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John's Running Tips

10K Training

The 10 K road race requires only a limited amount of training, which can fit into most busy schedules, and the other added bonus is you recover quickly after the race. For most of us it is a fun event—you usually end up with a new T-shirt, great conversations with fellow runners, some food, a sense of accomplishment and bragging rights with your buddies. It can be a simple benchmark to judge your current fitness, or it can be a real test of athletic and competitive abilities. The distance is short enough that most runners can enter the event with only simple modifications in their normal training.

    Some key areas to focus on to optimize your success while training and to stay injury free are the following:
  • Workouts Long Slow Distance (LSD–Run/Walk)

    Long Slow Distance runs are the cornerstone of any distance training program. Take a full minute to walk for every 10 minutes of running. These runs are meant to be done much slower than race pace (60–70% of maximum heart rate), so don't be overly concerned with your pace. These runs work to increase the capillary network in your body and raise your anaerobic threshold. They also mentally prepare you for long races.
  • A Note on LSD Pace

    The pace for the long run includes the walk time. Give yourself an upper end (slow) and bottom end (fast) pace to use as a guideline. The upper end pace is preferable because it will keep you injury free. Running too fast a long slow training pace is a common mistake made by runners. They try to run at the maximum pace, which is an open invitation to injury. I know of very few runners who have been injured from running too slowly, but loads of runners who incurred injuries by running too fast. In the early stages of the program it is very easy to run the long runs too fast, but long runs require discipline and patience. Practice your sense of pace by slowing the long runs down. You will recover faster and remain injury free.
  • Steady Run

    The steady run is a run below targeted race pace (70% maximum heart rate). Run at comfortable speed; if in doubt, go slowly. The run is broken down into components of running and walking. If you are new to the 10K, we encourage you to use the run/walk approach. Walk breaks are a great way to keep you consistent in your training.
  • Hills

    Distance for the day is calculated as the approximate distance covered up and down the hill. Now, you will no doubt have to run to the hill and back from the hill unless of course you drive to the hill. You will need to add your total warm-up and warm-down distance to the totals noted on the training schedule. I recommend a distance of 3 km both ways to ensure adequate warm-up and recovery because hills put a lot of stress on the body. Hills are run at tempo pace (80% maximum heart rate) and must include a heart rate recovery to 120 bpm at the bottom of each hill repeat.
  • VO2 Max

    VO2 max is the volume of oxygen your body can obtain while training at your maximum heart rate. High VO2 levels indicate high fitness levels, which allows these fit athletes to train more intensely than beginners. Interval training of tempo, fartlek and speed sessions improves the efficiency of your body to transfer oxygen-rich blood to your working muscles.
  • Tempo

    Before starting tempo runs, include several weeks of hill running to improve your strength, form and confidence. For the tempo runs, run at 80% of your maximum heart rate for 60–80% of your planned race distance to improve your coordination and leg turnover rate. Include a warm-up and cooldown of about three to five minutes. These runs simulate race conditions and the effort required on race day.
  • Fartlek (Speed Play)

    Fartlek runs are spontaneous runs over varying distances and intensity. If you are wearing a monitor, run the short bursts at 70–80% of your maximum heart rate. Conversation is possible, but you notice increased breathing, heart rate and perspiration. Between these short bursts of hard effort—no longer than three minutes—add in recovery periods of easy running to bring your heart rate down to 120 beats per minute. Speed play fires up your performance with a burst of speed. The added recovery/rest interval keeps the session attainable and fun.
  • Speed

    You must have a sufficient base training and strength training period before tackling speed. Speed is simply fast runs over short distances, e.g., 5 x 400 m, usually with a relatively long period of recovery to allow the unpleasant side effects of the anaerobic activity to diminish. In our training programs we factor in a 3 km warm-up and 3 km warm-down into the total distance to run. In the training programs I have purposefully lowered the pace of your speed works (95% maximum heart rate) as opposed to a much higher rate (110% maximum heart rate), which is commonly used but results in many injuries. In these programs we use speed to fine tune, not to damage; it has proven very successful in all our programs.
  • Walk Adjusted Race Pace

    How do we arrive at a "walk adjusted" race pace? When you are walking, you are moving slower than your "average run pace." When you are running, you are moving faster than your "average walk pace." The walk adjusted race pace factors in the variation in walking and running speed. The challenge is knowing the average speed of your walking pace. We have devised a formula to calculate moderate walk pace, which allows us to determine the exact splits, including running and walking pace. The effect of this calculation is that the "walk adjusted" run pace is faster per kilometre than the average race pace. However, when calculated with your walk pace you will end up with your target race pace. You can go online at and print out your "walk adjusted" pace bands for race day. ?

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