10k Race Pace

by Julia
(Los Angeles, CA)

I have been training for a half-marathon using your 12-week program.

I will be running my first 10k this weekend.

Should I plan to run the 10K in zone 1 or zone 2?


running tips

Answer by Dominique:
Hi Julia,
Thanks for your question about 10k pace.

Good to hear you have been using my Half Marathon Running Program.

I hope it prepares you well for your first half marathon.

It is a good question, but I will not be able to give you the exact answer.

I'll provide you with a few thoughts:

1. What is your current tempo pace?
2. What is your current easy pace?
3. A race strategy based on joy.
4. Ideas for predictions in the future.

What is your current tempo pace?

For most people 10k race pace is even faster than tempo pace - zone 3 in "heart rate monitor zone lingo" :).

But for beginning runners it can be slower than tempo pace as well.

Think a bit about this:

Your tempo pace is the pace you'd be able to run for about an hour. You need to judge your own ability and work out if your 10k pace would have to be faster than that, about that or slower than that.

When you do tempo runs, do you know (approximately) how much distance you cover?

Would 60 minutes of tempo pace get you to do a 10k?

If it does not, then you need to go slower than tempo pace.

After all, if after 60 minutes you are finished, but the race is not, then you have got a little problem!

What is Your Easy Pace?

Can't figure it out? An alternative is to check out my Running Pace Calculator. If you know what your current easy pace (Zone 2 running) is, then we can use that to have a go at back-solving what your 10k race pace should be.

E.g. Plug in a 10k race time of 50 minutes. It tells us that easy training pace is at 6:06 min/km (9:49 min/mile). Suppose your easy pace is actually about 6:30 min/km. Then just plug in a few other times, e.g. 51, 52, 53 and 54 minutes for the 10k and you can work out that your 10k race pace could be around the 53-54 minute mark.

A Race Strategy Based on Joy

Clearly, it being your first race, you do not have to go completely hell for leather and push yourself too much. A completely valid approach is to focus on having fun and getting joy out of simply completing the distance at a Zone 2 pace.

Lastly, you could also run at a fairly easy pace for the first 7k or so.

If at that point you still have enough energy and feeling well, then speed up and see what you can do in those last 3k.

There is nothing like passing a lot of people in those last few kilometers of your race and have a real strong finish!

You then know for your next race that you could possibly be a bit more aggressive in your race approach.

But at least your first race leaves a fine after-taste, rather than disappointment because it was a struggle throughout.

Ideas for the Future

Once you have a few races under your belt and you are familiar with different types of running workouts the following links would be really useful in establishing your 10k race pace:

Goal Pace Sessions - specific workouts to test the right race pace for different distances.

Race Conversion Calculator - predict your race pace based on other races.

Hope this helps a little. It is tough to pinpoint race pace for everyone.

Best of luck in your race! Let us know how you went!
Kind regards,

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