How To Run 10k in 40 minutes: Training Plan + Coach’s Advice

A Sub-40 minute 10k? Yes, you've got it in you

As a UESCA-certified running coach, I have the opportunity to work with runners of all levels, from new runners who are just starting to elite distance runners.

Breaking 40 minutes in the 10k race is a challenging running goal time and is generally only appropriate for experienced runners with a high fitness level, a smart race strategy, experience with pacing a 10k, and a good training plan.

In this 10k in 40 minutes guide, we will cover how to run a sub 40 minute 10k, 40 minute 10k pace, and provide a training plan to break 40-minute 10k.

What Pace Per Mile Is Needed To Run A 10k in 40 Minutes?

Before we look at how to break 40 minutes in the 10k in terms of the training plan and workouts you should do, it’s important to understand what 40 minute 10k pace is.

To run a 40 min 10k, you must run 6:27 minutes per mile or 4:00 per kilometer. 

So, a 40 minute 10k pace means that you need to have an average pace of 6 minutes and 27 seconds per mile, which also works out to an average of 4 minutes per kilometer.

However, since most people looking to run 10k in 40 minutes want to break 40 minutes with a sub 40 minute 10k time, aim to run the race at 6:26 minutes per mile or just under four minutes per kilometer.

If you are running on a track, a sub 40 minute 10k pace works out to roughly 1:36 (96-97 seconds) per 400 meters and 3:13 for 800 meters.

How To Run 10k in 40 minutes: Training Plan + Coach's Advice 1

You can find the sub 40 minute 10k pace splits for miles and kilometers below:

Mile Splits (Average Pace Per Mile) 40 Minute 10k Pace

MileSplit
16:26
212:52
319:19
425:45
532:11
638:37
6.239:59

Splits Per Kilometer (Average Pace Per Kilometer) 40 Minute 10k Pace

KilometerSplit
14:00
28:00
312:00
416:00
520:00
624:00
728:00
832:00
936:00
1039:59

What Is A Sub 40 Minutes For 10k On A Treadmill?

If you are following a sub 40 minute 10K training plan and want to do some of your goal pace workouts on the treadmill, your race pace workouts will be run at a treadmill speed of 9.3 mph (15 km/hr).

A person running fast on a track.

Can I Run A 10k In 40 Minutes?

My own 10k PR from a road race is 37:54.

I share my own 10k fastest time not as a way of bragging or trying to highlight my own personal running accomplishments but rather to suggest that running a 10k in 40 minutes or less is quite tough.

I have been running competitively since middle school and then ran cross country and track in high school and college, and I’ve been working as a running coach for the past 10 years or so.

Even though I have trained new runners and experienced runners alike, there are only a handful of runners that I’ve worked with that are ready for a 40 minute 10k training plan and training tips for how to run a sub 40 minute 10k.

According to Run Repeat’s analysis of 34,680,750 race results, running 40-minute 10k places your finish time faster than 97.70% of all runners, and only 0.8% of females run a sub 40 minute 10k.1Compare Running Finish Times [Calculator] – 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon. (n.d.). Athletic Shoe Reviews. https://runrepeat.com/how-do-you-masure-up-the-runners-percentile-calculator

In other words, this is a fast race pace and requires tremendous aerobic fitness, a high VO2 max and lactate threshold, good running economy, dedication and consistency with your training plan, and even decent anaerobic fitness.2Barnes, K. R., & Kilding, A. E. (2014). Strategies to Improve Running Economy. Sports Medicine45(1), 37–56. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-014-0246-y

‌However, this isn’t to say that recreational runners and even new runners can’t build up their aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels and successfully run 10k faster than 40 minutes.

Olympic runners can easily hold a sub 40 minute 10k for longer distances, often even as an easy half marathon pace or marathon pace, so it’s doable as a goal time for high level recreational distance runners.3Vickers, A. J., & Vertosick, E. A. (2016). An empirical study of race times in recreational endurance runners. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-016-0052-y

Running a sub 40 minute 10k is an appropriate goal if you’ve run a 10k in 42 minutes or faster, or a sub-20-minute 5k (such as in a Parkrun 5k race).

You should also be able to run one mile in 6 minutes and 26 seconds (or at least one kilometer in 4:00, though preferable 2-3 without stopping), as this will be your race pace for a sub 40 minute 10k race.

You can use online running calculators to input a 5K race time, or even a half marathon time or marathon time, and see if your 5k pace, half marathon pace, or marathon pace is on par with a sub 40 minute 10k goal time.

How To Run 10k in 40 minutes: Training Plan + Coach's Advice 2

What Types Of Workouts Are Included In A 40 Minute 10k Training Plan?

Our sub 40 minute 10k training plan involves running 5 days per week.

You should be able to run 5 miles comfortably without stopping and have about 5-12 hours per week for training sessions.

Make sure you have a good aerobic base before you start this 10k training schedule because the aerobic base is necessary before layering on speed sessions with fast running and VO2 max intervals.

The best training program to run a sub 40 minute 10k should be well-rounded with interval workouts, fartleks, tempo runs, hills, easy runs, cross-training, and strength training.

  • Easy Run: Run at a conversational pace (60-70% of max heart rate to aid recovery from speed workouts and hard efforts. 
  • Steady Run: A comfortably hard run slightly slower than your threshold pace.
  • Long Run: Long endurance workouts to improve physical and mental stamina. You should run at a comfortable, conversational pace, at an effort of 6 on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is max effort.  
  • Threshold Interval Workouts and Tempo Runs: The lactate threshold occurs around 83-88% of your VO2 max, or roughly the pace you could hold at max effort for an hour of running. For most runners, the threshold run pace is about 15-20 seconds per mile (9-12 seconds per kilometer) slower than your 10k race pace. Therefore, if you are looking into how to run a sub 40-minute 10k for the first time, your tempo runs and threshold interval workouts should be run around 6:41-6:46 minutes per mile or about 4:09-4:12 minutes per kilometer.
  • Rest Day: No structured exercise. Focus on rest and recovery (stretching, foam rolling, taking it easy).
  • Speed Workouts: Track intervals. These speed sessions get your body used to running fast and build anaerobic fitness, improving VO2 max and running speed.
A person running on a road.

The 6 Week 40 Minute 10k Training Plan

Be sure that before any interval, tempo, steady sessions, and the day of the race, you warm up for at least 20 minutes with an easy jog, and cool down once completed for at least 10 minutes.

1234567
MonEasy run 50 minsEasy run 50 minsEasy run 55 minsEasy run 55 minsEasy run 55 minsEasy run 45 mins
TuesIntervals
5 x 1600m @10k pace, 2 min rest
Intervals
8 x 400m @1500m pace, 90 secs rest
Intervals
6 x 800m @5k pace, 90 secs rest
Easy run 45 minsIntervals
4 x1k @5k pace, 2 min rest
Intervals
16 x 200m @5k pace, 60 secs rest
WedEasy run 50 minsEasy run 50 minsEasy run 50 minsEasy run 50 minsEasy run 50 minsEasy run 50 mins
ThursRestRestRestRestRestRest
FriTempo
2 x 10 mins, 3 min rest
Steady
10 mile @4.15/km
Tempo
20 mins
Steady
10 mile @4.15/km
Intervals
8 x 1000m @10k pace, 90 sec rest
Rest
SatRestRestRestRestRest10k race
SunLong run 60 minsLong run 65 minsLong run 70 minsLong run 75 minsLong run 65 minsEasy recovery run
Paces
Paceper 400mper km/mile
Steady1024.15/6.51
Tempo944.10/6.40
10k904.00/6.24
5k863.50/6.06
3k823.40/5.50
1500m783.30/5.34
It is also important to hydrate well, follow a balanced diet with plenty of carbs and proteins, get enough sleep, and do consistent mobility work such as foam rolling and stretching to help your body recover and reduce the risk of injury.

After you triumphantly cross the finish line in under 40 minutes on race day, consider training for a half marathon!

References

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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