Best intervals for 10k race?

I am running 10k race in about 4 weeks. What would be the best strategy in general? What distance intervals in particular? Many thanks!


  • Just realised this sounds vague.

    Are 400m repeats rights for interval training to improve 10K times or should they be longer/shorter?



  • Thought one of the experts will provide more detailed advice, but as no-one has responded here's my two-peneth.

    4 weeks is not really long enough to acheive a big improvement and you might be better off just maintaining a decent mileage.  What is you current weekly mileage and do you currently do any speed training?  400m intervals will probably help, but I would try to mix it up a bit.

    My current programme, which is aimed at improving 5-10k time totals around 25-30mpw, with one 6 mile quality session including one of the following:  3miles at 10-20s slower than 10k pace, 3x1mile at between 5&10k pace, 6x800m at slightly faster than 5k pace. All have 2mile warmup and 90s rests.

    I have yet so see whether this has been effective, but there are currently a few active threads on this topic, which might offer useful advice:

  • Nice one Lou,

    Many of my own comments regarding 10K are on the 'speed endurance for 10K' thread which you highlighted.

    One factor to consider is an individual's level of competence. Its easy to burn a person out with speedwork and intervals if they are doing too many in one session with too small a recovery.

    It'd be interesting to know what ballpark time you hope/expect to achieve Gogi?

    I personally rate 1/4 mile reps, 1/2 mile reps and mile reps. But never more than two of these sessions a week (also keep at least 2 easy days between them!).

    But I also try a couple of time trials two weeks before the race.....a 5K at expected race pace and also a 4 mile trial at expected race pace.

  • Hi guys, many thanks for your replies.

    I realise 4 weeks won't make a big difference in 4 weeks, but I need to put a bit more structure into my running so why not try something that will be consistent with upcoming 10k.

    I am def not in the 40 min bracket, my PB is 53.30 and as this year my training has been very chaotic it would be nice to get at least that (my recent 10 mile time was seconds better that last year so hopefully am coming back to last years fitness).

    I am doing about +/- 20 miles, trying to get the long-ish at the weekend, about 3M tempo and the intervals is probably my least consistent session. Ii probably prefer shorter sprint intervals (e.g. run as fast as you can for 30 s, relax, repeat) but longer intervals somehow slip off my agenda.

    Am going to a club taster session this week, hopefully this will give me the push.
  • The McMillan online calculator will give you ideal speeds for your intervals and speed reps.

    Its easy to find and use. You just put in your recent 10K time and it'll produce a page full of training ranges.

    The one problem with it is that it doesn't tell you how many reps to do, or what recovery to take. So you do need to be sensible in your interval/speedwork training, too much intensity/many reps and you'll burn yourself out or end up dreading the sessions. Too little.....and whats the point?

  • Hi Jamie, thanks - I have my paces from mcmillan, as you say no specific guidance on number of repeats etc. i will try 6-7 400m repeats per session - at the recommended paces it will not be too easyimage
  • It's not supposed to be easy image, but even so  you might find a tempo and interval session each week a bit much off only 20mpw.  Perhaps alternate the hard sessions or only do the intervals every other week.

    Make sure you do a good warm up.  I usually do 2-3 miles, but even then I often struggle with the first rep.

    (btw actually do 3mile at 10k pace, rather than 10-20s slower - can't seem to edit it now.  Although I'm not entirely sure what my 10k time woudl be these days.  Certainly still a bit of a way to got to reach 40mins but steadily improving.)

  • Goji, you might want to try tabata sessions - from experience they really do help in improving your 10k time. A session only lasts around 20mins but is really intentsive. If you start of with 5 mins of warmup then run as fast as you can for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds, then repeat another 7 times ( if you can) followed by a cool down for a further 5 mins.

    In addition you should be doing at least one long run per week (say 8-10 miles) this will help with stamina in the last phases of your 10k.

    Best of luck in your 10k!
  • Many thanks guys, I really appreciate your taking the time to reply and advise. Lou I will take your point about alternating weeks with tempo and intervals. I know 20 miles doesn't sound a lot, in training for HM it was more but to be fair this is what it is now, with some added gym strenght sessions. 

    Rob I liked the sound of tabata session till I reralised it's only 10s of rest, but I will definitely give it a go too. 

  • Hi Everyone, I am new to running but have definitely got the bug. Your comments and tips are really inspiring and I'm looking forward to running my first 10k in 5 months time. Just one question......I am fairly fit and wonder whether it's ok to run every day? Seems to be mixed views on this subject
  • Hi Rehana,

    I'd say six days a week maximum. But only after a person has built up to a suitable mileage. More important than how many days a person runs is how many miles they cover in a week and what the structure of their training plan is. I personally rate a longer slow run each week and a couple of tough/quality days separated by easy/steady running.

    One or two rest days a week really help recharge the batteries and help to improve performance over time.

    As 10K is your goal I'd say that a weekly long slow run should be at the very least nine miles, but this should be at an easy conversational pace. Your fitness level will determine whether you can cope with two quality sessions a week; perhaps getting a mileage base of around 25-30 weekly miles would be the best start and then factor in one quality session a week.

    But if you are only running 10-15 miles a week, don't just jump to 25+. Increase your weekly mileage by 10% each week.

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