Breaking 40min 10k

Hi Guys,

Anyone recommend a training plan for a sub 40 min 10k.  At the moment I only run 2-3 times per week, normally between 3.5 and 6 miles.  I tend to run these at one speed being as fast as I can manage at the time.  I think I need to think about a more structured schedule.  My 10k time has gone from 51 min down to 40:30 so not too disppointed just want to see how much faster I can go with the correct training.







  • I'd suggest a lot faster! You need to add some steadier and longer runs mixed up with intense intervals and hill sessions. While your running seems to be essentially tempo work, and is designed with 10km in mind, some variation would definitely spice things up and lead to an easy sub-40 time.

  • Hi Stephen,

    I am currently in a similar situation where I am running a 10k in 10 weeks time with the goal of running it in 40 minutes and would agree with Ewan about the variation required.

    The key sessions I have got at the moment are a weekly tempo run of 4-5 miles at around 6:55 - 7:00 min/mile, a long run of around 10 miles at around 7:50 - 8:05 min/mile and 1 interval session (either 12 - 15 x 400's aiming for 85s per rep or 6 x 1000's aiming for around 3:45 per rep).

    Any additional runs are generally slow runs of around 4-6 miles, usually 1 or 2 a week.



  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    Stephen, you've been going great guns already, off barely any running.

    Getting up to 25-30miles progressively and gently would aid you no end. One longer run, 8-10miles, a couple of easy runs, and one tempo type run would be a starter.

    Have a look at the McMillan race calculator...pop in your current time, and it'll show you some relevant training zones.

    I'm very sure that you'll find the easy runs very easy indeed, as you've been used to running much faster, but trust me, in time when you build up, you'll never think of them as too easy, as they facilitate the harder sessions...

  • Hi Guys,

    Thanks for your comments.  I tried to do a Slow 10 mile run yesterday but find it hard not to run too quickly.  I restrained myself as much as possible to average 7:15 min/miles, it felt very comfortable.  I think I will try to mix things up a bit and see how I go.


    Thanks Again.


  • Stephen

    I'm a 40:39 10k runner, and if I was doing a "slow" 10 mile run I would be at around 08:30-09:00/mile....

    My training is quite different from yours (partly because I'm training for a marathon), but the bulk of all my miles are probably at over 8 min/miles pace, and I would estimate I do less than 20% of my training at or under 7:15/mile.

    Whilst I know it seems counter intuitive that running slow will help you get quicker, my experience is that it definitely will, and since January I've gone from a 43:12 to 41:40 to 40:39.
  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    Steve, you sound just like me of a few years back. I casually took my 10k down from about 41 to 37 just running what i fancied. Which pretty much came out as every run medium hard.

    When told to ease back the easy pace to 7.15+ it felt so slow it was unbelievable.

    Roll onto now, 35:20 on the clock, hopefully sub 35 on the cards one day, 7.15 is my exact easy pace, but i have license for that to go up to8. It normally comes out inthe 7.20 -7.30mixer.

    The key is that this allows me to do hard sessions twice a week, reps hitting sub 5 pace, or 6-7 mile tempos in the 6.15 downward territory

  • Hi Guys,

    Just a quick update, I have increased my miles to around 25 per week and added a longer run.  managed a 38:56 10k yesterday so I guess the extra miles help.  Hopefully I can increase the mileage further of the coming weeks and aiming for some decent 10k times.



  • Well congratulations!! Back in July you were questioning whether you could crack a 40min 10K.......and now you've cracked 39!

    Rapid improvement there Stephen, long may it continue.

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Hi- not sure if anyone will pick this up now. I have been trying for 2 years to get my race time down to sub 40 minutes and have only been able to go from 43 min to 41. I am training as properly as i can think to mixing up a hard interval session with a  couple of 8-10 milers at sub 7 min mile  pace with some 19 minute 5ks twice a week on the treadmil. My hm time (1.27) says my 10k should be faster but i can never seem to get it right. I am doing telford 10k 16 dec 12 and it is suppose dto be a pure pb course. Can anyone advise how i should tackle the race in terms of pace from start to finish as cant help thinking that perhaps i get that wrong or perhaps dont warm up correctly?? I know i am in better running shape than when i set my pb so want to get it right this time.

  • Perhaps you might tell us how you currently warm up, and how your pace goes in these 10k efforts (ie what km splits you are doing). And how do you judge your pace, by how you feel, position in the field or by checking some gizmo? And describe your 'hard interval' sessions for us? What pace with what recovery?

    Thorough warmup is essential if you want to get stuck into a decent pace from the start - I aim for 15min steady running then a sequence of strides of increasing pace just a few mins before the start.

  • Hi Darryll,

    Your training plan says it all. You're burning yourself out and restricting your progress. You're doing 4 quality/hard sessions a week (2x 5ks at race pace, 2 x 8-10 miles at near threshold and a hard interval session). Everything is anaerobic and crackers for your level of competence.

    I'd keep the weekly interval session. But follow it with an easy running day.

    I'd change one of the 8-10 milers at sub 7 min pace to an 8 mile run at easy pace (probably around 7:40-7:50 pace for you).

    The other 8-10 miler should be ditched in favour of your weekly long run. But I'd up the total miles to 12 at easy pace (again probably around 7:40-7:50 pace).

    I'd drop one of the 19 min 5ks and substitute it for a 6 mile easy run. The other I would run at 10K race pace (circa 6:24 per mile) or threshold. Track your quarter miles to ensure that you are not starting too fast and 'blowing up' in races. The weekly interval session will keep your speed in check.

    I'd go onto the McMillan online calculator and bash in your most recent 10K time. It will then give you your ideal training paces for easy runs, intervals, speed reps etc.

    I hate seeing you put such effort in and getting such slow results. 40 sensible miles a week including only 2 quality sessions should see you getting under 40 mins for 10k very soon.

    Best of luck.....

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the swift responses.

    Joe- My warm up currently consists of maybe 2-3 min light jog with a couple of 30 metre sprints a few min before the race. In terms of race pace i use a garmin forerunner, and in local races i go with people i know are my levelish. In my interval training i do it with my running club and it is very varied, as a typical example we may do 8-10 3min efforts with a minutes rest between and 2 mile steady warm up and cool down. My efforts are normally 5.00-6min mile, dependant on gradient. in races i have no pattern at 10k. if i am told it is a flat fast course i tend to go off at 3.50 pace and gradually slow after say 3k. if it is a slow hilly course i go at about 4.15 and speed up but the end result always seems about the same.


    Jamie- thanks for that. i have always worked on basis that the harder you push yourself the greater the returns. sounds like i am better off chilling out a bit then and doing a few enjoyable steady plods then as well. i will review my training sch and move things about then to fit that model.


  • Absolutely Darryl!

    Hell, I'm no Mo Farrah myself (current 10K is 36:53) but at the beginning of last year I was slower than 40 mins over what I preach seems to work.

    If you look up any intermediate level 10K training plan you'll notice that the bulk of the weeks work is easy running (conversational pace) with a long run once a week, again easy pace. This is to build up your aerobic system, which isn't improved nearly as much by long runs in an anaerobic heart rate zone.....which you seem to do (twice weekly....ouch!). 

    There will usually be two quality days separated by two easier days. Quality days will either be intervals, threshold/tempo runs, hill reps, speed reps or shorter than race distance time trials. Now these are difficult and you will reap benefits from these.......but not if you do them everyday. The body needs to recover and refuel.

    I really hope that you benefit from this advice and kill your 10K PB. A good book is the Daniels Running Formula by Jack Daniels (no pun). He breaks down into percentages what split of quality sessions and easy running a person should be doing in order to improve.

    I think you'll kick yourself in 6 months time when you've destroyed the 40 min barrier for training so hard when you didn't need to....

    Please let us know how you get on, on the 16th December.

    Perhaps try a 5k on a flat road at race pace tomorrow (6:24 per mile) and track every 1/4 mile on your Garmin to keep an eye on your pace. If you can do this you may just find that the 40 min 10K comes faster than you think.

    Best of luck....

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    ok thanks for your advice. Its interesting you have been able to get your time down so far and over a relatively short time. I always thought perhaps genetics and natural ability were holding me back but then i speak to people who started out on 45 min 10k and are on are 37 minutes now and i started out on 42/43 minutes and only on 41 min after 2 years of trying.

    I will have a look at the mcmillan sitea nd that book as well. In training over last month or 2 i have been up there with the 38/39 min lads so am hoping i have kicked on a bit since my last 10k in the summer.


  • I'm certain that you'll get your times down with a less exhausting weekly schedule. I've never known anyone stagnate on times who are following a sensible plan.......naturals or not. If you are only two years into your running, you have ages to go and loads of improvement.


  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Do you know where i can find one of these training calculators?? I have ben on the mcmillan site and it gives me a race time predictor but in terms of training plans it seems it s about £100 subscription service??

  • No, here you go:

    I've just had a go with your previous 10K result and your 40 min goal pace and it gives everything for free. It shows your expected results at different distances and if you click the 'training paces' icon on the left they are shown. It looks like my guesstimated training paces for your easy/long runs at 7:50 per mile were on the money, though there is scope to improve whilst going even slower.

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Yes- have found it. Issue i have is that my half marathon and 5k times, being 2 most recent races, both tell me i should already be at 39.30 for 10k. I will see what time i come out with sunday and then plan my training/race goals from there.

    Thanks for your help with this.


  • Darryll its there for the taking on Sunday mate.

    Do it justice.

    Good luck

  • Your problems might be pacing issues on the day with race day adrenaline. For a 40 min 10K you need to keep your 1/4 miles close to the 1 min 36 mark. I'd start tracking them from the moment you start the race. Even pacing is the key to a PB. 

    Also, don't get caught up in a group that you feel is at a similar competence to you. Run your own race and track your own progress on your Garmin.....every 1/4 mile if need be......I do image

    You may crack 40 mins next week with the right strategy!! Best of luck.....

  • Darryll just as a guide, I ran 39:49 in September a week after doing 19:10 for the 5k.

    If you can knock out a couple of 19 minute 5k's every week on a treadmill then you should have a sub 40 in you comfortably providing you pace yourself correctly.

    If you start running 3:50/km for the first 3 or 4km as you have been doing, you are running 38:20 pace which is too quick.

    When I did it I ran the first km in around 3:45 (adrenaline and the first km is always a bit quick!) and then settled into 3:57/km - 4:02/km all the way round.

    Also, don't overdo it in the few days before the race.


  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Guys, thanks again for your help. I really think that i am at the right level and a lot of it is getting my race plan right. will take  few days rest after a run tonight and  make sure i keep to an even pace. No doubt if i did crack the 40 min mark it would satisfy probably until christmas and the goalposts will just get shifted againimage.

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Did 39.47 today. thanks for the pacing advice etc, kept a fairly steady even pace which allowed me to hang in in the final quarter. 90 secs off my pb as well so very pleased.

  • I couldn't be more delighted for you. Christmas came early!!!!!

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    yes, well happy, and the best thing is, the schedule on mcmillan to kick onto the next level seems to still present a lighter training sch than i have been used to!!

  • The training schedule you were used to would have sent you into tendonitis before too long!

    Running really is one of those sports where the hardest workers don't always prosper. Sensible calculated training is the way to PBs.

    You've done so well in that 10K. I bet 2013 is going to be a brilliant year for you, you've learnt alot in a week.

  • Just another update, running about 30 miles per week now and been uninjured for 6 months, managed to run 35:46 today so very pleased, hopefully can bring the times down further this year image

  • CC82CC82 ✭✭✭

    Hope you don't mind me crashing your thread - I just didn't want to create another sub 40 minute thread.

    Firstly - well done on the 35:46 - great effort!

    I'm hoping to go sub 40 this year.  I wonder if some of the more experienced guys could pass on some advice.  I've been looking back through all the threads I looked at last year regarding LT workouts, VO2 workouts, etc. and wonder if I'll be doing myself justice with the current training plan.

    I'm halfway through a 12 week plan - based on the Run Less, Run Faster book.  Same plan I followed last year and got great results, but that was from an almost standing start (not quite, but as structured training went it was).  I went from a previous PB of 46:51 to 42:52 and then a few months later (off the back of HM training) ran a 42:01 - that was in June last year.  Since then the training sort of stagnated as I didn't have any definite targets but I kept the running going and tried to keep the weekend long run going of about 15-20 miles.

    Towards the end of last year I started trying to run more weekly miles - up to 5 or 6 runs per week but only really did that a few times as work and other things got in the way.  So, at the start of the year, I reverted to 3 runs per week, and trying to supplement with a couple of cycles per week and a core strength session).

    Illness and work has scuppered some of my training, but just about back on track now.

    Here's a paste of the training plan.  Just about to start week 6 tomorrow.

    Any advice on how I could improve on the next 6 weeks of training would be much appreciated - I'm happy to run more runs per week, but I'm limited to my lunch hour Monday to Friday and can only justify one run at the weekend due to family commitments.


    EDIT:  The formatting from my excel table didn't work.  I'll type it into a fresh post.

  • CC82CC82 ✭✭✭

    Here's the plan (LT = "Long Tempo" by the way - the terminology used in the Run Less, Run Faster book)

    w/c 30/12/2013

    8 x 400m w/400m RI (400m @ 5:44/mile)

    1 mile warmup, 3 miles @ ST pace, 1 mile cool down (ST: 6:40/mile)

    6 miles @ LT pace (LT: 7:10/mile)

    w/c 06/01/2014

    5 x 800m w/400m RI (800m @ 5:52/mile)

    1 mile warmup, 2 miles @ ST pace,1 mile easy, 2 miles @ ST pace,1 mile cool down (ST 6:40/mile)

    7 miles @ LT pace (LT: 7:10/mile)

    w/c 13/01/2014 

    2 x 1600 w/400m RI, 1 x 800m (1600 @ 6:07/mile, 800m @ 5:52/mile)

    1 mile warmup, 4 miles @ ST pace, 1 mile cool down (ST: 6:40/mile)

    8 miles @ LT pace (LT: 7:10/mile)

    w/c 20/01/2014

    200m (w/200m RI) (200m @ 5:40/mile)
    400m (w/400m RI) (400m @ 5:44/mile)
    600m (w/400m RI) (600m @ 5:49/mile)
    800m (w/400m RI) (800m @ 5:52/mile)
    800m (w/400m RI)
    600m (w/400m RI)
    400m (w/400m RI)

    1 mile warmup, 2 miles @ ST pace, 1 mile easy, 1 mile @ ST pace, 1 mile easy, 2 miles @ ST pace, 1 mile cool down (ST: 6:40/mile)

    9 miles @ LT pace (LT: 7:10/mile)

    w/c 27/01/2014 

    4 x 1000m w/400m RI (1000m @ 5:53/mile)

    1 mile warmup, 4 miles @ ST pace, 1 mile cool down (ST: 6:40/mile)

    10 miles @ LT pace (LT: 7:10/mile)

    w/c 03/02/2014

    1600m (w/ 400m RI) (@6:07/mile)
    1200m (w/400m RI) (@5:58/mile)
    800m (w/400m RI) (@5:52/mile)
    400m (@5:44/mile)

    5 miles @ MT pace (MT: 6:55/mile)

    8 miles @ LT pace (LT: 7:10/mile)

    w/c 10/02/2014

    10 x 400m w/ 1:30 min RI (400m @ 5:44/mile)

    1 mile warmup, 3 miles @ ST pace, 1 mile cool down (ST: 6:40/mile)

    10 miles @ LT pace (LT: 7:10/mile)

    w/c 17/02/2014

    6 x 800 w/1:30 min RI (800m @ 5:52/mile)

    1 mile warmup, 1 mile @ ST pace, 1 mile easy, 2 miles @ ST pace, 1 mile easy
    1 mile @ ST pace, 1 mile cool down (ST: 6:40/mile)

    8 miles @ LT pace (LT: 7:10/mile)

    w/c 24/02/2014

    4 x 1200m w/ 400m RI (1200m @ 5:58/mile)

    1 mile warmup, 3 miles @ ST pace, 1 mile cool down (ST: 6:40/mile)

    10 miles @ LT pace (LT: 7:10/mile)

    w/c 03/03/2014

    5 x 1000m w/ 400m RI (1000m @ 5:53/mile)

    1 mile warmup, 6 miles @ MT pace, 1 mile cool down (MT: 6:55/mile)

    8 miles @ LT pace (LT: 7:10/mile)

    w/c 10/03/2014

    3 x 1600m w/1:00 min RI (1600m @ 6:07/mile)

    1 mile warmup, 3 miles @ ST pace, 1 mile cool down (ST: 6:40/mile)

    7 miles @ LT pace (LT: 7:10/mile)

    w/c 17/03/2014 

    6 x 400m w/ 1:00 min RI (400m @ 5:44/mile)

    1 mile warmup, 3 miles easy, 1 mile cool down

    Garioch 10k Race

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