I Want to Get My 10k Time Down to 36 Minutes

10k in 36 minutes

I've been running now for some 8 months and have recently joined a club. I'm 6ft, slim and weigh 11 stone. Perfect running physique. I've done a few competitive races with the most recent race being a 10k where I got a time of 38:48.

I set off on this run doing splits of under 6 minute miles for the first 5k and then my legs start to go heavy and I have to drop my pace.

I would like to know what it is.

... Whether it could be just inexperience and I need to just keep running and it will come?

... Whether it is to do with training?

... Maybe I need to look at weight training for my legs?

Answer by Dominique:
Hi there,
Thanks for your question about your 10k running time.

I think, for someone running just eight months, you are doing well.

And I don't think you are doing something wrong necessarily.

But, let's do a bit of analysis and work out what you can do to improve from this point. I'll break my answer down as follows:

1. What went wrong on race day
2. How to get closer to a 36 minute 10k

What Went Wrong on Race Day

10k in 36 minutes
What was happening in your race is the following: a 10k race gets run at a speed faster than tempo pace. Tempo pace is also known as lactic acid threshold pace. This is the pace at which your body can just about get rid of the lactic acid building up in your muscles.

When you run faster than tempo pace, the lactic acid starts building up in your legs. Run too fast and the lactic acid builds up too quickly. And that's exactly what happened to you.

After 5k there was too much lactic acid build-up and your muscles stopped functioning properly, i.e. heavy legs and you had to slow down.

You simply went out too fast and paid the price for it.

The 10k is a super challenging distance. You need to work out how much you can push yourself. Ideally, just as you hit the finish line you get that heavy, heavy feeling in your legs. And not a moment earlier.

I have had 10k races in which I may have gone out a little too slowly. In which I was able to hold the pace throughout the whole race.

I have had 10k races in which I have gone out too fast. In which that lactic acid rush into the legs came before the finish line was there. Tough experiences.

10k in 36 minutes
I once had it happen to me in the last 200 meters of a race. Almost the perfect race. It was a tough sensation when the mind still wanted to go on, but the legs were just done for the day! In hindsight, my pace was just a tad too fast in the preceding 9.8k and that slow down at the end did cost me a little bit of time.

You are a fairly new runner. You will get better at judging your pace and not going out too fast. One part of the solution is simply racing more, and getting better at hitting the right pace.

How to Get Closer to a 36 minute 10k

So, what is needed for a 36 minute 10k? For most people, this is a goal way out of reach. For you, it sounds like a goal you could possibly reach.

You have got the base speed. You were able to run at about the right pace for the first 5k of the race.

What is almost certainly needed to get you to your goal is:

1. Consistent running
2. Build up your endurance
3. Tempo running

If I were to constrain myself to a simple set of suggestions, this would be it.

Consistent Running
You are a new runner. Improvement will come as you continue to run regularly. I understand you may be impatient. You may want to reach this goal next month. But improvement takes a bit of time. Try to be consistent with your running.

Just show up. Day in, day out. This will go a long way.

10k in 36 minutes
Build Up Your Endurance
You will want to build your endurance. The 10k is almost completely based on your aerobic endurance. You need a good long run and plenty of easy running to improve your endurance.

Building your base takes a lot of time. It takes consistency and a willingness to keep on running (see the previous step!). As you are doing that, build up your mileage. Do longer long runs. Do more easy runs. And you find that running 6 minute miles becomes easier as time goes on.

Tempo Running
Definitely do more tempo running. Over time as you do your tempo running, your lactic acid threshold will improve and you will be able to run faster without the lactic acid build-up.

These are not the only ingredients to a successful running program. There are more and different types of training to do. But the above three tips, would be where I would focus the effort, if I were your coach. Also, check out the running training section for a lot more information.

You'll obtain the best results with running training at a variety of speeds.

Best of luck. Without a doubt, you'll get faster over the next few months and years!
Kind regards,

10k running tips

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