How To Get A 10K Personal Best
Are you seeking a 10K personal best or trying to come up with new ways to run faster for the 10K distance?
Regardless where you are at in your fitness the bottom line when it comes to specific race performances, race pace training has to be implemented into your weekly training routine.
You can’t second guess yourself into believing that your time is past because it hasn’t.
The masters record for the marathon for men and women are 2.08.46 and 2.24.56, respectively.
World records for older categories are just as if not more impressive.
There are no excuses not to still see that even as we age runners can still break barriers and run faster then men and women half our age.
It all comes down to priorities, how bad you want it.
As I sit here icing my calf dreaming of my own new personal best for the 10K to marathon distances, my way of getting over what every other runner has experienced once or twice in their career, sore muscles, is writing methods to get more runners setting new bests faster.
It was on my heart on my run this afternoon so hopefully some of what is written will resonate with you and get you out there door more motivated.
The 10K Event
The 10K distance is a far more anaerobic race then the half-marathon or marathon distance. It is only 6.2 miles.
You get to the 20-mile mark in the marathon and you still have another 10K to go.
That being said, the 10K distance is a much more aggressive, anaerobic and fast paced race and one you have to prepare accordingly in order to set a new personal best.
I have mentioned this in previous posts but the bottom line when running races with a specific goal in mind is training the body in such a way to clear lactic acid faster then it is building up in your muscles.
It is the hydrogen ion within lactic acid that is the real culprit for why we slow down in races.
Few know that unless you have studied exercise physiology and are an anatomy nerd like me.
It is when lactic acid fails to get converted back to energy that we succumb to slowing down in races. We get passed up while others fly by us like we are standing still.
Have you been there before?
I know I have it and it sucks to have that feeling when you want to go but there simply is nothing left.
Focus On Nutrition
Your body has run out of glycogen and the hydrogen ion is doing what it does best, shutting down muscle functioning.
I have mentioned glutathione in recent posts but the reason I do is because it plays such an enormous role in ensuring ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate), otherwise known as the energy production system within the body, functions as it should.
Antioxidants play such a huge role in athletic performance in that they clear free radicals (atoms that are missing electrons) that are formed when oxygen mix with other molecules, and toxins from the body.
As I mentioned previously if the liver is the washing machine for cleaning up toxins, pollutants and free radicals from hard exercise then glutathione is the detergent.
The harder we train the more of these are created and if we don’t take care of ourselves, toxins and other environmental pollution we breathe in will most certainly cause us not to perform they way we want to at the 10K distance.
The average athlete consumes 12 to 20 percent more oxygen then your average sedentary individual who doesn’t work out.
If glutathione and paying attention to recovery is important to a sedentary person for their immune system to function properly, how much more so for the serious athlete?
This is probably the most important bit of information in this entire post.
There is more to running success then the workouts we do.
We have to take care of our bodies, that involves proper nutrition, sleep, hydration and not losing motivation to workout
These are things we can very easily overlook and not realize the long-term effects of neglecting these vital areas of our training.
I bring up researching glutathione for a reason, because I care and also due to the fact that for 23 years of training I never had any clue about how important it was.
Think success in the 10K distance is just about doing the proper training?
It is a highly anaerobic (meaning without oxygen) event. You have to train the specific energy systems of the body to get the most bang for your buck.
The higher exertion rate asked the more glutathione becomes even more important.
Energy Production Importance
We are talking about oxygen delivery and energy production here and when it comes to running fast, regardless what distance we are aiming for, toxin and free radical build up can cause detrimental effects on athletic performance.
If you have been doing everything right in training and still not getting the results you may want to go back and read some of my past posts, they are in-depth, very long and thorough for a reason.
I want my readers to be as educated as they can be so that they can pass up the setbacks that others, including myself, have had to endure.
Let’s say your goal is to run 40 minutes for the 10K distance.
You are asking of yourself to hold a 6.26 per mile pace, with no breaks, for 6.2 miles.
A Well Executed Plan Will Yield Faster Personal Bests
You have to have a plan.
Simply going from day to day with the attitude ‘well, I think I will do this workout today’ isn’t going to cut it.
That is half-assing it.
I know because I have done that in the past as well.
A 6.26 pace for over 6 miles involves proper training. 6.26 pace, even for me, is quality running so anyone aiming for 40 minutes or below for the 10K distance has my respect.
All runners do but athletes with a specific goal in mind have to take training specificity more seriously and care less about running junk miles for mileage sake.
Write down your goals and plan, then execute them.
It is much easier to sit down and form up a 12-week 10K plan and know what you have to do for the next 3-months then it is to guess as each day passes.
It takes the stress off of wondering ‘what am I going to do tomorrow’.
Take it out of the equation altogether and create a plan or have one made one for you.
Personal Best Faster
I wanted to include some of the most in-depth training fundamentals that have been passed on to me from coaches like Dr. Joe Vigil, Lisa Rainsberger, Jack Hazen and Keith and Kevin Hanson.
The bottom line when it comes to running faster at the 10K distance is being able to sustain pace.
You can be on for 4 miles and then totally blow up the last 2.2 miles and ruin your time.
If you train properly you will not only be able to sustain pace but increase your effort in the closing miles.
The Hanson brothers have mastered this form of training with their athletes in Michigan.
They spent a lot of time doing long runs at faster efforts and hard, longer fartlek sessions that simply produce results.
This isn’t rocket science but far too many runners with time goals need to get around the mileage game and dig even deeper into increasing the percentage of their weekly miles closer to goal pace.
Increasing the time one trains at their anaerobic threshold will make that athlete dangerous when it is time to race.
You do this by training at or below the pace your aiming at
You want race pace to feel comfortable and in control. One should never get the first mile into a 10K feeling totally flat.
If this has happened to you it could be for a variety of reasons.
Here are a few:
1. Training block has been too long, just like anything else, too much of anything can wear you out.
Some time away from training may be what you need.
2. You could very well be anemic (iron).
These are two of the biggest unknowns among runners.
Most have heard about iron.
I can guarantee you 9 times out of 10 if you asked another runner what glutathione is, what it’s purpose is and how the body produces it, they would look at your strange.
Take what I write about glutathione seriously, research about it.
Google ‘PubMed’ and then go in and type in searches such as ‘glutathione and athletic performance’ or glutathione and cancer’ etc.
You will be shocked at the level of studies that have gone on regarding this master antioxidant.
3. A higher percentage of your weekly mileage has simply been run too slow for too long of a period of time.
4. Stress – work, family, responsibilities.
All of these can weigh on an athlete and trying to juggle them all and keep a clear head can be challenging.
Remember, we are always in control of our environment and our thoughts.
It can be tough but remember there are other athletes out there dealing with the same struggles and running fantasic times.
If we don’t like what our environment is bringing us then we have the choice to remain there and be miserable or consider other options.
The old saying…
Misery loves company
…can be very true. Be weary of the negative thoughts that creep up you, you are in control.
Running involves a lot of mental focus and we have to ensure we maintain calm and positive.
If we miss the mark, so what, it sucks, got it, but it gives us no reason to quit or to believe we will never attain it.
Some people are just impatient, don’t be that guy or gal.
You have what it takes but sometimes you simply have to be more persistent and aggressive for what you want then the next person.
Everyone has the capacity for greatness, not everyone wants it as badly as they want their next breathe.
Do longer fartleks.
You may have read my previous posts where I mention doing shorter fartleks like 10×1 minute hard followed by 1 minute easy, but to run fast for any distance, getting used to doing longer farlek runs can help drop significant time off your 10K
A few of the fartlek workouts I use for the 10K to marathon distance are as follows and it doesn’t matter if I am aiming for the 10K, half marathon, 25K or marathon, I usually do these very same workouts.
The longer you can go the more lethal you are going to be at shorter distances.
- 4x2K on the road running at a heart rate of 165 to 172 beats per minute followed by 1K at 135 beats per minute for recovery, this is over 7 miles of very hard running that makes for a significantly stronger 10K to marathon specialist
- 8x1K at 20 seconds per mile faster then goal 10K pace with 1K at 20 seconds slower then goal race pace for recovery. Again, very difficult workout but also one that produces a significant physiological boost.
- 10x800m on the road at 5K goal pace with 800m at 30 seconds per mile slower then goal 10K pace for recovery
- 4x5K at 170 beats per minute followed by 1K at 130 beats per minute recovery (very easy recovery), twice the distance of your goal 10K which will make you twice as strong depending on how seriously you take your recovery afterward.
These are just a few of the workouts I use in my own 10K preparation.
I firmly believe in longer duration fartlek training sessions as they can help yield you results faster then just piling up slower miles week after week.
The best coaches and runners in the world utilize similar training sessions in their training.
It isn’t about the amount of miles you are running weekly but the percentage of those miles that are targeted toward your goal race pace that counts.
This cannot and should not ever be neglected. The bottom line when it comes to running fast, regardless what goal pace you have in mind, is teaching the body to be able to continue to convert lactic acid back to the energy it needs.
The 10K is not like the half marathon or marathon distances where if you make a mistake early on you can correct it with plenty of time (and miles) to spare.
The shorter the race the more anaerobic pressure is placed on the body.
This is where the athlete absolutely must take into account recovery and implementing proper workouts that specifically stress those areas of our physiology that ask the most of us to run fast for long periods of time.
The Kenyans make it look easy for a reason.
They spend untold amounts of time and a much larger percentage of their weekly training volume training at a higher percentage of their max heart rate.
What Happens When We Train Faster
Less blood is needed to pump to our working muscles. The heart simply doesn’t have to work as hard as it normally did prior to us getting into great shape.
Lactic acid tolerance is increased.
This is crucial.
The only difference between the guy or gal who can presently outrun you, aside from possibly being more talented, is that they have trained in such a way that they can hold off lactic acid accumulation just a little longer then you.
Talent is everything. If it is lazy it will get its ass kicked by the untalented athlete with far more heart and desire to succeed.
That is where training at or below goal pace comes in.
Is it fun?
No, it hurts and it sucks but to get results when it comes to particular race goals, easy running doesn’t cut the cake.
Don’t get me wrong.
You absolutely must take into account your easy, recovery days but also don’t run easy 6 out of the 7 days you train.
Too much training at speeds far slower then your goal pace won’t get you to a 10K personal best any faster.
It is the quality, not the quantity that matters
The athlete seeking to run under 40 minutes for 10K mentioned previously has to sustain an average of 6.26 per mile for over 6 miles.
If that same athlete is doing 98% of their training at 8.00 mile pace and only once doing a workout of any form of substance per week at or close to that 6.26 per mile effort, their chance of earning a personal best will be all the more difficult.
The desire is there otherwise he or she wouldn’t be out putting in the work, but what is the quality of the work being done?
There is no need to get down on yourself if you don’t hit your targeted 10K time.
Learn from it, brush your shoulders off, make adjustments and continue on until you do get that PR.
It is always a matter of just making necessary changes in how you train, the duration and intensity of your long runs and fartleks and your attentiveness to your nutritional needs.
The latter is usually overlooked.
We will get excited about the training we don’t always take into recovery methods such as proper eating, sleep cycles and taking our easy days, easy.
The worst days to go on a recovery day is with a big group.
Folks get too caught up in pace and then they feel bad or worry about ‘measuring up’ if they drop back and don’t stay with the group.
Sometimes it takes just as much effort and discipline to back off when you should so you can recover as it does putting in hard fartlek sessions, track workouts or long runs at a few seconds per mile slower then your goal pace.
There are just a few helpful hints and suggestions that I hope will assist you in gaining on your current best time or earning a 10k personal best in 2014 and beyond.
Let me know if you have any further questions, leave a comment or contact me.
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