Improving My Time for a 10k Run

by Lisa F

improving my 10k time for a 10k run

I have just finished a marathon and I have a fun-run of 10k in 6 weeks time.
I would like to do it at 50 minutes for 10k but having just finished the marathon I am scared of pushing myself and getting injured.

What sort of training plan would you recommend?

Answer by Dominique:
Hi there,
Well done on completing your marathon. I'm glad to hear you're passionate about running and have set a new goal for yourself - a 50-minute 10k race. I am not sure where you are at in terms of speed, training etc, but it sounds like that is going to be a considerable challenge for you.

Let's cover the following aspects:

1. Recovering from the marathon
2. Listening to your body
3. Developing a 10k training plan

Recovering from the Marathon

improving my 10k time for a 10k run
It's understandable you're concerned about overextending yourself and causing an injury, especially coming right off a marathon race.

Running a race of that distance can be tough on your body. It's vital that you allow yourself ample time to recover.

My general advice after a marathon is to take it easy on the running for the first three weeks. Don't worry about losing your edge. This easier period is all about healing and repairing the small damages that the marathon might have caused. It's not uncommon to experience muscle soreness, stiffness or even minor injuries after such a demanding event.

Activities like walking, cycling, swimming, or yoga could be a great way to stay active during this period, as they allow you to keep up your endurance without straining your running muscles. The key is to give your body a wel-deserved break and to let those running muscles recover. Also check out the cross-training for runners page.

In the second or third week post-marathon, start to reintroduce some running into your program. Your legs might still be incredibly heavy. Keep it easy and light. No tough workouts.

Listening to Your Body

improving my 10k time for a 10k run
Now, I am very conscious that you might be thinking: "Geez, I only have six weeks. This guy is telling me to not do anything the first three weeks. What is he thinking?".

Well, my first goal is to get you to the start line of your 10k and don't do any lasting damage. That's why those first 2-3 weeks really should be about recovery, cross-training and easy running only.

One of the key skills you need to learn at this stage is listening to your body. Pay attention to what it is telling you. Are your legs starting to feel fresh and light again? Are you waking up feeling refreshed rather than lethargic? Are you getting through your days feeling fine or tired, grumpy and low on energy?

These are all signs to watch. Once the fog starts to lift, you can get yourself ready for harder workouts again.

Developing a 10k Training Plan

Before we get any further, just keep in mind that completing this marathon didn't happen without putting in the effort.

Over the past number of months you have built up that mileage, done consistent long runs, you have been building your long run. You have been building your fitness. All of that is not going to disappear overnight. You've established a solid base for distance running.

improving my 10k time for a 10k run
So, despite taking it easy for 3 or so weeks after the marathon, you are in a really good place to run a fast 10k. What is important now is to get back into some 'serious running'. Now, what does that mean?

It really depends on what you have been doing previously. What did your marathon build-up look like? Mostly easy running? Did you do some tempo runs or interval workouts? I am sure it would have involved a weekly long run...

At this stage, and with only three weeks to go to your 10k race, I wouldn't go crazy and change your running program massively from what it was before. Generally, for the 10k, my key priorities in terms of hard runs would be to have you do a good long run and a weekly tempo run.

In your case that tempo run would be reasonably close to your 10k race pace, which will be good practice. Complement with easy runs. Not too different, most likely from the running you have been used to. And the training you have been able to withstand for the last 3-4 months.

This approach, although not revolutionary, will see you get to the starting line in one piece. And you will be in a position to benefit from your marathon fitness. Which should translate into a fast 10k.

Let's see if you get to that 50 minute 10k. If not, not to worry. It's not over. Just means there may be some more work to do. At that stage, it will be good to get into a dedicated running program of 12 weeks or so to really focus on a strong 10k performance. You'll be able to find free running programs that help you improve your 10k. But if you want the real deal, check out my running coaching services for a personalised laser-targeted running program.

Once again, well done on completing the marathon. Take the time for your recovery, stay positive, stay motivated, and I'm rooting for a successful 10k run!

All the best,

10k running tips

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