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How to Train for a 10K PR

Every one of us reaches a point in training where our progress levels off and new PRs are hard to come by. The typical response is more training mileage or more intensity, or both. This can work initially but we quickly discover that the next plateau is accompanied by burnout and injuries—or a lack of time.

But the problem isn’t your commitment. The main culprit is unidentified weak links, and therefore, the wrong training focus.


“Just because running is a simple activity doesn’t mean running training can be simplistic.”


It is important to understand that your current 10K race ability is determined by your aerobic fitness, neuromuscular power, and 10K-specific endurance. Most likely you have a strength in 1 or 2 domains but fall short in 1 or 2 of the 3. This is your weakness that holds you back from faster 10K times.


See also: 10K Plans for Faster Race Results


Aerobic fitness: This is your maximal oxygen uptake, expressed in VO2max. Some running watches feature a VO2max reading, but it really is just an estimate that doesn’t replace a laboratory test. Below you find the approximate VO2max values for different 10K race times.

  • 30:00min = VO2max 72
  • 35:00min = VO2max 61
  • 40:00min = VO2max 52
  • 45:00min = VO2max 45
  • 50:00min = VO2max 40

If you fall short in aerobic fitness, you will not surpass the above-mentioned times unless you address it in training. Of course, your running economy (efficient use of oxygen) also factors in here, which explains the variation between individuals despite similar VO2max values.


See also: 10K Plans for Faster Race Results


Muscular power: This is your ability to generate force quickly. The most running-specific measure of your muscular power is your ability to sprint. Below you find the approximate 200m sprint ability for different 10K race times.

  • 30:00min = 200m in 24sec
  • 35:00min = 200m in 28sec
  • 40:00min = 200m in 33sec
  • 45:00min = 200m in 37sec
  • 50:00min = 200m in 41sec

If you fall short in muscular power, you will not surpass the above-mentioned race times unless you address it in training. This is because if you can’t run 200m fast, then you will be challenged to run 400, 800, or 1600m repetitions/intervals with the necessary intensity.


See also: 10K Plans for Faster Race Results


10K-Specific Endurance: This is built upon your foundation of aerobic fitness and muscular power. For the 10K this entails some anaerobic power, lactate avoidance, and running economy at 10K pace. The 10K utilizes 100% of your slow-twitch fibers, 80% of your intermediate fast-twitch fibers, and 35% of your super fast-twitch fibers.

  • 90% of your maximal aerobic capacity
  • 55% of your maximal speed
  • 10% anaerobic contribution
  • 4.6mmol blood lactate/liter

In other words, if you are not trained for the unique demands of 10K-specific endurance, you will not surpass your current 10K race ability despite a solid foundation of aerobic fitness and muscular power. Rather, they are a pre-condition for 10K-specific endurance.


See also: 10K Plans for Faster Race Results


Now, how do you optimize all three variables – aerobic fitness, muscular power, and 10K-specific endurance – for faster 10K times?

The solution is purposeful workouts within a framework of periodization. To get this right is the art and science of training. 

Hi! I'm Sandro Sket, a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist from Germany. As an athlete I have won multiple awards in middle-distance and long-distance running events. My training plans combine science-based principles with the practical methods of professional athletes.
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCSs) are professionals who apply scientific knowledge to train athletes for the primary goal of improving athletic performance. They design and implement safe and effective strength training and conditioning programs.

10K Training Plans

Faster times at the 10K are not just the result of training more or harder. Real progress begins by maximizing aerobic fitness, muscular power, and race-specific endurance—in the right order.

Train with the same system used by professional athletes to set a new personal record at your next 10K race.

Elevate your aerobic capacity (VO2max)
Boost your lactate threshold/tolerance
Increase your neuromuscular power
Upgrade your fatigue resistance
Improve your running economy

10K Beginner

10-week plan
3 running days/week
15 miles/week (24 km/week)

10K Intermediate

10-week plan
4 running days/week
25 miles/week (40 km/week)

10K Advanced

10-week plan
4 - 6 running days/week
37 miles/week (60 km/week)

10K Pre-Elite

10-week plan
5 - 7 running days/week
50 miles/week (80 km/week)

10K Custom

Do you prefer a plan handcrafted for you?

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