Stuck at around 39 min 10k's

Paul J-RPaul J-R ✭✭✭


I'm 39 and over the last couple of years my 10k race times have reduced from 42 mins to 39, but I have seen no further improvement in my speed since Dec'11.

I run hard about 2-3 times a week and have a couple slow runs in between. My runs are mixed, flat, hilly, cross country and I tend to go out mostly for 5-6 mile runs and perhaps do a 10-20 mile run weekly.  I also cross train and do weights (squats, deadlifts, various core workouts and upper body) about once a week.

I've looked at lots of training programmes but want to know what is most likely to work and how I should train properly.  A bit of advise I was given was to do 400 meters and perhaps try HR training.  I wondered if someone could help me with how many sets of 400m I should do, the effort level I should put into it, and the rest period.  Also is there some simple literature I could read about HR training? I have a HR monitor with my Garmin but never use it!

I do belong to a running club but it often conflicts with work, so I tend to train alone on my faster runs.

My goal is to knock off as many seconds as possibly in my 10k races, I'm not sure if setting a goal of 38 mins is realistic or not, even if it takes a year or two.

Cheers, Paul


  • Hi Paul, like you I'm 39 and started training 20 months ago with a 41:19 10k as my PB. I put in 50-55 miles a week and its been a steady drop in times over this period.  I generally run every day and take a RD on day 8/9. My long run is 14 miles and my daily easy run is about 8 miles. I do intervals of 6x800m as per Runners World Calc with 90 secs rec and a 6 mile tempo run each week. I'm now in 37:39 shape. For me its this tempo that opens the doors to the next level. I do the odd parkrun too. I do no cross training and prob drink too much! I religiously use a HRM and train on my easy runs at 75%. I do shift work and also train alone.

    What I have found is that i  seem to stagnate following a bout of cold/illness. It does, however, pick up and improve after around 8 weeks following the illness.

    All I can offer is that you've gotta stick with it. Best of luck.

  • yep, stick with it...and consider yourself proud of being able to do sub-40 at the age of 39...really pretty good

  • Paul J-RPaul J-R ✭✭✭

    Cop-out, thank you for your help, the RW Pace Calculator looks really useful, and I've already packed my HR monitor to work out my 'working' heart rate for those tempo runs : )

  • Hi Paul,

    I think you are doing too many hard sessions each week. You say that you run 'hard 2-3 days each week' as well as doing one leg weights session as well!!

    I was in that boat too. Simply loved training hard!! But you will halt improvement, theres just not enough recovery.

    I'd Keep the long weekly run, but make sure it is at 'easy' pace. McMillan calculator will let you know the correct 'easy' pace based on your 39 min 10K pace. This will look after your aerobic capacity (20 miles is a bit overkill for 10K though. I max out at 14-15 miles in the long run). Your other 5-6 mile runs are fine too, but I wouldn't do them faster than 'steady' pace. 'Easy' pace would be fine for these too.

    Now, the real business in bringing your 10K time down will be in devoting just two days a week to hard work. Keeping at least two easy days between each hard session. I rotate speed work, hill reps, shorter distance race pace time trials and longer distance tempo runs.

    After getting to a 39 min 10K, for speedwork I worked my way upto 12 x 1/4 miles at 75 sec pace with a 1:30 recovery. On the half mile front I worked up to 8 x 2:50, again with a 1:30 recovery and on the mile reps 4 x 5:55 with a 1 min recovery.

    Every other week or so I would attempt a 4 mile race pace time trial until I was under 24 mins.

    The Hill work was every couple of weeks (1:30 reps and jog back) for 13 mins. I did this twice in the middle of an easy run.

    Tempo runs were basically 40 min 10K runs. But at your stage right now a 41-42 mins 10K would be fine.

    As for your gym sessions, I'd say that they'd count as a hard day that would require two days of easy running or a rest day for recovery. I tend to do my squats and hamstring presses every couple of weeks, just to make sure I'm not losing strength.

    I dropped my 10k from 39:08 (April 2011) to 37:10 (March 2012) doing just this. I'm 33 years old, but I'd imagine your development wouldn't be much slower with the same training. Weekly mileage varied between 25 and 50 miles a week. 35 would probably be my average over this time.

    I'm sure you'll be successful with the right approach. Do your hard sessions hard, but only twice weekly. The rest of your running should be pretty easy mileage based.

    Good luck

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    Paul, a few things jump out of the page there

    • classic plateau because of too many hard sessions
    •  2-3 hard sessions, all that core and weights.... you might not even be classing that 10-20miler as a hard session either  (2 sessions and a long run is enough for 99% of runners on this site.)
    • no mention of times per i suspect you're running every run too hard.
    • up to 20miles is too long from your base

    Questions i'd ask, is what's your total mileage, what pace exactly do you run each run at, and how do you break your week down? How knackered are you after each session?

    From your answers, a few tweaks would see you structure your week better, feel less fatigued, yet building a base to bring that 10k down

  • Paul J-RPaul J-R ✭✭✭

    Jamie / Stevie

    Yes (OUCH!), I do train way too much it seems, my cross training (elipticle trainer, rowing, cycling) is also heavy on the legs I guess, plus weights, 2-3 hard runs (about 6:40 min/miles for 5-6 hilly miles), and a long run (about 7:45 pace) - Total 4 to 5 hard sessions per week!  My slow runs are about 8:00 min/miles pace. I train about 6/7 times a week.

    After my hard sessions I am totally exhausted, dripping heavy with sweat, red in the face and sometimes bent over for a couple of seconds getting my breath back.  I would say I dig pretty deep.

    The purpose of my 10-20 mile run is that I've done 3 marathons this year and doing another one in October.  I'm not too concerned with marathon times, but perhaps marathon training is hindering my 10k training to an extent?

    My total mileage is about 30-40 miles a week, it peaks at 50 about 4-5 weeks before a marathon.

    Looks like I need to do some serious thinking about cutting right down to 2 sessions a week, and making sure these are really good quality sessions.

    Really appreciate the advise guys.


  • hey im simon and im only 15 howerver im currently running a a 33 minute 10k. the only thing i could recomend is to keep at it and stick to a good training plan.

    WEEK SESSION 1 SESSION 2 SESSION 3 SESSION 4 Week 1 30-45mins run 30-45mins run 30-45mins run 60+mins run Week 2 30-45mins run 30-45mins run 30-45mins run 60+mins run Week 3 Intervals: 5 X 3 mins 90 secs recovery 30-45mins run 30-45mins run 60+mins run Week 4 Intervals: 5 X 3 mins 90 secs recovery 30-45mins run 30-45mins run 60+mins run Week 5 Intervals: 5 X 3 mins rep 2 and 4 faster 90 secs recovery 30-45mins run 30-45mins run 60+mins run Week 6 Intervals: 5 X 3 mins 60 secs recovery 30-45mins run 20min Tempo Run 60+mins run Week 7 Intervals: 5 X 3 mins rep 2 and 4 faster 60 secs recovery 30-45mins run Hill session: 8 X 45 secs 60+mins run Week 8 Intervals: 5 X 3,5,3,5,3 mins 60 secs rest tempo run 25 mins 30-45mins run 60+ mins run Week 9 Intervals: 5 X 5 mins, 90 sec recovery 30-45mins run 60+mins run Hill session: 8 X 45 secs Week 10 Intervals: 5 X 5 mins, 60 secs rec, 30-45mins run 60+mins run 30mins tempo run Week 11 Intervals: 5 X 5 mins, 90 sec recovery 60+mins run 30 tempo Hill session: 8 X 45 secs Week 12 Intervals: 3 X 3 mins 90 secs recovery 30-45mins run 30-45mins run RACE
  • Simon, you may want to repost that in a different format buddie, tres confusing!
  • Hi Simon,

    Yesterday you were running a 34 minute 10K and today you say that you are running a 33 minute 10K. Thats a terrific improvement over night.

    It says on your avatar that you only run 20 miles a week.

    Oh to be 15 again!!!

  • it was 44.02 and i imnproved by 3 seconds. i run 20-30 miles a week and im 16 in 3 weeks. i dont do masses of training like some people but still inprove as my coach manges to squease the best out of me.

  • so Simon can you clarify what your 10k time is?

  • Hi Simon,

    So yesterday it was a 34 min 10k, this morning it was a 33 min 10K........and now its a 44 min 10K?

     Do you have an online athlete profile?



  • Hi Guys,

    I'm returning to running training again after 2 months of cross training due to sore achilles and this is how I've been working back up again, my achilles are still a bit tendor so I have to limit the mileage and doing lots of eccentric exercises.  I wondered if I could change or add anything to improve my workouts?  Or does this look okay?

    Mon (15th October): Brick transition workout (4 reps of: spinning 10 mins, treadmill 15.5kph for 5 mins), finished off with 4 reps of 17.5kph runs for 1 min, with 1:30 slow recovery.

    Tue: Very slow 3 mile run.  Achilles bit sore.

    Wed: 1hr swimming.

    Thu: Rest.

    Fri: Weights - legs and core.

    Sat: Very slow 4 mile run.

    Sun: 50 mins swimming.

    Mon: 45 mins swimming, 10 mins water running.  Achilles feeling ok.

    Tue (today): 2 mile warmup out, 4 x 800m on return.  Times: 2:46 (flat), 2:43 (flat), 2:48 (slightly hilly), 3:00 (across wet grass and uphill - very hard going!). 

    Cheers, Paul

  • Paul J-RPaul J-R ✭✭✭
    Just wanted to report back the advise from the guys above I'm pleased to say is starting to pay off! For the last few months sinse I've been injury free I'm doing 1 set of intervals (either 400's, 800's and 1600,s) sometimes doing them on the track, grass or treadmill, 1 tempo run and a long run (usually!) and just yesterday I did a 5 mile race that would have knocked off a decent amount of time had it of been a 10k race.

    Also, on top of the new plan I've read a running book (dare I mention it's name...), but it had a good section on running that's given me something new to work on.

    I'm very grateful for these forums and so many helpful posts. Always seems to be something new to learn about running!

  • You are too kind but your gratitude should really go to young Simon! I wonder how he's getting on?
  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭


    Simon obviously has the really bad luck that all these 33 and 34min 10ks he keeps doing must be ARC, and thus not on his record.



  • He must have been doing the same 10k's as me!
  • Started with a club in september 2013,with a 45.31 10k,1.45 for half,training was all wrong,we do 1 speed session,1x 25 min tempo,and a long run at weekend at ,8.30 to 9 min miles, i added two easy runs with an hrs circuit training on these days,my times now are,10k,,40.30,,half 129.45,,and i'm 45,always train with a hrm,and try and feel the pace,never run with a watch  image

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