Training program to improve the 10K

The 10K is one of the most classic distances in the running world. It’s the first race you run when you decide to move from solo training to a real race. So if you want to try to deal with your first race or if you want to improve your time on the 10,000 m, here is a simple training program focused on the 10 Km.

The different types of training session

The sessions are basically 3.
The first training session is the Long Run. It’s slow and steady paced runs at the same or longer duration as the race. They are used to train endurance.
The second training session is the Intervals. Shorter than the race and very useful to train speed.
The third training session is the Rest. It is the most underrated activity, but it makes all the difference. When the program calls for rest, you simply rest your legs and wait for the next scheduled day.

Weekly schedule

After learning the types of sessions we move on to a training program. First we set up a schedule that includes a minimum of 4 training sessions per week.
In addition to this, it’s important to identify the road where you want to train. If you have an athletic field available, use it. Alternatively, locate a 400 m (a quarter mile) flat course for your intervals.

The typical week

Monday Rest
Tuesday Short Intervals 10X400 m – Recovery 1’10”
Wednesday Slow Run 12 Km (or Rest)
Thursday Long Intervals 8X1000 m – Recovery 400 m Very Slow
Friday Slow Run 13 Km (or Rest)
Saturday Slow Run 13 Km + 5 100 m increasing speed with 100 m Recovery
Sunday Progressive Medium Run 13 Km (Start 30″ slower than the Race pace and finish the session at Pace planned for the Race)


This is a basic program to train the various characteristics needed to run a 10K in the right way.
Ideally, follow a program of at least 6 weeks. So take this table and replicate it, adjusting the sessions, keeping the distance per week more or less the same.
As an example, another typical week might be this one:

Monday Rest
Tuesday Short distance intervals 15X200 m – Recovery 1’00
Wednesday Slow Run 13 Km (or Rest)
Thursday Long distance intervals 10X800 m – Recovery 2’00
Friday Slow Run 13 Km (or Rest)
Saturday Slow Run 13 Km + 5x 100 m increasing speed with 100 m Recovery
Sunday Slow Run 5 Km + Medium Run 5 Km + Fast Run 5 Km

The paces

To determine the speed of the sessions take a Basic Pace as a reference, which will be the pace to keep in your 10 km race. Starting from that pace add or subtract seconds per km according to the following:

Short Distance Intervals: 15 to 20 seconds faster than the Basic Pace
Long Distance Intervals: it’s your Basic Pace

Fast Run: 10 seconds slower than the Basic Pace
Medium Run: 20 to 25 seconds slower than the Basic Pace
Slow Run: 30 to 45 seconds slower than the Basic Pace

(Photo Credits mnemonic)

Edit (August 4, 2016): Since there are some repeating comments and requests I add a small edit hoping to clear the remaining doubts.

Item 1. The number of training sessions – As specified in the article, the number of sessions recommended by this program is 4. For those who want to do more, I added optional slow running sessions. Slow running is intended to be a light workout where little effort is made so that you can perform at your best the next day with the more strenuous session.
Item 2. The basic pace – It’s the speed that corresponds to your goal in the 10 km. Do you want to do the 10 Km in 50′ ? It will be 5′ per Km. Do you want to make them in 45′ ? It will be 4’30 per Km. For those who have no idea of their base speed, they can run a 10 Km with good effort and rely on that result to calculate their base speed.
Item 3. The commitment required – This is a training program designed for those who already run and want to improve on the 10 Km. For beginners, here on Runlovers there are useful tips.
Item 4. Warm-up – I recommend a well-done warm-up for interval sessions. For extended running sessions, you can use the first km as a warm-up starting slow and increasing slowly until you reach the pace you need to keep during the session.


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