Push through your comfort zone
Some runners call this ‘controlled discomfort’, and it involves pushing your body just a little further than you’re comfortable with. In order to prepare yourself for the rigours of a fast, controlled 10K, you need to be running on the edge of your aerobic wall. Think of your exertion levels in terms of a scale of one to ten. Imagine that five or six is the level you’re comfortable with. You should be aiming to run at an eight or nine for increasing periods during your training regime. And of course, running at an intensity of ten should only be done in short bursts – perhaps your sprint to the finish line.
Work your way up to ‘race pace’
It is easy to become used to running at your own pace during training, but this won’t prepare you for the speed at which seasoned runners will be running at during the race itself. A lot of runners use the ‘interval’ method of training to build up speed, which involves running at close to their maximum exertion levels for increasing periods of time. This is a tricky thing to do, and it calls for a gradual increase in intensity over a number of weeks. The Kiqplan 10K training app, for instance, is perfect for the job, as it intuitively designs a bespoke 10K training programm that is based on the individual’s current level of fitness.
Learn to instinctively gauge your speed
A lot of novice 10K runners train well for a race, but are then taken aback at the speed at which seasoned competitors run. It is hard to gauge your speed when you’re training alone, but you must start to track it from the moment you start your race preparations. The speed at which you run at different stages of a 10K race is unique to you. Remember: your ultimate goal is to complete a 10K in your personal best time; how you break a race down into its component parts is entirely up to you.
Start monitoring your speed at different intensity levels, and work on sprinting throughout your training regime. You should also aim to run the actual 10K course several times before the big day. This will allow you to plan which sections are suitable for high-intensity running, and which provide an opportunity to slow things down a little.
Take a rounded approach to training
Long-distance running involves a great deal more than cardiovascular fitness – although that is important. You need to build your core-body strength for power and endurance, and that might involve some resistance training. The best runners always have a race strategy, which often includes when to attack and when to hold something back in reserve. And perhaps most importantly, you need to stay in good shape throughout your training regime, which means looking after yourself in terms of nutrition and rest.
Simply completing a 10K race in good shape is a tremendous achievement, but with some determination, planning and hard work, there is no reason why you can’t push yourself to run faster than you’ve ever run before.