Take 10

As it’s time for the annual Winchester 10k road race, it’s  the opportunity to look at how YOU can improve your personal best by looking back at 10k races you’ve done in the past and forward to see how you can get fitter and faster!

Firstly train as a team if you can … it makes it so much easier when you get to the start line

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Secondly – Set yourself a REALISTIC target based on your current running.  There’s no point in setting yourself a 50 minute 10k target if your taking half an hour to run 5k.

Thirdly, find somebody to pace you around your first 10k – that way you’ll be less likely to fall into trap of running too fast at the start and you’ll run a more even race. TRUST your pacer!

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Next, as soon as you book your race then start to put some work into your training to get your mind and body better equipped for the race.

So what are the best strategies you can use to smash that 10k target?   

Specific speed work

The only way of REALLY getting to grips with this it to take on some interval training into your running routine  These can be done on road, trail or even the treadmill and the aim is to start small and gradually build up the volume and intensity as your run fitness increases.

Some examples:

1.5 km reps: Start with 3 x 1.5km at 70% of your fastest with 2 minutes jog recovery and aim to build to 6 reps.

3 minute reps: Start with 6 x 3 minutes with 90 seconds jog recovery and aim to build to 8-10 reps.]

1 minute reps: Start with 12 x 1 minute with 1 minute jog recovery and aim to build to 15-20 reps.

400m with 200m recovery:  start with 4-5 reps and aim to build towards 8-10.  This is a good workout to do on the treadmill as you can measure the distances easily and increase the difficulty by adding gradient.  In this workout the recovery is WALK.

600m with 400m recovery: Start with 3-4 reps and aim to build towards 6-8. The idea of this workout is to run a faster segment followed by an active recovery, where you still maintain a good pace. This teaches your body to ‘recover’ and buffer any lactate in your blood at faster speeds because you don’t get any recovery during a race!

Focus on your endurance

Remember that with better endurance you’ll be able to hold your speed for longer and will finish faster and stronger. It’s no coincidence that many runners improve their 10k personal best while training for much longer races. Consistent training, both on the roads and in the gym, combined with  regular weekly long runs are the most effective ways to improve your endurance.

Get to know your PACE and work with it

Good pace judgement is essential if you want to run a fast 10k. It’s too long to run hard all the way and you can guarantee that if you go off to fast your finish will be slow and painful.  The smartest runners are those who spread their effort over the duration of the race by running even or negative splits.

Work out your splits then get used to running them in training runs so you can FEEL the speed.

Prime your energy stores

When it comes to 10k, carbohydrate is your body’s fuel of choice as it’s quick to break down and produces energy rapidly.   Aim to eat an easily digestible carb-based breakfast such as toast and honey or muesli and a banana and try taking a gel or or a small amount of sports drink such as 15-20 minutes before the start.

Pick your races carefully

If you’re serious about running a fast 10k then you need to think carefully about which race will maximise your chances of scorching to a personal best, so you might want to consider the profile of the course and avoid those with too many undulations!

Taper towards the end

If you want to give yourself the best possible chance of running a fast 10k then you will need to taper your training in the week before the race so that your legs are fresh and ready to roll. In the final week you should cut down the length of your runs and your last training session should be 4-5 days before the race.   It’s time to rest up and get yourself ready to run on the day: the last week is too late make any real difference as the work’s already been done!

And finally … enjoy the medals – you’ve earned them.  If it hasn’t been a great race for you, remember there’s always another one and you can learn something from EVERY race that you run.

Happy running!

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