10 Weeks to Run a sub 40 minute 10K

I used to run as a kid at a reasonable level. I am now 38 & my "training" during the last 20 years has really consisted of nothing more than the odd run here and there, keeping things up for no longer than a couple of weeks at a time really. I remind myself constantly that even though I keep trying & failing to start running consistently again, I must not stop trying.

I feel in a much better place now, I have had problems in the past (with alcohol amongst other things) & these have contributed to my fitness demise. Anyway to cut a long story short I decided 2 weeks ago to start running again with the goal of breaking 40 minutes for 10k. When I was 17 I could comfortably do this as I could run a mile in 4 minutes 30 seconds, 3000m in 9 minutes, and the 800m in 2 minutes 2 seconds (I was mainly track training). I am no where near these levels now, have regularly finished last in the parents school sports day races which illustrates the magnitude of my downfall.

To cut a long story short I have decided to go for it, all or nothing so to speak and have made it very public on my facebook page that I will break 40 minutes for 10k in 10 weeks. I have been training for 2 weeks, and so have 8 weeks left. I ran 8 miles today in 1 hour (about 7 1/2 minute miling). I did a little bit of interval training on the road on Wednesday (2 x 1 mile reps in 6 mins 50 and 2 x 800m reps in 3 mins 20) with 3 miles running in total before and after at 8 minute mile pace.

So far I have trained 5 times. Today was my 5th session (8 miles 7 1/2 minute mile pace). I have calculated that I need to be 1 minute per mile faster to break 40 minutes. 8 weeks to go. I ran 6 miles last week in 44 minutes. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



  • I would stop trying to force the pace out so much Stephen especially if you are finishing 8 miles at 7:30 feeling tired (you didn't say this, I am guessing it was top whack all the way). Reserve the pace for your interval session.

    Have you read the speed endurance for 10k thread yet ?

    This one:

  • I thought the pace was faster tbh. But then again I set off steady, the first mile was closer to 8 minutes as a warm up. My legs were still tight from Wednesdays interval training and so even though I didn't go flat out from the off, I was pretty much done towards the end. My problem is that my mind remembers how to run fast(ish) but my heart, legs & chest will not have it. I will take a look at the thread for sure thanks.

    Do you think I can realisticaly achieve sub 40 mins in 8 weeks time ? Even if everybody says no I am going for it anyway, will be entering the first event I can find semi-locally at around the 1st July to get an accurate time. But if people are doubtful I need to know what extra measures I need to take to up my game.

  • I'm often surprised by what people on here can achieve.  If after only 5 training sessions in two weeks, you've gone from being last in sports day races to managing 7:30 min/miling over 8 miles then you've obviously got your base fitness coming back rapidly!  Barring you speed/interval session I'd say from what I've been told on here over the years that the most important session is going to be your weekly long slow run to get that endurance up - longer but slower.


    Good luck to you!

  • In the other thread you mentioned you were willing to suffer and here you are talking about extra measures and upping your game. I think with this approach you may shoot yourself in the foot in respect of getting to your goal. Pushing mileage too quickly exacerbates any muscular skeletal weaknesses. Likewise pushing pace too soon risks soft tissue injury and fatigue and an inability to execute training effectively. Even if you're lucky pushing pace may not optimise your pace development, strange as it sounds. So I would leave the time trials in your case to 4 weeks into your training and maybe a fortnight before race date for a start. You should get out every week for a long slow run - 8:30mm pace or slower - building up to over 10 miles. These runs should drain you slowly, but they will also be developing your cardiovascular strength, although the pace won't seem tough, it's like charging a battery - it's best done slowly. It works best when you're exercising between 55 and 75% of Max HR. Then three or four weeks down the line when you're running an interval session and are well rested, you'll find both extra speed and endurance.

    So will you do it ? No one can say how you will respond to the training over time but if you want to get best bang for buck from the two months you have, steer clear of hammering every session and take these developmental runs very seriously. How will you know if you're going to get there ? Try a couple of 5k races along the way as these won't take so much out of you as a 10k time trial, and they will be under race conditions. Your 10k time can be predicted from these using the McMillan calculator.
  • Really appreciate the feedback so far. Just a note on the parents sports day races, these are about 30 yards & insignificant it was just an off the cuff remark really. I have periodically attempted to gain fitness back in other ways, last year I joined my local cycling club but I find it is so unbelievably time consuming & expensive if you want to get anywhere. I used to enjoy the steadier rides though, it's a different kind of fitness & some of the big blokes even with big bellys & big thighs really power high gears. It is intimidating & I really struggled against the wind. Running is my default fitness method as I did it a lot from age 11 to 17.

    Every year I have in some way but very half heartedly attempted to get back into running, punctuated with months off after just 3 or 4 runs. I put a lot of pressure on myself to hit times, & logically I know this is silly when I am only just starting out again but I can't help it. I really need to totally quit the drink too, as I can drink far too much which obviously doesn't help. My head is often all over, & so I see running as potential cure for my ills. I run so hard though that I bet now my legs will take 5 days to recover. I want to get to the stage where I can run everyday so that I am less tempted to drink and can deal with stresses better but while my legs are stiff my mind will wander.

    Anyhow, I am determined to keep it going this time. This forum looks like a really great place, & hope it will help.
  • literatinliteratin ✭✭✭
    Stephen Fox 5 wrote (see)

     I remind myself constantly that even though I keep trying & failing to start running consistently again, I must not stop trying.

    I have had problems in the past (with alcohol amongst other things) & these have contributed to my fitness demise.

    To cut a long story short I have decided to go for it, all or nothing so to speak and have made it very public on my facebook page that I will break 40 minutes for 10k in 10 weeks.

     8 weeks to go.


    Why do you have to do it within 10 weeks? And what happens if you don't? Your opening statement sounds sensible (keep trying to get into good habits) but the rest doesn't sound that helpful. Is an 'all or nothing' approach really going to help you build a sustainable habit? My advice would be to try to stop thinking about things in terms of 'all or nothing', 'success or downfall/demise/failure' and instead think about consistent, regular effort without a time limit or deadline.

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    I have to agree with Lit. The all or nothing in 10 weeks approach doesn't sit well with me. In running, there are no set time frames for anything. Sometimes you improve faster than expected and other times you can plateau for no particular reason. Getting to 40 mins will take as long as it takes no matter how much determination, will power or beliefe you have.

    Good luck with it don't try and do too much too soon.
  • How many times have we seen threads like this ?

    A target and timescale plucked out of the air and set in stone ?

    How many times have people then realised they haven't the faintest idea of what they're talking about and disappear off ?

    It's great that you've started running again but your target sounds completely unrealistic. You're setting yourself up to fail. How will that help your mindset ?

    Do the 10k but your target needs to be to run the best run you can given the very short timeframe. If its under 40 mins - then brilliant. If its not - then you can aim to chip some time off in the next run.

    Good luck with it - but id rethink the goal.
  • Slightly grudgingly, I really do appreciate the critical honesty voiced by members who have taken the time to reply. I completely realise that this is a stretching target, and understand it will be no mean feat if I achieve it. My legs today are telling me I worked particularly hard yesterday and I can feel my shins are on the precipice of an injury. I will not run on them now until the aching has completely stopped, when my legs and shins have recovered. I hope I haven't pushed them too hard too soon. I believe I will just about get away with it and they will fully recover within 4-5 days.

    It have listened to the advice so far, and I am paying particular attention to the notion that steady running should also form a part of my training. It may in fact be that the next run I do will be steady and not timed, partly in response to the advice on here and partly because I will want to ease my legs out of their current state. However I believe that in general I will continue to aim for the sub 40 minute time in my specified time frame. I think I can achieve it as I firmly believe my body will heal and become stronger under intensity but I will absolutely rest 100% in between intensive sessions until I feel completely recovered, whether that takes 24 hours or a week.

    I am not claiming I am right in my approach, merely testing my hypothesis as I believe I could be. My failings in the past have been around lack of consistency due to motivation rather than training techniques and so I can't be unconvinced just yet that my technique will not work. Once I have broken 40 minutes, I will aim to just take one minute at a time off perhaps every few 3-4 months but I firmly believe the sooner I break a psychological barrier of 40 minutes (even if it seems arbitrary), the more comfortable I will feel within myself to carry on running.

    If I do fail though within 10 weeks as it has been mentioned I am simply setting myself up to fail, (8 weeks remaining) I simply need to have the conviction to keep trying.

    It is just important for me to have a goal. I will however give particular attention to advice given by muddyfunster and put less pressure on myself on every single run. I have looked at the Mcmillan calculator and will be trying to fit in some 400m intervals to attempt to increase my leg speed to hit the targets over the shorter distances. I sincerely hope as cougie has suggested that I will not quit & disappear but will learn from my results and listen to my body.

    Thank You so far. It helps keep me motivated. I will post on here which 10K event I enter on or around the 1st July as this is 10 weeks and post a link to my result. I will keep this forum updated with my progress too. I am not saying people are particularly bothered but it does help keep me focussed.

    Thanks again.

  • How are you getting on Stephen ? 2 weeks down, 8 to go...
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