Sub 30 minute 10k training

This post about my training in the spring of 2008 and how it impacted my race performance in the Olympic 10,000m trial at Watford in July was one the most popular on my old blog.

Last weeks 29:47 came at the end of a disrupted winter. After a good recovery from Toronto in September I was able to put together a good couple of months up to xmas culminating in a good run at Clevedon on Boxing Day. January was a bit of disaster with the eventful Kenya trip and as a result I wasn't able to do a lot of training. February was disrupted by illness which caused me to pull out of London but I was still able to keep a decent volume but without much quality running. From March I've been able to string together a consistent 3 months with plenty of weeks in the 100-110 range and good aerobic running down to about 5 minute miling plus plenty of strides and hill sprints.

2 days before the Bristol 10k at the beginning of May I did a Gigliotti Test which confirmed that I was aerobically fit and this proved to be so with a controlled 30.26 on the roads of Bristol. The data for the Gigliotti test is below. For me the key information are the lactate readings at slower than threshold pace, so the first 4 stages. This tells me how aerobically fit I am and I tend to do the test on the track every couple of months to monitor progress.

Lap Time (2k) HR La
80 06:40 160 1.3
79.5 06:38 160 1.4
78 06:30 163 2
77 06:24 166 2.7
75.5 06:18 168 4.4

So coming out of Bristol I knew that my aerobic shape was good and leg speed was also good so the task to prepare for the trials was simply to build the specific speed endurance required for the 10,000m. To do this I ran 5 workouts during the month before the trials and they were as follows:

  1. 10x90secs grass at about 3k effort
  2. 4x5mins grass with 2 at 10k effort and 2 at 5k effort
  3. 10x1km track at 2:57 km to simulate target race pace
  4. 14x400m track with 200m easy starting at 68 and finishing at 64
  5. 4 x (1km in 2:57 / 200 easy / 400 in 67/68) one week before the race to practice faster laps mixed with race pace

And for specific work that was it. I still kept the strides/hill sprints and a weekly tempo run while cutting the volume back to about 70 miles a week in the last 10 days to make sure I was able to freshen up. One of the things I have learnt over the years is that when I am fit it only takes a few weeks of anaerobic running to come into top shape.

Going into the race I knew that even if I had a bad day I was going to break 30 for the first time and I think this was key. By preparing to run 29:30 the mental doubts of will I / won't I around the 30 min barrier never really existed. Indeed during the 2 best sessions (no 3 &4) I was even visualising 29:22 and with some improvements to my build up this was achievable ...

So if I was going to look to improve on this build up I would have included one or two track races during May and probably done 1 more 10k pace session with longer reps at 29:30 pace. That said, the 10,000m trials were a secondary priority for me this season behind running a faster marathon in the autumn so a more focused 10k preparation may have compromised by main goal.

Overall, mission accomplished. 10,000m PB, good aerobic fitness, plenty of leg speed and great place to be starting a marathon build up from.

Get notified of new posts by Twitter

Enjoyed this article? Sign up for the RunNudge to get an exclusive weekly video clip of actionable inspiration to make you a better athlete .