Find Your 10K Race Pace

The 10K distance used to be as ubiquitous and popular as 5Ks are today. The favorite distance of some of the sport’s all-time greatest competitors, the 10K is somewhat of an intricate dance. It is too long of a distance to “redline” like the 5K, but short enough to be aggressive and really get after it.

How long does it take to train for a 10K?

To effectively race the 10K distance, a typical training block is 10 to 12 weeks but could be up to 16 weeks.

What does it feel like to race a 10K?

The 10K is too long of a distance to be a “pedal to the metal” effort like the 5K, but that doesn’t make it any easier. To maximize performance in a 10K, you should aim for about 80 to 85 percent of maximum effort (8-8.5 RPE). This means you are “comfortably uncomfortable” with heavy, labored breathing, but enough energy to bear down in the late stages of the race.

What is the best strategy to race a 10K?

A woman runs during a road race.

Most experts and coaches agree on the same basic premise for 10K racing: a conservative, controlled first third, moving into a “push the pace” effort for the middle third, culminating with a “take no prisoners” finish in the last third of the race.

Breaking the race into three chunks is a good way to approach the 10K, although the lengths of the chunks will vary athlete to athlete.

Some runners like to set the tempo of the race from the beginning, others are better closers and can hunt down the competition after the halfway mark. Split the race up into three different chunks, but play to your strengths as a runner.

How do I determine my 10K race pace?

Depending on the pace chart you are using, your predicted 10K race pace would be anywhere between 45 to 60 seconds slower than your mile pace or 10 to 30 seconds slower than your 5K pace. To get a better feel for the pace that best corresponds to an effort level of 80 to 85 percent, simply double the scope of the 5K race pace test.

Complete three to five 2K intervals with a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio, and notice when during the workout you really start to fall off the pace.

Two men run on a track.

What is a good workout to practice my 10K race pace?

There are two go-to workouts you can use to dial in your 10K race pace. The first is 3 X 3K at or under goal race pace, with a 1:2 work-to-rest ratio. The 3K is long enough that you have to dig deep to maintain effort, the recovery short enough to feel like you barely got enough to make it through, and the final interval is almost as grueling as the actual event.

A second workout to use is “Noah’s Ark”: 2 X 1600, 2 X 1200, 2 X 800, 2 X 400 for a total of 5 miles. You should use 1:2 for your recovery between similar intervals, but can extend the recovery slightly in-between “blocks” if necessary to maintain even or negative splits throughout the workout.