There is definitely an art and strategy in mastering a 10k in as fast a pace as you possibly can. Despite my recent training not being great I entered a 10k race last Sunday. I was a nearly a whole minute off my Personal Best and 20 secs slower than my last 10k (and it was on a hilly course!) – really highlighting my poor training in the weeks prior.
So this is what I have learned about racing the 10k…
1. Know your exact target pace. For instance for me to get a PB of 43mins I needed to run 7:04 p/mi. I knew by mile two that this was not going happen. It can be frustrating but liberating too…
2. As it is fairly natural to start quickly in a race owing to a rush of adrenalin, you should use this to shave seconds off your first couple of miles. For instance, I wanted my first two miles to average at 6:59-7:00per/mi. Anything faster would probably be too quick. My average was well off at 7:20 and thus I knew I had too much to do so I just kept giving it my best to get a respectable time (for me!).
3. Hang in for the middle of the race so as the average pace doesn’t fall much below your target.
4. Try to lift it a little for at least one of the last two miles in order to get in at the desired time or better!
5. Realise that points 2-4 are not always possible and be comfortable with this. If this is the case look upon the race as a terrific training run toward your next race !
6. One bad mile in a 10k is pretty impossible to turn round for a PB. My second mile on Sunday was 7:30 (my half marathon target pace!!) – I knew it was not my day and eventually finished at 7:18p/mi average.
7. Make sure you do the speed work in the weeks prior !! Intervals intervals intervals at least once a week but possibly twice. If you push really hard in these sessions most people, short of Olympians, couldn’t do more than two per week!
8. Make the intervals long & short mix e.g. Perhaps 12 x 200m; then next session 8 x 800m (half mile)… Both will require different pace settings but I would do the 800s at your ultimate goal pace. For instance, my ultimate goal in the future is sub 40, so my 800m intervals are at 6:26/mi… Etc
9. Don’t overeat or carb up – it’s not a marathon. An isotonic drink and perhaps a gel should suffice.
10. Crucially – run your own race. Ignore people whizzing past, particularly if they don’t “look” as fit as you. Chances are you’ll pass them somewhere between mile 4 and 5!!
My last point is about close season running – boy it’s difficult to keep the momentum up!! What do you do to keep the focus? I’ve PB’d my marathon, my half and my 10k this season…I’m now losing focus as the season closes…help 🙂