10k Time Getting Slower

10k getting slower
Last year, after 6 months of training I did a 10k race. Since then I have been pretty consistent with my training. My training program is consistently 2 x 5k and 1 x 10k per week at tempo pace.

I just ran a 10k race again. And I was slower than last time!?!

Why am I slower now than I was a year ago when I had only just started running?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,
Thanks for your intriguing question about your 10k running time.

I can understand your disappointment.

There can be a number of different reasons. Let's first talk about that, and then move on to how to improve from here on in. I'd like to discuss:

1. Possible reasons why you were slower
2. Your current routine
3. Improving your 10k time - increasing mileage
4. Improving your 10k time - increasing variety in your program

Possible Reasons Why You Were Slower

Let's first do a little bit of evaluation. The best way to deal with this is to reflect on it, take out some positives, take out something you learnt or something you can improve for the next time and move on.

10k getting slower
A worse result when you feel you are better trained can have so many different reasons.

Form of the day, tiredness, sickness, difficulty of the course, going out too fast and blowing up mid-way etc., it can all contribute to not being your best on the day.

I remember a time when I was so well trained but just completely overestimated my abilities. The course was 4 x 2.5k. The first 2.5k went great, the 2nd okay and during the 3rd and 4th I got passed left, right and center! Very painful!

And I recently ran a half marathon but I had been sick the week before. I simply had not fully recovered yet and decided to race it full pelt. Let's just say the second half wasn't pretty.

So, firstly, do this bit of analysis and see if you have some plausible explanations. If so, good. If not, move on to the next step.

Your Current Routine

Secondly, I'd be curious to know for how long you have been doing this same running routine. From what I gather you run three times a week at moderately hard pace for a total of 20km (12-13 miles).

The running training you are doing is great to set a base level of fitness. However, if you do the same thing week in, week out, after a while there is not much training stimulus anymore and you will not improve that much.

Additionally, for a good 10k there are some improvements you can make. Let's focus on the two main strategies to get you there: higher mileage and more variety in your workouts.

Improving your 10k time - Increasing Mileage

10k getting slower
Your current routine is a great start. The positives are: you are running three times per week. You are running consistently. You are doing great things for your health. You are reaping the benefits of some tougher running.

However, now we are in it for performance. What I would really like to see happening now is an increase in mileage. Ideally through:

  • Adding a fourth run to your schedule. Maybe over time even a fifth

  • Increasing the length of your shorter runs

  • Increasing the length of your long run

  • The 10k is a tough distance. Given the length of time it takes, you need to focus on your aerobic endurance first. You are doing this well with the tempo running. But you can improve further by adding on mileage.

    Imagine if your long run, over time, becomes 14k, 16k or even 20k. You'll become a lot faster in covering a 10k at pace, when you can do a 20k long run without it being overly tiring, I can tell you that.

    It would be great if your weekly mileage grows over the next period from 20k to 25k, 30k, 40k, etc.

    With mileage, the simple truth is: more is better.

    I'd advise you to have a look at the Increasing Mileage Safely page for further information on how to go about this wisely.

    Improving Your 10K - Increasing Variety in Your Program

    10k getting slower
    It sounds like at the moment all three weekly runs are done at tempo pace. Tempo running is a fantastic way to improve your running. And it is especially helpful for longer distance events like the 10k, half marathon and marathon.

    But, variety needs to be key. Every type of running comes with its own benefits.

    Firstly, as per previous point, increasing mileage needs to be priority. In order to do that well, you will want to focus more on easy running. Easy running is less strenuous on the body and should be the cornerstone of your running.

    After that, reintroduce the faster running. Not just the tempo running. Think about doing intervals, some running at goal pace, etc. A good page that tells you a lot about "the faster stuff" is my running workouts page. Check it out for some inspiration.

    All in all, you have got a lot going for you. You have got a great consistent running routine. Now you just need to take things to the next level. So, don't let this small setback be a reason for despair. Move on, make some positive changes to your running routine, and I am convinced that you'll make improvements in your next race!

    All the best!
    Kind regards,

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