How to Train for a 10k Run in Three Phases

How to Train for a 10k Run in Three Phases

Three Phases to Running a 10k

Whether for charity, sport, or simply a hobby, 10k running races are a staple in athletic culture worldwide. It’s common to hear about someone either at your gym or workplace signing up for a race and beginning a rigorous 6-week training program in hopes of a good result. However, to truly participate in a 10k running race the training needed is a lot more rigorous. Here is how to train for a 10k running race in three phases.

The Goal of Training

For this article, the training program will be focused on a 10 kilometer (6.2 miles) asphalt race with minimal elevation change. But you must research exactly what your client’s race will entail and adjust appropriately. The training program will also operate under the assumption that the runner has quality running form. The goal of this training program is to get the client to a point where they are so prepared that the only worry is about holding their correct pace.

Prerequisite Strength for Running

Before a client can begin training for a 10k run it’s valuable to set some prerequisite absolute strength scores. Testing absolute strength will ensure that the client is capable of running the distance without developing compensatory patterns to accomplish it. Three good prerequisites include a Sorensen hold for 2 minutes, 8 rear foot elevated split squats per side with 25% of body weight in each hand, and 5 push-ups. 

How to Train for a 10k Run in Three Phases

This training will be broken into three phases–accumulation, intensification, and pre-competition–the same method OPEX coaches use to periodize their training programs for athletes. Learn how to apply the principles of periodization to any program in this free course.

The duration of this training will range anywhere from 30 to 40 weeks. While that might seem like an incredibly long time, this training program will prepare the client not only to finish the race but be capable of taking a break and running the race again on the same day.

Phase 1: Accumulation

The accumulation phase focuses on getting the client used to spending time on their feet and transitioning them from walking to running. This phase is the greatest challenge out of the three phases because the transition from walking to running is very aggressive.  

Weeks 1-4:

In the first four weeks, the client will walk 10k three times a week. This phase will build time on their feet. The terrain can also be varied for one to two walks a week, as this can improve overall efficiency.

Weeks 5-8:

In this block, the client will continue to walk three times a week. But one walk per week will be weighted with 10-15% bodyweight. This is a simple way of overloading the client. On week seven, progress the client to two weighted walks per week.

Week 9-12:

Now it’s time to transition the client from walking to running. In a perfect world, this will take only four weeks, but for some, it can take up to 12. For these weeks training is still three times a week. Two days will be running and one will be walking. On the days they are running the client will run intervals until they hit the 10k. The first interval will be 30 seconds running and 4:30 minutes walking. Slowly progress the running interval until they are running a steady-state 10k. If the client cannot run the first 30-second interval, it’s ok to use a smaller time frame.

It is common for clients to run faster than race pace in the shorter intervals, however, do not worry as this phase is not about developing pace. The client will slow down as the intervals get longer.

Phase 2: Intensification

Week 13-17:

During this block of training, the goal is to build repeatability. For 6-8 weeks the client will run two 10ks per week. During each run the goal is to achieve intramile repeatability, that is, the time it takes to run each mile should be the same. The focus of this phase is on getting the client used to running a 10k. At the end of this training block, do a 10k time trial.

Week 18-22:

This block will involve four runs each week. The first will be 10-minute intervals with an equal work to rest ratio. These will progress faster over time. The second run is a recovery run under 10k pace and distance. The third run is lactic power training, involving 30-40 second hill runs with four minutes off. The fourth run will be at a faster than race pace scenario. This training block is all about preparing the client for unknowns that might occur during a race.

Phase 3 Pre-Competition:

Week 23-29: 

Six weeks out from the race the client will be running three times a week. One will be a 5k run, the second will be a race pace scenario, and the third will be a race pace scenario on the same day of the week in which they will be running the race. On the 2nd and 5th week, substitute the race pace scenario for a 5k to decrease volume. The week before the race, maintain the same runs as normal but keep the distance to 60% of a 10k. 

The Slow Approach

The training program highlighted above is no “6 weeks to 10k” progression. It is a methodical approach to properly prepare a client to not just run but express a 10k run. Once it’s completed the client will be capable of running many more 10ks because they took the time to earn the right, rather than suffering through the 10k.

OPEX coaches follow this methodical approach for whatever their client is training for. They realize that sustainable results take time. That is why they assess their client’s physical capabilities, consult them on their mindset and behaviors, and create an individualized training program for their goals. Want to get your clients results? Learn our method of individualized training with our free Professional Coaching Blueprint.


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