Conquer the 10k

Brilliant as a stand-alone distance and for anyone with longer distances in sight, here are seven ways to better your best in a 10k.

1. Master your pace

The 10k distance is brilliant for developing your speed and endurance capacity for longer distances. It’s a good distance to learn how to pace, but it can be tricky to master: go too fast in the early stages and you’ll blow up; stay in the Long Slow Run pace and you won’t be testing yourself or developing your speed or threshold running. The 10k should be slower than your 5k pace but faster than your half marathon pace. You can work out a rough guideline for your 10k with a pace calculator.

2. Benchmark your fitness

If you’re a regular 10k runner, half or full marathoner, a 10k race is an ideal way to benchmark your fitness and monitor your progress. Run a 10k at maximum effort every 4-6 weeks or so to see how your training is progressing. As well as signing up to races, you can easily plan your own DIY benchmark test too – use the same route to compare like for like.

3. Keep the jelly babies at home

For the vast majority of runners a 10k race will be sufficiently short enough to run without the need to fuel, so energy sweets and drinks can be left for before and after the race – if at all.

4. Try beetroot in the build up

You may not need to fuel during the run but shots of beetroot juice in the five days leading up to the race could up the ante. “Researchers have seen really good results in activities that last from 3 minutes up to 36 minutes,” says sports nutritionist Renee McGregor – which means a shot of the purple stuff could prove a good choice in the 10k distance.

5. It’s a challenge

No matter how fast a runner you are, 10k remains a perennial challenge and you can keep shaving seconds off your PB well into your running career. If you’ve set your sights especially high, know that the world record in the distance is 26:17:53 minutes for men (Kenenisa Bekele, 10,000m track, 2005) and 29:17.45 minutes for women (Almaz Ayana, 10,000m track, 2016) - times that typify a 5k for a lot of runners...

6. Hello Sunday lie-ins

You can practically say goodbye to Sunday morning lie-ins where marathon and half marathon training is concerned, but even in the latter stages of 10k training plans, runs typically won’t venture beyond 50 minutes so you’ll have plenty of time to rest and recover and do all the things we’re meant to do in running: stretch, foam roll, do some one-legged squats, have a massage, eat a balanced diet…

7. A key session: up the tempo

Tempo sessions are key to 10k training, training your body to sustain speed over distance and elevating your anaerobic threshold. To start, try 10-10s: 10-minute runs at 10k goal pace. Try 2-3 reps initially with a 3 minute jog after each, then gradually increase your reps to 5.