The Best 10K Workout
Plus the buildup workouts for it
by Greg McMillan, M.S.
After running countless 10Ks and coaching runners who have run countless more, I've found one workout to be the absolute best to prepare you for the distance. It's not an easy workout and you probably can't do it right away, so you'll need to build up to it with the sequence of workouts outlined here, which, when combined with supplementary workouts, creates an exceptional training plan for your next goal 10K.
THE BEST 10K WORKOUT: 3 X 2 MILES
If you can perform three 2-mile repeats at your goal 10K pace in the last one to two weeks before your race, you will achieve your goal time. Period. It's a simple workout but oh-so-hard to accomplish. As such, you must build up to it, and this buildup of workouts turns out to be some of the best training you can do to run a fast 10K.
BUILDUP WORKOUT NO. 1: 6 X 1 MILE
Eight weeks out from your 10K, run six 1-mile repeats at your goal 10K pace, taking 3 to 4 minutes recovery jog between each. Don't be surprised if you struggle in this workout. Many athletes become worried that their goal is out of reach, but trust me: You just need to complete the workout sequence and you'll be ready. One thing I find helps is to just focus on goal 10K pace, not faster. Some runners try to "beat the workout" by running faster but that isn't the goal. Start at goal pace and simply hang on.
BUILDUP WORKOUT NO. 2: 2 MILE + 4 X 1 MILE
Six weeks out from your 10K, advance to the following workout: Run a 2-mile repeat at your goal 10K pace then take a 5-minute recovery jog. Next, run four 1-mile repeats at goal 10K pace, taking 3 to 4 minutes recovery jog between each. As with Workout No. 1, you will get in 6 miles of running at your goal pace.
BUILDUP WORKOUT NO. 3: 2 X 2 MILE + 2 X 1 MILE
Four weeks out from the race, the workout advances yet again. This time, run two 2-mile repeats at goal 10K pace. Again, take a 5-minute recovery jog after each 2-mile repeat. Then, perform two 1-mile repeats at goal pace, taking 3 minutes recovery between each. By now, you should be feeling much more ready to attack your goal time. Your body is becoming calloused to the mental and physical stress of 10K pace. If, however, you're struggling to hit your goal pace even on the first 2-mile repeat, then your proposed goal pace is too aggressive and you should re-evaluate.
WORLD'S BEST 10K WORKOUT
After this buildup of workouts, you're ready to attack the ultimate 10K workout. I suggest you perform this workout nine to 12 days before your race to allow enough time to recover before the event. Start with your usual warm-up (which you should perform for each workout described in this article), then run three 2-mile repeats at your goal 10K pace. Take a 5-minute recovery jog between each repeat. Prepare for this intense workout like you will your race -- be well-recovered, properly hydrated and fueled, use the equipment you'll use in the race, run at the time of day that you'll be racing.
While the 10K buildup workouts occur every other week, the in-between weeks provide a great opportunity to perform other important 5K and 10K workouts. I like 200m and 400m repeats performed at 5K effort. I find that running slightly faster repeats on the in-between weeks makes 10K race pace feel easier. You may even perform a 5K race in preparation for your 10K. I also recommend at least one tempo run during this buildup. The pace will be slightly slower than 10K pace but will build your stamina for the goal event.
SIMPLE EIGHT-WEEK WORKOUT SEQUENCE FOR A FAST 10K
WEEK KEY WORKOUT & NOTES
1 6 x 1M 3-minute jog between 1M repeats
2 10-12 x 400m Run the 400m repeats at 5K race pace; 200m jog between
3 2M + 4 x 1M 5-minute jog between 2M repeats, 3-minute jog between 1M repeats
4 3M Tempo Run or 5K Race One simple prediction method is to double your 5K time & add 1 minute to get your 10K time. Are you on track for your goal 10K time?
5 2 x 2M + 2 x 1M 5-minute jog between 2M repeats, 3-minute jog between 1M repeats
6 20-24 x 200m Run the 200m repeats at 5K race pace; 200m jog between
7 3 x 2M Run the 200m repeats at 5K race pace; 200m jog between
8 RACE: 10K
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A tempo interval workout that I've had particular success with is two (or three) times two miles at 10K race pace effort with three minute recovery jogs between repeats. Following a thorough warm-up, these provide a great training stimulus to prepare you for an upcoming 10K race. The effort required, the pace judgement and the mental discomfort all help immensely when race time comes. Do this workout seven to 14 days before your next 10K.
dna_leri wrote: »
He has changed a few minor points in the latest version, not least increasing the recovery time from 3 mins to 5 mins, which should make it more do-able.
DogSlySmile wrote: »
Interesting stuff, no LSR though????
Krusty_Clown wrote: »
Think I'll give it a go too. Looking forward to running fast again.
Sosa wrote: »
I'm going to give it a lash aswell Krusty...maybe for a good 5m on July 8th.....There is a 10k the following week but i will be in an 8 week cycle by then for the National Half on Sept 4th.
I might take a very easy week inbetween cycles depending on how i feel after the first 8 weeks.
Whats your target race ? it will be interesting to see if we get these sessions done...they are very tough looking....I will be trying to do them at 5:40p....even typing that makes me sweat !
Krusty_Clown wrote: »
I'm not too sure about a target race at the moment Sosa, but I reckon I'll give Dunshaughlin a pop in June, just to see how I'm fairing, with a view to trying to hit a PB soon afterwards (maybe July). Then there's the Frank Duffy in August, Half marathon in September, and the big dog (Chicago in October).
Would love to be aiming for 5:40s too, but I'm a log way off that at the moment.
Gringo78 wrote: »
Should you be doing these sessions on your own? What I mean is, if you do these in a group is it as good a predictor when you factor in drafting, someone else looking after pacing, the competitive nature of group interval sessions etc? The group session might be worth 5-10sec a mile which would be a difference of 30-60sec in target time over a 10k. Or they being McMillan workouts, does he expect you are doing them in a group?
menoscemo wrote: »
The adavantage of doing the workouts in a group is that you are less likely to drop out/ditch the last rep as there are other people watching.
10-12 x 400m Run the 400m repeats at 5K race pace; 200m jog between
couerdelion wrote: »
Sorry to drag this back up but it made me think...
How do you go about determining a realistic 10km time to aim for? I'd love to achieve 40 minutes sometime in the future but currently I am at about 50 minutes and I know I'm a long way off 40 minutes.
Cartman78 wrote: »
Is there a generally accepted/recommended long-run limit when following these types of programmes? ie. Is 10mile long enough??
Doing plenty of intervals, tempos etc. but a bit limited for the long slogs due to an injury earlier in the year
Krusty_Clown wrote: »
You mean upper limit or lower limit?
I guess it would depend on your target, your level of experience and how much you hope to improve. If you're an entry level runner, running your first or second 10k, then your long run would probably be 5-6 miles. If you're a semi-regular runner, hoping to hit a PB, then 10-12 miles, and if you're a regular 6/7 day a week runner, training for a range of longer distances, and gains in 10k distance don't come easy, then it should probably be around 12-16 miles. But there aren't really any rules of thumb.
tHE vAGGABOND wrote: »
Digging this up from the archives...