to at least cover the race distance, a.k.a. six miles or 60 minutes, in your long run training, says Anzures. “Closer to the race, you can incorporate faster paces in the second half of those long runs, closer to what you think your race pace intensity might be. Runners who are used to higher mileage wouldn’t want to go longer than 18 miles or two hours,” he says, referring to your max distance long run. And you don’t want to do that super long run every week. “Every other week is enough to maintain your aerobic system,” he explains.

A 10K race is a mostly aerobic effort, meaning your hearts and lungs are able to keep up with the oxygen demands of your muscles. “Don’t neglect the long run!” says Scott. “Whether you're doing a hard long run or just spending time on your feet, the long run is very important to increase your aerobic ability.”

How to Build Muscle as a Runner running economy, or your ability to run faster while using less energy, you’ll have to pick up the pace.

“Runners aiming to finish in around an hour should do speed work that taps into your mile pace for shorter reps of 100 to 400 meters,” says Anzures. (Do those repetitions on hills to up the intensity and help you Monday: 40-50 minute run with 6 x 100m strides afterwards.)

“For those who can cover 10K in 40 minutes or less, you want to do longer chunks—maybe 1K or 2K intervals throughout two or three miles of work—at threshold effort,” says Anzures. That means going slightly slower than your 5K pace.

For example, every other week in the months leading up to the Tokyo Olympics, Scott ran four miles at 5:20 pace (20 seconds slower than her mile PR pace) followed by four 400-meter intervals, getting faster with each repetition. “This is a great race simulation workout as racing 10,000 meters feels pretty similar,” she explains. “You’re in a happy rhythm for the majority of the race, and then try to increase your turnover with a mile or two to go when you’re already tired.”

How to Have a Successful 10K Race Day

No race day exists in a vacuum, so setting yourself up for a PR begins way before you get to the start line. “Make sure you’re hydrating well in the days leading up to the race—the day of is too late,” says Scott. “Then eat a light meal two or three hours before the start of your race. I like to have a peanut butter and banana sandwich three hours before and two shots of espresso 90 minutes before my races.”

Once you do cross the start line, stay patient. “That first mile, err on the side of being a little slower, because you can always pick it up based on how you feel,” says Anzures. “It’s a lot harder to pick up the pace at the end if you go out way too hard in a 10K because you still have so much ground to cover.”

During the race, as Scott said earlier, you’re going to have to tap into your mental strength. “Six miles is a long time to focus and stay engaged,” she says. “I personally try to break the race up into two 5Ks: The first 5K I find my pace and ‘my people’ and then try to stay as relaxed as possible. I focus on having a calm mind, keeping my body relaxed, and not thinking about too much else. The second 5K is when I tell myself it's ‘race time’ and shift my focus to racing the people around me and being aware of what my splits are.”

Your 8-Week 10K Training Plan for a Faster Finish Time

Ready to cover six miles faster than ever? “This 10k training plan will work well for a runner who has several months of running under their belt already and can run around 20 miles a week,” says Anzures. “In the first four weeks, the workouts emphasize sharpening aerobic power. Then you'll transition into specific aerobic development for the 10K during the last four weeks.”

If you’re not up for two workouts per week, you can swap out Friday’s session for an easy run—don’t skip the Tuesday workouts or the weekly long run, though. Make sure to perform an inclusive warmup with a jog, dynamic drills, and strides prior to each workout. And don’t forget postrun recovery, too.

Week 1

  • Monday: 30-40 minute run with 6 x 100m strides afterwards
  • Tuesday: 8 x 400m at 5k race pace with 1-minute walk or jog recovery
  • Wednesday: 30-40 minute run, cross-train, or OFF
  • Thursday: 20-30 minute recovery run
  • Friday: Optional - 8 x 200m at mile race pace with a 200m walk recovery
  • Saturday: 60-90 minute long run at a conversational pace
  • Sunday: OFF

    Week 2

    • Monday: 30-40 minute run with 6 x 100m strides afterwards
    • Tuesday: 6 x 800m at 10k race pace (5k race pace plus 10 seconds)
    • Wednesday: 30-40 minute run, cross-train or OFF
    • Thursday: 20-30 minute recovery run
    • Friday: Optional - 4 x 400m at mile race with 200m walk recovery
    • Saturday: 60-75 minute long run with the last 15 minutes a “fast finish” where you cut down your pace slightly every 5 minutes
    • Sunday: OFF

      Week 3

      • Monday: 40-50 minute run with 6 x 100m strides afterwards
      • Tuesday: 12 x 400m at 5k race pace with with 1-minute walk or jog recovery
      • Wednesday: 30-40 minute run, cross-train, or OFF
      • Thursday: 20-30 minute recovery run
      • Friday: Optional - 8 x 200m at mile race pace with a 200m walk recovery
      • Saturday: 60-90 minute long run at a conversational pace
      • Sunday: OFF

        Week 4

        • Monday: 30-40 minute run with 6 x 100m strides afterwards
        • Tuesday: 6 x 800m at 10k race pace (5k race pace plus 10 seconds)
        • Wednesday: 30-40 minute run, cross-train, or OFF
        • Thursday: 20-30 minute recovery run
        • Friday: Optional - 4 x 400m at mile race with 200m walk recovery
        • Saturday: 60-75 minute long run with a “fast finish” last 20 minutes where you cut down your pace slightly every 5 minutes
        • Sunday: OFF

          Week 5

          • Monday: 30-40 minute run with 6 x 100m strides afterwards
          • Tuesday: 2 x 2 mile threshold run with 2 minute jog recovery
          • Wednesday: 30-40 minute run, cross-train, or OFF
          • Thursday: 20-30 minute recovery run
          • Friday: Optional - 5 x 1k at 10k race pace (5k race pace plus 10-15 seconds) with 3 minutes jog recovery
          • Saturday: 75-90 minute long run at a conversational pace
          • Sunday: OFF

            Week 6

            • Monday: 30-40 minute run with 6 x 100m strides afterwards
            • Tuesday: 2 mile threshold run, 5 minutes jog recovery, 2 x 1-mile 10 seconds faster than your threshold pace
            • Wednesday: 30-40 minute run, cross-train, or OFF
            • Thursday: 20-30 minute recovery run
            • Friday: Optional - 5 x 1k at 10k race pace (5k race pace plus 10-15 seconds) with 3 minutes jog recovery
            • Saturday: 60 minute run
            • Sunday: OFF

              Week 7

              • Monday: 30-40 minute run with 6 x 100m strides afterwards
              • Tuesday: 2 mile threshold run, 5 minutes jog recovery, 1 x 1-mile 15 seconds faster than your threshold pace
              • Wednesday: 30-40 minute run, cross-train, or OFF
              • Thursday: 20-30 minute recovery run
              • Friday: Optional - 5 x 1k at 5k race pace with 2 minutes jog recovery
              • Saturday: 60 minute run
              • Sunday: OFF

                Week 8

                • Monday: 20-30 minute run with 6 x 100m strides afterwards
                • Tuesday: 2 mile threshold run, 10-15 minutes jog recovery, 1-mile run all-out
                • Wednesday: 20-30 minute run, cross train, or OFF
                • Thursday: 20-30 minute recovery run
                • Friday: Prerace routine, 20 minute jog, 6-8 strides at race pace
                • Saturday: Race day!
                • Sunday: OFF

                  6-Week 10K Training Plans for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced

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