10K sub 40 min – suggested training program

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My apologies for the sudden abandoning of the announced series of posts on my preparations for the 10K race Sentrumsløpet. The reason was a foot injury that put a quick halt to the race plans. Doctors are indeed the worst at taking their own advice. Sad to say that a busy work and uni schedule took precedence over resting and proper rehabilitation of the foot.

However, we did get an answer to the question if it is possible to run a sub 40 min 10K race with only 10 weeks of preparations. Two of my mates both finished in under 38 minutes, much with the same preparations I had scheduled.

The 10 week strategy
Here follows a suggestion, adopted from my planned program, for how to approach a 10K race and a sub 40 min goal within the time frame of 10 weeks:

TIME
Put aside the necessary time. You will most likely need somewhere between 2-4 workouts a week, depending on your current shape (DOYCS).

INJURY PREVENTION
A sudden increase in monotonous exercise with little variation in movement patterns always comes with some risk of overuse injuries. Some of the most common ones includes plantar fasciopathy (“fasciitis”), achilles tendinopathy (“tendinitis”), “shin splints” and various muscle strains and tendinopathies in legs, knees and thighs. The occasional back ache is also not uncommon. The risk increases when running on a hard surface (like tarmac).

Consider how much running you have done over the last months and years, and have the patience to ease into your 10 week regime. Shorter workouts on softer surface initially, with sufficient time to recover between workouts. Gradually progress to increased intensity and race-like surface over the first 2-4 weeks (DOYCS).

Strongly consider investing the time for preventative exercises prior to and throughout your 10 week program. Virtually all areas of the lower extremities could be potential week links such as intrinsic foot muscles, legs (calf and shin), hamstrings, quads&VMO, hip adductors & abductors and last (and often forgotten) deep back & abdominal muscles. Unless prior injuries warrants particular focus on certain areas, you can cover a lot of these muscle groups with a few exercises. Not only will such exercises reduce the risk of injury, most runners will find they improve your running technique and performance as well.

LONG & SLOW OR SHORT & FAST?
Your physiological capacity to perform during a 10K race is determined by factors such as your muscle fiber type distribution, the stroke volume of your heart, the oxygen-transporting capacity of the blood, capillary distribution, mitochondria density and enzyme activity in the muscles. I would suggest that over a 10 week program, your best bet is to improve the muscular metabolism (working capacity). This is typically addressed with moderate to hard intervals. Running 10K in 40 minutes will require a fair bit of pace, and the ability to run efficiently at this pace. In my humble opinion, long workouts at a steady slow pace will be a detour when time is of the essence. Therefore, emphasize intervals at a pace similar to and also slightly higher than what you will need during your race.

In the last third of the 10 week program I would suggest inserting workouts with long intervals with a total time that is somewhat higher than 40 minutes. Although you might now have the pace sorted out, a common mistake is not having tested your ability to maintain the pace over the last 10 of the 40 minutes.

RECOVERY
Any top athlete will agree that it doesn’t matter how well you train if you don’t do the right things in between workouts. This includes getting enough rest, maximizing the intake of nutritious food, hydrating properly (water) and reducing the intake of crap (excess sugar, non-nutritious food that make you feel full without providing nutrients). Getting this right will mean a better next workout and improved overall results.

SUPER-COMP
A common strategy for finding your best shape for the race is training hard and high intensity for the last weeks leading up to the race, thus breaking your body down (shape feels like sh*t at this point). Then followed by 1,5-2 weeks of shorter, faster workouts and a reduction in total number of exercise hours, thus letting the body recover and “super-compensate” for the previous weeks. When timing this correctly, you will enter race day in great shape and with a surplus of energy.

NB! This text is not medical advice! If you have concerns regarding your health or injuries, do contact registered health care personnel.

Otherwise, I am happy to answer any questions regarding this article as best as I can. Fire at will and good luck with your training!

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