When it comes to running, once you reach the 10km mark it’s a common goal to try and run 10k in an hour – or less!
After spending a few weeks or months building up your distance running abilities, it’s nice to change tact and focus on your speed a little.
After all, you’ll likely find that your 10k time is not too far off the one hour mark already – all we need to do now is work on that speed element a little!
In this post, I’ll give expert tips on how to become a better, and faster, 10k runner – and the strategies you should use to get to your 1 hr 10k target!
(I also share some free training plans at the end of the post).
Ready to run a 10k in an hour (or under?)
Let’s jump in!
10k In An Hour – Training Tips
First off, let’s walk through some training practices you can put into place to improve your speed and work towards the 10k/hr target.
Speed Up With Speed Work
Struggling to increase your base speed to break that 1 hour mark?
It’s time to introduce some speed workouts to your running schedule.
Doing dedicated speedwork makes you a faster, and more economical runner.
With all speedwork, you are going to be increasing the intensity – for at least short periods – so just be mindful that the injury potential increases too. If you even feel you’re pushing a muscle too hard, scale things back.
Here are my 3 favorite forms of speed work to smash your 10k in one hour target:
1. Tempo Runs. Tempo runs are similar to your regular runs, but with an interesting spin. During a tempo run, you start off super slow – a nice, easy jog for the first few minutes – before very gradually dialling up the speed. Every few minutes you want to dial up the speed and intensity a little more, a little more – until you reach the point where your pace is practically unsustainable. Push it for a few more minutes here – as long as you can hold – then spend 5 minutes gradually dialling the speed back to your initial, easy job.
2. Fartleks. Dumb name, fun workout. Fartleks involves random intervals of running fast, then nice and slow recovery intervals. The whole idea is to mix things up, be unpredictable and structureless, and have fun. These are fun to do in parks, where you can use your surroundings to set challenges (i.e. “I’ll run hard to that fountain, then jog to the next corner”).
3. Interval Training. Interval training is like Fartleks, but more structured. A popular one is 400m repeats – run fast for 400m, then do a slow 400m for recovery. If you have access to a running track, these are perfect.
Cross Train for Power
Powerful runners are fast runners, and the best way to increase your power is through cross training.
Spending some non-running time focussing on your legs, glutes, and core, can help improve your running speed and economy.
The best way to do this is in a gym, preferably with a trainer. But you can get the same benefits with a good home exercise routine, using your body weight and some resistance bands.
Yoga, pilates, and Crossfit-style classes are other popular forms of cross training.
Do Your Long Runs Easy
To run a fast 10k, you don’t necessarily have to be running 10k’s every weekend in training.
Incorporate a weekly long, easy run into your training schedule – but don’t be tempted to run them at 10km/hr pace.
Instead, use them as an opportunity to get your body used to endurance-style running. If you try and go too fast, you’re more likely to crash and burn – and gain no benefit from the workout.
Do your long runs at a relaxed, conversational pace – and enjoy them!
10k In An Hour – Strategies For Your Run
Sometimes how you run your 10k is more important than your training.
The conditions you run in can be favorable, or they can make things tougher.
There’s a few things you can do to make your 10k in an hour target more achievable, without rigging it (for example, running downhill for 10k 😉 ).
Here’s some tips to bare in mind:
Be Rested, Be Recovered
Your body is optimally primed when it’s both well rested, and well recovered.
This means that you should ensure you’ve been bagging plenty of sleep for the two nights prior to your 10k in an hour attempt.
It also means that you should avoid intense workouts in the 3-4 days leading up to your attempt. When we train hard, it creates micro-tears in our muscle fibers which take time to heal and recover. You want to allow for this window to ensure your legs are in great condition before going for your 10k, otherwise they might slow you down a little.
Avoid Poor Weather Conditions
When your environment is challenging, it can slow you down. This means you want to avoid:
- uncomfortable heat
- uncomfortable cold
- humid conditions
- rain (or sleet / snow)
- windy conditions (although a tailwind could give you an unfair advantage 😉 ).
Choose a day where the conditions are calm, and similar to those you’ve been training in!
Choose The Right Running Surface
Did you know that most runners are notably slower when they’re running on trails?
Same goes for running on the beach – even hard-packed sand – simply avoid it, it slows you down.
Choose a running surface which is both forgiving and easy – whether it’s a pavement/sidewalk, road, or offroad track.
And remember that very soft underfoot conditions slow you down!
Likewise, remember to think about gradients when you’re planning your 10k route.
Very light uphills and downhills are fine, but avoid anything with a noticeable gradient.
If you choose an uphill, you’re giving yourself a big disadvantage.
And if you plan a route which in mainly downhill . . . well, that’s just cheating !
Fuel Properly Before
Regardless of the time of day you do your 10k, you want to ensure your body has ample stores of carbohydrates to draw on throughout the hour.
I recommend a snack or small meal 90-120 minutes out, then an energy gel or high-carb snack (trail mix, banana) 15 minutes before you start running.
You probably aren’t going to be running long enough to need to refuel during your run, but if you find dropping energy levels to be a problem you can consider another gel at the 30 minute mark.
Research has shown that listening to music during exercise can improve your performance, and running is no different. This article recommends focusing on songs with a tempo of 120-130bpm and choosing familiar tracks with uplifting lyrics.
Music can often be useful when you start to flag. I don’t listen to anything during the first half of an intense run, and I wait until I need a boost before a push play.
Run a Consistent 10km / hr Pace
And forget that final sprint – the key is to run a constant, even pace throughout your hour.
This means you have to run slightly faster than:
6:00 minutes per kilometer, or
9:40 minutes per mile.
I recommend sticking to 5:50min/km, and 9:25min/mile – that little buffer allows for any mishaps or slow-downs near the end!
Go out too fast and you’ll suffer later on (the crash and burn approach).
Go out too slow and you’ll never make up the lost time.
Plan for success, and run a constant pace throughout.
10k Training Plans – Free, Customisable, Downloadable
Looking for a training plan to follow?
Check out a summary of all our 10k training plans here, or select a specific one from the images below!
Each training plan is available in both PDF and Google Sheets / Excel formats, so are easy to customise to suit your own timetable!
Every plan is designed by our UESCA-certified coach, and has been road tested by hundreds of runners!