Whether you’re training for your first 10km or building up to a PB attempt, completing the right sessions is critical to your success on the day.
As opposed to a half-marathon or marathon, training for a 10km isn’t solely about spending time on your feet. 10k training requires a mix of easy runs and high-quality sessions that take you to the edge of your comfort zone — and keep you there.
Irrespective of your running background or race goals, the aim should be to complete at least two hard sessions per week. Your fitness level and running goals will dictate what happens on the days in between these sessions.
Remember to spread out your hard sessions across the week. We recommend a Tuesday and Thursday or Tuesday and Saturday workout schedule with light to medium intensity running on the days in between these high-intensity sessions.
While it may not always feel great, light intensity jogging the day after your workout will promote recovery and reduce soreness.
1. 3x3km (500m jog between)
3x3km reps is one of the longest interval sessions that you will do in the build-up to your next 10km race.
Some runners choose to do this on a nice flat surface, while others opt for a more undulating loop. Either way, the key to this session is regularity. Keep your surface or loop consistent so that you can monitor improvements in time and perceived effort as your fitness improves.
The goal pace for this session will change as your fitness improves. Make sure you feel comfortable for the first effort, in control on the second effort and hold your form for the final 3km effort. If you can perform this workout at your goal 10km pace, you will be able to run that pace on race day — simple as that.
10k Workout Goal Pace: Half Marathon — 10km Goal Pace
Recovery: 500m Easy Jog
2. 15x400m Intervals
Over speed training is the key to feeling relaxed at your goal 10km pace. 15x400m is a great leveller, it combines strength and endurance training into one intense workout.
In order to improve your 10km, it’s important to add training stimulus that forces you to go beyond your predetermined 10km pace. Balance the extremes of endurance and speed and you will naturally improve your efficiency and running economy.
Take to the track or a measured loop for 15x400m repetitions. The first 5 should be a breeze, the next five you will slowly go into oxygen debt, and the last five will be where you will need to maintain your running form and composure.
10k workout Goal Pace: 5km Race Pace
Recovery: 1:1 Work to Recovery. Ie. 75sec Rep = 75sec Rest.
3. 8x1km Intervals
1km repeats are one of the most fundamental sessions for middle distance and long-distance runners alike.
Find a 400m track or flat 1km loop for this session — you want to be able to simulate the rhythm that you will need when you’re chasing that 10km PB.
Don’t be surprised if you struggle with this workout. 1km repeats are one of the most strenuous sessions that you will complete in your build-up to 10km. When you are ready to tackle your 10km PB, you should be able complete each of these reps at the same pace that you expect to run on race day.
If you’re new to running or haven’t done this session in the past, don’t get too caught with your splits, you should feel comfortable for the first half of the session. As the workout progresses, it will become increasingly difficult to recover in-between reps — this is where the training effect will be gained.
10k Workout Goal Pace: 10km Pace
Recovery: 3:1 Work to Recovery. Ie. If you’re running 3min per interval take 1min rest. If you’re taking 4.30min per interval take 1.30min rest.
4. Tempo Run
There is no hiding behind recoveries in a tempo run. Much like a 10km race, tempo runs are an unforgiving mistress — misjudge your pace early and you’ll pay for it the rest of the way.
Lactate threshold pace (LT pace) is the best indicator of distance running fitness. In short, your LT pace is how fast you can run before lactic acid builds up in your muscles and inhibits your ability to continue running at the same pace.
Tempo runs should be done in the intensity range at which lactate is just starting to accumulate. As your fitness progresses and you complete more tempo runs, your lactate threshold pace will improve.
During a tempo run, your heart rate will naturally increase by several beats per minute even if your pace stays the same. That means that maintaining your tempo or ‘threshold pace’ will become increasingly difficult as the run progresses.
To begin, a 15min tempo is sufficient and will get your body used to being uncomfortable for sustained periods. As you progress, you should aim to complete 20min, 25min, and eventually 30min tempo runs at somewhere between 10km and half marathon pace.
10km Workout Goal Pace: Half Marathon Pace
Recovery: None — Continuous effort
5. Parkrun 5km
Parkrun is the perfect lead-up to your next 10km PB attempt.
For those not in the know, Parkrun organise free, weekly, 5km timed runs across Australia (and the world). They are completely free, open to everyone and a great way to test your fitness on an accurately measured 5km course.
There are hundreds of Parkrun events across Australia and they are frequented by Olympian’s, elites, hobby joggers and newbies. They are a melting pot of enthusiasm and a great way to connect with your local running community.
Ideally, you want to complete this session one or two weeks out from your next 10km race. The goal should be to run slightly faster than your goal 10km race pace. Don’t limit yourself. Go out hard, hold on and finish strong — this run will give you a very good idea of what you are capable of in your next 10km.
10k Workout Goal Pace: Faster than 10km Pace
Recovery: None — Run Hard!
The truth is, there is no magic session or best 10k workout to do in a lead up to the race, it’s all about variety and varied stimulus. These 10k sessions. are a great way to mix up your training in the lead-up to your next race. Want more support? An online running coach or running group is a great way to take your training to the next level.