sub 40 minute 10k with limited training - achievable?


There are probably numerous threads on this forum re: sub 40 minutes 10k, but what I’m look for is – can this be achieved with limited but structured / focused training?

I’m aiming to get a sub 40 minute 10k next year and was wondering whether this is achievable without too much training (work commitments etc) - maybe 3 sessions per week. This year I have run a 43:15 (in reality this was close to 42:15 as there was an error with the organisers at the start) a 43:30 and a 44:17. My training for these runs were limited (some long endurance runs, but the only speed work was a couple of 5 k runs and then circuit training).

So essentially how  much work is needed to reduce my 10k times by 3 or 4 minutes and is this achievable within a 6 month period without too much training?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  • How old are you? How many miles were you doing a week when you ran 43:15?

    3 sessions per week might not be enough to go sub 40 depending on your talent/diet etc. 


  • Thanks Mike,

    Im 30 years old and weigh about 12 and a half stone. When I did the 43 15 - I ran 6 lots of 5k's (in total), and then just circuit training (twice a week). So not that much training.

    You mention diet - do you have any info on this?

    Sounds like a sub 40 might be a bit of a challenge...



  • Knocking 3 mins off your 10k time is a big ask if you aren't going to train.

    If you did train then of course you could do it.

    Take what time you have and make it work. I would sugest HIIT - high intensity interval training.

    if you google you'll find plenty of info. I think something like 200m race pace / 400m very slow recovery X ? is one example. You need to warm up jog, do some strides / dynamic stretching but the work part may only last 20 mins with the entire session lasting an our or less.

    I found this.

    I would still work on endurance, make sure that you can run 10k comfortably.

  • There are no shortcuts to achieving your goals, you'll have to train and work for them, if you find out 3 sessions a week is enough to achieve your sub 40 target then do that, but it may take awhile or you may never achieve it. I recommend you find a good 10k training program and stick to that.

     Good Luck. 

  • 3 sessions per week or 3 runs per week? And what do you do in the rest of your time - are you sat behind a desk? Do you cross train?

  • 3 sessions per week or 3 runs per week? And what do you do in the rest of your time - are you sat behind a desk? Do you cross train at all?

  • Thanks Mike and T Mouse. I'll just have to see how it goes.

    DIS - It will be three running sessions per week and then probably two circuit training classes per week....I also cycle to work but that is only 3 miles each way and on a relatively flat course.

    I have an office based job so unfortunately im stuck behind a desk.


  • Can you get your steady running in going to and from circuits? Will allow you to make the other runs quality ones, without adding more days to the schedule. 

  • Do 10 x 1000m @ 4 minutes every week. Start with a 2 minute recovery then gradually knock 5 seconds off the recovery till you reach 1 minute. If you can do that then no probs.

    Also, if you could get your weight down a bit it would help a lot. You don't say how tall you are but if you're under 6 feet then you're a bit overweight for a sub 40 runner. I am 6 feet and a bit and weigh 11 stone 12 and could still stand to lose a bit of weight.


  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    How much should you weigh to go sub 40 then. I've run quite a few 38-39 min 10k and im 11 stone 7 and 5 foot 6 .
  • You'd run faster if you were lighter is all. Something like 5 seconds per pound up to a point.

  • Robert,

    Thanks for the tips. Sounds like a good and simple be trying that out.

    O yes - im 6ft. I'm looking to get down to about 11 and  half stone.



  • Bit late here sorry, but my experiences over the last year seem quite relevant to the OP. I went from a 50min 10k and 24min parkrun at the end of 2011, to 43min 10k in March, to a sub 19min 5k in May, and sub 40min 10k in July 2012. Over that time I was running 3-4 times per week, typically 20-25 miles per week - which to me is 'limited' training.

    Similar to the OP I'm 182cm tall, 30 years old and have a desk job - so I would say that 'yes' it is possible.

    However I did get my weight down from around 12.5 stone (post Christmas binge) to 10.5 stone, I also swam 30-60mins front crawl 1-2 times per week, and would do various stretching and core strength exercises at home on rest days, and from March onwards I was using myfitnesspal app quite religiously to help try and control the rate at which I was losing weight and to keep the protein levels up to minimise muscle loss.

  • That is a very impressive CV of progress, Ballesteros.

    Your weight loss alone is, theoretically anyway, good for over a minute off your mile pace. I am guessing you did some serious dieting. Your exercise regimen alone would not normally account for a 28 pound weight loss.

  • Thanks - the weight loss probably sounds more impressive/drastic when you put it that way - but not so much when you consider that it's only one pound a week over seven months - and less in reality since the first half a stone was probably shat out in the first week of not-overeating after the festive period image .

    Diet-wise I just tried to keep to around 1800 calories per day net after exercise, generous on the protein portions, and the fat crept off gradually but consistently.

    Not that I think nutrition alone is likely to do the trick for many people. When I started out I found the motivation of doing the local parkrun as a regular tempo session helped build up speed quite quickly whilst fitting in easy miles around it. Also I seem to be fortunate in having very decent heart/lung function - so it's just finding the time to get the mileage into my legs that is holding me back.

    Past experience of playing/training for football no doubt also helped in my case - despite only ever having done so at a lowly level. I don't know what the OP's history is but I can imagine that people without the prior experience of putting themselves through the pain of training for a sport and then pushing themselves harder again in a match/race situation, would be slower to adapt and/or less likely to realise how much harder they can push themselves?

  • Hi daf,

    If you have a good base level of fitness, then you could achieve a sub 40 minute 10k on 3 runs per week.

    You seem to be fairly close to your goal, but need to incorporate some purpose in each training session. You should try some speedwork in at least one run - which should be at your target pace i.e 6'26m per mile. Try mile repeats at this pace with 1'30 secs rest in between. Start off with 3 mile repeats, then increase each week.

    You will need to include at least one long run per week which will build up your stamina and help you in the latter stages of the 10k.

    The FIRST programme has a plan specifically for 10k on 3 runs per week, so could be worth you having a look at.

    Good luck.
  • Weight loss is a real bonus, every kg lost is worth 2 seconds per mile so if you lose a stone in weight that's over a minute off your 10k time.

    Thus B'ros 2 stone weight loss would get 2' 20" reduction alone.

    Other way to get your time down, join a club

     Edited to kg not lb

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