Many 10-K runners have hit a wall, where they feel they can’t improve their times any more, or their current training regimen has outlived its usefulness, and they need to take their training to the next level. For them noted training expert Hal Higdon offers training patterns to help improve performance.
Fred Wilt, the 1948 and 1952 Olympian, who coached Hal to some of his best times, felt that the route to success in the 10-K required runners to do at least some speedwork. He wrote: “For top results in the 10,000 meters, training should be about the same for both road and track. But road runners often do not put in sufficient high-speed, anaerobic training. Specifically, they do not do enough repetitions at a speed equal to, or slightly faster than, the best average time they expect to run in competition.”
Such running is recommended, for the serious 10-K runner, once or twice a week. Daily sprints are also necessary: three to six flat-out 50- to 100-meter dashes done at the end of the warm-up before the major part of the workout.
“Most good road runners put in sufficient mileage to race 10,000 meters,” Wilt wrote. “The only problem is that they should carefully monitor the quality (speed) of their running if they want to produce their best results.” He felt that correct 10-K training should include about 80% aerobic (easy running) and 20% anaerobic (fast running) running. An infinite number of training variations are possible utilizing this 80/20 ratio.
Remember that no ideal method of training exists, and that there is no difference in training for males and females. Training on a road or track or trails isn’t as important for success as mixing intensity and volume. And don’t make the novice’s mistake of missing out on proper rest, particularly before you race.
If your best time in a 10-K is around 37:00 and your pace around 6:00, the following workout should help your times significantly:
On Sunday run14 miles easy. On Monday, jog four miles. For Tuesday, jog a mile for warm-up, run twelve 400s slow, jogging in between. Cool down with a one mile jog.
On Wednesday do six miles easy. For Thursday, warm up by jogging a mile, then do four 400s fast, walking in between. Cool down with another one mile jog. On Friday do nine miles easy, and Saturday do four.
(Remember the sprints mentioned earlier, just after the warm-up.)
Now if your best 10-K time is around 43:30, and you pace at 7:00, try a little lighter workout for a while. On Sunday run ten miles easy, and Monday jog two miles. For Tuesday, warm up with a mile jog and do ten 400s slow, walking in between. Cool down with a one mile jog.
Wednesday do four miles easy, and on Thursday do what the Swedes call “speedplay”, or fartlek, which is a form of training usually run on trails, alternating easy and fast running at various distances. On Friday run four miles easy and Saturday do two miles.
(For these patterns “jog” means a slow pace, about 50-65% of your maximum. “Easy” is somewhat faster, a conversational pace, about 65-75% of your maximum.)
Of course the above schedules are only patterns for training weeks, for peak seasons or just before your important 10-K races. Don’t simply repeat the regimens week after month. If you feel it’s necessary, begin your training at one or two levels below your peak level and work toward that goal. Remember running is supposed to be fun, not a chore, so be flexible with your training and don’t be afraid to take extra rest days or rest for a week.